Blue cheese, or bleu cheese, is a generic term used to describe one of the most popular and versatile cheeses in the world.
With a salty and sharp flavor and a pungent aroma, blue cheese is made using pasteurized cow, sheep, or goat milk that is ripened with cultures of the mold Penicillium.
It gets its name from the spots or veins of the mold throughout the cheese, which can vary in color ranging from different shades of blue, green, and gray.
Blue cheese is packed with calcium and a variety of beneficial vitamins and minerals, but also contains high levels of fat, salt, and cholesterol and, therefore, must be consumed in moderation.
At times when blue cheese isn’t available or you wish to cut back on the fat and calories, you can look for one of its many alternatives.
What are the best substitutes for blue cheese? With so many different varieties of blue cheese, one can easily be substituted with the other. Just make sure to choose ones that have a similar texture and flavor profile, such as Gorgonzola and Roquefort. Other healthier alternatives include feta and cottage cheese.
Read on to find out how blue cheese is made, the best ways to use blue cheese, and our top 7 picks of the best blue cheese substitutes:
How Is Blue Cheese Made?
Blue cheese dates back to the 7th century to a cave outside a village in France where a shepherd forgot his bread and cheese lunch.
He returned a few months later to find that the cheese had been infested with Penicillium, a mold growing inside the cave, thus, discovering blue cheese by accident!
The blue cheese that we eat today is made by refining this natural mold which is then added to the cheese milk to get many different varieties.
To give the cheese its distinctive blue color and soft texture, it is pierced with stainless steel skewers or thin rods or needles to allow oxygen to circulate inside of it.
This process is referred to as “spiking” or “needling”. It is then left for 3-6 months to mature.
While the mold cultures and the needling greatly contribute to the flavor, texture, and quality of the cheese, other factors are also at play.
These include the type of milk used (cow, sheep, or goat), their diet before the animals were milked, and the slightly different techniques used by cheesemakers around the world.
These differences result in the many varieties of blue cheese with their own distinct flavor. Some of the most common ones include Gorgonzola, Roquefort, Stilton, and Maytag Blue.
Ways To Use Blue Cheese
With its wide variety and distinct flavors, blue cheese is one of the most versatile cheeses in the market.
You can incorporate it into your weekly dinner plans and also use it as a fancy ingredient for a party you’re hosting for your family and friends. You can eat it as is, melt it, spread it, or crumble it!
Here are some of the best ways you can enjoy blue cheese:
- Crumbled on top of pasta, risotto, or a salad
- Paired with fresh fruit and wine
- Melted on top of a burger
- Made into a delicious cheesy dip
- As a pizza topping
- As a dessert or sweet appetizer
- Melted in a grilled cheese sandwich
The 7 Best Substitutes For Blue Cheese
Depending on what you need it substituted for, you can either opt for one of the many different versions of blue cheese or look for other alternatives that offer a similar texture and flavor experience.
The 7 best substitutes for blue cheese include:
Named after a town in Milan, Gorgonzola is a type of blue cheese, and one of the best-selling cheeses in the world made with unpasteurized cow milk.
It has the saltiness and pungent smell that blue cheese is known for and, to maintain its flavor, is still made using the same methods and techniques that were used centuries ago.
Gorgonzola comes in two varieties based on its age: the young Gorgonzola Dolce and the more aged Gorgonzola Piccante.
Gorgonzola Dolce has a soft and creamy taste with slight hints of sharp blue. The aged version, on the other hand, has a stronger flavor and is quite chalky and sharp.
Since Gorgonzola is both a soft and hard cheese based on which version you use (Dolce or Piccante), it can be used in a variety of ways and is a great substitute for blue cheese.
You can put it on a cheeseboard where it would pair wonderfully with some grapes and pistachios, or you could add it to your pizzas, pasta, risottos, and burgers for that added zest.
One of the oldest types of blue cheese, Roquefort is made from sheep milk and is considered a delicacy enjoyed among the likes of kings and popes.
Known for its pungent smell and characteristic blue veins, Roquefort is a white, crumbly, slightly moist cheese laced with small blue pockets. It has a complex and intense flavor profile with a blend of sharp and tangy nuances.
What makes it so special is that it takes 13 liters of sheep milk to make one pan of cheese. After preparing the cheese curd, it is left uncovered for at least 90 days where it repins to get its ultimate look and taste.
Roquefort cheese can be eaten on its own or paired with fruit, dried fruit, crackers, red wine, a fresh baguette, or mixed with salads. It also goes really well with roasted potatoes and is a great blue cheese option.
Stilton is a classic English blue cheese that gets its name from the village in Huntingdonshire where it is thought to have been originally sold.
Made from cow milk, Stilton cheese has a beautiful marble-like interior and provides the same flavor profile as blue cheese. It opens with a creamy and nutty flavor, followed by a salty finish that lingers on for a while.
It also has the same smell as blue cheese, which makes it a great substitute. One difference is that Stilton is creamier than other blue cheeses, making it a great choice for people looking to increase the creaminess of their dish.
It pairs well with sliced apples, honey, and walnuts, and is a great addition to any cheeseboard. In addition to that, you can use it for pasta, risottos, and desserts, as well as delicious burgers with melted stilton sauce.
4. Danish Blue
Also known as Danablu, Danish Blue is a type of blue cheese made from cow milk and it displays fine streaks of blue veins resembling Danish porcelain.
Native to blue cheese, its flavors are salty, pungent, and sharp, with initially soft flavors that intensify as they linger.
It has a creamy and rich consistency and is milder than other blue cheeses, making it more suited to sensitive palates.
Danish Blue is a great option for introducing someone to blue cheese and it pairs well with seared beef and steak, dark chocolate, and fresh fruit, and provides a rich creaminess to soups, pasta, and sauces.
5. Maytag Blue
Maytag is a type of blue cheese produced by the Maytag Dairy Farms in the United States, made originally as a recreation of Roquefort cheese.
Made using cow milk, Maytag is handcrafted using traditional methods of curing and is ripened over a period of 6 months. To date, it is made in small batches to ensure the best quality.
It has a dense, crumbly texture and a semi-sharp flavor that works great as a substitute for blue cheese. With every bite, it releases a slightly tangy flavor with a hint of lemon.
It has the same pungent smell as blue cheese and might not suit everyone’s taste.
However, if you are looking for a cheaper alternative for blue cheese, Maytag blue is an excellent choice that tastes great when crumbled onto salads or melted onto a burger.
Feta is a Greek cheese and one of the most popular cheeses in the world, typically made from pure sheep or goat milk, or a mixture of both.
Similar to Gorgonzola, Feta is quite soft and easy to work with, and it provides a somewhat similar taste to blue cheese, but without the sharp, powerful flavor and blue spots or veins.
Feta cheese is much milder and more affordable, and easily available than blue cheese, which is sometimes considered a delicacy and a luxury ingredient in many dishes.
The best thing about substituting blue cheese with Feta is that its smell is nowhere near as strong as blue cheese, making it a great alternative for people who cannot stand the smelly odor of blue cheese and its many varieties.
Feta cheese works great as a salad dressing and can also be turned into a delicious creamy sauce that you can enjoy with burgers and pasta. It can also be served on its own with olives and fresh flatbread.
If you are unable to get your hands on any of the above-mentioned substitutes, you can count on Cheddar cheese since it is one of the most easily available and popular cheeses in the country.
Originating in the English village of Cheddar, Cheddar cheese is made from cow milk where the curds and whey are separated using an enzyme complex called rennet.
Depending on the age, cheese cultures, pasteurization, and coatings, there are many varieties of cheddar cheese that differ in terms of taste and texture.
The flavors range from mild to sharp, with younger cheddar starting out mild and gradually becoming stronger as it ages. Some cheddars are also made more flavorful by adding chili, onions, black pepper, or hints of smokiness.
Cheddar cheese is a flavorful, firm, and creamy cheese that can be used in a variety of ways. It can be grated as a garnish for soups and salads, tastes great with burgers, and makes a great grilled cheese sandwich.
Vegan Substitutes for Blue Cheese
Since cheese is an animal product, does going vegan mean you have to say goodbye to blue cheese? Absolutely not!
There are many vegan blue cheese alternatives that, instead of using dairy milk and animal ingredients, are prepared using plant ingredients.
Some of the most commonly found vegan blue cheeses include:
- Vegan Gorgonzola
- Vegan Roquefort
- Vegan Cabrales
- Vegan Stilton
Similar to how different varieties of blue cheese are made, their vegan alternatives are also made using different techniques for a unique flavor and texture.
What’s great about these vegan alternatives is that you can easily make them at home using a few simple ingredients.
These include raw cashews, refined coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, white miso paste, and Spirulina – green-blue algae that gives the vegan cheese its blue spots and veins.
Now that you know about the basics of blue cheese and some of the best substitutes, both vegan and non-vegan, let’s answer a few additional questions you may have!
How do I store blue cheese?
If not stored properly, blue cheese will not last very long. If stored properly, i.e., kept wrapped in the refrigerator, it can be stored for up to 3 to 4 weeks.
It is always best to check the “best before” date on the package if you are using a store-bought one.
Since there are living organisms on the surface of this cheese that require air, wrapping it tightly and putting it in an airtight box in the fridge is a bad idea, resulting in the cheese losing its flavor and deteriorating at a much faster pace.
Wrap the leftover cheese in foil, parchment, or wax paper, and store it in the fridge so that it doesn’t pick up on any fridge odors while also getting the necessary air.
If you wish to store it for a longer period of time, cut it up into smaller pieces, wrap it tightly in a freezer bag, and put it in the freezer where, if stored properly and at the right temperature, it can even last indefinitely.
Does blue cheese go bad?
Since blue cheese already has mold growing on its surface, can it go bad in a way that it is unsafe to eat? Yes, it can.
The mold already on its surface is created by Penicillium, which is an edible mold culture. However, if other bacteria start developing in the cheese, it will go bad and the only logical thing to do in that case would be to discard it.
As a rule of thumb, do not eat it if it has mold growth not native to blue cheese, if the creamy part of the cheese has turned a strange color such as pink, brown, or yellow, or if it starts to smell like ammonia.
How do I select the best blue cheese?
Some people avoid blue cheese because of its reputation for having a distinctively strong flavor and pungent odor.
What they are unaware of is that there are many different types of blue cheeses, and none of them are alike. Some are very strong while others are surprisingly mild.
When choosing the best blue cheese, keep this fact in mind: the soft, creamy blue cheeses will be much milder than the firmer varieties.
Also, the crumbly cheeses will be the strongest while the hard cheeses are somewhere in the middle.
Gorgonzola and Danish Blue are the mildest. For a moderately stronger flavor, go for Stilton, and for the strongest blue cheese flavor, opt for Roquefort.
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