7 Best Fontina Cheese Substitutes

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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Understanding the best fontina cheese substitutes is important for certain recipes, or simply if you want to add some new flavors to your cheese and crackers routine!

Fontina Cheese Substitutes

Good fontina cheese substitutes are semi-hard, similar to fontina, an Italian cow’s milk cheese. Young fontina is very soft and melts well. Mature fontina is hard, with holes inside the cheese, and a very distinct nutty, buttery flavor. Fontina is a popular cheese for fondue and sauces, and pairs well with savory meats and mushrooms, particularly truffles.

If you cannot find fontina at your local shop, there are several substitutes for fontina cheese such as gouda, gruyere, taleggio, provolone, Emmental, mozzarella, and edam among others.

Gouda

One of the world’s most popular cheeses, gouda originated in the Netherlands. It has a firm, creamy density that melts well. The flavor of gouda gets stronger as it ages, like fontina, but retains a butteriness that pairs with wines and strong sauces.

Cheeseboard with grapes and figs

Cheeseboard with grapes and figs Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Gruyere

Gruyere is a Swiss cow’s milk cheese, yellowish in color, that can be substituted for fontina in several applications. It is considered one of the closest matches to fontina. It bears more of a resemblance to mature fontina, with a dense texture and strong, nutty flavor. Gruyere is best in soups, sandwiches, and pasta.

Taleggio

Taleggio is another Italian cow’s milk cheese that is similar to fontina in terms of its high-fat content and strong distinctive smell. It pairs best with meats and is popular in sandwiches and on pizzas.

Provolone

Provolone is a mild Italian cheese that substitutes best for fontina in baked pasta and soups. It is very popular as a sandwich cheese. The flavor is very mild and it has practically no smell, making this a good switch if you are cooking for someone who prefers less pungent cheese.

Emmental

Also known commonly as Swiss cheese, Emmental is a Swiss cow’s milk cheese that is hard and pungent. It is best used as a fontina substitute on sandwiches and in fondue, where the nutty flavor comes out best.

Mozzarella

If you want the gooey and melty quality of fontina, mozzarella will not disappoint. However, the flavor of this Italian cow’s milk cheese is extremely mild, with little to no bite, and will not be able to replace fontina’s earthy flavor.

Edam

Edam is another cheese from the Netherlands that melts well, like fontina, with a mild, nutty flavor. It is popular for melted or baked dishes but also pairs well with fruit and wines as a table cheese. It has a low-fat content, so substituting edam for high-fat fontina will help those who are counting their calories.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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