If you eat dairy, cheese is a staple one can’t imagine living without. Whether it’s gracing the top of a pizza or eaten alone on a charcuterie board, cheese is versatile enough to be found on the menu in many different cultures. With seemingly endless options available, each type of cheese has its own distinct flavor and texture. Creamy, tangy, sharp, mild – there’s a cheese out there to suit every palate. The best types of cheese can be enjoyed with your favorite glass of wine or used to garnish some of your favorite classic dishes.
People who are lactose intolerant or eat a plant-based diet avoid cheese, but for those who don’t fall under either category, cheese is a guilty pleasure. A research team at University of Bristol and University College London report that our ancestors were drinking milk and eating dairy products long before the human race had the gene mutation that allowed them to process lactose. The study finds people were more likely to consume dairy products when disease and famine caused food shortage.
Now, dairy is such a large part of our culture you can find it everywhere. Cheeseburgers in the USA wouldn’t be the same without the slice of American cheese. Schoolchildren are encouraged to drink milk in school from an early age to fortify their bones with calcium and vitamin D. Though cheese often has a bad reputation, another study concludes that people aren’t at an increased risk of cholesterol-related heart disease from consuming significant amounts of cheese.
Are you a cheese-lover wanting to expand your knowledge and palate? StudyFinds sought out the best types of cheese by consulting ten expert websites. Our list is based on the top recommendations across these sites. Have a favorite cheese of your own? Let us know which one in the comments below!
The List: Best Types of Cheese, According to Food Experts
1. Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmesan)
Parmigiano-Reggiano is also known as Parmesan cheese, and is one of the most common table cheeses used in cooking. You’ll find it often in pasta dishes, salads, or heavier dishes with potatoes or chicken. Taste Atlas explains “Considered to be among the world’s top quality cheeses, Parmigiano Reggiano is made with raw, semi-skimmed milk from cows grazing on fresh grass and hay.”
Parmesan takes about a year to age fully, and has a savory flavor and aroma that can’t be mistaken for any other cheese. “The ultimate cheese for grating and topping any dish, Parmesan has a sharp, nutty flavor that can elevate even the simplest pasta or salad,” adds Insanely Good Recipes.
“Like Pecorino Romano, Parmigiano Reggiano is another Italian cuisine staple as a table cheese or as a cooking cheese,” writes Recipes. “It’s called King of Cheese for a reason. Its nutty aroma and complex flavor profile also sets Parmigiano Reggiano apart from the rest.”
Brie cheese is named for the region where it originates from in France. It’s soft cheese often served warm to be used as a spread for bread or crackers. “It has a milky taste and texture with some bitter overtones. It has a thin white crust on the outside,” says The Eat Down.
The crust or rind on the cheese comes from white mold that develops while the cheese processed. The rind is edible and typically eaten. “The longer the aging process, the stronger the flavor is! Some Brie varieties are smoked at low temperatures to enhance the flavor,” adds Styles at Life.
“Pair wedges with a crusty baguette and ripe pears, as the French do,” suggests Harry & David. “For a celebratory charcuterie, drizzle a Brie wheel with honey, gently bake it for 5 to 7 minutes at 350° F, and serve it as a sweet, gooey dip. Or wrap Brie in buttery pastry dough for a holiday cheese centerpiece.”
Ricotta is a pillowy, soft cheese that tends to have a sweeter flavor profile. This variety is common in lasagnas, desserts, and spreads. Lacademie writes “Ricotta has a smooth, spreadable texture that makes it a great match against bread and crackers.”
“Ricotta is a cheese originating from Italy. It is made from whey, which is the liquid remain after the milk has been strained,” adds Mishry. “It is a popular cheese with a mildly sweet flavor. It has a soft and creamy texture and is white or light cream in color. It has some health benefits as well as it has a low level of calories and is a rich source of protein.”
“There are two variants of Ricotta cheese- Fresh and Aged. The flavour depends on techniques like smoking, salting, baking or additional fermentation,” says Styles at Life. Each additional step of processing produces a new variation of ricotta cheese.
Cheddar was invented in the town of Cheddar in the United Kingdom. It’s one of the oldest cheeses in the world and has been produced since the 12th century,” writes The Eatdown. “It is a hard cheese and can appear off-white or yellow. A good cheddar should have a firm texture and a mild taste with the ability to melt in your mouth.”
Cheddar cheese is now produced all over the world and is known for its sharp flavor, though there are many different variations of cheddar cheese that vary from mild to strong. The Kitchn explains “The key to remember with cheddar: The longer it’s aged, the sharper and more pungent — and expensive — it will be.”
You can use cheddar cheese for dishes like soup, macaroni, potatoes, sandwiches or macaroni, choosing the variety of cheddar that best suits your dish. “Cheese-makers also customize flavors for their cheddars, including herb blends, onions, black pepper, and smoke,” adds Harry and David.
5. Greek Feta
“The intensely salty, briny flavor of feta can be polarizing, but it’s a fan favorite of cheese-lovers around the world for those very reasons. There are a few different varieties of feta, but the original comes from Greece and is made with sheep’s milk,” explains The Kitchn. “Cow’s milk feta is slightly drier, and great for crumbling. You may also encounter goat’s milk feta, which is also crumbly with a somewhat dry texture.”
Feta cheese is a strong cheese usually featured in salads or on pizza. Recipes writes “Its mildly acidic aroma, milky, tangy flavor and soft, crumbly texture suit well with salads like this authentic Greek salad recipe.”
Feta is typically made from sheep’s milk or a mixture of goat and sheep, which gives the cheese its strong flavor. According to Serious Eats, “You can find 100% goat milk versions, but the fat and heft of sheep milk is part of the delicate balance that makes this cheese great.”
Is your favorite cheese not on this list? Let us know below what you think of these selections and leave your thoughts in the comments section below!
You might also be interested in:
- Taste Atlas
- Insanely Good Recipes
- The Eat Down
- Styles at Life
- The Kitchn
- Harry and David
- Serious Eats
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links.