I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of taleggio substitutes to find the best one for every cooking occasion. Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry substitute, or want a swap that fits your diet, I’ve got the answers.
The best substitute for taleggio in terms of flavor is fontina. Gruyere, brie, and havarti cheese are also good options. And if you want something to match the funky smell of taleggio, go for gorgonzole dolce.
I made small batches of this mushroom pasta to test different taleggio cheese substitutes.
Taleggio cheese is a semi-soft wash-ripened cheese from the Lombardy region in Italy. It has a pungent aroma, and underneath the thin rind lies a surprisingly mild but complex cheese. It’s tangy and lightly fruity, and it’s renowned for its excellent melting properties.
Taleggio is a staple in cheese boards, sauces, pizzas – basically, any dish that calls for melted cheese. Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:
|Has more pronounced nutty and savory notes than Taleggio
|Has fruity notes like Taleggio but not as pungent
|Creamy with fruity notes; lacks pungent aroma
|Very similar to Taleggio without the funky aroma
|Quadrella di Buffalo
|Made with buffalo milk
|Blue cheese variant
|Creamy, mild with a hint of tanginess
|American Taleggio-style cheese, milder in flavor but with a stronger smell
|Affordable, milder and buttery, great melting properties.
Note: When it comes to substituting cheese, as long as you like the flavor of the cheese you’re using there won’t be an issue.
Hailing from Italy’s Aosta Valley, fontina cheese is one of my go-to taleggio substitutes. Both are types of wash-ripened cheese and have a funky aroma. And both varieties of cheese share a similar mild flavor, although I thought that fontina had slightly more pronounced nutty notes.
Fontina also has firmer texture than creamy taleggio, but don’t worry. It still melted like a dream and created a creamy sauce for my mushroom pasta. It’s also a fantastic choice for pizzas and even fondue.
How To Substitute: Replace taleggio in a 1:1 ratio with fontina cheese
This Swiss cheese is a delight that’s hard to resist. In comparison to taleggio, gruyere has similar fruity notes but the aroma isn’t as intense, making it a good choice if you’re sensitive to strong cheese smells.
Another difference lies in gruyere’s firm, slightly grainy texture. But just like the previous alternative Fontina, gruyere melts like a dream when you heat it. I personally love it over a croque monsieur or a classic French onion soup, but it also worked perfectly in place of Taleggio in my mushroom pasta.
How To Substitute: Replace taleggio in a 1:1 ratio with gruyere cheese.
Brie is a crowd-pleaser, and its widespread popularity means it’s easily accessible. In terms of flavor, brie and taleggio share a creamy and soft profile. And brie has the same fruity notes as taleggio, although it also comes with an earthy undertone that gives it a nice complexity.
Brie also melts just as well as taleggio, making it a good substitute for virtually any dish. The only big difference is that it lacks the distinct aroma of taleggio, which I didn’t mind at all.
And did you know there are different variations of brie? Options like double and triple-cream brie cheese have a higher fat content, making them a great option if you want to make your dishes even more decadent.
How To Substitute: Replace taleggio in a 1:1 ratio with brie or ¾ the amount if using double-cream brie.
Stracchino is strikingly similar to taleggio, minus the signature funky aroma. The soft, spreadable cheese melted well and created a deliciously rich and creamy sauce for my mushroom pasta.
And if you’re missing that pungent kick, you can try mixing the stracchino with a bit of blue cheese (more on that below!).
Psst… the name of this cheese comes from the word “stracca” which means fatigued. It was named that way because the milk used to make this comes from cows that would migrate in between pastures, leaving them feeling tired.
How To Substitute: Replace Taleggio in a 1:1 ratio with Stracchino.
Quadrella di Buffalo
Quadrella di Buffalo is taleggio’s close cousin in terms of flavor and melting capabilities. The only difference? It’s made with buffalo milk instead of cow’s milk (as you might have guessed by the name).
Buffalo milk has a higher fat content and a richer mineral concentration than cow’s milk, which results in a creamier and more luxurious cheese, with a more velvety mouthfeel. I found swapping it in a 1:1 ratio made my pasta too rich, so next time I’d add less.
How To Substitute: Replace taleggio with 3/4 the amount of Quadrella di Buffalo and add more to taste.
Gorgonzola dolce is a mild member of the blue cheese family and another excellent alternative for taleggio cheese. It has a signature smell just like taleggio, and a sweet and creamy flavor. Dolce actually means sweet.
The biggest difference visually is it has blue veins running all throughout, courtesy of the Penicilium roquefortii mold, which can sometimes still be visible even when it’s melted.
But what I love most about gorgonzola dolce is its accessibility. Its growing popularity means you can find it in high-end cheese shops, but also in larger supermarkets and gourmet stores.
How To Substitute: Replace taleggio in a 1:1 ratio with gorgonzola dolce
Hailing from France, Port Salut is another semi-soft cheese you can use in place of taleggio. At first glance, its bright orange rind immediately sets it apart from taleggio’s natural rind. But when it comes to flavor and texture, the two cheeses are very similar.
Both cheeses present a creamy consistency, perfect for melting or spreading. Flavor-wise, Port Salut offers that delectable mildness paired with a hint of tanginess, closely resembling taleggio’s distinctive flavor.
And if you’re put off by taleggio’s pungent aroma, you won’t get any of it with Port Salut!
How To Substitute: Replace taleggio in a 1:1 ratio with Port Salut.
Unlike the other substitutes on the list, Grayson comes from The United States, specifically from the Southwestern mountains of Virginia. It’s a taleggio-style cheese crafted from raw Jersey cow’s milk.
And while its got a stronger smell than taleggio, its flavor is actually milder, with a mostly savory ‘beefy’ flavor. I was worried the cheese would be too powerful for my mushroom pasta after I smelled it, but this ended up not being a problem.
This American cheese is perfect for those who want the taleggio experience without the intensity. It’s umami quality blended beautifully with the mushrooms.
How To Substitute: Replace taleggio in a 1:1 ratio with Grayson cheese.
Havarti might not be the first cheese you think of as a taleggio substitute, but it does the trick in a pinch. It lacks taleggio’s pungent smell, making it a solid choice if you’re catering to someone not fond of funky cheeses.
Its affordability is also a bonus, and it has a milder, more buttery flavor than taleggio. Some brands also offer havarti infused with add-ons like dill, peppers, or garlic that can potentially add an exciting flavor to your dish.
And while you will normally see havarti sold in slices, it has excellent melting properties like taleggio, and gave my mushroom pasta a delightful creaminess in every bite.
How To Substitute: Replace taleggio in a 1:1 ratio with havarti cheese.
Other Substitute Options
The list above features my top taleggio substitutes, but the world of cheese has a lot more to offer and here are some more options you can consider:
- Ricotta Cheese (this isn’t the best substitute in terms of flavor, but it’s great for making a creamy sauce)
- Bel Paese
Substitutes To Avoid
I know we’ve gone through plenty of taleggio substitutes, but not all kinds of cheese are good substitutes for this Italian delight. Here are some that I encountered during my research that I wouldn’t recommend:
- Mozzarella: Mozzarella is a favorite for many, especially on pizzas, but as a substitute for taleggio, it falls short. It doesn’t melt in the same way as taleggio and the flavor is too bland.
- Roquefort Cheese: This is a kind of blue cheese, but unlike gorgonzola dolce, it sports a salty, tangy kick that can quickly overwhelm any dish that usually calls for taleggio.
- Chèvre: This cheese has a unique, tangy flavor and crumbly texture that many adore. However, its inability to melt smoothly makes it a challenging substitute for taleggio, especially in recipes that bank on a creamy experience.
Best Taleggio Substitutes + 3 To Avoid
- 1 portion Fontina
- 1 portion Gruyere
- 1 portion Brie
- 1 portion Stracchino
- 1 portion Quadrella di Buffalo
- 1 portion Gorgonzola Dolce
- 1 portion Port Salut
- 1 portion Grayson cheese
- 1 portion Havarti Cheese
- Cook your meal according to the recipe.
- Add your chosen taleggio substitutes at the appropriate cooking time.
- Mix until thoroughly combined and continue with the recipe.