Goat Cheese vs Sheep Cheese

Exploring the world of cheese, you will find a delightful variety of flavors and textures that stem from the different types of milk used in their production.

Among these, goat cheese and sheep cheese stand out for their unique characteristics, often overshadowing the ubiquitous cow cheese.

While both cheeses offer a rich culinary experience, they have distinct differences that influence their taste, texture, and nutritional profiles.

A goat and a sheep stand on opposite sides of a wooden table, each with a block of cheese in front of them. The goat cheese is creamy and white, while the sheep cheese is crumbly and yellow

Goat cheese, commonly referred to as chèvre, is made from goat’s milk and is known for its distinct tangy flavor.

It tends to have a softer texture, which can range from creamy to crumbly depending on the aging process.

The proteins it contains give goat cheese its notable ease in digestion compared to cow milk cheese.

Its lower levels of lactose and a different kind of fat make it a suitable alternative for those with sensitivities or dietary restrictions.

On the other hand, sheep cheese contains more casein than its goat counterpart, leading to a firmer and more cohesive texture.

The richness of sheep milk results in a cheese that is higher in fat and protein, often yielding a more buttery and complex flavor profile.

Cheese aficionados appreciate sheep cheese for its smoother mouthfeel and the variety it brings to cheese boards and culinary creations alike.

Historical Origins of Cheese

The history of cheese intertwines with the early domestication of animals, marking an inventive method to preserve milk.

As you explore the historical backdrop, you will discover the pivotal roles that Greece and France, as well as Italy and Spain, have played in the development of cheese, particularly focusing on goat and sheep cheese.

Tracing the Roots in Greece and France

In Greece, the art of cheese-making dates back to ancient times with feta, a cheese traditionally made from sheep’s milk or a mixture of sheep and goat’s milk.

It’s known for its tangy flavor and crumbly texture.

France, on the other hand, is celebrated for its chèvre, a term literally translating to ‘goat’ in French, indicating any cheese made from goat’s milk.

Roquefort, another eminent cheese, hails from France and is one of the world’s best known blue cheeses, often made from sheep’s milk.

The Roles of Italy and Spain in Cheese Development

Your journey through cheese history would not be complete without Italy, where cheeses like Pecorino Romano have been produced for over 2,000 years.

Made from sheep’s milk, this hard cheese is integral to Italian cuisine’s bold flavors.

Spain, with its rich tradition, introduces you to Manchego, a cheese crafted from the milk of the Manchega sheep breed.

Noted for its firm and buttery texture, Manchego holds a place of pride in Spanish culinary heritage.

Comparing Goat and Sheep Cheese

In exploring goat and sheep cheeses, you’ll encounter distinct differences in flavor, texture, and nutritional content that cater to a variety of palates and dietary needs.

Distinct Flavor Profiles

Goat cheese, or chèvre, exhibits a tangy and slightly acidic taste, which many describe as bright and fresh.

In contrast, sheep cheese often presents a richer and more buttery flavor, with nutty undertones, particularly in aged varieties.

Texture Characteristics

Goat cheese is known for being softer and more spreadable. It’s characteristically creamier due to its moisture.

On the other hand, sheep cheese can range from soft to very hard, and is typically more cohesive, meaning it holds together well and is less likely to crumble compared to goat cheese.

Fat and Protein Content

Sheep cheese generally contains higher fat and protein levels, leading to a denser nutritional profile.

Goat cheese has less fat and protein, which contributes to its lighter texture and is a consideration for those monitoring their fat intake.

Lactose Levels

Both goat and sheep cheeses have lower lactose content than cow’s milk cheese, but sheep cheese usually has a slightly higher lactose content. This can be an important factor if you’re lactose intolerant.

Nutritional Content Comparison

NutrientGoat CheeseSheep Cheese
VitaminsB2, AB2, B12, A
MineralsIron, PhosphorusIron, Calcium, Phosphorus

Both types of cheese provide a good source of essential nutrients, including vitamins and minerals. Sheep cheese tends to have more calcium and vitamin B12 than goat cheese, making it a potentially better choice for bone health.

Varieties and Types

Understanding the different varieties of goat and sheep cheese helps you appreciate the diverse textures and flavors. Each type offers unique culinary experiences.

Various Types of Goat Cheese

Goat cheese, known for its tangy taste and crumbly texture, comes in several varieties to suit different tastes and dishes:

  • Feta: Traditionally made from sheep’s milk, there is also a goat milk version. It’s briny and crumbly, perfect for salads.
  • Chèvre: Fresh and soft, this cheese is spreadable, with a mild, creamy flavor.
  • Gouda: Aged goat cheese Gouda offers a nutty flavor and firm texture.
  • Ricotta: Although commonly made from cow’s milk, goat ricotta is lighter with a delicate sweetness.
FetaCrumblyBriny, tangy
ChèvreSoft, spreadableMild, creamy
RicottaCreamySweet, delicate

Exploring Types of Sheep Cheese

Sheep cheese is richer in fat than goat cheese, often yielding a creamier texture. Here are some types you might encounter:

  • Manchego: A Spanish cheese with a firm and slightly crumbly texture, noted for its nutty taste.
  • Roquefort: A type of blue cheese, Roquefort is creamy with a sharp, tangy flavor.
  • Pecorino: This firm Italian cheese can range from mild to sharp, often used grated over dishes.
  • Halloumi: This grilling cheese has a squeaky texture and resists melting, ideal for frying or grilling.
ManchegoFirm, crumblyNutty
RoquefortCreamySharp, tangy
PecorinoFirmMild to sharp
HalloumiResistant to meltSqueaky texture

Health and Nutritional Properties

You’ll find that both goat and sheep cheese offer a variety of health and nutritional benefits. Understanding their nutritional content can help you make informed choices based on your health goals.

Benefits of Goat and Sheep Cheese

Goat cheese is known for its lower casein content, making it a suitable option if you’re sensitive to this particular type of protein found in many dairy products.

Sheep cheese, on the other hand, often contains higher levels of calcium and other essential nutrients, which can contribute to bone health and overall well-being.

  • Goat Cheese:
    • Lower in casein
    • Usually easier to digest due to its protein structure
  • Sheep Cheese:
    • Rich source of calcium
    • Denser in nutritional content compared to goat cheese

Vitamins and Minerals Content

The vitamins and minerals in cheese are essential to maintaining good health. You’ll benefit from an array of these nutrients when you incorporate goat or sheep cheese into your diet.

  • Vitamin A: Both cheeses are good sources of vitamin A, which is important for vision and immune function.
  • B Vitamins: Particularly high in sheep cheese, these are crucial for energy metabolism and red blood cell production.
  • Zinc: Sheep cheese provides a higher amount of zinc in comparison to goat cheese, bolstering your immune system and aiding in wound healing.

Table: Vitamins and Minerals Comparison:

NutrientGoat CheeseSheep Cheese
Vitamin AGoodGood
B VitaminsModerateHigh

Special Nutrients and Fatty Acids

The fatty acid profile of cheese can have an impact on your heart health and cholesterol levels. Goat and sheep cheese contain beneficial fatty acids that may support your cardiovascular system.

  • CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid): This fatty acid, found more abundantly in sheep cheese, has been linked to health benefits such as reduced body fat and improved immune function.
  • Fatty Acids Profile:
    • Goat Cheese: Contains medium-chain fatty acids, which may be easier for your body to metabolize.
    • Sheep Cheese: Generally richer in CLA and other beneficial fatty acids.

Culinary Uses

A chef spreads goat cheese on a cracker while a block of sheep cheese sits nearby. Ingredients like herbs and nuts adorn the table

When considering goat and sheep cheeses, your choice has a significant impact on the culinary outcome. Each has distinct characteristics that suit different cooking methods and food pairings.

Goat and Sheep Cheese in Cooking

Goat Cheese: Soft goat cheese melts well and can be spread easily, making it an excellent choice for adding creaminess to sauces or fillings. It’s ideal for:

  • Pasta: Toss soft goat cheese into warm pasta for a quick, creamy sauce.
  • Salads: Crumble it over greens for a tart, flavorful addition.

Sheep Cheese: Hard sheep cheeses, due to their aging process, contribute a robust flavor to cooked dishes. They’re suitable for:

  • Grating: Over pasta for a burst of flavor.
  • Baking: In quiches or casseroles where you want a prominent cheese taste.

Pairing with Other Foods

To enhance your meals with complementary flavors, consider these pairings:

  • Crackers: Spread soft goat cheese on crackers, topped with a drizzle of honey or fig jam.
  • Vegetables: Grill or roast vegetables and sprinkle them with crumbled goat or shaved sheep cheese.
  • Nuts: Add toasted nuts like walnuts or almonds to salads featuring either cheese for a textural contrast and added flavor.

Production and Aging

Aging goat cheese and sheep cheese being carefully crafted and stored in a rustic, dimly lit cheese cellar

In cheese production, each step influences the flavor and texture of the final product. Your understanding of the differences in production and aging between goat and sheep cheese can deepen your appreciation for these dairy delights.

Cheese Making Process

When making goat cheese (chevre), you’ll often find it is softer and more spreadable. Production typically involves allowing the goat’s milk to curdle lightly, often only with the help of beneficial bacteria, followed by draining the whey. Fresh chevre is not aged, giving it a mild, tangy flavor.

In contrast, sheep cheese production starts with milk that is higher in fat and protein. This milk curdles more fully, often using rennet, leading to a firmer cheese. Fresh sheep cheese exists but is less common than aged varieties, which range from semi-firm to very hard textures.

Aging Process and its Effect

The aging process plays a crucial role in defining the cheese’s character:

  • Aged Goat Cheese: While some goat cheeses are enjoyed fresh, others can be aged to develop complexity. Aging can lead to a firmer texture and a more pronounced flavor.
  • Hard Sheep Cheese: Many sheep cheeses are aged, becoming firmer and more piquant with time. Classics like Pecorino Romano and Manchego rely on aging for their distinctive taste and texture.
Cheese TypeAging PeriodTexture
Fresh Chevre0-2 weeksSoft, spreadable
Aged Chevre2 weeks +Firmer, robust
Fresh SheepMinimalSoft to firm
Hard SheepSeveral months to yearsVery firm to hard

Sensory Experience

When savoring cheese, your senses of taste, smell, and sight come into play. These sensory aspects can significantly influence your perception and enjoyment of goat and sheep cheeses.

Taste and Smell Nuances


  • Goat Cheese: You will find that goat cheese tends to have a tart and tangy flavor profile. It often contains earthy notes, which can vary from mild to sharp depending on the aging process.
  • Sheep Cheese: Your palette will recognize sheep cheese as richer and buttery, with a full-bodied and sometimes sweet flavor. It is commonly described as nutty with a complex array of flavors.


  • Goat Cheese: The aroma is typically fresh and can be grassy or reminiscent of the animal’s diet.
  • Sheep Cheese: Expect a more pronounced scent that is rich and sweet, aligning with its flavor characteristics.

Appearance and Color


  • Goat Cheese: Usually, goat cheese presents itself as soft and spreadable when fresh, while aged varieties can be firmer and crumbly.
  • Sheep Cheese: Sheep cheese often has a denser, creamier texture. Aged versions can form a firm or hard texture, ideal for grating.


  • Goat Cheese: The color is generally pale white to light cream, though it may adopt a slight blue or gray hue with aging.
  • Sheep Cheese: It tends to have a deeper, ivory to rich yellow color, influenced by the higher fat content and the animal’s diet.

Choice and Personal Preference

When selecting between goat cheese and sheep cheese, your personal preference will play a significant role, taking into account their distinct properties and how they pair with different use cases. Understanding your own health and dietary needs is also crucial as each cheese has differing levels of lactose and milk proteins, which might affect your choice. https://www.youtube.com/embed/g6JJDbAYRMM

Selecting Cheese Based on Use Cases

Making the right cheese choice depends on how you plan to use it. Goat cheese, known for its tangy flavor and softer texture, complements lighter dishes and salads. It’s also versatile in spreadable form, ideal for appetizers and dips. On the other hand, sheep cheese typically has a stronger flavor and a creamier, denser texture, making it a robust addition to heartier meals or a cheeseboard where its flavor won’t be overshadowed.

  • Salads/Cold Dishes: Opt for goat cheese for a subtle tang.
  • Hearty Meals/Cheeseboards: Select sheep cheese for a bolder taste and creamy texture.

Considering Personal Health and Dietary Needs

Beyond use cases, health considerations are important, especially for those with dietary restrictions. Sheep cheese usually contains higher fat content, while goat cheese is lower in both fat and lactose, proving beneficial for those with mild lactose intolerance. However, if you have a milk protein allergy, specifically to casein, both goat and sheep cheese may still pose an issue as they contain casein, just like cow’s milk. For casein or lactose intolerance, considering alternatives such as lactose-free, soy, or even certain aged cheeses where lactose is naturally broken down might be advisable.

  • Lactose Content: Goat cheese < Sheep cheese
  • Milk Protein (Casein): Present in both; consider alternatives if allergic.
  • Fat Content: Goat cheese lower in fat; Sheep cheese typically higher.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, you will find concise answers to common queries regarding the comparison between goat cheese and sheep cheese, covering taste, nutrition, health benefits, and calorie content.

What is the difference in taste between goat cheese and sheep cheese?

Goat cheese is known for its distinctive tangy flavor and a softer, more crumbly texture. On the other hand, sheep cheese often has a richer, creamier taste with a fattier mouthfeel and can be more salty and flavorful than goat cheese.

What are the nutritional differences between goat cheese and sheep cheese?

Nutritionally, sheep cheese typically contains higher levels of fat and protein, particularly casein, compared to goat cheese.

Goat cheese may have less lactose and is sometimes lower in cholesterol, making it a suitable option for those with dietary restrictions.

Are there health benefits of choosing goat cheese over sheep cheese?

Goat cheese contains A2 casein, which is less likely to cause inflammation and may be easier to digest for some people compared to the A1 casein found in sheep cheese.

Additionally, its potentially lower fat content can be advantageous for those monitoring their fat intake.

How do goat cheese and sheep cheese compare in terms of calorie content?

Generally, goat cheese has fewer calories due to its lower fat content when compared to sheep cheese.

As such, it may be a better option for those looking to reduce their calorie intake without sacrificing flavor and texture.

In what ways does sheep cheese differ from cow cheese?

Sheep cheese is richer in both fat and protein than most cow cheeses and has a distinct flavor profile.

It can also be higher in vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, compared to cow cheese.

Which is considered healthier by nutrition experts, goat cheese or sheep cheese?

Nutrition experts may consider goat cheese healthier due to its lower caloric and fat content.

However, preferences may vary depending on individual dietary needs and health goals, as sheep cheese is higher in protein and essential nutrients.

Follow Us
Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
Follow Us
Latest posts by Cassie Marshall (see all)