What is The Best Fontina Cheese Substitute?
Fontina cheese is a delicious soft cheese that is often used in a variety of gourmet dishes and cheese plates. Fontina cheese substitutes are widely available and in many cases, can easily be worked into any recipe calling for fontina cheese. The trick is knowing exactly what cheese works best and which ones have the closest resemblance to fontina cheese.
What is Fontina Cheese?
Fontina cheese is semi-soft cheese that is made from cow’s milk and is only available from Valle d’Aosta, Italy. It is an aged cheese that packs a very strong flavor. When you purchase fontina cheese in the US, it is often aged for less time and has a much paler color with a nuttier taste. It is very rich and creamy and often has very few eyes in it. A true fontina cheese will have an orange-brown rind and is most often sporting an irregular shape. Fontina is most often used as a table cheese or as a melting cheese.
Other varieties of fontina that are available include a Danish fontina that is pale yellow, semi-soft, and has a milder flavor with sweet notes to it. Traditionally, fontina is a classic Italian cheese but variations of this classic can be found around the globe. The flavor and consistency of fontina all differ based on its origin. In general, a good fontina should be semi-soft, yellow in color, and have a mild to potent flavor.
Fontina cheese is often used in Italian cuisine, including antipastos, fondue, baked dishes, and sandwiches. It is always made from the freshest cow’s milk which allows for a very rich and creamy outcome. The longer fontina cheese is ages, the stronger and more potent its nutty flavor will become. When purchasing fontina, cheese look for the brown-orange rind and an even texture. The smell and flavor will vary depending on the aging. A young cheese will have a milder taste and be the softest, while, a cheese that has been allowed to age longer will develop a much stronger smell and flavor, along with a bit more firmness.
What to Substitute for Fontina Cheese and How?
Choosing the perfect substitute for fontina cheese is quite an easy task. It has such a variance in flavors and textures that it really comes down to how you will use the cheese and the flavor profile you are building. Fontina cheese in the US is most often Danish fontina and typically has a milder flavor that Italian fontina. There are many readily available cheeses on the market than easily compare to Danish Fontina.
Depending on how you plan to use your fontina cheese substitute, you should have many substitution options. Be sure to check with the cheese type in comparison to the dish you wish to cook before settling on a substitute. You may find that you prefer a different cheese option depending on the different dishes and techniques you will be preparing.
Gouda is a Dutch cheese and happens to be one of the most popular varieties of cheese in the world. It is a semi-hard cheese that has a very rich and unique flavor profile. Gouda has a smooth texture and is made from cow’s milk, similar to the making of fontina cheese. You can also find artisan gouda cheese that is made from goat’s milk or sheep’s milk.
There are many different varieties of gouda cheese, all of which are classified based on the time that they are allowed to age and the flavor profile that the aging builds. Similar to other cheeses, the flavor and texture will mature as the cheese matures. Gouda cheese works well in dishes that require a good melting cheese.
Gruyere cheese is a firm swiss cheese that is made from cow’s milk. It has a very creamy texture and is most commonly found in fondue recipes. Gruyere is relatively easy to find and compliments most any cheesy dish. Gruyere is made in Switzerland but like many other cheeses, other varieties can be found around the globe.
Gruyere is a great melting cheese and can easily be used in place of fontina in fondue, hot or cold sandwiches, baked dishes, cheese boards, and most anywhere that a mild flavored cheese is wanted. Gruyere is considered to be quite the gourmet cheese and has a very complex, yet subtle flavor profile.
Provolone cheese is very similar to fontina and is also one of the easiest fontina cheese substitutes to get your hands on at an affordable price. Provolone is an Italian cheese that is made from cow’s milk. Provolone, like its counterparts, is distinguished by its aging process. The overall outcome of the provolone’s flavor depends on the are that it originates in. For the most part, provolone is mostly semi-hard. American made provolone, which is generally the easiest to find, will have a much milder taste and often a softer texture.
Authentic provolone that is made in Italy is aged for a minimum of 5 years, resulting in a harder and stronger flavored product. The type of provolone that you wish to use simply relies on your personal preference. Italian provolone is preferred for raw consumption. So, if you are looking to replace fontina in the holiday antipasto or cheese plate, a high quality Italian provolone is what you want. However, if you are looking to replace fontina cheese in a dish with a melted cheese, an American made mild provolone can more than fit the bill.
Regardless of which types of cheese are your favorite, a perfect cheese substitute can easily be found for your favorite fontina recipes. If you are un-sure of which one will work best for you, take a visit to a quality cheese counter and taste away. Most are more than happy to allow you to sample several cheeses until you find just the right one to fit your needs! Do you have a tip, trick, or preferred cheese for substituting fontina? Let us know in the comment section bellow!