Gournay Cheese vs. Cream Cheese

Gournay and cream cheese are two popular soft cheese options with subtle differences in taste, texture, and best uses.

Gournay Cheese vs. Cream Cheese

Gournay has a richer, tangier flavor while cream cheese is milder.

Gournay also has a smooth, spreadable texture compared to the dense, creamy texture of cream cheese.

What Is Gournay Cheese

Gournay cheese originated in the French town of Gournay in Normandy. It's a fresh, rindless cow's milk cheese known for its lush, spreadable texture and rich, buttery flavor.

True gournay cheese is rare outside of France, but Boursin cheese offers a good commercial imitation. Boursin was inspired by gournay and aims to recreate its smooth, herbed flavor in a mass market version.

While Boursin doesn't have official Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status like some gournay cheeses, it captures the tangy essence and spreadability that defines this style of fresh cheese.

Some key qualities of gournay and Boursin cheese include:

  • Milk Type: Cow's milk
  • Texture: Smooth, creamy, spreadable
  • Flavor: Tangy, rich, buttery
  • Fat Content: Medium to high (around 45-60%)
  • Rind: None, rindless
  • Color: White
  • Aroma: Fresh, milky, strong
  • Uses: Dips, spreads, fillings, cheese plates

Key Takeaway: Gournay is a creamy, spreadable French cheese that inspired the popular brand Boursin. True gournay is hard to find outside France, but Boursin makes a good commercial substitute.

What Sets Cream Cheese Apart

Cream cheese has some clear differences from gournay and Boursin even though all three are fresh and rindless. For starters, authentic cream cheese is not French in origin.

Cream cheese was invented in the United States by dairy farmer William Lawrence in 1872. He stumbled upon the method by accidentally curdling milk one morning.

So while gournay and Boursin have French roots, all-American cream cheese emerged right in the U.S. This explains some of their diverging traits.

Some attributes that set cream cheese apart include:

  • Texture: Dense, creamy vs spreadable
  • Flavor: Mild vs tangy
  • Fat Content: Around 33% vs 60% for Boursin
  • Uses: Frostings, spreads, cheesecake vs primarily savory dishes

Cream cheese can have a smooth texture, but it rarely reaches the whipped, cloud-like texture of Boursin. It's also much milder in flavor with its fresh, dairy notes instead of Boursin's richer, fermented taste.

Given its sweet applications like frosting and fillings, cream cheese fills a different role than herb-flecked Boursin. But both work magic in the right recipe.

Key Takeaway: Cream cheese has American roots and a dense, mild flavor that distinguishes it from tangy, spreadable French-style Boursin.

Cheese TypeOriginTextureFlavorFat ContentBest Uses
Gournay/BoursinFrenchSmooth, spreadableTangy, fermented50-60%Savory dishes, cheese plates
Cream CheeseAmericanDense, creamyFresh, mildAround 33%Frostings, sweets, spreads

Delicious Dip and Spread Uses

One area where gournay and Boursin particularly shine is dips and spreads. Their lush texture and zesty flavor transforms basic crackers and veggies into a mouthwatering snack.

Here are some favorite ways to use gournay or Boursin for dips and spreads:

  • Whipped Boursin Dip: Blend Boursin with cream cheese, lemon juice, herbs, and seasonings for a flavorful veggie dip.
  • Baked Brie en Croûte: Wrap Boursin and brie cheese in puff pastry and bake until melted for an elegant appetizer.
  • Herbed Cheese Ball: For a retro twist, mix Boursin with cream cheese, herbs, and nuts then shape into a ball and coat with chopped herbs or nuts.
  • Stuffed Mushrooms: Fill mushroom caps with a blend of Boursin, breadcrumbs, garlic and bake for a warm, rich appetizer.
  • Cheese Plate: Serve Boursin with crackers, fruit, nuts and salami for an easy cheese board.

The options are endless when it comes to serving gournay or Boursin cheese spreads. Feel free to get creative with unique flavor combinations.

Cream cheese can work in savory applications too but is exceptionally sweet. Try blending it with powdered ranch mix or sundried tomatoes for a creamy, herb-flecked dip or spread. But for the true tangy zip of gournay, stick to Boursin.

Cooking Uses for These Cheeses

Beyond appetizers, both gournay and cream cheese make excellent additions when cooking. Their ability to melt smoothly helps create rich sauces, gratins, pasta dishes and more.

Some cooking applications where these cheeses shine include:

  • Cheesy Baked Pastas: Mix Boursin or cream cheese into mac and cheese or baked ziti for extra richness and flavor.
  • Mashed Potatoes: Beat Boursin or cream cheese into mashed potatoes instead of butter or milk for incredibly creamy, cheesy spuds.
  • Quiche Fillings: Combine Boursin or cream cheese with veggies, meat or seafood when making quiche for a silky texture.
  • Cheesecakes: Cream cheese is the base of New York-style cheesecakes for its signature dense, ultra-creamy texture.
  • Alfredo Sauce: Make an easy stovetop alfredo with Boursin or cream cheese, garlic, pasta water and seasoning for an indulgent sauce.

When cooking, Boursin adds a sharper, cheesier element while cream cheese provides a more neutral backdrop. But both impart lush body and meltability.

Key Takeaway: Boursin and cream cheese excel in dips, bakes, sauces and other cooked dishes thanks to their creamy texture and meltability.


Is Boursin or gournay cheese vegetarian?

Yes, both Boursin and true French gournay cheese are vegetarian. They are made from cow's milk and do not contain meat products.

What's the difference between Boursin and gournay cheese?

Boursin was inspired by gournay cheese but aimed to recreate it on a commercial scale. True gournay has a more variable flavor and creamier texture than mass market Boursin. But Boursin captures the overall essence quite well.

Is all Boursin cheese garlic and herb flavored?

No, Boursin comes in a variety of flavors including garlic & herbs, shallot & chives, pepper, and more. But the original garlic & herb variety remains the most popular.

Can you substitute cream cheese for Boursin?

Yes, in a pinch you can substitute cream cheese combined with garlic, herbs and lemon juice for Boursin. It won't mimic the flavor exactly but makes an acceptable swap.

What wine pairs well with Boursin cheese?

Boursin cheese pairs nicely with dry white wines like Sauvignon Blanc or fruity reds like Beaujolais or Pinot Noir. The zippy acidity balances Boursin's richness.


Gournay and cream cheese have their own distinct qualities that make them iconic ingredients.

Gournay offers a tangy punch of flavor with velvety texture that allowed it to inspire the beloved brand Boursin.

Cream cheese delivers a milder dairy flavor and dense body perfect for sweets.

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!