ham and cheese sandwich

7 Best Cheeses for Ham and Cheese Sandwich

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Perfect for snacking and lunchtime, a simple ham and cheese sandwich is easy to prepare and tastes delicious. 

Simple, however, doesn’t mean that it has to be boring. You can make a variety of ham and cheese sandwiches using different types of ham, bread, and cheese.

So, what are the best cheeses for a ham and cheese sandwich? Several types of cheese go well with ham and cheese sandwiches. Some of the most popular ones include cheddar, Swiss, brie, provolone, Havarti, gouda, blue cheese, and pepper jack cheese.

Read on for more about the best cheeses for a ham and cheese sandwich and how each type of cheese will give your sandwich a unique flavor.

Best Cheeses for Ham and Cheese Sandwich

Considered by many as a classic American sandwich, ham and cheese sandwiches are made using deli-sliced ham and your choice of cheese in between two slices of bread.

The type of ham used varies depending on what is available at the local deli or meat market. It can be paired with several different types of cheese and condiments may also be added for flavor.

Some people prefer their ham and cheese sandwich cold, while some prefer it to be heated. Grilling the sandwich is one of the most common ways to heat it. It can also be placed in a panini press or coated in an egg wash and placed in a deep fryer.

Here are some of the best cheeses for ham and cheese sandwiches:

1. Cheddar Cheese

One of the most popular cheeses in the US, cheddar cheese is a hard, somewhat sharp-tasting cheese made from natural cow milk.

Available in a variety of forms from blocks to slices and even spreads, it is popularly used in burgers, casseroles, and sandwiches such as the favorite ham and cheese sandwich.

Cheddar cheese has a strong flavor that perfectly complements the savory flavor of the ham and tastes particularly great with honey-glazed ham. Its sharpness also offsets the sweetness of the bread. In addition to that, it adds a creamy texture to the sandwich.

For best results, we suggest going with an aged variety of cheddar for a more intense flavor and firmer texture. You can make a simple sandwich with just bread, ham, and cheese, or take it a step further by adding crispy bacon or fried onions to the sandwich before adding the sliced or grated cheddar cheese.

2. Swiss Cheese

If you’re looking for the best cheese for a cold ham and cheese sandwich, Swiss cheese it is! Ham and Swiss cheese are a classic pairing that can simply never go wrong.

It is one of the most popular cheeses to be paired with ham. The sharp flavor of Swiss cheese pairs wonderfully with the saltiness of the ham and cuts perfectly through the fatty parts of any type of ham.

emmental cheese

Two of the most famous Swiss cheeses are Emmental and Gruyère, both of which are highly regarded for their flavor and melting ability. 

Emmental is the American version of Swiss cheese and has a few distinctive features such as a semi-hard texture, yellow color, a subtle hay-like aroma, a mild nutty flavor, and holes of different sizes.

Gruyère, on the other hand, when young, has a softer texture and far less visible holes, although it tastes similarly mild. A more mature Gruyère takes on a sharper flavor and more granular texture.

Also, the holes in Swiss cheese, other than giving it a characteristic look, help trap the flavors of the ham and create a more flavorful pairing.

3. Brie

Brie is a popular French cheese with a soft, rich, and creamy texture accompanied by an earthy and slightly pungent flavor. It has a runny and spreadable texture, making it perfect for all kinds of sandwiches.

It tastes particularly good when paired with salty cured meats such as smoked ham as the earthiness of the cheese cuts perfectly through the saltiness of the meat.

Brie is pale white with a slight greyish hue around the rind. As it ages, it takes on a stronger earthy flavor and becomes more aromatic with notes of fruitiness. 

brie

Its rich taste and buttery texture make it a classic for cold ham sandwiches. It is also commonly paired with fruits and nuts on charcuterie and cheese boards and tastes incredible with something sweet such as grapes and figs to counterbalance its earthy flavor. 

4. Provolone

Provolone is a staple Italian cheese made of full-fat cow’s milk. It has a semi-firm, grainy texture making it ideal for slicing thin for sandwiches.

It is classified into two varieties – provolone dolce (sweet) and provolone piccante (picquant). It has a mild, slightly tangy taste that becomes sharper with time. Out of the two, provolone piccante is aged for longer and takes on a stronger taste.

provolone

The soft texture of provolone makes it extremely easy to slice, shred, or grate, and its mild flavor pairs well with a cold ham sandwich. Another great characteristic of provolone that makes it a perfect pairing with ham is that it melts easily and doesn’t get rubbery.

Its subtle sweetness offsets the saltiness of the meat and pairs well with meats like salami, mortadella, and prosciutto. To take your ham and provolone cheese sandwich up a notch, you can add some sliced roasted red peppers before layering the cheese slices.

5. Havarti

Havarti is a semi-soft cheese that is native to Denmark but has similar variants produced in the US as well. Made of cow’s milk, it has a springy texture that is also incredibly creamy.

It has a mild buttery flavor with notes of subtle sweetness and acidity. Taste-wise, it is perfectly balanced and mild enough to go with all kinds of salads and sandwiches. It even tastes incredible on its own.

havarti

Havarti can be sliced, grilled, or melted, and when paired with ham, it brings out the sweetness of the meat without taking over the flavor palate and adds both flavor as well as texture.

A perfect choice if you are looking to add a layer of creaminess and sweetness to your ham sandwich, Havarti can also be a great addition to cheeseboards, burgers, and other dishes.

6. Gouda

Gouda is a semi-hard cheese originating in the Netherlands. With a colorful, wax-coated rind and a flavor profile that ranges from mildly sweet and buttery to very nutty and caramelized depending on the age of the cheese, gouda is a perfect option for ham sandwiches for adding an extra layer of flavor.

gouda

Aged gouda has a bolder flavor with notes of butterscotch and a harder texture, making it more suitable for cheeseboards or grating over pasta dishes. Younger gouda, on the other hand, is ideal for slicing and layering onto sandwiches as it is relatively softer and can melt easily.

If you want to take it up a notch, you can also go with smoked gouda. The smokiness of the cheese perfectly complements the saltiness of the ham and adds just the right amount of depth to it.

7. Blue Cheese

Blue cheese is an umbrella term used to describe the different types of cheese made with cow, sheep, or goat milk that has been ripened with penicillium cultures giving it its distinctive blue-green veins or patches of mold.

blue cheese

There are several varieties of blue cheese with most of them having a salty and sharp flavor coupled with a pungent aroma. Its unique flavor and aroma and creamy and crumbly texture add an interesting twist to any dish and is a classic addition to ham and cheese sandwiches, particularly cold ones.

The sharp flavor of blue cheese helps cut through the saltiness and richness of the meat and makes the two a great pairing. To make your blue cheese and ham sandwich even more delicious, we suggest topping it off with some fresh lettuce and sliced tomatoes.

8. Pepper Jack

If you’re looking to add just the right amount of heat to your ham and cheese sandwich, we suggest trying some pepper jack cheese!

pepper jack

A milder version of the original Monterey Jack cheese, pepper jack cheese is infused with peppers and a blend of spices to give it just the kick it needs.

It is a semi-soft cheese with a slightly crumbly texture and a buttery, creamy, and spicy flavor, making it the perfect choice for ham sandwiches. Since it has a high moisture content and melts fairly easily, it works great in cold ham and cheese sandwiches.

The mild spiciness of the cheese perfectly complements the saltiness and smokiness of the ham without overpowering it at all. You can choose from mild to sharp varieties depending on how spicy you want the cheese to be.

The milder ones will have a subtle spiciness whereas the sharper varieties will have more cayenne pepper infused into it.

Conclusion

With so many different types of delicious cheeses to add to your ham sandwiches, there’s not the slightest chance of getting bored. You can switch it up and make the perfect ham and cheese sandwich based on how creamy, salty, sharp, sweet, or pungent you want the cheese to be.

You can choose between cheddar, Swiss, brie, provolone, Havarti, gouda, blue cheese, and pepper jack cheese. This, of course, isn’t an exhaustive list and you can try other options as well such as American cheese, goat cheese, feta cheese, parmesan, and Muenster.

To make things more fun, you can even add more than one type of cheese to your sandwich. The more, the better, right?

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