Havarti Cheese vs. Cheddar Cheese

Havarti and cheddar are both popular types of cheese enjoyed around the world. But what exactly sets them apart?

Havarti Cheese vs. Cheddar Cheese

Let's take a closer look at their key differences and similarities.

A Brief History

Havarti cheese originated in Denmark, first made by Hanne Nielsen in the early 1900s. Its name comes from the farm where it was first produced, Havartigaard.

Cheddar has a much longer history, being produced in England since at least the 12th century in the village of Cheddar in Somerset.

So cheddar predates havarti by about 800 years! But both have evolved into globally loved cheeses today.

Texture and Appearance

There's an immediately noticeable difference in texture between the two cheeses:

  • Havarti is a semi-soft cheese with a smooth, creamy texture. It can be easily sliced and melted.
  • Cheddar is firmer and more crumbly, especially when aged. This makes it good for grating over dishes.

Havarti generally has a pale yellow color while cheddar ranges from white to orange.

Cheddar's color comes from the addition of annatto during production. Havarti does not contain this, giving it a lighter appearance.

Flavor Profiles

The flavors of havarti and cheddar have some similarities but also key differences:

  • Havarti is known for its mild, buttery flavor with subtle sweetness. It has a relatively plain taste.
  • Cheddar can vary from mild and creamy when young, up to intensely sharp and tangy with age. It has a stronger, more complex taste.

So you'll get more dimension of flavors from an aged cheddar compared to the mellower havarti.

Production Process

Both cheeses are made from cow's milk. But the process to make each one differs:

  • Havarti uses a smear-ripened method. The rind is washed to encourage bacteria growth affecting the interior paste.
  • Cheddar uses a cheddaring process, involving cutting curds into slabs that expel whey. The curds knit together as they lose moisture.

Havarti is also brined during production unlike cheddar. And cheddar is aged for longer - from months to years depending on variety. Havarti ages for around 3 months typically.

So they use quite different approaches to achieve their distinct textures and flavors.


Nutritionally, havarti and cheddar have relatively similar profiles. But here are some of the main differences:

FatHigher fat at 29g per 100gSlightly less fat at 33g per 100g
Saturated FatLower at 19gHigher at 22g
CalciumLower calcium levels at 670mgMore calcium at 710mg
Vitamin AMuch less vitamin A at 1,050IUHigher vitamin A at 1,240IU

So havarti is generally higher in total fat yet lower in saturated fat and important vitamins/minerals than cheddar.

Key Takeaway: The nutrition profiles of havarti and cheddar are broadly similar but cheddar contains more vitamins A and calcium.

Best Uses

With its smoother, creamier texture, havarti tends to be better for:

Cheddar's firmer texture makes it suitable for:

  • Grating over dishes
  • Cooking (e.g. in sauces or baked dishes)
  • Serving with beer or crackers

So their different textures lend themselves well to certain dishes and pairings over others.

Key Takeaway: Havarti's creamy texture suits sandwiches and pairings with wine or fruit. Cheddar's firmer texture is better for grating, cooking, and pairing with beer.

Price Differences

There is often a noticeable price difference too between the two cheeses:

  • Havarti generally costs less than most cheddar varieties. For instance, at major grocery stores in the US, havarti is typically $3 - $6 per pound depending on whether you buy pre-sliced or blocks.
  • Cheddar has a wider range of pricing based heavily on its age. Young mild cheddar may cost around $5 per pound while sharp aged varieties can cost $15 per pound or even more at specialty cheese shops. The longer it ages, the more expensive cheddar becomes.

So you'll usually pay a premium for most cheddars compared to havarti pound for pound. Havarti offers more affordable option as a result.

Overall Comparison

To summarize the main differences:

AgeAround 1900sSince 12th century
TextureSemi-soft, creamyFirmer, crumbly when aged
ColorPale yellowWhite to orange
FlavorMild, butteryCan range from mild to very sharp
Production methodSmear-ripened, brinedCheddaring process
Aging time~3 monthsMonths to years
Best usesSandwiches, pairingsGrating, cooking, crackers
Price per pound$3 - $6$5 - $15+

So while they share similarities as popular cow's milk cheeses, havarti and cheddar have notable differences when it comes to their age, country of origin, texture, flavor, production process and pricing.


Can you substitute havarti for cheddar?

Yes, havarti can work as substitute in most recipes calling for cheddar. However, since havarti has a milder, more subtle flavor, be aware your dish won't have as strong a cheddar taste. Adjust other flavors like spices accordingly.

Which cheese is healthier, havarti or cheddar?

Both cheeses can fit into a balanced diet. But since cheddar contains more vitamins and nutrients like calcium, it tends to have more nutritional benefits especially when the cheddar is aged. If you're concerned about fat or calories though, havarti may be slightly healthier.

Why does havarti have holes?

Havarti develops small holes or "eyes" during the cheesemaking process when milk sugars get converted by bacteria into carbon dioxide. The bubbles of CO2 then leave behind holes as the cheese solidifies. It's a natural part of the production.

Can I freeze havarti or cheddar cheese?

Yes, both havarti and cheddar can be successfully frozen for longer term storage. Make sure to wrap the cheese properly in parchment paper and plastic wrap first. Thaw overnight in the fridge before using. Freezing can impact texture slightly but won't majorly affect taste.


Havarti is a semi-soft, approachable cheese with creamy, mild taste. Originally from Denmark, it works well in sandwiches and straight up as table cheese.

Cheddar has incredible range, offering firmer bite and complex, sharp flavors intensifying with age. First made in England centuries ago, it suits grating/cooking or pairing boldly with beers.

So flavor and texture preferences ultimately determine which cheese you'll favor. Both havarti and cheddar have earned their places among the great cheeses of the world. Give them both a try to discover your perfect cheese match.

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!