Blue cheese is a staple in many kitchens, adored for its bold and tangy flavor. It’s often used in dishes ranging from salads to sauces, and everything in between.
However, it’s not uncommon to find yourself short on this pungent cheese, or to be cooking for someone who isn’t a fan of its intense taste. In these situations, having a satisfying blue cheese substitute is essential.
You might be wondering which cheeses or ingredients can mimic the distinct characteristics of blue cheese without compromising your dish’s integrity. Luckily, there are several options available that can cater to varying taste preferences and dietary needs. Knowing which substitutes work best in different types of dishes will ensure your culinary creations don’t miss a beat.
In the following sections, you’ll learn about the best blue cheese substitutes that you can use with confidence. You’ll discover how to maintain the right balance of flavors and textures in your dishes, guaranteeing a delicious outcome even without the presence of blue cheese. So let’s dive into these alternatives and breathe new life into your favorite blue cheese recipes.
What is Blue Cheese
Blue cheese is a versatile and flavorful type of cheese characterized by its distinctive creamy, soft, and crumbly texture. Its sharp and salty taste is attributed to the presence of blue veins throughout, which are created by the mold, penicillium. Some popular blue cheese varieties you might have encountered include French Roquefort, Italian Gorgonzola, English Stilton, Danish Blue cheese, and American Maytag Blue.
This unique cheese is an acquired taste for many due to its pungent flavor. However, knowing more about its properties, health benefits, and some suitable blue cheese substitutes may help you make an informed choice.
Arguably, one of the most important factors in any type of cheese is its distinctive taste. With blue cheese, its flavor is directly affected by the growth of penicillium roqueforti. This mold is added to the cheese during the production process, then the cheese is pierced with needles, introducing oxygen and allowing for the formation of blue-green veins. The aging process further intensifies the flavor, contributing to its boldness.
As for blue cheese’s texture, it varies depending on the variety. Some popular ones are:
- Roquefort: creamy and crumbly with a strong tang
- Gorgonzola: either soft or firm, rich and buttery with a milder blue flavor
- Stilton: crumbly yet firm to the touch, balanced savory-sweet flavor
- Danish Blue: semi-soft and creamy with a sharp and salty bite
- Maytag Blue: crumbly with a complex, tangy, and slightly piquant flavor
Apart from its engaging taste and texture, blue cheese offers health benefits including being a good source of calcium, protein, fat, and calories. It is also said to help improve digestive health and boost the immune system due to the presence of beneficial bacteria in the penicillium mold. However, it is essential to consume blue cheese in moderation as they contain a high amount of sodium and saturated fat.
Lastly, when it comes to finding a suitable blue cheese substitute, the key is to look for a cheese that has a similar consistency, pungent flavor, and aging process. Some options to consider include Gorgonzola, Feta, Roquefort, and Stilton. Each of these cheeses brings their unique characteristics and versatility, making them fitting alternatives for various recipes and occasions.
Common Substitutes for Blue Cheese
Incorporating a substitute for blue cheese in your recipes is a great way to experiment with different flavors while still maintaining the unique characteristics of the original cheese. The following cheeses offer a variety of strong or mild flavors and textures that can be suitable as blue cheese substitutes.
1. Feta – Mild and crumbly
Feta cheese is a popular choice for a blue cheese substitute due to its crumbly texture and mild taste. Made from goat’s milk or sheep’s milk, feta can provide a tangy flavor similar to blue cheese without the intense sharpness. This makes it an excellent option for salads and dips.
2. Cheddar – Sharp and firm
Aged cheddar cheese can serve as an alternative for blue cheese in recipes that call for a sharper flavor. The longer cheddar ages, the stronger and more pungent it becomes, giving it a more pronounced taste compared to milder cheddar. Opt for an extra-mature or sharp cheddar for the best results.
3. Goat Cheese – Mellow and creamy
Goat cheese is another option for those who prefer a milder alternative. Its smooth, creamy texture pairs well with a variety of dishes and can complement flavors similarly to blue cheese without overpowering them. Use goat cheese as a substitute in spreads, dips, or in warm sauces.
4. Queso Fresco – Soft and mild
Queso fresco, a fresh Mexican cheese, is a soft, mild cheese that can take the place of blue cheese in recipes where a softer, milder taste is desired. With its more delicate flavor, queso fresco is ideal for substituting in lighter recipes, like salads and dressings.
5. Gorgonzola – Bold and creamy
Gorgonzola is a type of blue cheese itself and can be easily substituted for other blue cheeses in recipes. However, if you’re looking for a milder alternative to some of the stronger blue cheeses like Roquefort, gorgonzola can be your go-to option. Its bold flavor and creamy texture make it a solid choice for rich, hearty recipes.
6. Roquefort – Pungent and crumbly
Similar to gorgonzola, Roquefort is another blue cheese that can serve as an alternative to other blue cheeses. For those who enjoy the pungent flavor of blue cheese but can’t find their preferred variety, Roquefort offers a crumbly texture and distinctive taste that can hold up well in recipes that call for blue cheese.
7. Vegan Blue Cheese – Plant-based and versatile
For those following a plant-based diet or those who are lactose intolerant, there are vegan blue cheeses available that can provide similar flavors and textures as traditional blue cheese. Vegan blue cheese can be made from ingredients such as cashews, tofu, or coconut milk, and can be found in various forms like spreads, blocks, and crumbles. Use them for a dairy-free alternative in a range of dishes that require the distinctive taste of blue cheese.
Choosing the right blue cheese substitute largely depends on the specific taste and texture you desire in your dishes. Experiment with different options to find the perfect balance of flavors and textures that satisfy your palate.
How to use Blue Cheese Substitutes in Recipes
When substituting blue cheese in different recipes, it’s essential to consider the desired flavor and texture. The following substitutes will help you achieve that while providing a pleasant twist to your dishes:
1. Salads and dressings: For salads, choose a cheese that will complement the other ingredients without overpowering them. Goat cheese, feta, and gorgonzola work well as they offer a tangy flavor and crumbly texture. In dressings, mix the substitute with ingredients like olive oil, vinegar, and herbs to achieve the desired consistency.
- Try this: Replace blue cheese in a Cobb salad with crumbled goat cheese or feta.
2. Pasta and risotto: In pasta dishes and risottos, meltability is crucial for a creamy consistency. Fontina, gouda, or taleggio make suitable replacements for blue cheese in these recipes. Additionally, vegan options like cashew-based cheese or nutritional yeast can still provide that cheesy flavor.
- Example: Swap blue cheese in a four-cheese pasta recipe with taleggio or gouda.
3. Dips and sauces: For dips and sauces, choose a substitute that blends smoothly and imparts a tangy, salty flavor. Cream cheese, sour cream, or soft goat cheese make excellent choices. For a vegan alternative, consider using a cashew-based cream.
- Idea: Create a delicious dip for crackers and vegetables using cream cheese instead of blue cheese.
4. Pizzas and burgers: Avoid using cheese with high-moisture content on pizzas or burgers, as they can make them soggy. Aged cheddar or gorgonzola are great options in place of blue cheese, infusing your dishes with flavor and a subtle sharpness.
- Suggestion: Top your favorite gourmet burger with aged cheddar for an inviting twist.
5. Cheese boards and accompaniments: Pair your cheese substitute with various accompaniments to elevate your cheese board. Ingredients like nuts, olives, fruits, and crackers complement softer-textured cheese substitutes such as gorgonzola, camembert, or brie. Choosing fruits like apples, grapes, or figs adds a refreshing element to the board.
- Recommendation: Impress your guests with a Spanish-themed cheese board featuring manchego paired with green olives and marcona almonds.
Remember that your choice of blue cheese substitute will depend on the specific recipe, regional flavors, and personal taste preferences. By following these suggestions, you’ll be able to create tasty dishes that will satisfy your cravings for blue cheese while exploring new flavor profiles.
Pairing Blue Cheese and its Substitutes
When creating a cheese board or incorporating blue cheese into your recipes, pairing is an essential aspect to consider for a harmonious and complimentary flavor experience. In this section, you’ll discover the ideal partners for blue cheese and some of its popular substitutes.
Classic Blue Cheese Pairings:
Blue cheese is celebrated for its rich, earthy, and pungent aroma. It is characterized by its crumbly texture and distinctive mold marbling. Classic blue cheese varieties, such as Stilton, Bleu d’Auvergne, and Gorgonzola Dolce, have their own unique flavor profiles, but they all share some common pairing options.
- Fruits: Apples, pears, and figs provide a refreshing contrast to the bold flavors of blue cheese. They help to cleanse the palate and offer a balance between sweetness and the cheese’s natural tanginess.
- Nuts: A handful of cashews, walnuts, or pecans can add a delightful nutty crunch to any cheese board. Their earthy tones complement the bold flavor of blue cheeses.
- Bread and Crackers: Simple carbs like crusty bread, crackers, or thinly sliced baguettes are excellent vehicles for your blue cheese and its accompaniments.
Substitute Cheese Pairings:
As versatile as blue cheese is, it might not suit everyone’s taste buds. Luckily, there are many substitutes, each with their distinct flavor profiles and textures.
- Cheddar Cheese: A mature Cheddar offers a sharp taste, similar to blue cheese. Pair it with apples and crackers for a simple, satisfying snack.
- Cambozola: A soft-ripened cheese that combines the creaminess of Camembert with the mild blue mold of Gorgonzola. It pairs nicely with honey, grapes, and almonds.
- Monte Enebro: A Spanish goat cheese known for its lemony tang and slightly crumbly texture. Try it with a Spanish quince paste or membrillo, olives, and crusty bread.
- Maytag or Danish Blue (Danablu): These milder blue cheeses offer the signature crumbles and moldy veins but with less pungency. Enjoy them with a drizzle of honey, pear slices, and some spicy or pickled vegetables.
No matter which type of blue cheese or substitute you choose, don’t be afraid to branch out and experiment. Mix and match your accompaniments as per your preferences. Whether it’s fresh fruit, something spicy, or even a unique probiotic-rich Greek cheese, your creativity is the only limit.
Blue Cheese Substitutes
- 1 cup raw cashews soaked in water for 4-6 hours or overnight
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2-3 tablespoons water as needed for blending
- Optional: a pinch of dried thyme or parsley for added flavor
- After soaking the cashews, drain and rinse them thoroughly.
- In a food processor or high-speed blender, combine the soaked cashews, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt.
- Blend the ingredients until smooth, adding water as needed to achieve a creamy, spreadable consistency.
- If desired, add a pinch of dried thyme or parsley for a hint of herbaceous flavor and pulse to incorporate.
- Transfer the cashew mixture to a bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld and the texture to firm up slightly.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can replace Gorgonzola cheese in a recipe?
If you’re looking to replace Gorgonzola cheese in a recipe, consider using Roquefort, Danish blue cheese, or Stilton as a substitute. These cheeses have a similar taste and texture to Gorgonzola, making them an easy swap in your recipe.
Which cheeses can be used in place of blue cheese?
In addition to the Gorgonzola substitutes mentioned above, you can also use Cambozola, Fourme d’Ambert, or Picos de Europa as alternatives to blue cheese. When choosing a substitute, consider the specific flavor profile you wish to achieve, as each cheese varies slightly in taste and consistency.
What are some vegan alternatives to blue cheese?
For vegan alternatives to blue cheese, try seeking out dairy-free cheese options that have a strong, tangy flavor. Vegan options such as cashew-based “cheeses” or tofu-based “blue-style” cheese can work as a suitable substitute in recipes that call for blue cheese. Adding some miso paste or nutritional yeast can help enhance the flavor of these alternatives.
What is a good blue cheese substitute for pregnant women?
For pregnant women, it’s essential to avoid blue cheese varieties made with unpasteurized milk due to the presence of listeria bacteria. Opt for pasteurized blue cheese or substitutes like Boursin, Chèvre (pasteurized goat cheese), or pasteurized Gouda, which can provide a similar taste and texture without the risk.
Can feta or goat cheese be used as a blue cheese replacement?
Feta and goat cheese can be used as blue cheese replacements, but keep in mind that their flavor profiles may differ. Feta has a slightly more salty and tangy taste, while goat cheese tends to be milder and creamier. Try experimenting with different amounts to achieve the desired taste in your recipe.
What is a suitable blue cheese alternative for a Cobb salad?
In a Cobb salad, you can use crumbled feta or goat cheese as a blue cheese alternative. Other suitable substitutes include diced Cheddar or Monterrey Jack, which offer a unique flavor but maintain the salad’s overall satisfying and savory taste.