There are several gruyere cheese substitute, but Fontina, Raclette, Jarlsberg, Comte and Emmental Cheese stand out as the best alternatives due to factors like taste, scent, and firmness.
But first, it is crucial to understand what Gruyere cheese is as this will enable you to find the most suitable replacement.
Named after the town of Gruyeres in the Swiss French-speaking canton of Fribourg, Gruyere cheese is a hard cow’s-milk cheese with a rich, salty, creamy, and nutty flavor. However, the flavor changes with age. Old Gruyere stored for over ten months develops a bit of spiciness, earthiness, and complexity in flavor.
It is the most produced and consumed cheese in Switzerland, having surpassed mozzarella and Emmental. Versatility and a smooth texture make it a favorite for many popular dishes, such as Swiss fondue, croque monsieur, and quiche.
The cheese got AOP protection in 2001 from the EU, so it is expensive due to the protected designation of origin, processing, and aging requirements.
If it is too expensive for you or not available in your region, here are the best five Gruyere cheese alternatives to use.
Recommended Gruyere Cheese Substitute
Depending on the flavor and cooking techniques (recipe), you can pick:
1. Fontina Cheese:
Fontina is an Italian cheese with a rich flavor and velvety semi-soft to hard texture, making it the perfect creamy Gruyere cheese replacement. Sourced from dairy milk, it has a milk fat content of about 45%, which gives a creamy, nutty, and savory flavor that closely resembles Gruyere.
Production of Fontina originally began in Italy but has spread all over the world. Countries like Denmark, France, Argentina, Sweden, and the US are large producers, making the cheese readily available in most markets. Variations from these countries are slightly different, but all have a similar semi soft-to-hard texture that melts evenly.
Instead of using Fontina alone, try combining it with Parmesan cheese, especially if you want to have a creamy taste on your pasta or salads. You can also melt the combination on various dishes because Parmesan adds zip and consistency. Remember to use them in equal portions.
Fontina with mozzarella pairing is also a possible option to use as a cheese topping for pizza because the two have a nice melt.
Can’t find fontina cheese? See our article on fontina cheese substitutes.
2. Raclette Cheese:
Although Raclette cheese is originally from Valais in Switzerland, the name comes from the French word “racler,” which means “scrape.” The reason behind this is that Raclette is a Swiss dish based on heating and scraping the melted part of the cheese.
Processed from raw cow milk, Raclette matures in about 3–6 months, forming a semi-hard cheese with an edible orange-brown rind.
The flavor usually changes depending on the region, but age plays a role in this as well. In most cases, it has a milky, spicy, nutty, and fruity flavor with a slight floral aroma.
All properties considered, the cheese is perfect for melting over crispy vegetables and fresh salads. You can also use it as fondue or as a topping in pizza and lasagna.
During winter, Raclette provides hearty warmth when served melted over fresh fruits and nuts. Like Gruyere, it is a versatile cheese that can be the accompaniment for most meals.
3. Jarlsberg Cheese:
The original Jarlsberg is a mild cheese based on a secret Norwegian recipe from 1956. Classified as a Swiss-type cheese (alpine cheese), Norway is the primary source, and it licenses other dairies based in Ireland and Ohio in the US.
Most producers age it for three months minimum, but some varieties require up to 15 months. Whichever the age, this cheese has a strong sweet and nutty flavor that can be overpowering compared to Gruyere and Emmental. However, it is creamier than Gruyere, and this has made it a favorite in America.
As one of the best substitutes for Gruyere cheese, Jarlsberg is an all-purpose product suitable for cooking or eating as a snack. Such properties make it perfect for sandwiches, snacks, or melting over hot dishes, like flan or baked potatoes.
It is important to note that the yellow wax rind of Jarlsberg is not edible, so you must cut it off. Once removed, it exposes a semi-firm yellow interior of pure creaminess. You will also spot holes in the interior, which occur due to the action of certain bacteria added during production.
4. Comte Cheese:
Most people consider Comte to be Gruyere’s French twin because it has a similar taste and texture. It originates from the Franche-Comté region of France, which is along the border with Switzerland, so the production processes are almost the same.
Additionally, it is a semi-hard cheese made using raw, unpasteurized milk, just like with Gruyere. However, it ages for at least 4–24 months. The result is large 40–70 cm diameter discs with a dusty brown rind and pale-yellow flesh.
Comte melts quickly, making it perfect for fondues and croque monsieur. It gives a mild and slightly sweet nutty aroma with some sweet notes at the end.
The cheese is also suitable for baking (due to its ease of melting), making French onion soup, and creating many other traditional French dishes. After all, it is a product of France.
Aside from being almost similar to Gruyere, Comte is widely available in many grocery stores and supermarkets. A 2019 Mercosur-EU deal established legal protections for the product in South America, which means you will find original Comte cheese in this region as well.
5. Emmental Cheese:
Also called Emmentaler or Emmenthal, this yellow, semi-hard cheese originated from Emmental in the Bern canton of Switzerland, hence its name.
Like Jarlsberg, this product features the holes associated with Swiss cheese, which form from air bubbles arising from the added bacteria during processing. Hole formation is a sign of quality and maturity, so they can tell you how well the cheese has aged (usually takes 2–18 months).
The flavor depends on aging, where young Emmentaler is mild and buttery while the old version has complex flavors with a fruity aroma.
However, both melt quickly, so you can use the cheese either alone or mixed with Gruyere to make fondue. Some people even prefer it to Gruyere due to its smoothness and high consistency.
Emmental is also an ideal alternative when making French onion soup, a cheese plate, bruschetta, sandwiches, and grilled cheese.
Few countries recognize Emmentaler as a registered geographic indicator to Switzerland, so states like France, Bavaria, the Netherlands, and Finland produce this type of cheese, making it widely available.
In some regions, Emmental is the same as Swiss cheese, so you will have plenty of options to choose from in the grocery store.
Gruyere cheese flavors change depending on age. Young Gruyere aged 3 – 6 months has a rich, salty, creamy, and nutty flavor. However, the old version (aged ten months to a year) develops sharper earthy and complex flavors.
In addition to the tariffs imposed by the US on cheese imports, Gruyere cheese is valuable due to its AOP protection from the EU. There are strict definitions for production and maturation, and the product can only come from the Gruyeres region in Switzerland.
Even though it is not rare, these strict definitions make it a valuable product, hence the high price.
Most cheeses that are not AOP protected are more affordable than Gruyere. They include the five alternatives listed above.
It depends. If you want a fantastic melting cheese, you can use mozzarella instead of Gruyere. However, if you are looking for cheese with a similar flavor, don’t replace it. Mozzarella is a soft white cheese with a milky taste, but Gruyere is a semi-firm yellow cheese with a nutty flavor.
Emmental cheese because it comes from a region that is very close to where Gruyere originates. As such, the production conditions are almost the same, resulting in similar flavors and melting properties.
Jarlsberg is also a great alternative if you are looking for an affordable option since some US dairy farms produce it.
Since cheese is a vital ingredient in French onion soup, the best Gruyere substitute is Emmental due to its similar flavor and quick melting properties.
It depends on the quiche recipe. If you want it to have a strong flavor, Jarlsberg will do the trick as it packs a weightier punch when compared with Gruyere and Swiss cheese. However, if you are looking for a milder flavor, young Emmental will do.
Raclette can also work, although its flavor varies greatly depending on the processing location.
No, but they are almost similar in terms of flavor and ease of melting.