Emmental, widely renowned as a high-class delicacy is the kind of cheese that all gourmets praise for a good reason – it has no lactose or acidic content, although three distinct types of healthy bacteria are used in making a single wheel.
It’s not too expensive; it’s decently available in online marketplaces and local supermarkets across the globe, so why would anyone search for an Emmental cheese replacement? It has the kind of flavor that some people can’t put a finger on.
Whether it’s the multi-layered taste, its strong aroma, or its rough exterior, some folks won’t enjoy Emmental as some other types of cheese. Today, I’ll give you a brief rundown of what Emmental cheese is and share my thoughts on the best Emmental alternatives along with popular recipes you can use them in.
What is Emmental Cheese? What Are Its Characteristics?
Emmental cheese was named after the valley of Emmental, one of the areas forming the Bern Canton located at the heart of Switzerland. It is a semi-hard cheese with a nearly eon-long history that is still being made from traditional closely-guarded recipes discovered around the 1290s.
Emmental’s taste is a blend of fruity, nutty, and salty flavors that can easily overwhelm the tongue while its relatively strong aftertaste demands a good wine to wash it down. If you’re looking for a milder kind of cheese, or something a bit more creamy, let me present to you the top 10 alternatives for Emmental cheese.
10 Emmental Cheese Alternatives
Even though it is a natural, lactose-free, and acid-free cheese with an approachable price tag strapped to its packaging, many people are searching for an Emmental substitute with a slightly weaker aroma, doesn’t crumb as much, or melts a little better. If that’s what you’re after, you may want to take a look at some of the best Emmental cheese alternatives.
|No||Substitutes||Taste||Texture||Fat Level||Lactose Level|
|Emmental||Mild, nutty, slightly fruity||Semi-hard||45%||0%|
|1||Gruyère||Mild, nutty, salty||Hard||≈ 30%||0%|
|2||Fontina||Sharp, nutty||Semi-soft to Hard||≈35%||<1%|
|3||Mozzarella||Mild, grassy, tangy||Soft||≈25%||<1%|
|4||Comtè||Nutty, smoky, fruity||Semi-hard||27%||0%|
|5||Tetè de Moine||Sharp, nutty, fruity||Semi-hard||≈30%||0%|
|6||Manchego||Intense, salty with sweet undertones||Semi-soft to semi-hard||25.4%||0.35%|
|7||Raclette||Salty, nutty, sweet||Semi-hard||28%||0%|
|8||Young Cheddar||Sharp, very nutty & buttery||Hard||≈40%||0-2.1%|
|10||Provolone||Sharp, buttery, nutty||Semi-hard||7.5%||0-2.1%|
Emmental Alternatives with Milder Flavor
Emmental is a relatively mild-flavored cheese, but its abundant undertones make it a bit too noticeable in simple dishes. For dishes where cheese is supposed to simply add a bit of extra touch, try using Gruyère, Comtè, Fontina, or Mozzarella cheese.
Similar to Emmental, Gruyère is a cow’s milk cheese originating from Switzerland. It’s an ideal alternative to Emmental cheese because of its rich, delicate taste, but the main reason why most people love it is because of its creamy texture. Older batches of Gruyère cheese are a bit crumblier, but it melts, spreads, and freezes well, covering the same bases as Emmental.
Both Gruyère and Emmental cheese are lactose free and share similar fat content levels (32 and 30% respectively). Although its all-rounded flavor could complement any dish, my favorite is the Gruyère Cheese Sandwich:
- Preheat your skillet to medium-high temperature
- Spread butter over four slices of white bread and place one face-down in your skillet
- Add a slice of Gruyère on top, and place another piece of bread on top
- Grill on both sides
- Optionally season with herbs or spices
Even though Fontina cheese has an equally powerful, if not even stronger flavor and aroma than Emmental, its buttery taste is far easier to adapt to. Although it melts decently well, Fontina is better used as an appetizer.
Serving large slices of Fontina next to pomegranate fruit, grapes, and roasted walnuts will give you a broad palate of flavors, just like eating “bare” Emmental cheese would. The difference here is that you and whoever is served this easy dish can pick and choose which ones they want to indulge in.
Unlike Emmental, Mozzarella cheese is soft and moist. Its milky flavor makes it closer to brie, although it melts so well that using it for your tortilla dip makes it an excellent substitute for Emmental when you need to whip up a quick dish.
The easiest way to use Mozzarella instead of Emmental requires no recipe or preparation – simply melt Mozzarella balls or sticks and season them with your favorite spices or herbs.
Emmental Alternatives with Stronger Flavor and Firmer Texture
For chefs and cooks accustomed to creating hearty, colorful delicacies, Emmental is best when served as an appetizer. If you’re looking for cheese that can change the flavor of any dish you prepare, you may want to consider using Comté, Tête de Moine, Manchego, Raclette, Young Cheddar, Edam, or Provolone.
The flavor and texture of Comté cheese are very similar to Emmental cheese. Comté is a firm cheese with a light yellow color; it is crumbly but melts quite well, and its nutty, somewhat sweet taste resembles Emmental but is different enough for people with little experience with French and Swiss cheese to notice.
While Emmental is my first choice for Onion Tarts, Comté does the job just as great. To make this simple dish, follow these steps:
- Make or buy pre-made puff pastry
- Put it onto a floured board
- Make rectangles by kneading the pastry gently
- Roll the pastry to desired thickness
- Cut the pastry into four pieces
- To make the filling, blend three tablespoons of olive oil, four thinly sliced medium-sized onions, one bay leaf, and one thyme
- Slice 200g of Comté and add it to the fill
- Optionally, add eight slices of bacon to the filling
Tête de Moine Cheese
Tête de Moine cheese objectively tastes “richer” than Emmental, boasting a spicy aroma coupled with a distinct, intensive aroma.
It is one of the best-melting cheese types around, although it is also one of the “fattest” cheese on this list with roughly 51% fat content. Because of this, I recommend using it with low-calorie ingredients:
- Chop one medium cucumber and one medium tomato
- Place the vegetables into a bowl and put them alongside a thinly sliced green onion
- Season with half a cup of chopped peppers
- Add a quarter of a cup of low-fat mayonnaise
- Pour three cups of shredder Tête de Moine over the mix (grated or melted)
- Sprinkle with a tablespoon of lemon and lime juice
- Season with a minced clove of garlic
- Add half a teaspoon of mustard, dried basil, and marjoram
Manchego is a Spanish cheese with a moderately firm texture. Unlike Emmental, it is made of sheep’s milk. It is a natural, gluten-free type of cheese with minimal lactose content (usually below 0.35%).
Although its flavor is fairly sharp and intense, it has lower fat content compared to Emmental while offering a healthy source of protein. Instead of using Emmental in your roasted corn & lime salad, you can easily replace it with Manchego:
- Preheat your oven to 450 F
- Roast 4 ½ cups of corn kernels for approximately fifteen minutes
- Wait for the kernels to cool and remove them from the cobs
- Pour oil into your skillet and saute the kernels for three to five minutes
- Add two tablespoons of butter and stir
- Grate Manchego above the corn and sprinkle lime above the mix
- Optionally, add your favorite herbs and vegetables
Raclette cheese has a far more delicate taste and aroma than Emmental. Although it might not be the ideal 1-to-1 substitute for Emmental cheese, Raclette’s creamy, soft texture, and rich taste should serve as a good alternative for special meals and occasions.
Another reason why Raclette is a close substitute to Emmental is that they are both lactose-free. The former also boasts slightly lower fat levels (20-25%), so feel free to use it for “heartier” meals, such as casseroles or beef-packed lasagna. You are free to experiment with my favorite casserole recipe, but in short, here’s what you should do:
- Cook your desired beef over moderately high temperature until it becomes brown
- Drain all grease and freely add tomato sauce
- Season with sugar, salt, black pepper, and garlic salt
- Boil egg noodles but make sure they’re firm
- Grate Raclette over the mix or melt & pour over
If you want to make your cheese last even longer, check out our guide to freezing raclette cheese.
Young Cheddar Cheese
As a buttery-tasting, moist cheese with a crumbly texture, the traditional cheddar don’t have too many things in common with Emmental cheese. However, young cheddar is milder, and has a lower lactose content (usually 0% but up to 2%) than ripe Cheddar.
If you’re a fan of traditional British cuisine, you probably heard of girdle scones. Young cheddar cheese is a great substitute for Emmental cheese for this particular dish since its buttery taste allows for more flexible seasoning options. If you’re looking for an easy scone recipe that you can quickly bake a portion for your family, here’s my recommendation:
- Heat your oven to medium-high heat
- Mix 225g of flour with a teaspoon of mustard powder and half a teaspoon of salt
- Grate 50g of young cheddar and pour it into the bowl
- Mix with a tablespoon of chopped sage and add a single beaten egg to the mix
- Pour 100ml of buttermilk and grate an additional 50g of young cheddar
- Roll out your scones and cut them into quarters
- Half the scones diagonally, making them into triangles
Similar to Emmental, Edam cheese has a dense, firm texture. Its mild, buttery flavor with nutty undertones make it taste slightly stronger than Emmental cheese, but they can be used in the same kinds of dishes.
Edam cheese products have either no or minimal lactose content while its fat content is only 2% higher than Emmental. I recommend serving it as an appetizer or as a melted topping for your grilled sandwiches.
The smoky taste and smooth but semi-firm texture of Provolone make this cheese a suitable alternative for Emmental in recipes where a modest selection of ingredients is required.
Similarly to Emmental, Provolone has zero or minimal lactose levels while its fat content is slightly lower (27%, compared to 30%). Since its taste is very distinct but mild, I recommend using Provolone instead of Emmental cheese as a melted topping for grilled chicken dishes.
This might be also interesting for you: Can you Freeze Provolone Cheese?
Emmental Cheese FAQs
What is the best way to serve Emmental cheese?
Emmental’s unique taste makes it an excellent appetizer, but it also melts great, so use it as a topping in dishes such as Mac & Cheese or quesadillas.
What is the best Emmental cheese substitute for fondue?
When it comes to fondue, Gruyère cheese is often considered the best substitute for Emmental cheese. That’s because Gruyère has a nutty, slightly sweet flavor profile and a soft texture that makes it ideal for melting and blending into a fondue mixture. Other good substitutes for Emmental include Comté cheese and Swiss cheese, both of which have similar flavor profiles and melting characteristics.
What is the best Emmental cheese substitute for spaetzle?
If you’re looking for an Emmental substitute for spaetzle, Gruyère, Comté, Swiss and Jarlsberg cheeses are good choices. They are all nutty, slightly salty or sweet. Parmesan might also be a perfect alternative. Ultimately, the best choice depends on personal taste and what’s available in your area. You may need to try several cheeses to find out which you like best.
Which cheese can be used as a 1-to-1 substitute for Emmental?
Fontina, Raclette, and Manchego can be used in recipes you’d normally use Emmental in without noticing a significant difference in taste or aroma.
What is a good dairy-free vegan alternative for Emmental cheese?
Vegan cheddar is a great dairy-free alternative for Emmental. Although it has a distinctly weaker aroma than standard Cheddar, its rich undertones are still present.
Can you Freeze Cheese?
You can freeze almost any cheese to extend its shelf life. However, the quality is not always preserved equally well. Some cheeses tend to lose more texture and flavor than others.
Emmental is quality cheese, mainly because it can be enjoyed by both lactose-intolerant and people on a diet. The only thing I dislike about Emmental is that it’s hard to use in recipes where creamy cheeses are needed, meaning nearly all soft-melted toppings for snacks.
The ten Emmental cheese substitutes I listed above offer you more flexibility to pick a cheese that can give your dishes something that Emmental could not, whether it be a heartier dose of calories (or fewer calories), a milder flavor, or a softer texture that melts better.