What Is Aged Gouda?

Sara Schmidt

Aged Gouda is a pale orange cheese traditionally made from cow’s milk that has a dry, crumbly texture and a distinctive sharp flavor. It is very similar to standard or smoked Gouda, but has a more pronounced taste and a much drier texture. It is commonly used for crumbling or grating over salads and soups, but can also be served on its own or alongside fruits, nuts, and crackers, or paired with fine wines or liqueurs.

Aged Gouda cheese pairs well with red wine.
Aged Gouda cheese pairs well with red wine.

Basic Taste Profile

There can be a lot of variance in what, exactly, aged Gouda tastes like, since a lot depends on the quality of milk that was used and how long the cheese had to age. Still, most people agree that is it has a slight butterscotch taste, and has both sweet and salty overtones. People who know cheeses very well can usually quickly identify even a small sample as Gouda, though aged versions tend to taste a lot different from younger, smoother versions. Standard Gouda is a soft cheese with a very mild flavor. Aging it adds a lot of depth, but also a lot of bite.

Gouda cheese is often served with fruit and crackers.
Gouda cheese is often served with fruit and crackers.

How the Cheese Is Made

Aged Gouda starts out as any other Gouda would, and is made through a complex process of culturing milk, straining out solids, and pressing curds. Cheeses made from free-ranging cows that eat grass and other greenery are usually naturally yellow in color, but many manufacturers augment this tint with a coloring agent known as annatto. This ensures a consistent look that doesn’t change based on cow diet or available nutrients.

Sipping brandy while eating gouda cheese is a popular way to enjoy gouda.
Sipping brandy while eating gouda cheese is a popular way to enjoy gouda.

Once the cheese has begun to form, it is pressed into rounded molds and left to drain for anywhere from a few hours to a few days. It is typically encased in wax as soon as it has solidified for preservation, and is then prepared for shipment or sale. Some Goudas are exposed to smoke at this point, which seals a unique flavor into the cheese. Others are simply packed up for immediate sale, while a final group is typically set aside for extended aging.

Wedge of aged Gouda cheese.
Wedge of aged Gouda cheese.

How the Aging Process Works

In the past, farmers and others aged finished cheeses in stone caves or in underground cellars — typically anywhere they could find that was dark and relatively cool. Things today tend to be a bit more scientific. It is still common to age cheese underground, but manufacturers typically design special cellars for this purpose that can be controlled in terms of precise temperature, relative humidity, and light penetration.

Gouda can be aged for anywhere from a few weeks to ten years or more. As the cheese sits, it forms calcium lactate crystals. These are byproducts of the lactic acid breakdown that happens naturally over time. The crystals are fine to eat, and provide the cheese with a unique crunch. In most cases, the longer the aging, the more crystals develop — and the more expensive and desirable the cheese becomes as a result.

Where to Find It

Aged Gouda is relatively common in most places, and can be found in supermarkets and specialty cheese shops around the world. At one point it was only available in the Netherlands, where it was first created. Artisanal farmers in the western town of Gouda are credited with pioneering the process, and the cheese takes its name from that town. The name is not “protected designation of origin,” however, which means that cheeses can be sold under the “Gouda” label no matter where they were actually made. The United States is actually one of the world’s biggest producers and exporters of aged Gouda.

What it Pairs With

There are many ways to enjoy this sort of aged cheese. Many people use it interchangeably with other hard cheeses like Parmigiano-Reggiano, and will grate it over pastas and salads. It is often sliced and served on cheese platters alongside dried fruits, nuts, and toasted flat breads or crackers, too. People who eat it plain will often pair it with full-bodied beers and lagers or red wine. Sipping brandy or scotch while enjoying the cheese is also popular.

Storage and Shelf Life

Aged Gouda does not usually require refrigeration, though keeping it cool is recommended by most food safety experts. Unlike fresh cheeses, aged variations are not usually prone to quick spoilage. Just the same, keeping any unused portions under refrigeration will help them taste fresh for longer, and can also help discourage the growth of bacteria.

A wheel of aged Gouda.
A wheel of aged Gouda.

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Discussion Comments


Strong cheeses are my favorites and I find many of the others to taste kind of bland after eating cheeses like aged Gouda.

I even like to make my own macaroni and cheese with a combination of smoked Gouda and Parmesan cheese. This would also taste good with regular Gouda cheese, but the smoked flavor is really delicious.

Many of your larger grocery stores will have a specialty cheese section where you can find different cheeses like Gouda. If you aren't able to find it locally, I have also had good results ordering it online.

Many places will offer samples which gives you a chance to try the cheese before buying or before purchasing a larger quantity of it.


Wow, aged gouda originated in a city in the Netherlands? How interesting. I don't know why but I always assume all fancy cheese is French! I suppose other European countries can make fancy cheese just as well as the French can though.


@JessicaLynn - I'm the complete opposite. I think the flavor of aged gouda is strong enough to overpower a salad and most other flavors, so I would never top a salad with aged gouda. However, I happen to love the flavor so, I usually just eat gouda on it's own.

For me, the main problem is the expense. I'm not wealthy, and aged cheese tends to be much more expensive than regular cheese. The only time I buy aged gouda is if I have extra money, or if I really want to treat myself.


@John57 - Aged Gouda is one of those cheeses where you know right away if you like it or not.

Have you ever tried it in a soup recipe?

I make a ham and cheese soup that includes both Cheddar and Gouda cheese. It does have twice as much of the Cheddar cheese as the Gouda, so the taste of the Gouda is not overpowering.

I find that it brings a distinct sharpness and flavor to the soup that isn't there if I only use the Cheddar cheese.

This is a very rich and filling soup that includes, carrots, celery, onion, ham and bacon. On cold winter days a pot of this soup does not last very long at my house.


I guess I'm just not a cheese aficionado, because I prefer my aged gouda on a salad or something. I like the flavor OK, but not enough to just eat it one it's own.

However, I think it tastes delicious in a salad topped with some vinaigrette. If I'm feeling really classy, maybe I'll drink a glass of wine while eating my salad with aged gouda!


I love most kinds of cheese, but aged Gouda cheese is usually too strong for my taste.

My son lives in Wisconsin, and they are known for many different kinds of cheese. Most times when we visit him, we will make a stop at a place that sells a variety of cheeses.

For someone who had not had anything other than cheddar, American or Swiss, I had to acquire a taste for some of the unique cheeses.

Some I liked right away, while others had to grow on me a little bit. No matter if I had the aged Gouda by itself or tried it with some other kind of food or drink, I was never able to enjoy the taste of it.

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