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Best Substitutes for Monterey Jack Cheese

Maria Foster
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by Maria Foster

Monterey jack cheese is known for its creamy texture and mild buttery flavor.

People commonly use Monterey jack cheese in Mexican and American cooking because of its versatility. You will also find it in appetizers and snacks in addition to main course dishes and baking. It is a semi-hard cheese that you can slice and melt quickly.

There are few kinds of cheese you can use as a Monterey jack cheese substitute. Determining which Monterey jack cheese substitute you should use is about understanding Monterey jack’s qualities that you want the replacement to emulate.

Variants of Monterey Jack Cheese

Monterey jack cheese has a few variants with different qualities. If you need to use a substitute, it could be essential to understand if the recipe calls for one of its variants’ qualities.

Aged Jack Cheese

Aged Jack Cheese

Aged jack cheese has a firmer texture with a rich and nutty flavor that is more assertive. This jack cheese will be more similar in texture to parmesan cheese. You can shred it, cook it, or eat it as it is.

Pepper Jack Cheese

Pepper Jack Cheese

Pepper jack cheese has an open and semi-soft texture. Since it has pepper, there is a bit of spice to the taste, but it still has the subtle buttery flavor that Monterey jack cheese is known for. This cheese pairs well with sandwiches and crackers. Pepper jack cheese substitutes sometimes have peppers added to get both the spice and buttery flavor.

The different characteristics of these variants might make one Monterey jack cheese substitute better than the other. Appropriate substitution is about understanding what the cheese is supposed to contribute to the flavor. Pay attention to these factors when you have to choose a substitute.

Substitutes for Monterey Jack Cheese

Here are several choices for the Monterey jack cheese substitutes. Most of these cheeses are mild in flavor and semi-hard. Each one accentuates a different quality of Monterey jack cheese to contribute a similar flavor profile to the dish you’re making.

1. Havarti Cheese

Havarti Cheese

Havarti cheese is a common alternative to Monterey Jack cheese because of its texture, flavor, and ability to melt. 

It has a white color and is also similar to Tilsit. Structurally, Havarti cheese is a semi-hard cheese that you can serve sliced on a platter. Also, it melts easily and has a light and buttery flavor like Monterey jack cheese.

You can use Havarti when the jack cheese in your dish needs a mild, buttery taste or if you need to melt the cheese. Havarti has both of these traits in common with Monterey jack.

2. Gouda Cheese

Gouda Cheese

Gouda cheese is the most famous cheese to come out of Holland and is another substitute for Monterey jack cheese. It has a creamy texture with a few tangy notes in the taste.

Younger Gouda cheese has a more mild flavor, while aged Gouda cheese has a stronger flavor. Gouda has a firm and creamy texture along with subtle citrus and sweet taste.

Consider if you need the stronger flavor of Aged jack cheese when you consider using Gouda as an alternative. Since Aged Gouda cheese has a stronger flavor, you will want Aged Gouda cheese to substitute for Aged Jack cheese.

3. Muenster Cheese

Muenster Cheese

Muenster cheese is an imitation of the French Munster cheese done by the Americans. It is similar to Monterey jack cheese but has a few differences.

This cheese has various flavor profiles ranging from mild to bland like white cheese. However, the flavor’s subtlety makes it a complementary flavor in dishes where the cheese taste isn’t supposed to overpower the other ingredients.

American Muenster cheese is milder than European Muenster cheese. Muenster also melts, making it an excellent fit for pizza, sandwiches, and burgers. Muenster is a good substitute for Monterey jack when you need the semi-hard firmness and creamy texture of Monterey jack and its mild flavor profile.

4. Edam Cheese

Edam Cheese

Edam cheese is easily recognizable from its red wax coat and cylindrical shape. Like Monterey jack, Edam cheese has a firmer structure that you can slice and put on a platter. Aging Edam cheese will enhance its flavor, which has cream and nuts in its base and salt notes.

It has a springy texture when it is younger, like the texture of jack cheese.

Younger Edam cheese gives you the creamy texture and an alternate flavor to Monterey jack cheese. Aged Edam will provide you with a stronger flavor profile if you need something closer to Aged jack cheese, but you don’t need the springy texture.

5. Colby Cheese

Colby Cheese

Colby cheese is very similar to Monterey jack cheese in that it is also from cow’s milk. There is even a variation of Monterey jack cheese called Colby Jack cheese.

Colby also has similarities with cheddar cheese, although Colby is softer and has a more open texture, and is moister. The surface of Colby cheese is semi-hard, giving it a similar texture to Monterey jack. However, Colby cheese cracks after aging and goes dry, so it is best to use it when young if you are substituting it for Monterey jack cheese. 

6. Parmesan Cheese

Parmesan Cheese

Parmesan cheese is known to be a great alternative to Aged jack cheese. Parmesan is dry but also firm and a cheese that you can quickly grate. If you are substituting Monterey jack with parmesan cheese, look for younger parmesan cheese that isn’t matured.

Aged parmesan cheese has more of a granular texture, which isn’t the same as Monterey jack cheese. Overall, younger parmesan cheese is a drier but texturally accurate alternative to Monterey jack that gives you a subtle cheese flavor.

7. Cheddar Cheese

Cheddar Cheese

Lastly, there is Cheddar cheese. However, remember that you should only use cheddar cheese as a last resort for Monterey jack alternatives.

Cheddar cheese will melt like Monterey jack cheese can; however, Cheddar’s flavor is much creamier and more pronounced than Monterey jack. Typically, cheddar cheese is best when it is in baked recipes that call for Monterey jack cheese.

Using Substitute Cheeses

The flavor and structural profile of the cheese you choose as a substitute for Monterey jack cheese are the most important things to consider when deciding which cheese to choose.

Some of these cheeses have a milder taste with fewer subtle notes; others have a more pronounced flavor and are good alternatives to Aged jack cheese or Pepper jack cheese. Before you add the cheese to your recipe, taste it to gauge how much you should add to mimic the Monterey jack cheese’s role.

The strength of the cheese taste, as well as its texture, will inform you how much of the cheese you’ll need to achieve the same results as Monterey jack cheese.

This list will help you if you’re out of Monterey jack cheese, and keep in mind that this is a list of cheeses for alternate flavors to Monterey jack cheese. If you are familiar with the recipe, you can use this list of substitutes to experiment with some flavor variation and get some new results that you may even like better.

Final Thoughts

Many kinds of cheese are substitutes for Monterey jack cheese. The one you choose and the amount you should use are up to you. Get to know the substitute cheese in terms of flavor and texture to inform you of the right amount for your dish.

About Maria Foster
Maria Foster
Maria Foster is a mother of 3 and she and her husband of 23 years share their home with 2 faithful dogs. Besides being CEO of the household and active in her community, Maria is the lead contributor to Food Champs and loves to try new food ideas and kitchen accessories to make easier and more delicious meals.
Maria Foster
  1. Dear Maria, Gouda cheese is made of cow milk. There exists goat Gouda, but this is not the common one. The common Gouda is Cow Gouda. There exist many ages of it. The young Gouda is close to Monteray Jack, but much more greasy. I assume, knowing both, that young Edam is the best to reproduce a Monteray Jack in most baked dishes and young Gouda in the non baked dishes like with Tortilla Chips. In Hungary there exists a cheese called Trappista. That comes closesest to Monteray Jack in the EU. Best regards, Tamas

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