Anybody who is skilled in using cheese in their cooking recipes knows how valuable gruyere cheese is.
Because of how smooth it melts and its texture, gruyere is one of the best ingredients for all kinds of recipes that involve some kind of cheese.
It is most effective in fondues as well as croque monsieur, and also has practical “table” uses as well, such as in sandwiches. Usually, cheeses are only capable of serving one purpose or the other.
The versatility of gruyere cheese puts it in high demand, and it can be difficult to find when you need it. The high demand also makes gruyere cheese a lot more costly than other kinds of cheeses.
Fortunately, there exist practical substitutes for gruyere cheese, and they are not hard to find.
What exactly is Gruyere cheese?
Before exploring these substitutes, it is important to understand exactly what makes gruyere cheese so valuable and effective in recipes.
As we all know, cheese in general is really just curdled milk that has been separated and combined with rennet, an enzyme that allows it to melt.
Rennet levels are what determines how much cheese will melt. Some cheeses are curdled with acid and will not melt.
Because gruyere cheese is curdled with rennet, the substitutes will also need to be curdled with rennet.
The thing that makes gruyere cheese stand out is that it is similar to swiss cheese but it is even more flavorful, creamy and rich. You will not find this in swiss cheese, which is a lot less flavorful.
When looking for a substitute for gruyere cheese, you should look for cheese with the same kinds of properties.
To be specific, you should look for cheese that have high rennet and acid levels. This is what gives gruyere cheese its texture when melted and is what makes it so effective in fondue type recipes.
Which cheeses are not proper substitutes for gruyere?
Now that you know the basic properties of gruyere cheese, it is time to explore a few examples of cheeses that would not be proper substitutes for gruyere.
Any cheese that is not curdled with rennet will not do. This includes cheese that is solid in nature, such as feta, and it includes cheese that is curdled with acid, such as ricotta or queso. These are not substitutes for gruyere.
Cheddar cheese will not do either. It is too flavorful and ages too quickly. When cheese ages, it is more difficult to melt.
On the other hand, mozzarella, provolone, and other white cheeses that also melt will not do either. They aren’t flavorful enough.
Muenster cheese could work as a substitute, but again, it just is not flavorful enough.
The thing that makes gruyere cheese so special is that it contains the right amount of fat and water. When this is mixed at the right ratio, you’ll get a cheese that melts just enough to where it can be used in recipes, but not too much to where it turns to liquid.
None of the cheeses listed above do this perfectly.
Only a few other cheeses do this perfectly.
The following are three quality substitutes for gruyere cheese, depending on the recipe that you want to use them in.
What people call swiss cheese is actually emmental cheese. Emmental cheese is very mild and utilizes the same kind of bacteria that make gruyere cheese melt the way it does.
Emmental cheese can be used in the same kind of recipes as gruyere cheese for this reason. It can actually mix with gruyere cheese when made in fondues, which use gruyere cheese as its main ingredient.
Although emmental cheese is a substitute for gruyere cheese, it is more of a supplement than anything else. It does have the same kind of qualities, but the flavor is not as pronounced as gruyere cheese.
If you are looking for a substitute for gruyere cheese that is just as flavorful, you’ll want to seek out jarlsberg cheese. Containing the same kind of flavor as gruyere cheese, jarlsberg cheese still contains the same rich and nutty flavor as gruyere cheese does. Something that you might need to consider is the amount of wax used to maintain jarlsberg cheese. While this is negligible, it can still trip some people up when cooking with it. Jarlsberg cheese is also a little more creamy in its texture than gruyere cheese, which can also require some adjustments to be made when cooking with it.
In any case, jarlsberg cheese is still a very suitable substitute for gruyere cheese because of the fact that it is easy to find and costs a lot less money than gruyere cheese.
If you are willing to cook with cheese that is very similar to gruyere with a couple of different qualities, jarlsberg cheese is a nice substitute.
A variation of gruyere cheese, beaufort cheese is virtually the same as gruyere cheese. The only difference is that it is made of raw cow’s milk, which makes it more firm.
Because it comes from the gruyere family, beaufort cheese may be just as difficult to find and may cost as much money as gruyere.
Either way, the similarities between beaufort cheese and gruyere cheese do make beaufort cheese the closest thing to a direct substitute for gruyere cheese.
If you cannot find any gruyere cheese and still desire all the properties of it, look for beaufort cheese. The only difference with beaufort cheese is that it is a little more firm.
Gruyere cheese can be a little difficult to find and can be pretty costly.
However, you will need it if you are making fondue or anything similar, as it can melt into a thick and creamy like substance when melted.
Fortunately, there do exist other cheeses that are just as effective as gruyere cheese when it comes to the recipes that gruyere cheese is used in.
If you cannot find gruyere cheese near you or find it too costly, consider either jarlsberg, emmental, or beaufort cheese. All three of these are decent substitutes for gruyere cheese.