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5 Best Substitutes for Swiss Cheese in Cooking

Swiss cheese, with its iconic hole-dotted and pale-yellow body, is a staple in many kitchens thanks to its nutty, slightly sweet flavor and meltable texture.

However, this renowned cheese isn’t always available at your local market, or perhaps you’re on the lookout for an alternative that can bring a twist to your recipes.

Luckily, I’m here to guide you through the labyrinth of cheesy delights. Here’s a meticulous breakdown of the five best substitutes for Swiss cheese that will enhance, not compromise, your culinary creations.

1 – Gruyère Cheese

When Swiss cheese is a no-show, the classic Gruyère makes for a suave understudy. This semi-hard cheese hails from the Fribourg region of Switzerland, adjacent to the namesake town of Gruyères. With a rich, creamy texture and a nutty, earthy flavor, it’s no surprise Gruyère often steps in for the star of the show.

Gruyère has melting credentials Swiss cheese would admire. In a fondue or atop a gratin, it proves its worth with a smooth, even melt. Use a 1:1 substitution ratio for a seamless transition. Just remember, Gruyère has a slightly stronger flavor, so if subtlety is the order of the day, approach with a lighter hand.

This cheese shines in many dishes, from the famed French Onion Soup, where its depth elevates the broth, to a Croque Monsieur, where its decadent melt brings the sandwich to life. And, of course, no mac ‘n’ cheese is complete without it.

2 – Cheddar Cheese

Cheddar is nothing if not versatile. Its flavor ranges from mild to sharp, and its coloring spans the spectrum from pale white to deep orange, depending on the aging process and any added annatto. From the crumbliest of Mature Cheddars to the gooeyness of Mild, Cheddar steals the spotlight with chameleonic ease.

In recipes that call for Swiss, particularly those requiring a melty cheese, Cheddar is a robust substitute. Its flavor profile is distinct, with a tangy finish that may take your dish in a new and exciting direction. For a similar consistency, opt for a mild Cheddar and substitute one to one.

Your favorite recipes that require Swiss, such as quiches, can certainly accommodate Cheddar. It’s the backbone of those classic dishes and brings its own array of recipes to light, including everything from the beloved grilled cheese to the assertive Welsh Rarebit.

3 – Fontina Cheese

Italian Fontina from the Aosta Valley can be your go-to Swiss stand-in. Its subtle, earthy, and nutty flavor with a hint of mushrooms is complemented by a creamy consistency that, much like Swiss, melts beautifully, though maybe just a tad silkier.

In dishes where the creamier texture needs to play with other ingredients, Fontina excels. Its subtle flavor melds well with others, making it a stellar choice for dishes like tarts and quiches. Use a one-to-one ratio for the ideal substitution.

Aside from standout performances in your favorite fondue recipes, Fontina is often found in Italy’s famed Fontina Val d’Aosta cheese, which takes a starring role in their national dish, Polenta. It’s an essential component that adds a layer of luxury to the dish.

4 – Provolone Cheese

Provolone comes in two distinct guises—Dolce, a young cheese with mild flavors, and Piccante, a sharp, well-aged option. Its smooth, firm texture stands ready to soften the blow of Swiss cheese’s absence.

In dishes that call for Swiss, Provolone’s creamy-to-oily texture when hot serves as a brilliant melter. Its flavors play nicely—with medium intensity, it’s not about to dominate the dish but to hold its own. For the best union, swap out Swiss for Provolone with a 1:1 ratio.

For stuffed pastas, it’s about the Dolce variety’s understated creaminess, much like the Swiss. In sandwiches, from the signature Philly Cheesesteak to a Prosciutto and Arugula Panini, its melty consistency and mild oomph take center stage.

5 – Gouda Cheese

Holland’s contribution to the cheesy pantheon, Gouda, can be an excellent backup vocalist to Swiss cheese’s lead. With a characteristically sweet and nutty profile and a texture that can vary from smooth and creamy to hard and crystalline, Gouda’s got range.

When Swiss is in short supply, Gouda’s gentle, versatile flavor slides perfectly into place. With a texture that melts smoothly with heat, Gouda is a natural fit in recipes that need Swiss’ melty magic. Adopt a 1:1 substitution ratio for a seamless transition.

Gouda is worth its weight in gold in a host of classic dishes that sometimes call for Swiss, such as the Dutch favorite, Stamppot. In American classics like scalloped potatoes or a grilled Gouda and turkey sandwich, it’s the perfect partner.