Soft Cheeses

Soft Cheeses

Cheeses in this category are often spread on bread or crackers to be served as snacks. They're usually not used for cooking. Most soft cheeses should be used within a few days of purchase--they spoil faster than firmer cheeses.


Most soft cheeses are made with cow's milk. Cheeses made with sheep's milk, like feta, Brinza, and ricotta salata, have more butterfat, which make them richer and creamier. Cheeses made with goat's milk, like Humboldt Fog, tend to have a tangy, earthy, and sometimes barnyard flavor.

boursault
boursault
This is a soft-ripened, triple crème French cheese that very rich and mild. For best flavor, serve at room temperature.
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brie
brie
This French cheese is rich, mild, and creamy, and it's soft enough to spread easily on crackers or bread. As with Camembert cheese, the Brie name isn't protected so there are lots of mediocre knock-offs on the market. Look for French Bries--they're usually much better than their American counterparts. The rind is edible. For best flavor, wait until it's perfectly ripe and warmed to room temperature before serving it.
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Brillat Savarin cheese
Brillat Savarin cheese
This soft triple crème French cheese is rich, buttery, and mild, though some find it a bit sour and salty.
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Brinza cheese, Bryndza cheese, Brynza cheese
Brinza cheese
Look for this salty sheep's milk cheese in Eastern European markets. It's spreadable when young, but becomes crumbly as it ages. Like Feta, it's good in salads or melted on pizza
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Camembert
Camembert
This popular soft-ripened cheese is buttery rich and wonderful to spread on hot French bread. The name's not protected, so there are lots of Camemberts of varying quality on the market. Try to get a French raw milk Camembert--our pasteurized domestic versions are bland in comparison. Use within a few days after purchasing. For best flavor, serve at room temperature.
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Caprice des Dieux
This oval French cheese resembles Camembert and Brie.
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Carré de l'est
This is a square washed rind, moderately stinky cheese from France.
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Chaource cheese
Chaource cheese
This French cheese is similar to Brie and Camembert, but creamier and more acidic. It's good with champagne.
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Coulommiers
Coulommiers
This soft-ripened French cheese resembles Brie and Camembert.
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Epoisses, Epoisses de Bourgogne
Epoisses
This well-regarded French cheese is a member of the washed-rind or "stinky" family of cheeses, but it's more subtle than Limburger, Livarot, or other siblings. It's a little runny when ripe. The rind is edible--taste it to see if you like it.
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Explorateur, l'Explorateur
Explorateur
This soft, creamy French cheese is rich and complex.
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feta
feta
This salty, crumbly cheese is common in Greek cuisine. It's often stored in brine; if so, you might want to rinse it before using to remove some of the saltiness. Use within a few days after purchasing. For best flavor, serve at room temperature.
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hand, handkase, handkäse, harzer kase, harzer käse
hand
This German washed rind cheese is pungent and stinky. It's good with beer, but it would over-power most wines.
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Harz
Harz
Use within a few days after purchasing. For best flavor, serve at room temperature.
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Humboldt Fog cheese
Humboldt Fog cheese
This excellent soft-ripened goat cheese has a layer of vegetable ash running down the middle. It's an excellent table cheese. The rind is edible, and fairly good.
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kochkäse, kochkase
kochkäse
This German cheese is easy to spread. It's great on crackers and rye bread.
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Liederkranz
Use within a few days after purchasing. For best flavor, serve at room temperature. This cheese was invented by German-American Emil Frey, who wanted to make a domestic version of Limburger cheese. Borden acquired the brand after Frey died, and later sold the brand to a New Zealand outfit. It's hard, and perhaps impossible, to find in the United States.
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Livarot
Livarot
This excellent French cheese is in the washed-rind or "stinky" family. Though pungent, it's not as overpowering as Limburger. The rind is edible, but it's not for faint-hearted.
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Mainz
Use within a few days after purchasing. For best flavor, serve at room temperature.
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Manouri cheese
Manouri cheese
This Greek sheep's and goat's milk cheese is similar to feta, only creamier and less salty. This is made with sheep or goat’s milk.
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Maroilles
Maroilles
This is a stinky washed-rind cheese from France that smells worse than it tastes. You probably don't want to eat the pungent rind. Use within a few days after purchasing. For best flavor, serve at room temperature.
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Paglietta
Paglietta
This soft Italian cheese resembles Brie and Camembert. Use it within a few days after purchasing. For best flavor, serve at room temperature.
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Pont-l'Evêque, Pont l'Eveque
Pont-l'Evêque
This ancient and well-regarded French cheese isn't as stinky as other washed rind cheeses. It's best not to eat the rind.
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Reblochon cheese
Reblochon cheese
This rich and creamy French cheese is quite mild for a washed rind cheese, but it's complex enough to be popular with gourmets. The rind is edible, but too pungent for many people.
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ricotta salata
ricotta salata
This mild sheep's milk cheese is used more for cooking than snacking. It's great in salads or in pasta dishes. Look for it in Italian markets.
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robiola
robiola
Two distinctly different cheeses go by the name robiola: Robiola Piemonte is a fresh cheese that's often used on pizza, while robiola Lombardia is an aged, tan-colored soft cheese used for snacking. It is made from mixture of cow, sheep and goat’s milk.
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robiola Lombardia cheese, robiola cheese (aged), Robiola della Valsassina
robiola Lombardia cheese
It is made from mixture of cow, sheep and goat’s milk.
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Saint André cheese, St. Andre cheese
Saint André cheese
Use within a few days after purchasing. For best flavor, serve at room temperature.
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Saint Marcellin cheese, St. Marcellin cheese
Saint Marcellin cheese
A young version of this French cheese is so runny it's sold in small pots; a more aged version is wrapped in leaves. Both are rich and exquisite on French bread. This was originally made from goat's milk.
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Schloss, castle cheese, Schlosskase, Schlosskäse
Schloss
This Austrian cheese is a marvelous choice for people who like strong "stinky" cheeses. It's good with beer, but it would overpower most wines.
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Stracchino, Crescenza, Stracchino di Crescenza
Stracchino
This soft Italian cheese is mild and spreadable. It's great on pizza. Use within a few days after purchasing and, for best flavor, serve at room temperature.
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