Edam Cheese vs. Queso de Bola

Edam and Queso de Bola may look similar on the outside with their distinctive red wax coatings, but they have key differences when it comes to origin, production methods, flavor, texture, uses and more.

Edam Cheese vs. Queso de Bola

What is Edam Cheese?

Edam cheese originated in the Netherlands in the town of Edam. It's a semi-hard cow's milk cheese that is generally shaped into spheres and coated with an inedible red wax rind for preservation and easier transportation.

Inside its waxy exterior, Edam has a pale yellow interior and a mild, subtle flavor ranging from slightly salty and nutty to fruity. The taste varies depending on age, with younger Edam being milder and softer while aged Edam intensified in flavor and develops a firmer texture.

Globally, Edam is often associated with Dutch culture and history. It was a popular provisions cheese for seafarers from the 14th-18th centuries. Today it remains beloved worldwide in cooking as well as for snacking.

Key Takeaway: Edam is a Dutch original, hailed for its distinctive wax-coated spheres enclosing a pale semi-soft interior with a mild, salty-to-fruity flavor.

Brief History of Edam Cheese

The origins of Edam cheese can be traced back to the 14th century in the Netherlands. It originated in the town of Edam, which lent its name to this now famous Dutch export.

Edam was made from cow's milk and often shipped across the world to various Dutch colonies and trading hubs. It became immensely popular due to its hard wax rind which allowed it to keep well without spoiling for months at a time. This made it an ideal provisions cheese for the hold of seafaring merchant and exploration vessels.

By the 20th century, automated production techniques enabled mass distribution of Edam across Europe and beyond. Today it remains one of the most recognized Dutch cheeses globally. From its humble medieval Dutch beginnings, Edam transcended borders and cuisine to become an international delight.

How Traditional Edam Cheese is Made

Authentic Edam cheese is made from pasteurized cow's milk using traditional techniques that date back centuries. Here is an overview of the key steps:

  • Curdling: Rennet is added to milk to cause curds (solids) to separate from whey (liquid). The curds are then cut and cooked.
  • Pressing: Curds are pressed to expel excess whey and form a solid mass.
  • Shaping: The cheese mass is shaped and pressed into spheres or blocks.
  • Brining: Formed cheeses are submerged in a saltwater brine bath to absorb salt.
  • Aging: Cheeses age for weeks to months to develop flavor. Aging rooms have controlled temperature and humidity.
  • Waxing: Once aged to sufficient hardness, the rind is dipped in wax for protection and presentation.

The result is the glossy, waxed orbs of delicious Edam we know today! Subtle variations in ingredients, aging duration, size, etc. produce unique tastes and styles. But traditional production remains little changed from centuries past.

Key Takeaway: Authentic Edam is made via time-honored techniques like curdling milk, waxing aged cheeses, etc. This artisanal process brings out Edam's characteristic flavor.

What is Queso de Bola Cheese?

Queso de Bola, also referred to as Edam cheese in English, is a Filipino version of the Dutch Edam cheese. It likely originated when the Dutch introduced Edam cheese to the Philippines during colonial times.

The name "Queso de Bola" literally translates to "ball cheese" which refers to the round shape. This Orb-shaped cheese is also coated in wax, usually red wax.

Inside, Queso de Bola resembles Edam with its pale yellow interior and firm yet creamy texture that is perfect for grating or slicing.

Flavor-wise, Queso de Bola ranges from mildly salty with a subtle sweetness to nutty in taste. This versatility makes it suitable for both savory and sweet dishes.

While originally from the Netherlands, Queso de Bola is now ingrained in Filipino food culture. It's especially prominent during the holidays like Christmas and New Year celebrations.

Key Takeaway: Queso de Bola is the Filipino take on Dutch Edam. It boasts the same distinctive spheres and wax coating enclosing a salty-to-sweet, pale yellow interior ideal for cooking.

Brief History of Queso de Bola Cheese

While Queso de Bola as it's known today has origins in Dutch Edam, the cheese has a distinct history in the Philippines.

Edam cheese likely arrived in the region when the Dutch first introduced it during colonial rule. The pale spheres with glossy wax coating grew popular among locals. Soon this Dutch delicacy became a Filipino favorite!

Over generations, Queso de Bola became an iconic part of Noche Buena, the celebratory feast held at midnight on Christmas Eve. It also appeared on tables for New Year and other holidays.

Beyond the holidays, Queso de Bola integrated into various regional dishes like the stuffed cheese dish Queso Relleno commonly served across Latin America. Though far from Europe, Queso de Bola remains a delicious remnant of Filipino-Dutch cultural interchange to this day.

How Traditional Queso de Bola is Made

Queso de Bola is made using techniques adapted from the Dutch Edam-style. The production process entails:

  • Curdling milk: Similar to Edam, rennet is added to cow's milk to separate curds from whey.
  • Heating and molding: Curds are warmed, the whey drained, and the cheese mass molded into spheres.
  • Brining: Molded cheeses soak in a saltwater solution for flavor.
  • Aging: Traditional Queso de Bola ages for weeks to months to intensify its taste.
  • Wax coating: Once aged, the rind is dipped in wax to protect cheese during transport and storage.

This age-old cheesemaking process retains all the beloved qualities of Dutch Edam while allowing for variation between producers. Some smoke the curds, use local cow breeds' milk, adjust saltiness and aging time, or experiment with wax colors!

Key Takeaway: Queso de Bola uses traditional techniques adapted from Edam production. Variations like milk type, aging duration, etc. make each producer's version unique!

Edam vs. Queso de Bola Comparison

Now that you understand their key qualities individually, let’s directly compare Edam from Holland and Queso de Bola from the Philippines:

Point of DifferenceEdamQueso de Bola
Place of OriginNetherlands (Edam town)Philippines (via Dutch colonists)
Made FromCow’s milkCow's milk
ShapeSpheres or blocksSpheres
ExteriorRed wax coatingRed wax coating
InteriorPale yellow, semi-softPale yellow, semi-firm
Flavor ProfileMildly salty & nutty to slightly fruity, subtle tasteMildly salty & nutty with subtle sweetness, more complex taste
TextureSupple, smoothFirm yet still creamy
Aging Time4 weeks to 10+ monthsTypically 3 weeks minimum
Serving SuggestionsFruit, nuts, bread, wineHam, bread, wine, holiday spreads
Cultural SignificanceDutch cultural heritageSymbol of Christmas and celebrations in the Philippines

Despite their shared orb shape, waxy rind, and pale interior, Edam and Queso de Bola have noticeable differences regarding flavor, aging, dishes they accompany, and cultural meaning.

Key Takeaway: While Edam and Queso de Bola share a traditional production style and signature look, aspects like tang, intended use, and heritage vary between the two cheeses.

Flavor Profile and Texture

When it comes to taste and texture, Edam cheese tends to be mild, creamy and slightly salty with fruity nuances that grow with aging. It has a smooth, supple feel on the tongue.

Comparatively, Queso de Bola cheese is more complex in flavor with nutty notes aligned with a subtle sweetness. Its texture is firmer and waxier though still spreadable when sliced.

These differences stem from factors like:

  • Duration of aging - Longer aging equals intensified taste. Queso de Bola traditionally ages longer than basic Edam.
  • Ingredients - Subtle variations in animal feed, milk composition, salt content etc. alter the end cheese's qualities.
  • Terroir - Even the grasses cows graze on can impact flavor!

So a young Edam may resemble fresh Queso de Bola. But with extra aging, Queso de Bola evolves into a more robust, almost cheddar-like cheese compared to mild aged Edam.

Cultural Significance

While Edam cheese holds importance as a Dutch culinary tradition, Queso de Bola is ingrained in the culture and customs of the Philippines.

Edam cheese has been produced for centuries as a specialty of Holland. This ever-popular export remains tied to Dutch national identity and history.

Queso de Bola, on the other hand, has become part of the Filipino lifestyle. Its bonds to local culture include:

  • Being vital to celebratory spreads like the Noche Buena feast.
  • Flavoring regional delicacies like Queso Relleno de Bola.
  • Gifting between friends and family during the holidays.
  • Symbolizing Christmas and community through food.

So while Edam represents Dutch heritage, Queso de Bola encapsulates cherished parts of Philippine traditions. The two are cousins separated by continents and custom.

How to Enjoy Edam vs. Queso de Bola

We’ve covered their backgrounds and makeup. Now, how do you actually eat these spherical cheeses? Here’s a breakdown of enjoying Edam and Queso de Bola:

Serving Suggestions for Edam Cheese

Edam is very versatile as a table cheese for snacking and in recipes that take well to its supple and subtly sweet qualities. Here are classic pairings to try:

  • Fresh fruits like grapes, cherries, peaches, etc. The fruit nicely balances Edam’s delicate saltiness.
  • Hearty breads or crackers make excellent vehicles for enjoying Edam. The starch contrasts the smooth dairy.
  • Dry white wines like Chardonnay pair nicely without overpowering the cheese.
  • In terms of recipes, Edam works well melted in toasted sandwiches, tossed into pasta, baked into fluffy pancake batters, mixed into mashed potatoes for a flavor boost and so on!

Usage Ideas for Queso de Bola

For a distinctly Filipino experience, Queso de Bola is often enjoyed during celebratory meals but also holds up deliciously in cooking:

  • Slice Queso de Bola over Pandesal bread rolls for breakfast or merienda (snack time). The slight salty-sweet cheese against the fluffy sweet bread is divine!
  • Grate or chop Queso de Bola to mix into dips, sauces, stews and various dishes from ensaymada sweet bread to quesadillas.
  • For a truly Filipino holiday, create a Noche Buena cheeseboard with Queso de Bola and spiced ham or embutido meat loaf.
  • Stuff hollowed-out Queso de Bola with seasoned ground pork and sausage for Queso de Bola Relleno, a Latin American specialty.
  • For a unique dessert, use crumbled Queso de Bola instead of cheddar or cottage cheese as the filling for cheesecakes or cheese empanadas. ¡Que rico!

Best Substitutes for Edam and Queso de Bola

What if you need spherical, waxed cheese but can’t find Edam or Queso de Bola locally? Here are suitable substitutes to use:

Replacements for Edam Cheese

  • Gouda - Similar Dutch cheese that is semi-hard with fruity notes
  • Havarti - Creamy Danish cheese great for melting
  • Tilsit - Firm, mildly tangy northern European cheese
  • Mild Cheddar - For a budget sub with subtle flavor

Swaps for Queso de Bola

  • Gouda - Comparable texture and nutty quality
  • Edam - Interchangeable by nature
  • Manchego - Spanish cheese with nutty sheep's milk tang
  • Parmesan - For grating over dishes to add salty accent
  • Quesillo - Fresh Filipino carabao milk cheese often used in sweets

While no cheese perfectly mimics another, the recommendations above should work nicely where an aged Edam or Queso de Bola is needed.

Key Takeaway: Suitable stand-ins for Edam include Gouda, Havarti and mild cheddar. For Queso de Bola, try Gouda, Manchego or crumbly parmesan.


Is Edam cheese the same as Queso de Bola?

While very similar, they have notable differences regarding aging duration, dominant flavors, role in cuisine/culture, and so on. But they share an overall style and appearance. So Queso de Bola is best categorized as the Filipino interpretation of Dutch Edam cheese.

What kind of milk is used to make Edam cheese?

Authentic Edam cheese is made from pasteurized cow's milk. Occasionally part-skim milk is employed but it must have a fat content around 40-50% to be called legitimate Edam. The breed of cow and its diet influence Edam’s subtle flavor.

Why is Edam cheese coated in red wax?

The wax coating serves several functions: it protects the cheese from drying out, shields it from mold, prevents rind cracking upon handling, and allows easy transport without spoiling. The red color is eye-catching and has become part of Edam’s signature style.

How long does Edam cheese last when unopened vs opened?

When stored correctly in the refrigerator, unopened Edam lasts 3-4 months beyond its sell-by date before quality decline. Once cut into, Edam will keep for 4-6 weeks well-wrapped in fridge. Freezing also prolongs shelf life by a few months.

What dishes use Queso de Bola cheese as a key ingredient?

In the Philippines, Queso de Bola is integral to holiday favorites like embutido meatloaf, bibingka rice cakes, ensaymada sweet rolls and more. It also fills popular Hispanic recipes like chorizo sausage queso fundido, empanadas, or stuffed cheesy bread.

So while Edam and Queso de Bola share genetic ties and appearances, they remain uniquely adapted cheeses with distinct histories spanning continents and cultures! Both are delicious additions to any cheeseboard.


Though similar in appearance with their distinctive red wax coatings, Edam and Queso de Bola have notable differences when it comes to origin, production methods, flavor profiles, textures, usages, and cultural significance.

Edam originated in the Netherlands and is valued as part of Dutch heritage.

Queso de Bola comes from the Philippines; it plays an integral role in local cuisine and holiday traditions.

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!