Gouda vs Gruyere

If you’ve been on the hunt for a substitute for either gouda or gruyere cheese and found the other in the list, surely you’ve wondered to yourself – What’s the difference between gouda and gruyere?

Well, the truth is they really are very similar cheeses. They’re both semi-hard, making them good melting cheeses and pair fantastically with wine. Gouda often boasts a sweeter flavor and is more common in dessert cheese platters, whereas gruyere is often used in cooking instead of being served on its own.

What is Gouda?

Gouda cheese is a semi-hard cheese that’s good for melting and cooking, however it’s usually served on a dessert cheese platter or with crackers and fruits because of its slightly-sweet flavor. 

It comes from a Dutch town, and is made with cow’s milk. Gouda actually makes up about 60% of all the cheese produced in Holland.

Taste

Gouda has a delicious and sweet flavor, with a mild fruity flavor that becomes stronger as the cheese is aged. 

Texture

Gouda is a semi-hard cheese. The wax rind is yellow in young gouda, and black in mature aged gouda which differentiates them. The more aged the cheese, the harder and flakier it grows.

What is Gruyere?

Gruyere, like gouda, is a semi-hard cheese with an excellent melting texture.

It’s made in Switzerland, from unpasteurized cow’s milk – unlike the pasteurized milk used with gouda.

This cheese actually has an “Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée” status, which simply means that only cheese produced in certain areas may be labeled as gruyere.

Taste

Like gouda, gruyere has a slightly fruity and sweet flavor, but with a nutty or earthy undertone. It’s much more salty, as it’s cured in brine. 

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Aged gruyere is less creamy, while being more nutty and salty than younger gruyere. 

Texture

Again, the texture of gruyere closely matches gouda. It’s a semi-hard cheese.

The color is typically a brown-yellow, with a hard brown rind.

Is Gouda a Good Substitute for Gruyere?

In short: yes. Gouda is a great substitute for gruyere because of their similar textures and flavor profiles.

Gouda is a semi-hard cheese just like gruyere, and lends itself well to use in cooking and melting as a fondue. However, if heated to high temperatures, gouda can become unpalatably stringy and difficult to manage. It’s best heated at medium temperatures.

While gruyere is usually used in cooking, gouda can be served on a cheese board, or with crackers, fruits, and wine. It’s an excellent “snacking cheese” whereas gruyere is a “cooking cheese”.

What Cheeses are Similar to Gouda?

Havarti

Havarti is a mild-flavored cheese that can easily replace gouda. It’s nutty but subtle, and won’t threaten to overpower any dish you cook it in.

Due to its mild nutty flavor, it can also be used as a “snacking cheese” like gouda – in a cheese platter or on crackers with fruits.

Cheddar

Most people will already have cheddar in their fridge, making this by far the most convenient and easily accessible substitute for gouda.

It comes in a variety of flavor profiles, both mild and sharp. So the intensity of your cheddar varies quite a lot. Regardless, the slightly smoky flavor of this cheese will work pretty good across many recipes calling specifically for gouda.

It works best as a cooking cheese, though it can also be served in cheese platters.

Munster

Another cheese like cheddar, with a smoky and robust flavor that will improve and strengthen as the cheese is aged.

Munster may not be as common as some other cheeses you may be tempted to use, but it’s luckily quite affordable and extremely versatile. It works as both a “cooking cheese” and a “snacking cheese”.

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Monterey Jack

Finally, Monterey Jack. This is a medium-hard cheese with a milder flavor than gouda. It’s buttery and slices well, making it ideal for sandwiches or appetizers with crackers. 

Monterey Jack is another good “snacking cheese” because of its mild and buttery flavor, and it pairs well with wine.

What Cheeses are Similar to Gruyere?

Kerrygold Irish Dubliner

This nutty Irish cheese works well as a substitute for gruyere. It has a distinct nutty flavor with a slight fruity sweet undertone.

Kerrygold is quite the versatile cheese, able to be used in many different casserole dishes and grilled cheese sandwiches.

It melts as easily and well as gruyere and gouda, so this can be used in baked recipes and even as a fondue.

Fontina Val d’Aosta D.O.P.

A velvety Italian cheese with a buttery flavor paired with undertones of roasted nuts.

The firm texture of Fontina lends itself well to melting, and typically is paired with Mozzarella on pizzas in Italy.

Swiss Emmental

Otherwise known commonly as simply “Swiss cheese”, emmental cheese is a mild-flavored cheese that’s matured with the same bacteria as gruyere – making it almost a perfect substitute in terms of texture and melting ease.

Emmental can be used in any recipe that calls for melting – such as French onion soup.

Jarlsberg

Last but not least, Jarlsberg cheese. A mild-flavored cow’s milk cheese made in Norwegia. 

It has a delectable buttery texture with a mild nutty, slightly sweet flavor profile. It definitely resembles gruyere, though with a milder flavor intensity. 

Gouda Pairings

Because of the flavor profile of gouda, it can be paired with savory or sweet flavors. It makes an excellent dessert cheese, for platters with fruits.

Wine

Regarding white wine, an off-dry white with a lighter body and fruity notes will compliment the gouda’s mild flavor.

For red wine, a lighter red or dessert wine will go best. Try pinot grenache!

Beer

A lighter-style beer likely goes best with the mild and nutty flavors of younger gouda.

If sweet-toned aged gouda is more your flavor, give a stout beer a try – the deeper flavor profile will give the pairing an extra kick.

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Fruits and Vegetables

Gouda pairs well with fruits such as fresh apples, peaches, pears and dried fruits like apricots and cherries. A sweeter aged gouda could pair very well with chocolate.

Gruyere Pairings

The flavor profile of gruyere is mild, but complex. It’s both nutty and sweet, salty but creamy, and it changes depending on the age of the cheese.

A young gruyere will be sweeter and has simple pairings, and gets more complex and robust as it ages.

Wine

Young gruyere lends itself well to white wines such as Champagne or Sauvignon Blanc. Smoked gruyere compliments Zinfandel or Grenache with their fruity flavors and notes of spice.

An aged gruyere has a more complex flavor, and instead matches nicely with Chardonnay or Tawny Port wine.

Beer

If you’ve got brown or amber ales, you’re in luck. They match the nutty flavor of the gruyere with a bonus hint of caramel. 

Aged gruyere will need a stronger flavor like a Belgium dubbel. If it’s smoked, try it with Bock beer – the strong toasted flavor will go well with the smoked nutty aged cheese.

Fruits and Vegetables

Gruyere can be paired with any fruits or crackers. Topped with nuts such as pecans will bring out more of the rich nutty flavor.

Aged gruyere can even be eaten on its own, or with a handful of mixed nuts and dried fruits.

Final Thoughts

While at first glance, gruyere and gouda may seem like identical cheeses – it couldn’t be further from the truth!

They do share similar flavor profiles and textures, however their seemingly slight differences make a whole world of difference – both in flavor and best usage.