Semi-Soft Cheeses

Semi-Soft Cheeses

These cheeses are great for snacking or desserts, and a few are heat-tolerant enough to be good cooking cheeses.


Many cheeses lose character when frozen, but many semi-soft cheeses can be frozen and thawed without losing too much flavor, though some become crumbly. For best results, first cut the cheese into small (1/2 pound) chunks, and wrap each chunk in an airtight package. Thaw in the refrigerator, and use the cheese soon after it's thawed.


Most semi-soft cheeses are made with cow's milk. Cheeses made with sheep's milk, like Fiore Sardo or Ossau-Iraty, have more butterfat, which make them richer and creamier. Cheeses made with goat's milk, like Syrian cheese, tend to have a tangy, earthy, and sometimes barnyard flavor.

asadero, Chihuahua®, Oaxaca cheese, queso asadero
asadero
This stringy Mexican cheese melts nicely, so it's great on quesadillas.
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Beaumont cheese
This French cow's milk cheese has a mild, nutty flavor
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Bel Paese
Bel Paese
This is a mild, semi-soft Italian cheese that's good with apples, pears, and fruity red wines. It's also shredded and used to make pizza, risotto, and pasta dishes.
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bierkäse, beer cheese, beer kaese, bierkaese, Weisslacker
bierkäse
This is a soft, stinky cheese. German like to put it on rye bread along with some sliced onion, and have it with beer. It's too overpowering to serve with wine.
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brick cheese
brick cheese
This is a pungent American washed-rind cheese.
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Caciocavallo, Cacciocavallo
Caciocavallo
This Italian cheese is similar to provolone. This can be made from cow’s milk or sheep’s milk.
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casero cheese
casero cheese
This is a mild white Mexican cheese.
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Chaubier cheese
Chaubier cheese
This mild French cheese is made with a blend of cow and goat milk.
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corsu vecchio cheese
corsu vecchio cheese
This sheep's milk cheese comes from Corsica.
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Esrom, Danish Port Salut
Esrom
This Danish cheese is semi-soft and only slightly pungent. It's a great melting cheese and a popular ingredient in casseroles.
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Fiore Sardo cheese, pecorino sardo
Fiore Sardo cheese
This is an Italian sheep's milk cheese. It's a bit crumbly.
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Gouda, baby Gouda, mature Gouda, medium Gouda, old Gouda, smoked Gouda
Gouda
This Dutch cheese has a mild, nutty flavor. Varieties include smoked Gouda, the diminutive baby Gouda, and Goudas flavored with garlic and spices. Goudas are also classed by age. A young Gouda is mild, an aged Gouda = medium Gouda = mature Gouda is more assertive, and an old Gouda = very aged Gouda is downright pungent.
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Haloumi, Halloumi
Haloumi
This salty, crumbly cheese from Cyprus stands up well to heat and can even be fried or grilled. Look for it in Middle Eastern markets. This is made with combination of sheep and goat’s milk.
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Havarti
Havarti
This mild Danish cheese is perfect for slicing into sandwiches. It's often flavored with spices and chilies.
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jack cheese, California jack, Mexican jack, Monterey jack, Sonoma jack,
jack cheese
This California semi-soft cheese resembles Muenster. It has a mild, nondescript flavor, but it's good cheese to slice into sandwiches or melt into casseroles. It also goes by California jack, Monterey jack, Sonoma jack, and Mexican jack, depending on where it was produced. Efforts to boost the flavor have produced Pepper Jack = Jalapeno Jack. Don't confuse this with aged jack, which is a grating cheese.
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Lagerkaese
This is a strong even stinky cheese.
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Laguiole
Laguiole
This is a mild French semi-soft cheese.
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Lappi
Lappi
This is a mild semi-soft cheese from the Lapland region of Finland. It's a good melter and works well in fondues
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Limburger
Limburger
This is a very stinky and salty German washed rind cheese. It's too strong to serve with most wines, so it's often served with beer. Use within a few days after purchasing. For best flavor, serve at room temperature.
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morbier cheese
morbier cheese
This creamy and mild cheese has a dark stripe running up the middle, a reference to earlier times when a layer of ash was added to the cheese to protect it from insects. Morbier has a rich, earthy flavor. It's a good melting cheese, but you might want to cook with a cheaper cheese like Lappi or Havarti.
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mozzarella, buffalo milk mozzarella, cow's milk mozzarella
mozzarella
Mozzarella is one of the few cheeses that doesn't turn rubbery or ooze oil if cooked too long or too hot, so it's a key ingredient in pizzas and casseroles. It's also stretchy--the long white strings that you often see draped over the sides of pizza boxes are usually mozzarella. There are two kinds. Low moisture mozzarella is firmer and the best choice for pizza. High moisture mozzarella = fresh mozzarella is more delicate; it's often drizzled with olive oil and serve uncooked as an appetizer. It works in pizza, too, but you should first put slices of it into a colander to drain for about an hour, and put them on the pizza only during the last minute of cooking. High moisture mozzarella is often packaged in tubs or bags filled with water--this keeps it soft but leeches out some of the flavor. Look for mozzarella di bufalo = buffalo milk mozzarella, which is more interesting than cow's milk mozzarella = fior di latte. Bocconcini (Pronunciation: BOK-kuhn-CHEE-nee) are small balls of high moisture mozzarella. High moisture mozzarellas are much more perishable than their low-moisture counterparts, so use them within a few days of purchase.
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Muenster, Munster, Münster
Muenster
When produced in Europe, Muenster is a mild-mannered member of the normally stinky washed-rind cheese family, though it becomes more pungent as it ages. It's delicious with dark breads and beer or Gewurztraminer wine. American muensters are much milder.
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Oka
Oka
This Canadian semi-soft cheese has a mild, nutty flavor and melts nicely.
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Ossau-Iraty cheese, Ossau-Iraty-Brebis-Pyrenees
Ossau-Iraty cheese
This little-known Basque cheese is made from raw sheep's milk, and it's creamy, nutty, and mellow.
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pasta filata, plastic curd cheeses, pulled curd cheeses, spun curd cheeses
pasta filata
These cheeses are stretched and pulled like taffy before being molded, which gives them a springy, elastic consistency. Unlike many cheeses, they stand up well to cooking. This category includes mozzarella, Provolone, Scamorza, string cheese, and Caciocavallo.
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Port Salut cheese, Port du Salut
Port Salut cheese
Port Salut is a mild French semi-soft cheese. Don't confuse with Danish Port Salut, which is also called Esrom cheese.
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provolone
provolone
This Italian cheese is like mozzarella, only firmer and more flavorful. It's often used in sandwiches and on on pizza.
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Saint Paulin cheese
Saint Paulin cheese
This French semi-soft cheese is creamy and mild.
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Samsoe
This versatile Danish semi-soft cheese is mild and nutty
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Scamorza, Scamorze
Scamorza
This cheese is similar to mozzarella, only smaller and firmer. It's often smoked.
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Taleggio
Taleggio
This creamy Italian cheese is one of the better stinky cheeses--not too tame, not too wild. It's great on crackers or bread, but it's also a good melting cheese and works well in casseroles and even on pizza. The rind is edible, but not to everyone's liking.
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Tilsit, Tilsit Havarti, Tilsiter
Tilsit
This is a good sandwich cheese.
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Tomme Crayeuse cheese
Tomme Crayeuse cheese
This soft French cheese is rich and buttery. Don't eat the rind.
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Tomme de Savoie cheese, tomme de montagne
Tomme de Savoie cheese
This is a mild and pleasant French cheese that's semi-soft when young, firmer when aged.
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Tybo
This mild Danish cheese is great on sandwiches.
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Urgelia cheese, Queso de l'Alt Urgell y la Cerdanya
Urgelia cheese
This creamy Spanish cheese is a member of the washed rind (a.k.a. stinky) cheese family, but it's mild and subtle.
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Vacherin
Vacherin
This is a cheese-lover's cheese, with a complex nutty flavor. It's a good melting cheese that's often used to make fondues. Try heating it a bit and serving it with crusty French bread.
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