6 Pepper Jack Cheese Substitutes

Pepper jack cheese is a variety of Monterey jack cheese flavored with peppers and spices to give it a slight kick.

This delicious semi-soft cheese is often used on sandwiches and in cheese sauces. Its smooth texture and slightly buttery, spicy taste make it very versatile. 

If you don’t have pepper jack cheese on hand, there are a number of pepper jack cheese substitutes, including cheddar, Colby, Havarti, swiss, muenster, and gouda.

Let’s take a look.

6 Substitutes for Pepper Jack Cheese

1. Cheddar Cheese

Also used as a substitute for Monterey jack cheese, cheddar cheese comes in varying strengths and as such can be used as a substitute not just for pepper jack cheese, but for a number of different cheeses – even mozzarella!

While cheddar cheese is just as creamy as pepper jack cheese, it has a slightly sharper taste. That said, due to the similar consistency, cheddar cheese is a great pepper jack cheese substitute when melted or baked. 

It’s recommended to use cheddar cheese as a pepper jack cheese substitute when making macaroni and cheese, cheeseburgers, or another type of dish where your cheese is baked. 

2. Colby Cheese

Colby cheese is so similar to Monterey jack cheese in flavor and consistency that it is often called “Colby Jack” cheese. 

Colby is semi-hard – harder than pepper jack cheese – but has a very similar melting point to pepper jack. Given its light flavor, Colby cheese is a versatile pepper jack cheese substitute and can be used on anything from pizza to pasta to bakes.

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3. Havarti Cheese

Similar in taste to pepper jack cheese, Havarti cheese is a great pepper jack cheese substitute both melted and cold.

Particularly interesting on a hot sandwich, or on other grilled items, Havarti cheese has a buttery taste similar to that of pepper jack cheese. 

4. Swiss Cheese

Technically, there’s no one type of cheese called “Swiss cheese.” Swiss cheese is a blanket term for any cheese that has originated in Switzerland. This includes Jarlsberg, Emmental, types of gruyere, etc. 

The main features of Swiss cheese are all the same: large holes (made from air), smooth and semi-hard, and a mild, buttery flavor. The flavor and texture of Swiss cheese make it a great pepper jack cheese substitute.

Like the other pepper jack alternatives, Swiss cheese is not spicy. That said, it pairs well with similar spice flavor profiles like those found in pepper jack. This makes it especially good as a substitute for sandwiches that have a spicy garnish.

5. Muenster Cheese

There are two main types of muenster cheese: European and American.

European Muenster cheese has a thick, smokey flavor – making it a wonderful pepper jack cheese substitute. It has an intense flavor, more so than that of cheddar or swiss. European Muenster is best used as a substitute for pepper jack cheese when melted, given its intensity.

American Muenster cheese has a milder taste and is slightly lighter in color. It’s less intense than European Muenster, which makes it an ideal pepper jack cheese substitute when making a cold sandwich.

Muenter blends well with other cheeses, making it a good alternative when you’re looking for a cheese with flavor, but maybe one that doesn’t stand out as much as pepper jack cheese.

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6. Gouda Cheese

Last on our list, gouda has a different flavor profile than any of the other pepper jack cheese substitutes. With its slightly tangy taste and semi-hard texture that is difficult to melt, gouda is a good pepper jack cheese substitute when paired with crackers, or bread.

The more aged a gouda, the stronger its flavor. This is similar to how a pepper jack cheese ages, making gouda a wonderful pepper jack cheese substitute.

Final Thoughts

While no cheese can be a pepper jack cheese substitute exactly, given the inclusion of spices and peppers, the ones listed in this article can be used somewhat interchangeably.

If the spicy flavor of pepper jack cheese is what you’re after, try pairing any of these cheeses with a similar spice, whether it’s chopped jalapeño or pepper jelly. You’ll get a great taste, with a similar texture.