Gouda is a very mild, wonderful cheese that pairs well with pretty much anything. It doesn’t overpower other items on a cheese and meat platter, and it’s definitely a nice melting cheese.
But what if you have no Gouda on hand ? Well, you’re going to have to improvise and we’re here to help.
First we need to understand what Gouda is, so we know the main points we need to look for in a substitute.
What is Gouda ?
Gouda is a Dutch semi-hard cow’s milk cheese. It’s quite mild in flavor, with slightly nutty and buttery notes.
This kind of cheese is often aged, even if just a few weeks. This develops the flavor but even an aged Gouda is still fairly mild, compared to other aged cheese.
It’s recipe is very closely related to that of Edam cheese, except Gouda is just a little more moist and soft.
You can recognize a roll of Gouda by its distinctive red wax shell, though that may also be Edam at times.
So, now we know what kind of cheese Gouda is. Let’s see what this means when we’d like to find some replacements.
Top 6 Gouda substitutes
Since Gouda is a mild cheese, we need to look for milk cheeses to replace it with.
We should also keep in mind its texture. Gouda is not crumbly or dry, so something like Parmesan will not do. It’s not overly moist, so Mozzarella won’t do either.
This is also a slightly nutty cheese so something very flavorful again won’t do. We need young cheese for this, or at least only very slightly aged cheese.
If none of the substitutes on this list can be found in your country, whether you need plain or smoked Gouda, know that you just have to look for a mild flavored, semi-hard cheese.
The replacement cheese should not be pungent, sour, spicy but rather a subdued buttery flavor. In some places such a cheese may be labeled as ‘sandwich cheese’ or ‘table cheese’.
Let’s take a look at the options we have, and some of them might just be in your neighborhood supermarket.
1. Edam (Dutch)
This is the most obvious but fair replacement for Gouda. They’re very close in flavor, texture, recipe and are both Dutch cheeses.
An important distinction is that Edam is made with semi-skimmed milk so its total fat content is a bit lower than Gouda’s. This makes for a slightly less buttery flavor, but the overall tone is still ‘mild’.
If you’re substituting aged Gouda then you need aged Edam. They age about the same but since Edam is lower in fat it will dry out a little quicker.
Still it won’t be a crumbly, flaky cheese, just a slightly dried out yet still pliable cheese.
Edam is easy to find since it’s a fairly common cheese and even if you don’t find Gouda you might find this one.
Read also : Best Mozzarella Substitutes
2. Young Cheddar (American)
Cheddar is another great option, though it’s got a little more of a nutty flavor. There’s off-white Cheddar, and then there’s the orange Cheddar.
To substitute Gouda you need the off-white, pale one. The more orange or dark the Cheddar, the more annatto spice it’s got though it also darkens with age. Which is not a bad thing, the spice gives it a nice nutty, sweet flavor but it’s not good to replace a mild Gouda.
Do not get sharp Cheddar, get regular Cheddar and make sure it’s not aged, no matter what age Gouda you’re substituting.
Aged Cheddar becomes harder and drier than aged Gouda, and it develops a sharp, pungent flavor. Aged Gouda doesn’t develop this kind of flavor, instead it becomes nuttier with a smooth finish.
3. Muenster (American)
Do not confuse with Munster ( French/German). This is the American version and it’s a little different.
The American Muenster is a mild cheese, made from pasteurized cow’s milk. It’s off-white on the inside and a little orange on the outside, usually due to annatto – it gives it a slight nutty and sweet aroma, keeping the inside very mild.
The annatto is used sparingly, and while you’ll definitely feel it it won’t be as strong as Cheddar. This is also because Muenster is sold when young and you won’t see the aged ones on the shelf too often, unless you look for them at a specialized cheesemonger.
Just to give you a complete picture, the French/German Munster is also a cow’s milk cheese, only it’s raw or unpasteurized. This is a washed rind cheese , and it’s aged for weeks or months depending on how large the roll is.
It develops an orange rind naturally because the bacteria is still present in the milk, and the brine wash helps it develop.
If you’d like to substitute Gouda with Munster (instead of Muenster) know that it would be a poor idea. Munster is a soft cheese and develops a kind of sharp, pungent aroma that doesn’t replace Gouda at all.
4. Young Monterey Jack (American)
Monterey Jack is an American cheese made of cow’s milk.
It comes in several forms, like:
- Pepper Jack – with chilies and herbs
- Dry Jack – aged, very similar to Parmesan
- Colby Jack – Jack marbled with Colby cheese
- Cheddar Jack – Jack marbled with Cheddar cheese
- Plain Monterey Jack – fresh or very slightly aged
What you need from that list is plain ol’ Monterey Jack. It’s got a very mild flavor and it’s slightly creamy, making for a perfect Gouda substitute.
It’s a little bit sweet on its own but Gouda’s got a little sweetness of its own as well.
If you’re aiming to substitute fresh or young Gouda then get plain Jack. If you’re trying to replace an aged Gouda then get Dry Jack, just keep in mind that Jack ages more dramatically than Gouda so their ages won’t line up exactly.
5. Colby (American)
Colby is yet another cow’s milk cheese, and it too is an American cheese. Its production process is very similar to Monterey Jack, except Colby has a bit of annatto added which gives it a bit of a nutty, slightly sweet flavor.
Notice that Cheddar has annatto added as well, but the difference is the way the Cheddar is literally constructed – blocks of whey kneaded with salt and very well drained.
Colby is a washed curd cheese, and these are always a little milder, a little sweeter, softer and generally with a softer finish.
You’ll notice that Colby ranges from light orange to bright orange, depending on how much annatto was added. Try and get a lighter colored one to be sure the flavor is closer to Gouda.
If you’re replacing aged Gouda with Colby it won’t be a good idea since Colby isn’t aged and dries out very quickly so you can only use it for young Gouda.
6. Havarti (Danish)
Havarti is a Danish cheese made from cow’s milk. It’s a semi-soft cheese, so it will be softer than Gouda but it will do.
Taste is mild and buttery, and older Havarti may be noticeably sweet so try to get a young one since Gouda isn’t as sweet to begin with.
One thing to note is the tiny holes present in Havarti. They don’t impede the melting process and don’t change the flavor, but you or your guests will notice that this is Havarti, since Gouda has no ‘eyes’.
Havarti doesn’t age well, so you won’t find versions older than a few weeks, meaning you should only use it to substitute young Gouda.
Read Also:Does String Cheese Melt ?
Substituting smoked Gouda
Smoked Gouda isn’t called for in every recipe or cheese platter but when it is, it’s amazing. However you’ll need to look at the above possibilities and find their smoked version.
So a smoked young Cheddar will be great, as well as smoked Colby. You won’t really find smoked Havarti but you may find smoked Edam since the Dutch like their cheeses smoked too.
Most of the time if you need to find smoked cheese (Gouda or not) you may have to visit a specialized cheesemonger since it’s not something you’ll randomly find in a supermarket.
Said cheesemonger will most definitely have smoked Gouda, or may at least point you in the right direction.
Alright, so that’s it for Gouda substitutes. Hopefully you found what you were looking for and know what to put on that cheese platter or use in a recipe.
Gouda is so common actually that it makes up for about half of the total cheese consumption in the world !
If you’ve got any food curiosities be sure to check the related articles below, we’re always adding more food facts to make your life that much easier.