Gruyere cheese is a kitchen classic. It has a unique texture that’s just right for a lot of decadent recipes, making it a staple for those who love stomach-warming foods. Not only that, but the mild yet distinctive taste is almost universally loved.
In this article, we’ll run through what exactly makes gruyere cheese so unique and suggest 11 excellent substitutes you can use to tweak a recipe a bit without losing that gruyere charm.
Gruyere Cheese 101
Before we get into what substitutes to use for gruyere cheese, it’s important to understand what makes gruyere special. That way, we can zero in on a few of the qualities we need to replicate!
What is gruyere cheese?
Gruyere cheese is originally Swiss, but it’s one of the few Swiss cheeses without large holes running through it. Instead, its surface is smooth. Its texture is creamy but medium-firm, the same level of firmness as the “traditional” swiss cheese you’d find at a supermarket.
Gruyere is most notable as a melting cheese. It has a higher water-to-oil ratio than almost any other cheese on the market, which is why it melts into an evenly-textured gooey pool of cheesy goodness instead of separating into a quickly-hardening clump of oily fat like many melted cheeses.
What is gruyere cheese used for?
Because of its fantastic melting texture, Gruyere is used in gooey cheese dishes like:
- Cheese Fondue
- Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
- Cheesy Quiche
- Potatoes au Gratin
- Cheese Tart
- Creamy Pasta Sauces
- French Onion Soup
- Spinach & Cheese Dip
Since it can be drizzled into any batter or sauce and mixed in smoothly, melted gruyere is also a popular addition to breads and cakes before they are baked to give them an extra kick.
Gruyere’s defining features
Let’s do a quick round-up of all the things that make gruyere distinct so that we can find some substitutions that capture those things too.
- Buttery melting texture
- A distinct nutty-creamy flavor for young gruyere, a saltier and earthier flavor for older gruyere
- Pale yellow coloring
- Relatively high fat content (33%)
11 Substitutes for Gruyere Cheese You Can Use in a Pinch
People often hear the term “substitute” and instantly think of something you can use only if you don’t have access to the real thing. That’s not true, though; substitutes can often be better than the original in certain situations.
You might use certain gruyere cheese substitutes to capture the essence of the cheese while avoiding other aspects. For instance, certain substitutes might bring the best parts of gruyere cheese to a vegan, or someone trying to avoid excess fat, or someone who doesn’t care for gooey textures in their food.
So, keeping in mind the defining features mentioned above, let’s get into it: 11 excellent substitutes for gruyere cheese.
Emmental, which is extremely similar to the “traditional” Swiss cheese you can find at any grocery store, is probably the closest approximation to gruyere cheese. The flavor profile is almost exactly the same and the color and texture are both dead ringers. The fat content is not quite as high as gruyere, which means it won’t be quite as creamy, but it still melts just as evenly.
Emmental is often used in fondue along with gruyere, so just using 100% emmental in fondue or another dish that uses cheese as the base is a good bet.
Can’t find Emmental cheese? You may like: 11 Emmental Cheese Substitutes for Fondue, Spaetzle, and More
This is my personal favorite substitute for gruyere cheese because of how it seems to melt in your mouth. That has a lot to do with the insanely high fat content – usually 45-50% – but it pairs so nicely with the muted, buttery flavor that it may be worth it.
Beaufort is made with raw cow’s milk in just one region of France so it’s not always easy to find, but it’s quite an experience when you do. Oddly enough, it’s known to pair especially well with fish dishes.
Vegan Almond Gruyere
I’ve made this vegan gruyere for my vegan relatives, and most of them absolutely love it.
Almond cream cheese, yeast, and miso paste give it gruyere’s trademark creamy texture, and, since gruyere has a naturally nutty flavor, the end result is amazingly close to the cheese. It’s also a lot healthier and lower in fat.
You’ll have to start preparing it at least 3 days before you serve it, though, because you have to let it age a little. Unsurprisingly, the cheese won’t melt like gruyere will. It’s better to serve on a cheese plate.
If you just want to capture the super-gooey qualities of gruyere cheese, American cheese is the way to go. It’s not nearly as tasty and definitely not as healthy, but it was formulated instead with the goal of being as gooey as possible.
On something like a grilled cheese that often serves simply as a way to get that signature melted cheese texture, American cheese is a good choice.
American “cheese” (which legally has to be referred to as a “cheese product”) is also very cheap, easy to find, and comes in a ton of different flavors and shades of yellow or white.
Both fresh and low-moisture mozzarella are classics for melting cheeses, being the go-tos for pizzas and grilled cheeses everywhere. Surprisingly, though, mozzarella cheese is quite low in fat compared to most cheeses with around 17% fat content. That’s pretty amazing for the cheese that is the poster-child for those gooey cheese pulls you see in commercials.
Kids love mozzarella, too. Not only because of its ooey-gooey texture, but also because its flavor, while distinct, is extremely mild. If you’re hosting a lot of picky eaters and want to make a gooey cheese dish, go with mozzarella.
One thing to note is that mozzarella is different from provolone. If you’re looking for a mild, soft cheese, mozzarella will be your best choice. If you like a harder cheese with some tang, then provolone better is the way to go.
Salted Greek Yogurt
Even though Greek yogurt has more fat than normal yogurt, it’s still much less fatty than gruyere cheese – even whole milk Greek yogurt usually has 3.25% fat, one tenth of what gruyere has. It still has a nice creamy taste and a noticeable kick, though, and it’s solid enough to sit atop a piping hot bowl of french onion soup. Adding a bit of salt to taste will help give it that umami flavor of cheese, too.
You probably shouldn’t substitute Greek yogurt for gruyere in recipes where cheese is the main ingredient – a bowl of Greek yogurt fondue or a grilled “cheese” sandwich with yogurt might be gross. For small substitutions, though, Greek yogurt is a great low-fat alternative.
Raclette and gruyere have a very similar fat-to-oil ratio, so they have the same remarkable melting texture. The main difference is that raclette has a much stronger smell and flavor, so it has a stronger bite. Some people love that added “oomph,” but picky eaters probably won’t appreciate it.
Jarlsberg is like the “lite” version of gruyere. Not only in terms of fat content – 27% compared to 33% – but also in terms of its slightly nutty flavor, its yellow shade, and, oh-so-importantly, its very affordable price. It’s also a very versatile cheese, and it’s a good substitute for gruyere in both its raw or melted form.
Jarlsberg has a subtle sweet flavor that is rare in cheeses, which makes it a great cheese to serve during the holidays. It’s also a favorite with kids for that same reason.
Gooey Tofu Sauce
Vegan eaters will appreciate this gooey tofu-based sauce, which will replicate the creamy texture of melted gruyere while cutting out the animal fat. To prepare, use:
- A 14-oz block of tofu
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup nutritional yeast
- ¼ cup unsweetened plant milk
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- To prepare, crumble the tofu into a blender or food processor and add the remaining ingredients.
- Then blend until the sauce is smooth and creamy.
- Finally, transfer the sauce to a pan and cook over medium heat until it’s the consistency you want. The longer you cook it, the thicker the mixture will get.
- After preparing, add the sauce to recipes like potatoes au gratin in the same proportions as melted gruyere cheese.
Cheddar is one of the best melting cheeses out there. It has a very high fat content – slightly higher than gruyere, in most cases – but it also has a high water content to balance it out.
The flavor profile is pretty different from gruyere, but it is universally liked. Since cheddar is such a popular cheese, you can easily find it at different levels of “sharpness” so that you can cater to the crowd you’re serving.
You may like: What Can You Substitute for Cheddar Cheese Soup?
Reduced-Fat Swiss Cheese
If you’re looking for a much lower-fat substitute for gruyere but don’t want to sacrifice that distinct Swiss cheese flavor or texture, don’t forget about reduced-fat cheeses.
Almost any supermarket will have reduced-fat Swiss cheese, and it only contains about 19% fat compared to gruyere’s 32%.
Gruyere Cheese FAQs
In case you still have some questions regarding gruyere cheese substitutions, here are the answers to some of the most commonly-posed inquiries.
What can I substitute for gruyere cheese in mac and cheese?
Both emmental and cheddar cheese are good substitutions for gruyere in mac and cheese. They all have similar levels of gooey-ness, but emmental’s flavor is a little subtler and cheddar’s is usually a bit bitier, especially if you use sharp cheddar.
What can I substitute for gruyere cheese in French onion soup?
Emmental and jarlsberg are great substitutes for gruyere in a French onion soup recipe. For a vegan option, try the gooey tofu sauce recipe mentioned above.
Can I substitute swiss cheese for gruyere cheese?
Yes, although most Swiss cheeses will harden a bit faster than gruyere when melted since they don’t have as high a water content. You’ll also miss out on the creamy texture gruyere gets from its high fat content.
Can I substitute provolone for gruyere cheese?
No, provolone is not a great substitute for gruyere cheese. Although it has similar melting properties, provolone is just not flavorful enough when melted. Instead, I’d recommend one of the recommendations made above.
What can I substitute for gruyere cheese in scalloped potatoes?
Try mild cheddar or jarlsberg. They both get that satisfying gooey texture when melted, and they both have a distinctly cheesy flavor without being overpowering.
What can I substitute for gruyere cheese in souffle?
In a souffle, the best substitutes for gruyere are jarlsberg and beaufort. For a much lower-fat option, try salted greek yogurt.
Gruyere cheese is a very distinctive cooking ingredient, and it’s tons of fun to use. Once in a while, though, you can put a different spin on it with the substitutions in this post.
I hope they help inspire you to make some never-before-discovered dishes that are even more delicious than if you had used “the real thing.”