Cheese is one of those ingredients that many of us tend to have in our kitchens at all times. It is versatile and easy to work with, and you also enjoy its impressive taste.
Of the many cheese variants available, blue cheese is one of the most popular. Its unique taste and impressive application make it a great option for many people looking to cook. But, it isn’t perfect and you’ll need substitutes at times.
What is the best substitute for blue cheese? Feta cheese is the top substitute for blue cheese, thanks in most part to its similar taste and application. Feta cheese and blue cheese share a lot in common, including their place of origin.
An Overview of Blue Cheese
Blue cheese is a part of the marbled cheese class – the types of cheese that come with veins on them. It is usually made of cow milk, with the addition of mold over a period of a few months. It is said to date back to the 7th century, although some dispute that fact.
Blue cheese is famous for the characteristic blue veins that streak across it. The veins are actually present due to the addition of Penicillium roqueforti – a type of mold that mixes with the cheese culture. Today, that same mold is refined and applied to almost all blue cheeses. For the cheese to turn blue, its insides need to be filled with oxygen. Then, the blue mold matures inside the cheese’s air tunnels. As it ages, it gives the cheese flavor.
With blue cheese, you get a creamy taste with hints of salt and spice. Thanks to this flavor, blue cheese works in different types of dishes – you can melt it over a burger, use it in making dips, add it to a salad, melt it in grilled cheese, etc.
Why Substitute Blue Cheese?
- Pungent smell: While it tastes great, blue cheese has a strong smell that some might find appealing. If you’re sensitive to smells, then you’ll need a substitute to stand in the gap.
- Gluten content: Some variants of blue cheese contain gluten, which some people might be sensitive to. If you want a gluten-free option, there are available substitutes for you.
- Taste differences: You might not like the taste of blue cheese. If that’s the case, you should get something else.
Options for Blue Cheese Substitutes
Best Overall Substitute for Blue Cheese: Feta Cheese
Like blue cheese, feta cheese is one of the most popular cheese variants. Originating in Greece, this type of cheese has been available since about the 8th century. It is obtained from either pure goat’s milk or pure sheep’s milk. In some situations, shepherds actually combined both, using either a 50-50 split or using 75 percent of goat’s milk.
Thanks to its taste, feta cheese is known as a protected designation origin (PDO) product. It has tiny holes on the insides, and it is also much softer than many other cheese variants – and even easier to work with, some might say.
In terms of similarity, feta cheese and blue cheese offer the same salty taste – with a hint of a spicy aftertaste that you get when you’re done consuming it. You will also love the fact that feta cheese doesn’t have any of that pungent smell that you get from blue cheese.
Feta cheese is also quite versatile. You can use it in Mexican cuisine, sandwiches, salads, and more. But, you will need to be careful while using it. Feta cheese is made using a complex process in which the temperature and humidity must be actively watched. At the same time, you will need to keep the cheese well to avoid the growth of mold.
Best Substitute in Baking: Gorgonzola Cheese
Unlike any of the cheese variants discussed so far, gorgonzola cheese actually originates from Italy. It is one of the best-selling Italian cheese variants, and it has a long history of being used in the kitchen.
Gorgonzola cheese is made with skimmed pasteurized cow milk. Its flavor is carefully maintained, and you can generally find two types of this cheese. There’s the Gorgonzola Dolce, which comes with a creamy and soft taste. Then, there’s Gorgonzola Piccante, which is sharp with a bit of a chalky taste.
Like blue cheese, gorgonzola cheese comes with veining. You can also choose to buy the firm variant or the buttery one. The cheese’s taste is quite similar to blue cheese, with both of them giving that salty and spicy mixture. In fact, gorgonzola cheese even has the same strong smell as blue cheese. But, thanks to its rich flavor, you won’t have any issues using it.
Gorgonzola’s rich flavor is also the reason why you will love using it in your baking recipes.
Best Taste-Based Substitute: Roquefort Cheese
It is almost impossible to know blue cheese and to not have heard of roquefort cheese. With a history dating back over 100 years, roquefort cheese is one of the most popular marble cheeses. To date, it is almost exclusively produced in France.
Also made with sheep’s milk and mold, roquefort cheese comes with a creamy, soft taste. Its flavor is quite sharp and salty, making it an impressive taste-based substitute for blue cheese as well.
In terms of application, roquefort cheese is usually applied in dressings and as a salad topping. You can also use it as a filling for tarts and pies, and it is a great addition to pasta dishes as well.
Roquefort cheese has no preservatives or artificial flavors, so it is unpasteurized and gluten-free. But, note that it isn’t a vegetarian cheese as it contains animal rennet. If you have other sensitivities, you might want to check the labeling of the cheese you purchase.