What is Jack Cheese?

Malcolm Tatum

Jack cheese is an American cheese that is often referred to as Monterey Jack. Featuring a creamy texture and a mild flavor that is sometimes accentuated with herbs, this cheese is a versatile option for many different types of dishes.

A block of Colby Jack cheese.
A block of Colby Jack cheese.

First developed in the city of Monterey, California, jack cheese is available in several varieties. Some types of this cheese are aged, while others are not. Aged versions tend to take on a deeper yellow shade and develop a sharper taste. Versions that are not aged tend to be pale in color and retain a lighter taste. In many cases, unaged versions will be blended with a selection of herbs and spices. This helps to set jack cheese apart from other American cheeses. Many of these blends are available in supermarkets and upscale food shops. A few of common blended jack cheeses include Colby Jack, Pepper Jack, Salsa Jack, and Horseradish Jack.

Sliced Pepper Jack cheese.
Sliced Pepper Jack cheese.

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Owing to the creamy texture and the smooth melting qualities of jack cheese, many tasty recipes specify the inclusion of one or more variations of the cheese. For instance, baked macaroni and cheese that makes use of Pepper Jack as a binder, coupled with a top crust of grated Horseradish Jack, can breathe new life into an old favorite. For hors d’oeuvres, melted jack cheese as part of the ingredients for finger foods is a great option. For cookouts, this cheese is an excellent alternative to cheddar as a topping for grilled hamburgers. A sprinkling of grated jack cheese or even the inclusion of tiny cubes of the cheese can enhance salads. Spicy versions of this cheese can be combined with a mixture of fresh cut fruits to create a dessert option that is healthy, attractive, and tasty.

A block of Monterey Jack cheese.
A block of Monterey Jack cheese.

Moderately priced and widely available, jack cheese is a great way to add an unexpected dash of flavor to old favorites. Easy to work with and visually appealing in a number of situations, it is an excellent addition to any kitchen. From simple grilled cheese sandwiches to complicate casseroles, jack cheese will take any recipe to a new level, and help the ordinary take on an extraordinary dimension.

Jack cheese is a great topping for burgers at a cookout.
Jack cheese is a great topping for burgers at a cookout.
Creamy Monterey Jack can be substituted for other cheeses in canapes and appetizers.
Creamy Monterey Jack can be substituted for other cheeses in canapes and appetizers.

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Discussion Comments


@fBoyle-- You can make lasagna.

My mom makes a Tex-Mex style lasagna with Colby Jack. I don't know the exact recipe but I know that it has the regular lasagna ingredients plus lasagna, lots of Colby Jack and onion. It's very delicious.

You can always make something like mac and cheese or grilled cheese too.


I have a large package of Colby Jack cheese in the fridge. What can I do with it?


Pepper jack cheese is so yummy! This is my favorite snack cheese. I usually have this in the afternoon or at night with some butter crackers.

It's also a nice appetizer or snack cheese for parties and get-togethers. It's affordable but looks fancy. I often include it along with cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, an assortment of crackers and fruit and veggies on snack platters.


@sinefey If you can't find horseradish jack, you can just serve regular jack cheese along with horseradish sauce.


can i get jack cheese from wales? Can anyone help?


I have got to find Horseradish Jack! If you like your cheese with a bit of spice try Jalapeno Jack cheese it's my favorite!

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