Gruyère Cheese Alternatives

Gruyère cheese is a deliciously nutty, melty Swiss cheese that is a key ingredient in many classic dishes like fondue, French onion soup, croque monsieur sandwiches, and various casseroles or pastas. However, authentic Gruyère can be quite pricey since it must be imported from Switzerland.

Gruyère Cheese Alternatives

If you don't want to spend $15-20 per pound but still crave those distinctive nutty, creamy flavors in your cooking, not to worry - there are plenty of tasty and more affordable Gruyère cheese alternatives to consider instead.

What Exactly Is Gruyère Cheese?

Gruyère gets its name from the tiny medieval village of Gruyères in western Switzerland where it originated over 900 years ago. This region's lush green pastures and unique microclimate impart subtle herbal and floral notes into the milk of local cows.

Authentic, imported Gruyère AOP (which stands for "appellation d'origine protégée" or "protected designation of origin") is still made by a precise, traditional method in copper vats under controlled conditions. The resulting golden-hued wheels of semi-soft cheese weigh around 100 pounds each!

Matured for a minimum of 5 months and up to a year, the flavor profile of Gruyère ranges from sweet and nutty when young to increasingly complex, earthy notes as it ages. Its pale yellow interior is speckled with tiny holes and crystallized protein bits called "cheese pearls" that provide delightful texture.

So whether enjoying Gruyère cubed in salads, shaved over tarts, or oozing into crocks of French onion soup, you can understand why this quintessential Alpine cheese makes the perfect fondue base and grilled cheese upgrade. Unfortunately, that complex, traditionally-made flavor and texture comes at a steep price.

Luckily, the following cheese alternatives will give you quite similar rich, melty properties and nuttiness at just a fraction of the cost of imported Gruyère.

Key Takeaway: Authentic Gruyère hails from Switzerland where strict production methods yield tasty wheels with complex herbal flavors and a distinctive pale yellow interior perfect for melting.

Top Substitutions for Nutty, Melty Gruyère Cheese

1. Emmental

As a moderately-priced Swiss relative of Gruyère, Emmental makes an easy, convenient substitute in most recipes calling for nutty melted cheese. Although Emmental doesn't offer quite the same depth of savory flavor as the pricier Gruyère, its larger eyes and milder sweetness still shine brightly, especially when paired with bold ingredients.

Also made from cow's milk in Switzerland's lush green foothills, wheels of Emmental cheese undergo a shorter 3-4 month aging than Gruyère. This results in a paler yellow interior with more and larger holes, a softer pliable texture, and signature mild, buttery taste.

Thanks to its smooth meltability and mild nuttiness, Emmentaleffortlessly fills the role of Gruyère in classics like:

  • Fondue
  • Quiche
  • French onion soup
  • Grilled cheese
  • Scalloped potatoes
  • Macaroni and cheese

For best flavor in cooked applications, choose younger Emmental aged closer to 3 months over more mature 5 month wheels, which can take on slightly bitter notes. With its user-friendly price point and easy melting properties, Emmental tops the list of easy Gruyère substitutes.

2. Comté

Hailing from the same Jura Mountain region as Gruyère but just across the French border, nutty Comté makes another smart stand-in. In fact, Comté earned the nickname "Gruyère's French cousin" thanks to the similar dairy-rich terroir and time-honored production methods yielding huge 85-pound wheels.

Made only from the raw milk of Montbéliarde and Simmenthal cows grazing in green pastures, the lengthy 8-12 month aging of Comté in humid caves encourages development of subtle fruit and nut complexity with definite brown butter and roasted hazelnut notes.

Beyond its characteristic crystallized tyrosine specks, Comté's smooth, supple ivory-hued paste offers exceptional melt and stretch. This makes it ideal for:

  • Oozy baked dishes like gratins
  • Sandwiches needing gooey cheese pulls
  • Simple cheese plates

Although not exactly budget-friendly, Comté (which costs about $22 per pound) remains far more affordable than similar quality Gruyère (around $30 per pound).

3. Beaufort

Hailing from the same Alpine region as Comté but made solely from the raw milk of Tarine cows, semi-firm Beaufort is yet another French cousin to Gruyère. The concave, barrel-shape of Beaufort wheels pays homage to its historic portability for mountain herders and farmers rather than efficient industrial production.

Aged a minimum of 6 months in cool caves, the supple ivory paste and thin brown rind of Beaufort develop trademark hints of butter, nuts, and caramel plus delicate floral and grassy complexity. Mature versions aged around a year express decidedly beefy, brothy characteristics.

Beyond snacking, the smooth melt of Beaufort shines in:

  • Hearty baked pasta recipes
  • Potato gratin
  • Quiches and tarts
  • Fondue blends

With average pricing around $26 per pound, Beaufort costs slightly more than Comté but far less than Gruyère. Compared to Gruyère, you'll enjoy85-90% of the flavor at 60% of the price with mellow, nutty Beaufort.

Key Takeaway: The French Alpine cheeses Comté and Beaufort offer very similar texture, melt properties, and nutty flavor to Gruyère thanks to analogous mountainous terroir and time-honored production methods.

4. Appenzeller

Named after the tiny Appenzell region of northeastern Switzerland anchored by the Alpstein mountain range, Appenzeller cheese echoes the herbaceous grasses and wildflowers of its highland home. The strictly regulated, traditional production of this iconic Swiss table cheese deeply connects it to the land.

Made from the rich raw milk of local Braunvieh cows, sprightly, aromatic Appenzeller is carefully crafted in small batches by village cheesemakers instead of industrial plants. Ranging from mild 3-month wheels to tangy 6-9 month types to sharper 18+ month Alpage styles carrying a green label, Appenzeller’s russet-brown rind encases a supple golden paste liberally speckled with holes and tiny protein tidbits.

Beyond snacking and cheese platters, moderate aged Appenzeller effortlessly melts into:

  • Oozy crocks of French onion soup
  • Rich fondue for dipping
  • Grilled ham and cheese pressed panini

With average pricing hovering around $22 per pound, nutty Appenzeller hits the sweet spot of meeting affordability while mimicking Gruyère's Swiss essence and melty functionality.

5. Jarlsberg

Hailing from Norway outside the Swiss border, mellow Jarlsberg warrants inclusion thanks to its Swiss emulation at nearly half the price. Large industrial wheels of this piquant pale yellow cheese get their distinctive holes and supple texture from modern production reflecting established Swiss methods.

The mild, gently sweet flavor of Jarlsberg blooms after a brief 3-month aging, developing prominent toasted nut and brown butter characteristics. Smooth and eminently spreadable, this Norwegian crowd-pleaser shines in sandwiches or simple cheese plates. For fondues and other melted preparations, stick to younger Jarlsberg aged closer to 3 months to prevent separation.

With imported Jarlsberg wheels retailing around $13 per pound, you can recreate Alpine essence at less than half the cost of Gruyère. Jarlsberg's budget-friendly nuttiness and melty traits slot it in among the very best Gruyère cheese alternatives.

6. Fontina Val d'Aosta

Semi-soft, subtly tangy Fontina has been crafted for centuries in the craggy Alpine caves of Italy's chilly Aosta Valley from the prized raw milk of local Valdostana cows. With strict regulations limiting production exclusively to this region, the bright complexity and signature melt traits of real Fontina Val d'Aosta make it worth seeking out over bland imitations.

The smooth, dense elastic paste of Fontina ripens under 90 days, developing earthy mushroom and butterscotch flavors topped by delicate herbal and floral complexity from mountain flora. Young 3 month wheels offer mild melting properties while sharper versions aged over 8 months tend to turn stringy when cooked.

For the price around $18-20 per pound, authentic Fontina Val d'Aosta delivers exceptional nutty flavor and stretch in:

  • Oozy pasta dishes like lasagna or baked ziti
  • Hearty vegetarian pizzas
  • Panini and other melty sandwiches

Outside Italy, Danish Fontina offers a decent and far more affordable proxy during non-melting applications like cheese plates or antipasto trays.

7. Raclette

Another seasonal Alpine delicacy transformed into craveable comfort food, the name Raclette refers to both a specific Swiss cow milk cheese and the iconic dish of scraping oozy melted cheese over hearty boiled potatoes, pickles, cured meats, and toasted bread traditionally enjoyed fireside after a day skiing.

Hailing from the rural Valais canton snuggled next to the French and Italian borders, the full-flavored Raclette cheese at the heart of this ritual dish carries a distinctive personality echoing the herbs and grasses of its high-altitude home. Smooth and supple when enjoyed by the slice, the salty punch and rounded nuttiness of Raclette truly shines once melted, making it perfect for topping crusty bread or dipping firm fruits and veggies.

Thanks to mass production from leading Swiss dairies like Emmi, grocery store wheels of mild Raclette retail around $15 per pound, costing about half as much as Gruyère. For best value, purchase younger fresher blocks of Raclette since the assertive flavor fades with prolonged storage.

Beyond the namesake potatoes and pickle toppings, melted Raclette also makes memorable appearances in:

  • Oozy French onion soup instead of Gruyère
  • Baked pastas like ziti
  • Crocks of mac and cheese
  • Cubed in roasted veggie medleys

8. Emmental

Despite the drawbacks of blander flavor and gummier melt from age, mass-market domestic brick Swiss cheese deserves honorable mention for its sheer affordability and accessibility as an everyday cooking cheese. Molding washed curd cheddar production methods into an Alpine style shape yielded this affordable Americanized Swiss ideal for grilled sandwiches and burgers.

Thanks to widespread availability even at corner stores and gas stations, budget-friendly blocks of mild Swiss retail around $5 per pound to deliver totally decent Gruyère doppelganger traits a tiny fraction of the price. Because its subdued sweetness and gummy melt flaws intensify with age, stick to fresher-tasting Swiss cheese aged about 3 months for best fondues, scalloped potatoes, and other melty preparations.

Beyond sandwiches and cheese plates, humble domestic Swiss fills the role of nutty melted cheese in:

  • Easy skillet mac and cheese or scalloped potatoes on a budget
  • Quickie mushroom quiches or vegetable tarts
  • Lazy weekend omelets

While imported Swiss Emmental outpaces domestic Swiss for flavor complexity and meltability, familiar grocery store Swiss deserves mention for its sheer affordability, kid-friendly mildness, and easy everyday usability.

Key Takeaway: Thanks to large-scale production increasing affordability, young domestic Swiss cheese offers home cooks decent Gruyère essence for a fraction of the price in sandwiches, bakes, and other family favorite recipes.

Tips for Selecting the Best Gruyère Cheese Substitute

Wow - that covers a lengthy list of viable nutty, melty Gruyère cheese alternatives! But how do you choose the right substitution in your specific recipe? Here are a few helpful guidelines:

  • Strong, complex flavors demand an equal cheese match. For punchy dishes like salami pizza, bacon quiche, or spicy foods, stick to bolder melted cheese options like aged Comté, Beaufort, Appenzeller, Fontina d'Aosta, or Raclette instead of mild melters like Emmental, young Swiss, or Jarlsberg.
  • Milder dishes allow room for mellower cheese flavors. Let the delicate flavors of egg custards, seafood, roasted vegetables, or light herbs and spices shine through by selecting a more easygoing melted cheese like Emmental, Jarlsberg, or Italian Fontinella.
  • Watch the age for ideal melt factor. While sharply aged cheeses make wonderful snacking or shaving cheeses thanks to their intensified flavor, older cheeses don't melt smoothly. For the creamiest, stretchiest melted cheese experience, limit your choice to younger styles aged around 3 months instead of the crumbly texture and oil separation you'll get from longer-aged cheeses.
  • Consider appearance too! Certain baked dishes depend on that traditional vision of melted cheese bubbling into delicious golden tops. While flavor remains most important, visual appeal matters too. For beautiful browning and that classic melted cheese look, opt for softer washed rind or white mold ripened cheeses like Brie over intense blues or abrasively crystal-flecked types like Parmesan or dry Jack.
  • Allergies or dietary restrictions? If you require a non-dairy substitute, skip straight to the next section covering dairy-free Gruyère alternatives like hummus, pesto, nutritional yeast, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and toasted nuts.

Creative Non-Dairy Substitutes for Gruyère

Unfortunately for vegans, the cheese alternatives listed so far decidedly don't fit into a plant-based diet since they contain animal milk proteins. And while nut-based cheese substitutes work wonderfully for non-melting applications like cheese boards, they simply can't replicate Gruyère's distinctive melting properties for fondue or baked dishes.

But that doesn't mean you have to forgo rich flavor! With a touch of creativity focused on texture instead of strictly seeking a non-dairy cheese dupe, the following ingredients inject plenty of umami satisfaction into plant-based takes on French onion soup, gratins, pasta bakes, and sandwiches needing melted cheesy decadence.

Hearty Hummus

Creamy chickpea hummus makes a brilliant swap for Gruyère thanks to its ultra-smooth and spreadable texture punctuated by nutty tahini. Hummus effortlessly fills the textural role played by melted cheese in baked dishes even if it lacks actual strings. For best results, stir small dollops of hummus into the veggies or sauce components instead of trying to get it evenly layered.

To play up that cheesy richness, spike plain hummus with sweet paprika, nutritional yeast flakes, lemon zest, roasted garlic, or smoked salt. For ultimate decadence in pasta bakes, sandwiches, and shareable dippers, swirl in olive tapenade or roasted red peppers too.

Nutty Nutritional Yeast

Vegans swear by the deeply savory, cheesy essence of nutritional yeast flakes to mimic melty cheese flavor. While nutritional yeast powder lacks the same punch and doesn't melt or brown, its exceptionally concentrated glutamate content triggers intense umami satisfaction.

A little bit goes a long way thanks to its tendency to clump and turn bitter in large amounts. For best results, use nutritional yeast sparingly on pasta or veggies along with other accent flavors like tahini, smoked paprika, toasted nuts or seeds to reinforce that cheesy illusion.

Smooth Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

Bursting with sweet, concentrated tomato intensity brightened by nuts and herbs, slick spoonfuls of sun-dried tomato pesto make another splendid stand-in for Gruyère's richness whether dolloped atop crispy croutons for French onion soup or swirled into casseroles and gratins needing comforting creaminess without actual dairy.

To make this fruity-nutty pesto, simply puree oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, basil leaves, toasted pine nuts or walnuts, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and salt in a food processor. For ultimate creaminess, add well-drained soft tofu too.


What's the closest cheese substitute for authentic Gruyère?

Comté ranks as the single closest match to real Swiss Gruyère thanks to nearly identical texture, melt properties, aging protocols in mountain caves, and nutty brown butter essence from rich Alpine milk. Expect to pay around $25 per pound.

What's the most affordable substitute with decent melting ability?

Available at any supermarket for around $5 per pound, mild domestic brick Swiss cheese delivers passable nuttiness and stretch for a tiny fraction of Gruyère's price tag. Stick to younger Swiss aged under 6 months for best melt quality and avoid strong flavors that overwhelm its mildness.

Which cheese makes the best substitution in fondues?

With its signature smoothly melty texture capable of emulsifying lots of wine plus subtle nutty sweetness to complement bold accents, smooth Emmental outperforms other options as the best Gruyère swap for cheese fondue diplomacy. For optimally supple melting properties, use young 3-4 month wheels instead of strongly flavored aged types.


Gruyère is a delicious and distinctive Swiss cheese, but its high cost makes finding an affordable alternative appealing.

Fortunately, there are many tasty, more reasonably priced options that can mimic Gruyère's nutty flavor and smooth melting properties in recipes.

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!