Cheese Salt Substitutes

Cheese is a beloved food for many people. The salty, savory flavor adds deliciousness to sandwiches, pasta, pizza and more.

Cheese Salt Substitutes

However, the high sodium content of regular cheese can be concerning, especially for those looking to reduce their sodium intake.

Fortunately, there are effective salt substitutes and other methods that allow you to make lower-sodium cheese while maintaining taste and functionality.

Why Reduce Sodium in Cheese?

Cheese contains a significant amount of sodium, with around 176 mg per ounce. While a reasonable amount of sodium is necessary in our diets, most health organizations recommend limiting sodium to avoid potential health risks.

The daily recommended sodium intake is less than 2,300 mg according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. However, it's estimated that Americans consume on average over 3,400 mg of sodium per day.

High sodium intake is associated with:

  • Increased blood pressure
  • Higher risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease
  • Possible increased osteoporosis risk
  • Potential kidney problems

Lowering the sodium content of cheese can help reduce your overall dietary sodium and improve heart health. This is especially important for those with hypertension or preexisting cardiovascular issues.

While cheese contributes a relatively modest amount of sodium compared to some other foods, it's still worthwhile to reduce levels, particularly in products with cheese as an ingredient like pizza.

Key Takeaway: Too much sodium intake is linked to high blood pressure and other health issues. Reducing salt in cheese can help lower your overall sodium consumption.

Strategies for Reducing Sodium in Cheese

There are a few methods cheesemakers and consumers can use to produce cheese with less salt:

1. Use Less Sodium Chloride

The most straightforward approach is to use less sodium chloride (salt) during the cheesemaking process. Studies have found that 25% less salt may not affect the taste or quality of natural cheese.

However, be aware that major reductions may lead to taste, texture and safety issues:

  • Higher moisture content
  • Less inhibition of bacterial growth
  • More intense proteolysis
  • Reduced shelf life
  • Bland, bitter taste

So it's best to limit salt reductions to around 10-25% to prevent these problems.

2. Replace with Salt Substitutes

Another strategy is replacing a portion of sodium chloride with salt substitutes such as:

  • Potassium chloride - Provides a similar preservative effect as sodium chloride. However, it has a bitter, metallic taste at higher doses. Using taste enhancers and technologies like altering crystal structure helps mask this flavor.
  • Calcium chloride - Can help maintain a firmer cheese texture.
  • Magnesium chloride - May impart a slightly bitter taste.
  • Whey protein - Enhances saltiness, used as "dairy solids" or "modified whey".

Start by replacing 25-50% of the sodium chloride with substitutes and adjust as needed.

3. Use Lower Sodium Cheese Varieties

For consumers, one of the simplest ways to reduce sodium is to buy cheese marked as "low sodium" or with a reduced sodium nutrition claim:

  • Low Sodium - Contains 140mg or less per serving
  • Reduced Sodium - At least 25% less sodium than regular varieties

Low moisture, part-skim mozzarella or cheddar are also good lower sodium options. Compare nutrition labels and choose options with the lowest sodium per serving.

4. Opt for Lower Sodium Cheese Alternates

Some cheese alternatives like soy or almond cheese tend to be lower in sodium. Swapping regular cheese for these options can help reduce your overall sodium intake.

However, keep in mind that non-dairy cheeses have a different texture and flavor profile compared to traditional cheese.

5. Enjoy Smaller Servings

One of the easiest ways to reduce sodium is by eating smaller cheese portions. Measure portions to stay closer to the recommended 1-2 ounce serving size.

Scaling back on cheese servings naturally lowers the amount of sodium you're consuming. Focus on getting more nutritional bang for your buck by choosing intense, flavorful cheeses you can use less of.

6. Switch Up Your Diet

Rather than only reducing sodium in cheese, diversify your diet with more low sodium foods:

  • Fruits, vegetables, lentils, nuts
  • Fresh poultry, fish and seafood
  • Low sodium bread and grains
  • Unsalted butter and oils

A balanced, sodium-conscious diet makes it easier to stay below recommended limits despite higher sodium foods like cheese.

Making Low Sodium Cheese at Home

If you make your own cheese at home, try these tips for reducing sodium:

  • Use less salt in your cheese recipe
  • Substitute salt with herbs, spices, garlic, pepper, etc. to add flavor
  • Replace some salt with potassium chloride salt substitutes
  • Use low sodium cultures and coagulants

Start with small changes like 10% less salt until you find the right balance of taste and sodium content for your preferences.

Key Takeaway: For store-bought cheese, compare nutrition labels and choose low sodium varieties. At home, use less salt, salt substitutes and boost flavor with herbs.

Challenges of Low Sodium Cheese

While it's possible to make great tasting cheese with less salt, some challenges exist:

Altered Texture

  • Softer texture
  • More crumbly cheddar
  • Less firmness

Reduced Shelf Life

  • Higher moisture content
  • Faster microbial growth

More Intense Flavors

  • Increased bitterness
  • Stronger proteolytic flavor
  • Potential off-flavors

Higher Costs

  • More expensive substitute ingredients
  • Shorter shelf life increases waste

The key is finding the right balance of sodium reduction that minimizes these issues. Smaller reductions of 10-25% are often imperceptible while still offering health benefits.

Best Cheeses for Sodium Reduction

Some cheeses are easier to reduce sodium in than others based on their style and manufacturing process.

Best choices:

These cheeses tolerate small sodium reductions quite well. The freshness also means less time for sodium to impact shelf life.

More challenging:

The extended aging process relies on salt for preservation, flavor and texture development. Sodium also heavily impacts the ripening cultures in soft cheeses.

For consumers, soft fresh cheeses tend to contain less sodium overall. Aged, hard grating cheeses are very high in sodium since they use salt for flavor and food safety during long aging.

Low Sodium Cheese Options to Buy

Many cheese brands now offer reduced or low sodium options:

BrandLow Sodium CheeseSodium Per Serving
Cabot50% Reduced Sodium Cheddar110mg
Cracker Barrel25% Less Sodium Sharp Cheddar180mg
KraftLow Sodium Cheddar140mg
SargentoLow Sodium Mozzarella140mg
The Laughing CowCreamy Swiss Light140mg

Compare brands and choose options with at least 25% less sodium than regular varieties. Stick with well-known brands that use high quality ingredients and cheesemaking practices for the best results.

Is Low Sodium Cheese Healthier?

Lower sodium cheese can be part of a healthy diet but isn't necessarily "healthier" overall. Keep these points in mind:

  • Cheese is high in calories, saturated fat and sodium even in low sodium versions. Enjoy in moderation.
  • Low sodium labels don't indicate the cheese is more nutritious. The nutrient profile remains largely unchanged.
  • If substitutes are used, low sodium cheeses may be more processed. Choose simple, natural ingredients when possible.
  • Lower sodium intake is associated with reduced blood pressure and heart disease risk for most people.

The main advantage of low sodium cheese is decreasing total sodium consumption, which is beneficial for most people. But the cheese itself isn't necessarily healthier than regular varieties.


What can you use instead of salt in cheese?

Some good salt substitutes and flavor enhancers for cheese include potassium chloride, calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, whey protein, herbs, spices, garlic, pepper and cheese cultures that promote flavor development.

Does low sodium cheese taste different?

When sodium is reduced by 25% or less, most people can't detect a noticeable difference in flavor. Excessive reductions can lead to off-flavors, bitterness and texture issues. Choosing small gradual reductions minimizes the impact on taste.

Is sea salt better for low sodium cheese?

Sea salt naturally contains some sodium-replacing minerals like potassium which may help reduce bitterness from sodium substitutions. However, the sodium content remains similar to regular salt, so it won't directly lower the total sodium level.

Can you make feta cheese without salt?

It's very challenging to completely remove salt from brined cheeses like feta. The salt is vital for controlling microbial growth, moisture, flavor development and the cheesemaking process. Even reduced sodium feta still requires some salt.

Is goat cheese lower in sodium?

Goat cheeses are not necessarily lower in sodium across the board. However, fresh goat cheese tends to be lower in sodium compared to aged varieties. Soft goat cheese spreads are also typically lower sodium options. Always check the nutrition label instead of assuming a cheese is lower sodium.


There are many effective options for reducing sodium in cheese, from salt substitutes to low sodium varieties. The strategies allow you to decrease sodium without sacrificing the delicious taste.

Pay attention to your overall dietary sodium rather than just cheese. A balanced diet with plenty of low sodium foods makes it easier to accomodate higher sodium items.

Cheese Lover Chloe 🧀
Cheese Lover Chloe 🧀

I'm a total cheese fanatic! When I'm not busy studying to be a cheesemaker, you can find me scouring local farmers markets and specialty shops for new and exciting cheeses to try. Brie is my all-time fave, but I also love exploring aged goudas, funky blues, and rich creamy camemberts. Looking forward to sharing lots of melty, gooey cheese pics and reviews!