Marble Cheese vs. Colby Jack

Marble cheese and Colby Jack are two popular varieties of cheese, each with their own unique characteristics. But what exactly sets them apart?

Marble Cheese vs. Colby Jack

Marble cheese refers to a combination of white and orange cheddar curds blended together to create a marbled effect. The taste can range from mild and buttery to sharp and tangy depending on the specific type.

Colby Jack on the other hand is a mix of Colby and Monterey Jack cheeses, resulting in a mild, creamy flavor and texture.

Origin and History

Marble cheese originated in the United Kingdom, where it was first made by blending white and orange cheddar curds from the English village of Cheddar in Somerset. Cheesemakers aimed to create an aesthetically pleasing marbled texture while also modulating the sharpness of traditional orange cheddar.

There are a few main varieties of marble cheese including:

  • Marble cheddar: Created by intermixing white and orange cheddar curds. It has a rich, tangy cheddar flavor with a smooth, buttery texture.
  • Red Windsor: Cheddar with added red food coloring or red wine to create a marbled effect.
  • Sage Derby: A marbled variety that combines cheddar curds with added sage, spinach, or green vegetable dye.

Colby Jack was invented much more recently in the United States. It's name comes from a combination of Colby cheese, first made in 1885 in Colby, Wisconsin, and Monterey Jack cheese from California.

Colby Jack was later created by blending together these two cheeses which both have mild flavors and excellent melting abilities. The result is an American original that is now popular across North America.


The ingredients used to make marble cheese versus Colby Jack differ based on the distinct cheeses involved.

Marble cheese at its core is made from traditional cheddar cheese which uses just three basic components:

  • Pasteurized cow's milk
  • Rennet
  • Salt

From that basic cheddar formula, coloring agents like annatto or additions like sage are incorporated when making specific marble cheese varieties.

Colby Jack contains a blend of Colby and Monterey Jack. Key ingredients include:

  • Pasteurized cow's milk
  • Cultures
  • Salt
  • Annatto coloring

The annatto provides Colby's signature golden hue. Meanwhile, Monterey Jack is left white to create Colby Jack's marbled appearance when the curds are pressed together.

Flavor Profile

When it comes to taste, marble cheese and Colby Jack offer some noticeable differences:

Marble cheese features the characteristic sharp, tangy flavor of aged cheddar tempered by the buttery notes of fresh white cheddar. Its taste can vary from mild and smooth to rich and full-flavored depending on the specific variety and aging time.

Colby Jack has a much milder taste since Colby and Monterey Jack are both fairly bland on their own. When combined, they create a very subtle flavor with a hint of buttery sweetness. The mildness makes it versatile for pairing with other ingredients.

So in essence, marble cheese offers a more pronouced cheddar-like flavor while Colby Jack is an exceptionally mild cheese in terms of taste.


Texture also differs noticeably between the two cheese varieties:

Marble cheese has a firm, dense texture owing to its cheddar roots. Traditional orange cheddar goes through a process called "cheddaring" which expels more moisture and allows curd granules to fuse together into a tight matrix.

The creamier white cheddar curds blended in soften this denseness somewhat, but marble cheese is still on the firmer side overall.

Colby Jack has a much more open, springy texture by contrast. Neither Colby nor Monterey Jack undergo the cheddaring process. As a result, both retain more moisture and form a looser protein matrix.

When blended together, these high-moisture cheeses create the smooth, elastic texture Colby Jack is known for.


Unsurprisingly, appearance differs as well between the two cheese varieties:

Marble cheese, as the name suggests, has a very distinct marbled pattern formed by swirling white and orange cheddar curds together. This striking visual effect is part of marble cheese's appeal.

The color pattern can vary from subtle light yellow and white marbling to a bolder orange and white design depending on the ratio of curds used. There can also be specks of green or red mixed in for certain varieties.

Colby Jack also displays a marbled appearance, but it arises from blending pale white Monterey Jack and golden yellow Colby curds. This creates a signature orange and white marbled pattern in the final cheese.

So both have an eye-catching marbled effect, but marble cheese leans more towards orange and white colors while Colby Jack skews towards yellow and white.

Melting Ability

A key consideration for many home cooks and chefs is how well a cheese melts. Here's how marble cheese and Colby Jack compare:

Marble cheese contains a decent amount of moisture, but still melts relatively slowly due to the dense cheddar protein matrix. The end result is a thick, sticky melted cheese with good stretching capacity.

Colby Jack melts much quicker and smoother owing to its higher moisture content and open texture. It creates a silky, flowing melted cheese thanks to Colby and Monterey Jack's excellent meltability.

So if a cheese that melts easily into a smooth, creamy liquid is a priority, Colby Jack is the better choice. Marble cheese takes longer to melt and retains more viscosity when liquefied.


Marble cheese offers higher protein levels thanks to its place in the cheddar family. But with more protein comes higher fat as well, meaning marble cheese is fairly calorie-dense.

Being a young, high-moisture cheese, Colby Jack is lower in fat and calories by comparison. However, its lower moisture removal also leads to less protein.

So marble cheese offers elevated protein and fat content while Colby Jack provides lower caloric density. Ultimately neither is objectively better or worse nutritionally - it depends whether you prioritize protein intake or lower overall calories.

Key Takeaway: Marble cheese offers bolder cheddar flavor but higher fat content. Meanwhile, Colby Jack provides extremely mild taste with lower calories and fat percentage.

Best Uses

When it comes to the best uses for each cheese variety in the kitchen, their differing traits lend themselves to certain dishes:

The rich, full flavor of marble cheese makes it a great choice for:

  • Pizza toppings
  • Hearty salads
  • Charcuterie/cheese boards
  • Grilled cheese sandwiches
  • Macaroni and cheese

Colby Jack's extremely mild flavor and stretchy melt work nicely for:

  • Quesadillas
  • Tacos
  • Burgers
  • Casseroles like scalloped potatoes
  • Fondue
  • Sauces
  • Omelets

Colby Jack also tends to be a big hit with kids given its subtle flavor and gooey melted texture.

So marble cheese brings that tangy cheddar bite while Colby Jack offers creaminess and smooth meltability. Choose based on the characteristics you want in your specific dish.


When shopping for marble cheese versus Colby Jack, you may notice some pricing differences:

Marble cheese tends to be more expensive since high-quality real cheddar cheese offers complexity of flavor that drives up cost. Producing the signature marbled pattern also adds labor and expertise.

Colby Jack is usually quite affordable given that Colby and Monterey Jack are fairly basic cheeses in their own right. Blending the two cheeses together doesn't add much expense to the process.

There can be some overlap in pricing, but you're more likely to pay a premium for marble cheese versus Colby Jack in most cases.


Availability often differs between the two as well:

Marble cheese can be trickier to locate since it is still primarily produced in the UK within the specialty cheddar category. only a handful of dairies make it.

You're most likely to find it at upscale grocery stores with extensive cheese selections. Online gourmet cheese shops also tend to carry various marble cheese varieties.

Colby Jack has much wider mainstream availability in major grocery store chains given its steadfast popularity in the US. As an American original, most standard grocery delis stock it alongside other common natural cheeses like cheddar or Swiss.

So Colby Jack generally offers greater convenience while marble cheese takes more searching to source.

Popular Brands

There are a variety of great brands for marble cheese and Colby Jack depending on what you have available locally:

Marble Cheese Brands:

  • Quicke's: Top producer of traditional West Country Farmhouse Cheddar in the UK. Known for their "Vintage" marble cheese.
  • Cathedral City: Leading UK brand offering a Dartmouth Marble Cheddar
  • Kroger: Sells a private label Midnight Moon Marble Cheddar at some locations in the US.

Colby Jack Brands:

  • Sargento: One of the most widely available and popular Colby Jack brands in major US grocery retailers
  • Tillamook: Top selling West Coast creamery offering tasty Colby Jack blends
  • Boar's Head: Premium East Coast deli brand with excellent Colby Jack for sandwiches/platters

Trying different brands can help you hone in on your perfect variety, so taste test to find your favorite!


To maximize freshness and shelf life, proper storage methods are important for both marble cheese and Colby Jack:

Marble Cheese:

  • Has lower moisture than Colby Jack, so it's less prone to early spoilage
  • For best quality, enjoy within 4 weeks of purchase
  • Wrap tightly in wax/parchment paper after each use
  • Store in warmest zone of the fridge (cheese drawer)

Colby Jack:

  • Higher moisture means it spoils faster
  • Best when eaten within 1-2 weeks
  • Don't over-wrap in plastic which promotes humidity
  • Wax paper wrap also works well to wick moisture
  • Keep in cheese drawer, avoid fridge door

Stored properly, both cheeses keep reasonably well compared to soft fresh cheeses. But Colby Jack's higher moisture means faster deterioration so plan to use it sooner.

How to Serve

You can serve up both marble cheese and Colby Jack in lots of tasty ways!

Marble Cheese

  • Cheese boards & platters
  • Sandwiches with sliced meats
  • Salads enhanced with cheese crumbles
  • Pasta, potato, or broccoli tops
  • Straight-up with crackers or bread

Colby Jack

  • Quesadillas with sautéed veggies
  • Omelets filled with ham & cheese
  • Tacos with shredded cheese
  • Grilled cheese with bacon
  • Mac & cheese mixed in
  • Fondue dipper
  • Creamy cheese sauces

Mix things up by swapping them in and out of your favorite recipes too!


What's the difference between marble cheddar and regular cheddar?

Marble cheddar starts with traditional orange cheddar and mixes in white cheddar curds to create a marbled texture and moderated flavor. The taste stays primarily cheddar-like but a bit softer and creamier.

Is Colby Jack better than Monterey Jack?

This comes down to personal preference, but many prefer Colby Jack since Monterey Jack alone can be almost flavorless. Colby Jack offers subtle flavor notes absent in plain Monterey Jack thanks to the Colby.

What kind of marble cheese is used on charcuterie boards?

Marble cheddar and sage Derby marble cheese are popular kinds found on charcuterie. Their bold cheddar-like flavor and eye-catching marbled pattern make them classic choices.

Can Colby Jack be a substitute for cheddar?

Colby Jack makes an acceptable substitute in terms of texture and meltability. But since its flavor is exceptionally mild, it won't provide the sharpness expected from cheddar. Combining some regular cheddar in with the Colby Jack helps offset this.

Is marble cheese available in the US?

Specialty grocers like Whole Foods, cheese shops, and gourmet online retailers typically carry a few marble cheese options from England. But availability is still relatively limited compared to the UK.


Marble cheese and Colby Jack each offer unique advantages...

Marble cheese brings that quintessential aged cheddar flavor so many love while displaying an artisanal marbled pattern that looks stunning on any cheese platter.

Colby Jack's incredible creaminess when melted along with its subtly sweet flavor make it a mixer's dream while still retaining its signature marbled stripe.

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!