The Swiss have many reasons to be proud; fine chocolate, their ongoing neutrality, and swiss army knives, among others. But their cheese also stands out as another reason to be cheerful – that and their flag is a big plus! (sorry). The cheese we probably recognise the most as being decidedly Swiss is Emmental.
This savoury and semi-hard cheese is perfect for sandwiches, as part of a cheeseboard, or as an ingredient in a variety of different dishes. What makes it instantly recognisable is its subtle, nutty taste which can really enhance the overall flavour of a dish.
Table of Contents
Why does Swiss cheese have holes in it?
The holes in Swiss cheese are formed by a bacteria that develops during the aging process. This specific bacteria type is unique to Swiss cheeses due to the type of starter used during the making of it. Compounding this effect is the temperature that the cheese wheels are stored at during their aging process. The bacteria give off carbon dioxide, which then pops leaving holes in the cheese. No need to worry, it is nothing to do with mice!
Substitutes for Swiss Cheese
Understandably then, having to substitute for such a unique, yet understated flavour is a tough ask. Swiss cheese is also internationally recognised as being a great melting cheese; it melts slowly and evenly throughout. This makes it great for fondue, pizzas, and pasta. There are of course many cheeses that will share a few characteristics with Emmental but which don’t tick all of the boxes. For example, gouda came close to making this list – but the ones listed below beat it to the chase in terms of being a better all-round substitute. So, without further ado, here’s our list of the best substitutes for Swiss cheese.
Fontina is a soft Italian cheese that is made using cows’ milk. In terms of acting as a substitute for Swiss cheese, this cheese ticks quite a few of the necessary boxes. For starters, it has a distinctive nutty type flavour which is also present in Swiss. But, more importantly, it has the same characteristics when melting.
It can also add a creaminess and a smoothness to your cooking that few cheeses actually manage to deliver. Because of all this, it’s the perfect cheese for pizzas, pastas, and even just simply the humble toasted sandwich. However, one area where it sets itself apart from Swiss cheese (and the substitutes on this list), is by having a rather potent and pungent odour. This may dissuade a few from using this substitute, but in terms of every other possible criterion this makes an easy substitute.
2. A high-quality Cheddar
Our next solution is much more accessible in that cheddar can be found pretty much anywhere. What’s more, if you’re not willing or able to spend big on an expensive brand, you can still find an acceptable version for next to nothing. There are also further benefits to substituting cheddar for Swiss cheese. These relate to health and dietary requirements.
The nutritional value of cheddar is very high. It’s absolutely packed with such useful things as potassium, calcium, and protein. Also, let’s face it; there’s nothing quite like dashing a bit of Worcestershire sauce over a nice cheddar toastie. That right there is the epitome of comfort food.
It used to be the case that mozzarella was king in the Italian soft cheese market, but that status quo is no more. There’s a new contender to the throne in town, and many are making the switch to using burrata as a replacement for mozzarella. Burrata, for those who aren’t already acquainted with it, is a solid shell of mozzarella stuffed with Stracciatella and cream.
This mixture generates a beautifully soft texture throughout and makes it a good stand-in for fontina in terms of creaminess. It is equally delicious raw as it is melted into a dish, but an authentic example will set you back a small fortune.
4. Non-Swiss Emmental
Emmentaler cheese gets its name by the fact that it originates from the Emme river valley in Switzerland. In recent years however, due to the fact that the Emmental name doesn’t appear to be controlled in the same manner as Champagne, there have been numerous Emmental-type cheeses manufactured throughout the world.
Though these varieties are currently unavailable through Amazon, we can advise trying either Leerdammer or Maasdam (both from the Netherlands) if they are available in your locality. Leerdammer is essentially a cross between Emmentaler and Gouda, whereas Maasdam is almost a direct replica of the original Swiss recipe.
In terms of texture, you can’t really get much closer to fontina than you can with provolone. Provolone is a tangy tasting but yet sweet Italian soft cheese. Used by the Italians as an addition to pasta dishes such as manicotti shells, it can also double as a topping for salads in its more mature form.
For some, this cheese may prove too sweet to act as a direct substitute for Swiss cheese. Instead of substituting in a 1:1 ratio, we would instead suggest mixing it down with a bit of cheddar for optimal effect. However, if you’re feeling adventurous and enjoy sweet flavours, there is no reason why this substitute won’t be exactly what you’ve been looking for.
We hope that you found this guide to substituting for Swiss Cheese to be a valuable and informative resource when you need an alternative option. As you can see, there are several viable options out there – one of which may well be lurking in your fridge!