What are the Different Types of Cheese?

A Kaminsky

Most people love cheese, whether in chunks or strips, or melted on bread for a grilled sandwich. It is a part of the cuisine of nearly every culture, and variations on the theme are legion.

A thick wedge of fontina cheese.
A thick wedge of fontina cheese.

Cheese is usually categorized into four types: soft, semi-soft, semi-hard and hard. The designation refers to the amount of moisture in the cheese, which directly affects its texture. Making cheese is an ancient practice, dating back thousands of years, and the home makers can usually find recipes that fall into any of the four categories.

Crostini with mozzarella cheese.
Crostini with mozzarella cheese.

Soft types includes cottage cheese, cream cheese, ricotta, brie, bleu, Roquefort, mozzarella, muenster and similar varieties. These cheeses generally pair well with fruit or meats, or can be used in breakfast foods in an omelet or as pasta fillings. They are usually mildly flavored and very high in moisture.

Thick slice of Gruyere cheese.
Thick slice of Gruyere cheese.

American, Colby, co-jack and similar cheeses are in the semi-soft category. These are slightly stronger in flavor and cover a wide range of uses. Co-jack, a blend of Colby and Monterey jack, is one of the most popular. This allows the sharper flavor of Colby to be combined with the milder jack, and also melts better than plain Colby. Grilled cheese sandwiches often use American, and Mexican cheeses such as Asadero and Quesa Fresca are becoming more popular.

Goat cheese.
Goat cheese.

Semi-hard cheese has an even bolder flavor than semi-soft, and is often paired with fruit, used on cheese trays and eaten with crackers. Cheeses in this category include cheddar, provolone, Gouda, Jarlsberg and others. Those in this category may come in a smoked varieties. Smoked cheddar and gouda are very common. Milder cheddar, Gouda and Jarlsberg all melt well, and may be used in casseroles or as stuffing for chicken breasts or pork chops.

Cheese wheels aging on shelves.
Cheese wheels aging on shelves.

Hard cheeses include Parmesan, Romano, asiago, Swiss, Gruyere and others. Parmesan and Romano are most familiar as the grated powder used to top spaghetti, but they are also used as accompaniments for fruit, wine, nuts and other appetizer items. Swiss is popular on sandwiches and melts well, unlike some other hard varieties.

Slice of havarti cheese.
Slice of havarti cheese.

Cheese is one of the most versatile foods in a cook's arsenal. It can add flavor and texture to a dish — and may even cover a few mistakes.

A variety of cheeses may be featured in an omelet.
A variety of cheeses may be featured in an omelet.
Parmesan cheese is commonly featured on spaghetti.
Parmesan cheese is commonly featured on spaghetti.
Monterey Jack is one of the few truly American cheeses.
Monterey Jack is one of the few truly American cheeses.
Gouda is a good cheese for melting.
Gouda is a good cheese for melting.
Hard cheeses are commonly served with appetizer items.
Hard cheeses are commonly served with appetizer items.
Cheddar cheese can be very sharp or mild in taste.
Cheddar cheese can be very sharp or mild in taste.
Ricotta is a soft cheese with a creamy texture.
Ricotta is a soft cheese with a creamy texture.

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Discussion Comments

anon322449

What cheese other than cream cheese can one use for baking pies and cakes?

anon297662

Cheese never ceases to amaze me. Cheese is such an art form to me. It is amazing how many types there are and how each area of the world create their own unique cheeses. For me just starting in the cheese world, I love to buy cheese online. It seems to be a bit cheaper and even more than that, I am able to find so many different types that I have never found in my local grocery store.

julies

I have not met very many people in my life who don't like cheese, but my sister is one of them. She isn't allergic to it, but she just doesn't care for the taste of cheese.

About the only kind of cheese she will eat is cottage cheese. I know this is a form of cheese, but this isn't what I usually think of when someone mentions cheese. I think of a slice of cheese on my sandwich, or melted over some baked pasta.

golf07

I like to buy cheese at the deli in my grocery store instead of the cheese that is already pre-packaged. This gives me the opportunity to try a variety of different cheeses, and I also feel like it is fresher.

I don't buy shredded cheese in the package anymore, and prefer to get out my grater and shred it myself. There is a coating on this cheese that is already shredded that I don't like on my cheese. I know this takes more effort, but I think the product quality is much better.

I probably have some form of cheese at least every day. I have a friend who is allergic to dairy, and she had to cut cheese from her diet. This would be something that would be very hard for me to do.

John57

There are so many different kinds of food I can think of that taste better with some cheese. Can you imagine eating pizza without warm, melted cheese on top? This is also one way I can get my kids to eat vegetables they wouldn't otherwise eat like broccoli and cauliflower.

I am not a big fan of aged cheese though, and usually stick with the well known ones like American, Swiss and Colby. I had an aunt bring back a bunch of different cheeses from a trip she took to Wisconsin, and most of them were way too strong for my liking.

sunshined

@anon204023-- I love cheese too, but I have to be careful and not eat too much. My stomach will start to bother me if I eat too much cheese at one time. If I open up a new packet of cheese to grate for a dish I am preparing, I have a hard time not eating half of the package.

anon204023

I like cheese and all, but I feel sick if I eat a lot of melted cheese. But I just like to say the word cheese.

anon145131

my brother is obsessed with cheese strings and babybels. that's all he will eat. he doesn't like gravy. to me, he's a bit of a freak.

anon115240

What a fun post! I write "A Cheese Shop Mystery" series and was searching for new cheeses to try and stumbled on your site. Love the poetry. Love cheese. Say cheese! The first book in my series is called "The Long Quiche Goodbye." --Avery A.

anon85598

thank you for this info on cheese it help me finish my speech. Thank you again.

anon68763

Cheese is an amazing thing, though sometimes if you eat too much for your body, you have regrets! amen sister!

anon66230

i have never heard of doing a project on cheese.

anon59498

italian cheese is the best. i got piave from online. so good

anon54959

i'm madhavi and i'm using this article in my presentation on the types of cheese.

anon39525

Thanks wiseGeek! This really, really helped me with my project! Love you!

anon36511

Cheese is disgusting.....

anon36300

I absoluteley love cheese! Its the best totally! My fave animals are moo cows so that's really good because cheese is made of cows milk!! How cool is that!?

anon28267

cheeeeese the best thing ever. loving cheese all my life cathedral city cheese is the best!!!!!!

i don't want to eat pasta,

i don't want to eat a pear,

i know they're very good for me,

but i don't really care,

there's only one thing on my mind,

and cheese it has to be,

everyday i see cheese waiting there for me,

cheese tickles in my tummy,

cheese is yummy yummy!!!,

i hide it in my bedroom,

sometimes i leave it on the ground,

i leave it under my bed,

but i hope it won't be found,

i buy some every day,

but i eat the lot you see,

so don't you go and look for it,

because cheese is for me,

by gemma cooper

somerset

There is a delicious soft cheese from France Boursin cheese. It can come mixed with a variety of herbs and of course garlic. A very nice tasting, mild cheese.

iluvcheese

Omg i love cheese! It's my favorite dairy product! Thank you so much! I love geeks too! My favorite people! Omg i love cheese and i love y'all!

anon14716

omg!!! this thing helped me sooo much on my test, whoever wrote this is a genius. and by the way my name is Cheez.

anon11410

I love cheese, cheese is the greatest thing created in this world, I love it to death. If I could eat only one thing in this world it would be cheese. My aspiration is to be a cheese maker. When I am reborn I wish to be a cow, so that I can be the mother of all great cheeses, or even a goat.

anon10973

wow thank you very much. this also helped me with a school project on cheese. i got an A! ty whoever made this. CHEESE RULES!

Mike Hannigan

anon6754

this helped me with my project on cheese and explained it really well! thanx

also, geeks rule!

anon5042

Wow! I didn't know there were so many types of cheeses! This article really helped me with my school project on cheese :)

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