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Try These American Substitutes for Iconic European Holiday Cheeses

American artisan cheese is the best it’s ever been. We recommend swapping in some of our favorite domestic varieties for European wheels this holiday season. They’re amazing on any holiday cheese board, or whip up some baked Brie or melty raclette.

Want several great American takes on European classics all in one package? December's monthly subscription box has Bay Blue, a great substitute for Stilton; Cownty Tales, a tasty swap for crunchy, crystalline aged Gouda; and that obligatory holiday truffle cheese—Petite Truffle, a Camembert style made with black truffle.

Just be sure to place your order by this Thursday, December 15 to guarantee arrival before the holiday! Read on for substitutes for Camembert, Vacherin Mont d’Or, and more.

Substitute for Camembert: Petite Camembert

substitute for camembert or brie

Looking for a buttery, mild soft-ripened cheese similar to French Camembert? Try Petite Camembert, a luscious little bloomy rind from California’s Marin French Cheese.

We love this one on the young side, with a velvety interior and notes of creme fraiche, or more mature, with a softer paste and hints of earthy, mushroomy aromas. It’s incredible on a cheese board or topped with sugar and brûléed to create a sweet, crispy, caramelized crust.

Substitute for Brie: Bloomy Breeze

Speaking of soft-ripened cheese, one of our favorite stateside substitutes for French Brie is Bloomy Breeze, a rich, supple cow’s milk round from Firefly Farms in Maryland.

This dense, spreadable award-winning wheel offers flavors ranging from tangy buttermilk to savory and vegetal when ripe and oozy inside. It’s incredible on its own, of course, but it wouldn’t be the holidays without a round of baked Brie wrapped in flaky pie crust or puff pastry.

Substitute for Vacherin Mont d’Or: Rush Creek Reserve or Harbison

rush creek reserve

One of the most sought-after French cheeses, Vacherin Mont d’Or is so incredibly lush thanks to rich fall milk that it must be contained in a spruce bark strap during aging. It’s also not available in the United States in its original raw milk form.

But you know what is? Rush Creek Reserve, a bark-wrapped wheel from Uplands Cheese in Wisconsin. Cheesemaker Andy Hatch apprenticed making Mont d’Or in France, and he put that knowledge to good use when developing Rush Creek, which is made only with the grassy, extra-fatty late-season raw milk of the farm’s herd of pasture-raised heritage cows.

The finished product offers multidimensional flavor that can include notes of cured meat, wood smoke, forest floor, or sweet cream depending on age. The texture is smooth and custardy inside—even more so if you heat it in a covered crock for about 45 minutes in a 250-degree oven until warmed through. Peel back the top rind and dip in roasted Brussels sprouts, kettle-cooked potato chips, a hunk of bread, or a spoon.

Looking to gift a bark-wrapped wheel this season but want to try one for yourself? Pick up a pair of Mini Harbison wheels made by Jasper Hill in Vermont. These cute little rounds are similar to Vacherin and Rush Creek, but their aging process is a little more like a bloomy rind, with notes of brown butter and warm nutmeg. Keep one and use the other to help a loved one have a very happy holiday.

Substitute for French Raclette: Reading Raclette

raclette substitute

The ban on raw milk French imports might feel like a loss, but it’s inspired American artisan makers to develop some incredible raw milk cheeses inspired by European favorites. We love serving raclette around the holidays, but only inferior pasteurized French varieties are typically available.

Enter Reading Raclette, made by Spring Brook Farm in Vermont, which just might be the closest you can get to the full, multidimensional flavor and supple texture of “real” Raclette in the U.S. Made with raw milk, this semi-firm beauty offers notes of fresh grass and roasted peanuts thanks to regular saltwater washing during the aging process. Grab yourself a hunk, then get your melt on.

Substitute for Gorgonzola: Glacier Penta Creme Blue

substitute for gorgonzola blue cheese

In our opinion, no cheese plate is complete without a hunk of rich, peppery blue cheese. Gorgonzola Dolce is one of the most approachable types of blue, with a mild and milky flavor profile compared to punchier styles like Stilton and Roquefort.

Instead of an Italian blue, we love Glacier Penta Creme Blue from Carr Valley Cheese in Wisconsin. Made with the addition of extra heavy cream, it’s a bit like the triple-cream of blue cheeses—smooth and silky spread on a baguette with a drizzle of truffle honey but firm enough to crumble on salad or steak. It’s great for converting blue-averse cheese fans, too.

What are your favorite cheeses to serve for the holidays? Tag us @cheesegrotto on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and let us know!

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