Havarti Cheese vs. Provolone Cheese

Havarti and provolone are two popular cheeses that have some similarities but also key differences.

Havarti Cheese vs. Provolone Cheese

Understanding how they vary can help you decide which is better for your needs.

What is Havarti Cheese?

Havarti is a semi-soft Danish cow's milk cheese with a smooth, creamy texture. It has a mild, buttery flavor that is slightly tangy.

Havarti is a washed rind cheese, meaning it is washed with brine during aging to encourage bacteria growth. This gives Havarti its signature reddish-orange rind and funky aroma, often described as smelling like stinky socks.

There are also plain varieties of Havarti without the washed rind. These have a more subtle flavor and lack the strong smell. Havarti is also available in flavors like dill, caraway, jalapeño and more.

Havarti is typically aged 3 to 6 months. With longer aging, it develops a nuttier, sweeter flavor similar to Swiss cheese.

What is Provolone Cheese?

Provolone is an Italian semi-hard cow’s milk cheese that originated in southern Italy. It has a pale yellow interior and comes in various shapes.

There are two main types of provolone - dolce (mild) and piccante (sharp). Dolce provolone is aged for up to 3 months and has a smooth, mellow flavor. Piccante provolone is aged over 6 months to develop a sharper, tangier bite.

Provolone also undergoes a stretching process called pasta filata during production. This gives provolone great melting properties and allows it to hold its shape once melted.


Havarti cheese was first made in the mid-1800s by a Danish farmer named Hanne Nielsen. She learned traditional cheesemaking methods during her travels across Europe.

Once back home, Hanne experimented with the cheesemaking process and created a new recipe now known as Havarti. She named it after her farm called “Havarthigaard”.

Provolone originated in southern Italy in the late 19th century. Its name comes from the Italian words “prova” and “provola" meaning “globe-shaped”. This refers to the round shape provolone cheeses are molded into.

So while both are cow’s milk cheeses, havarti represents Danish culture and provolone reflects Italian culinary traditions.

Key Takeaway: Havarti cheese originated in Denmark in the mid-1800s, while provolone traces its roots to Italy.

Taste and Aroma

Havarti and provolone differ noticeably in terms of flavor and aroma profiles:

  • Havarti has a mild, buttery taste and creamy texture. It tastes sweet and tangy. The washed rind varieties have a stronger flavor with funky hints.
  • Provolone is sharper and more pungent than Havarti, especially aged provolone. It has an earthy, nutty flavor. The longer it’s aged, the tangier it gets.

Aging Process

Havarti and provolone go through notably different aging processes:

  • Havarti is aged 3 to 6 months on average. Some specialty Havarti is aged over 1 year to intensify flavor.
  • Provolone is aged from 3 months up to 2 years depending on variety. Dolce provolone has shorter aging while piccante is aged extensively.

The extra aging time allows flavor compounds to fully develop in provolone, making it more complex with spicy notes. Havarti’s flavor is comparatively simpler and milder.

Melting Abilities

Both Havarti and provolone melt very well, but provolone is better suited for:

That’s because unlike Havarti, provolone undergoes pasta filata processing. This gives provolone superior stretching capacity so it can hold shape beautifully when melted.

Havarti melts into a smooth, creamy consistency. It works nicely in toasted sandwiches, pasta, soups, etc. But provolone wins for melted applications needing defined shapes.


Havarti and provolone have broadly similar nutritional values:

  • Both are high in protein and calcium. Calcium levels are slightly higher in provolone.
  • Moderate amounts of vitamin A and vitamin B12. Provolone contains a bit more vitamin A.
  • They’re also decent sources of phosphorus, zinc and riboflavin.
  • Havarti has a little more vitamin B2 and folate.

So no major differences nutritionally. The choice comes down to personal nutritional needs and taste preferences.


Havarti and provolone work well in different dishes:

Havarti shines when used:

  • On cheese boards
  • In sandwiches
  • Baked into pastries like a quiche
  • Served alongside fruits and wine

Its mild, creamy taste pairs nicely with fruits, crackers, breads without overpowering other ingredients. Dill Havarti goes great with cucumbers and smoked salmon.

Provolone is ideal for:

  • Italian cuisine - pizza, pasta, antipasto
  • Grilling and frying
  • Baked casseroles and lasagna

Provolone holds structure beautifully when melted so stands up well in baked Italian dishes or panini presses. The aged piccante variety adds a nice kick against sweet ingredients.

Key Takeaway: Havarti works better as a snacking cheese while provolone suits bold Italian cooking needing sturdy melted cheese.

Production Methods

Havarti and provolone start out similarly - milk is curdled, whey drained, curds milled, and pressed into wheels for aging. But secondary processing differs:


  • Washed with brine periodically
  • No cooking/stretching
  • Plain or flavored


  • Brine-salted
  • Stretched via pasta filata
  • Smoked or rubbed with spices

The washing technique gives Havarti its sticky rind and pungent aroma. Provolone instead gets unique textures and smoky flavors from stretching and smoking methods.


Overall, provolone costs noticeably less than Havarti. There are a few reasons driving this price difference:

  • Labor - Havarti requires more hands-on work during the rind washing steps. Provolone is simply brined which is less work.
  • Time - The minimum 3 months Havarti aging takes is 50% longer than dolce provolone’s quickest turnaround.
  • Process - Stretching cheese into long-lasting shapes has good yield whereas Havarti’s crumbly texture sees more waste trimmed away.

Of course there are premium and artisanal varieties of both that are pricier. But for common retail blocks, provolone cheese generally costs 20-30% less than Havarti per pound.


Is Havarti or provolone healthier?

Nutritionally both cheeses are comparable - moderate fat and sodium, good protein and calcium. Havarti has a bit more riboflavin and folate. But provolone provides more vitamin A and vitamin B12. Overall differences are minor though.

For those watching saturated fat intake, Havarti is slightly better with 3.5g less saturated fat per ounce than provolone. So from an overall nutritional profile standpoint, Havarti has a small edge healthwise.

Is Havarti or provolone better for sandwiches?

Havarti works best for sandwiches between bread slices. Its creamy, smooth texture with gentle flavors melts nicely. Provolone can overwhelm more delicate ingredients.

However for heartier pressed sandwiches or paninis, provolone’s firmer texture when melted is ideal. So depends on sandwich style - Havarti for classic slices, provolone for hot pressed versions.

Does Havarti or provolone melt better?

Technically provolone has superior melting capacity thanks to stretching during production. This allows it to melt into gooey goodness while retaining shape beautifully. Havarti melts well too but becomes softer losing structure.

However for overall melting enjoyability, Havarti has a slight edge taste-wise. Its luscious creamy meltiness coats the palate pleasingly. Provolone’s chewy melted body stands up better physically but isn’t quite as decadently melty-feeling.

Can you eat Havarti or provolone when pregnant?

Yes! Both Havarti and provolone made from pasteurized cow’s milk are perfectly safe to eat during pregnancy. They provide protein, calcium and vitamins beneficial for mothers and babies alike.

The only exception is if you are specifically told by your doctor to avoid cheese for gestational diabetes or blood pressure reasons. Always adhere to individual medical guidance. But overall, most pregnant women can safely indulge in these yummy cheeses!


So when it comes to Havarti vs provolone, which cheese wins out?

For snacking, charcuterie plates and simple recipes, Havarti is the better choice. Its smooth, approachable flavor with buttery notes pairs nicely with fruits, breads and gentle ingredients without being boring.

When you need a cheese to stand up to bold seasonings, pair well with wines, or hold shape perfectly melted, then reach for Provolone. Its sharpness and texture lend well towards more complex Italian cooking.

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!