Cheese is one of the most popular dairy foods on the planet. There are many cheese varieties to choose from. There are tasty soft cheeses such as brie, burrata, or feta cheese and ripened soft cheeses such as Camembert. The list of soft cheeses also includes popular types such as ricotta, goat cheese, and mascarpone consumed by millions of people every day.
Although all cheese varieties use common ingredients, the way cheese is processed determines the cheese’s texture, taste, and look. Some types of soft cheese taste mild and buttery, and others have sharp, nutty flavors.
Table of Contents
Important Cheese Criteria to Understand
For each soft cheese in this list, we’ll talk about the following features:
Type of milk: Cheese always contains milk, but the animal it comes from can make a big difference in the final flavor. Cow’s milk is creamy and has a sweet flavor. Sheep’s milk has a mild flavor with a slight tang and less sweetness than cow’s milk. Finally, goat’s milk has the strongest flavor with a grassy touch to it.
Aging: Most cheeses are aged for some time in a temperature-controlled environment. During this process, moisture evaporates for a more intense flavor. Bacteria slowly start digesting proteins and converting the cheese texture from grainy to smooth and creamy. Bacteria also play a role in developing a rind and enhancing flavor.
Tasting Notes: Here, we’ll discuss flavor and what to expect when you eat the cheese.
Best Uses: Here, we’ll discuss the best soft cheese pairings and serving recommendations. Some cheeses are more suited to cooking, and others are best enjoyed fresh with a glass of wine.
Types of Cheese
This one is the most popular soft blue cheese in France. Roquefort is made from sheep’s milk and aged in the caves in Roquefort-Sur-Soulzon in Southern France. The naturally occurring bacteria in the caves give Roquefort its distinctive taste. This soft cheese is smooth, intensely creamy with a slight tang. You can use it in salads, quiche, and sauces. It also pairs well with pears, so check out this tasty recipe for hot pears with Roquefort.
This soft cheese is from a town called Epoisses in Burgundy, France. It is an unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese with a creamy and soft texture. It features a grappa-like Marc de Bourgogne as the primary ingredient. This spirit gives Epoisses its characteristic orange, edible rind. It has a pretty pungent aroma, but the taste is pleasant and spicy. It is a fabulous soft cheese to have with bread or crackers. Just leave it an hour at room temperature before eating.
This soft cheese uses the milk of Mediterranean water buffalo. It is softer than regular mozzarella. It is not a good choice for cooking, so try it on a bruschetta with olives and tomatoes.
Brie is a product of Northern France. It uses unpasteurized milk and has a creamy texture. This intense soft cheese is a perfect choice for your cheeseboard. Some Brie-style cheeses are also suitable for cooking, as they melt easily.
Traditional Greek Feta
Traditional Greek feta has sheep’s milk or a combo of sheep and goats’ milk. This soft cheese is aged in brine and has a very salty taste. Further maturation occurs in wooden barrels and steel bins, giving it a complex flavor and softer texture. Feta is ideal for salads, and we love this recipe for feta omelet.
This cheese has a soft, edible rind and is a product of Normandy, northern France. It uses unpasteurized milk and has a chalky texture through the center. If you want to eat Camembert on its own, you can let it mature at room temperature overnight or slowly in the fridge. This helps develop a more creamy texture and depth of flavor. You can also melt this cheese in its wooden box in the oven. The best use of Camembert is as a dip with breadsticks or toast.
This soft cheese originates from Cyprus and contains sheep and goats’ milk. It’s a brined soft cheese and is very salty. It’s perfect for cooking because it can hold its shape to give a crisp exterior and melting center. You can fry, bake or grill Halloumi. Serve it with roasted vegetables and salads. You can also make delicious Halloumi fries.
This soft blue cheese is from the Lombardy region in northern Italy. It’s made from cow’s milk and is creamy, rich, and tangy. Also, this cheese is named after the town of Gorgonzola. Just take it out of the fridge for 10 minutes before eating, or try it with broccoli in a quiche.
As the name suggests, this cheese has goat’s milk and is one of the most popular dairy foods. People enjoy goat cheese all across the globe. Goat cheese has many varieties with different flavors and textures. These include crumbly and salty aged cheese to creamy and super moist spreadable cheese.
Goat cheese is rich in vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and protein. Try making herbed goat cheese butter, goat cheese stuffed chicken, and goat cheese cheesecake bites if you want to enjoy goat cheese at home.
This Mexican cheese contains cow’s milk and is handmade. It’s a mild, soft, and slightly tangy white cheese that’s a staple in Mexican kitchens. It’s easily crumbled, so you can use it on soups, grilled corn, tacos, and burritos.
Unlike other Mexican cheeses like cotija, this soft cheese has a light milky flavor and isn’t as salty.
The word ‘burrata’ means buttery in Italian. This semi-soft cheese has a rich, thick cream in the center. It’s an artisan cheese made of cow or buffalos’ milk. It originated in Puglia in the south of Italy, though it’s now available in many other countries. It’s not ideal for cooking, so only serve it naturally with olive oil and salads.
This rich cream cheese is like eating thick, buttery cream. That’s because it uses butter rather than milk. Use this soft cheese to enrich risotto, pasta sauces, cheesecakes, risotto, cheesecakes, and tiramisu. This cheese is famous all around the world for its bold and delicious flavor.
Paneer is a fresh, unsalted soft cheese from India. It uses buffalo’s milk, though now it’s normal to add cow’s milk. It’s widely available in many other countries and is very easy to make at home. This cheese keeps its shape during cooking, so you can add it to curries, fry with spices, and skewer for the barbecue.
This cheese is like cottage cheese without the fatty dressing. It’s hung in cheesecloth or pressed to make a crumbly and soft mass. Different countries have unique versions of farmer’s cheese. For example, the American style has salt, the Mexican style is spongy, and the Indian style is like dry cottage cheese.
Boursault is a triple-cream cheese made from pasteurized cow’s milk and is popular in the French region of Val-de-Marne. This cheese contains a high amount of fat, making it one of those melt-in-the-mouth kinds of soft cheeses. It has a rich, moist, and creamy consistency and a buttery taste. The ideal combo of the jelly-like soft texture and unique taste makes it a favorite dessert cheese.
This version of soft cheese is not that popular in the United States but is a dietary staple in Germany and Israel.
It’s a smoother, low-fat version of cottage cheese without the curds. In Germany, quark is smooth and like yogurt but slightly drier. Israel’s version is smooth and creamy, while in Poland and Russia, quark is sold as soft, pressed cakes that are broken up and mixed with other products for fillings in pierogi and blintzes.
The History of Cheese
How do cheese types differ from each other?
While this aging process occurs, a hard coating forms around cheese known as a rind. This rind becomes thicker and more flavorful as the cheese ages or is washed with a vinegar brine. Depending on the rind’s thickness, it develops a more toasty and smoky flavor than the creamier inside of the cheese.
Fast Facts On Cheese Types
- “Cheese-flavored” food is not a cheese type.
- Many aged cheese types are high in sodium and fat, but the benefits may outweigh their disadvantages.
- Natural, low-fat, and low-sodium cheese can make a great addition to most diets.
- Anyone with a lactose allergy should avoid any cheese, but some cheeses may be suitable for those with lactose intolerance.
- Cheese is a standard addition to popular foods like burgers, pizza, salad, Mexican dishes, and sandwiches.
- Cheese can also be a snack or an appetizer. You can add cheese to soups, sauces, pastries, and many other dishes.
- Cheese types range from mild to mature in flavor and low- to high-fat in composition.
- Whole-milk cheese types contain between 6 and 10 grams (g) of fat per ounce (28 g).
- Low-fat cheese contains 2 percent milk. Non-fat cheese contains skim milk.
- Fresh cheese types are cheeses that haven’t aged or matured. They usually have a higher moisture content, softer texture, and milder taste than other cheese types. Examples include Roquefort, cream cheese, ricotta, cottage cheese, and mascarpone.
- Aged cheeses are firmer in texture. They have concentrated or sharp flavor. Swiss, Cheddar, Parmesan, and Gruyère are examples of aged cheeses.
- The American cheese society doesn’t categorize processed cheese, such as American cheese or cheese spread, and cheese-flavored products as cheese. These are shelf-stable products containing ingredients such as flavor enhancers and emulsifiers.
- Non-dairy cheeses, such as Daiya and soy cheese, are suitable for lactose intolerant people who don’t consume dairy products.
How to Store Soft Cheese
REMOVE PLASTIC WRAPPING
Soft cheese needs to have some air exposure, so it doesn’t become too moist and watery. Wrapping a soft cheese in plastic wrap essentially smothers the cheese, trapping excess moisture that will destroy the rind and the flavor and texture of the cheese.
USE CHEESE PAPER OR ALUMINIUM FOIL
Preserve your cheese by covering it in wax paper or aluminum foil. This keeps your cheese from drying out and allows it to breathe. Once you’ve wrapped your cheese, place it in an airtight container to keep it fresh.
Soft cheeses will last several weeks if wrapped in wax paper under proper conditions.
DON’T WRAP IT TOO TIGHTLY
Ammonia smell is a natural by-product of soft cheese, but most cheeses develop unpleasant flavors if they never get to release it. Wrapping cheese too tightly prevents it from releasing the ammonia smell and moisture. When wrapping your cheese in aluminum foil or wax paper, you should leave room for it to breathe.
REPLACE THE PAPER
Keep your cheese fresh and free from harmful bacteria by replacing the wrapping paper after each use. This also helps maintains the natural moisture balance and ensures that your cheese stays flavorful for as long as possible.
STORE IT IN THE VEGETABLE DRAWER
Place wrapped soft cheese in a vegetable drawer that will shield the cheese from your fridge’s dehydrating airflow.
USE A BELL JAR
You can also use a bell jar or cheese dome to cover soft cheese in the refrigerator. Soft cheese stored under a dome creates a favorable climate, ensuring proper moisture every time.
How can I tell if my cheese has gone bad?
Ammonia smells, black mold, and slimy surfaces are all good indications that your cheese may be too old for consumption.
How many types of cheese are there?
Because cheese is an ancient food prepared in different ways, it isn’t easy to know how many types of cheese are out there. We can say that there are thousands of cheese types and some people estimate that there are over 10,000 distinct varieties of cheese!
What is the country of origin of Gorgonzola cheese?
Gorgonzola is a type of soft blue cheese made in Italy. It has a reputation for amazing quality that makes it much sought after.
What is the difference between Brie and Camembert?
Brie and Camembert are both soft cheeses made from exactly the same recipe. The difference lies in their shape and flavor. Camembert has a narrower, taller wheel, and brie has a wider and flatter wheel. Both of these cheeses.