Provolone Cheese Alternatives

Provolone is a popular Italian cheese used in many dishes. However, you may sometimes need or want an alternative.

Provolone Cheese Alternatives

Whether you can't find provolone, are looking to change up a recipe, have dietary restrictions, or are just curious about similar options, several provolone substitutes exist.

What Is Provolone Cheese

Provolone is a semi-soft Italian cow's milk cheese. Pale yellow in color, it has a smooth texture and mild, sweet flavor. Traditional provolone is made by stretching and shaping the curd, then aging it anywhere from 2 months to over a year. This aging process leads to sharper, more complex flavors.

There are two main varieties:

  • Provolone dolce is aged for at least 2 months and has a mild, buttery taste. It is common on pizzas and sandwiches.
  • Provolone piccante is aged for at least 4 months, resulting in a sharper flavor. It is often eaten as a table cheese.

When choosing a provolone substitute, consider whether you want something similar to the smooth, mild dolce or the sharper piccante. The length of aging also impacts texture and meltability.

Key Takeaway: Provolone is a semi-soft Italian cheese made from cow's milk. Dolce and piccante varieties differ in aging time, which affects flavor and texture.

Top Provolone Substitutes

Many cheeses make solid provolone substitutes. Options include Italian cheeses like mozzarella or fontina, American favorites like Monterey Jack, Dutch cheeses like Gouda, and Swiss cheese varieties.

1. Low Moisture Mozzarella

Mozzarella is a fresh Italian cheese made by stretching and shaping the curd just like provolone. Low moisture mozzarella is aged longer, resulting in a firmer texture that grates and melts well. With its milky flavor and semi-soft consistency, low moisture mozzarella makes an accessible provolone substitute.

To best mimic provolone, choose low moisture mozzarella over the soft fresh kind. Part-skim is a good option, as whole milk mozzarella can become soggy when melted. For added sharpness, combine with Parmesan.

2. Fontina

Fontina is an Italian cow’s milk cheese made in the Aosta Valley. Its rich, nutty flavor and semi-soft consistency makes it a popular cooking cheese. Mild when young, fontina becomes sharper and more pungent with age.

Both young and aged fontina varieties can substitute for provolone nicely. The buttery notes complement provolone well, especially in sandwiches and cheese boards. For the most authentic flavor in Italian dishes, fontina is a go-to choice.

3. Monterey Jack

Originally from California, Monterey Jack (or simply Jack) is an American favorite. Ranging from soft and creamy when young to semi-hard or dry when aged, Jack cheese is very versatile. It melts excellently and has a very mild flavor compared to provolone.

To mimic provolone, an aged Jack works best. Still, any variety adds great meltability and a neutral presence that allows other ingredients to shine. Pepper Jack offers a bit of spice. Jack cheese makes an accessible and affordable provolone substitute.

4. Gouda

Gouda is a Dutch cheese made from cow's milk. Ranging from soft and mild when young to hard and crumbly when aged, it also varies from plain to seasoned with cumin, peppercorns, or herbs.

Young Gouda makes an excellent substitute for provolone dolce, offering a comparable smooth texture and sweet flavor. Smoked Gouda can replace provolone piccante, as the aging process imparts a sharper, savory taste.

5. Emmental

Emmental is a medium-hard Swiss cheese adorned with holes from carbon dioxide bubbles formed during aging. It has a savory yet mild flavor that works well in cooking. Also labeled Swiss cheese, it melts smoothly and adds pleasant nutty notes.

For sandwiches, pizzas, pasta, and cheese platters, Emmental fills in nicely for provolone. Its firm texture holds up to cooking but also pairs well with fruits and nuts. Other Swiss cheeses like Gruyere can also substitute.

Key Takeaway: Low moisture mozzarella, fontina, Monterey Jack, Gouda, and Emmental all have similar flavors, textures, and meltability that allow them to stand in for provolone nicely.

Less Common Cheeses

Don't limit yourself to the above cheeses - plenty of others also mimic provolone's flavor profile and characteristics. Consider trying these unique varieties in provolone's place:


Havarti is a semi-soft Danish cheese with small holes throughout. Mild when young and creamier with age, it melts smoothly with buttery, tangy notes. This versatile cheese is excellent for grilled sandwiches, appetizers, and snacking.


Aged cheddar develops a harder texture and potent, sharp flavor from the natural lactic acid forming within it. Young orange or white cheddar offers milder provolone notes. Combine aged and young cheddars for complexity.


Dutch in origin, Edam cheese comes wrapped in red wax. It has a slightly salty, nutty flavor and supple, springy texture when young that firms up when aged. Edam adds excellent melting properties and subtle sweetness in cooking.


Soft, smooth Muenster cheese has French roots but became popularized by American versions. It has a notoriously stinky rind but creamy, mild interior with fruity and nutty essence. Allow it to bloom at room temperature for best flavor and melt.


Young Asiago has an elastic texture with sweet, milky flavor that becomes crumbly, grainy and sharp when aged. Grating aged Asiago adds concentrated punch while melting younger varieties mimics provolone well.


This iconic Spanish sheep's milk cheese is buttery, fruity and nutty when young and crystallized with an intense, sharp flavor when cured. Both versions crumble nicely over salads or pasta.

Key Takeaway: Expand your palate by trying unique cheeses like Havarti, cheddar, Edam, Muenster, Asiago, or Manchego to change up provolone's typical flavor profile.

Non-Dairy & Vegan Options

Those avoiding dairy have several options that mimic provolone's properties. Many brands now offer vegan cheese made from plant-based ingredients like nuts, coconut, potatoes, and chickpeas. Levels of sharpness, softness, shredability, and meltability vary widely across products, so read packaging carefully before substituting.

Popular non-dairy choices include:

  • Daiya: Offers dairy-, gluten- and soy-free shredded cheeses, slices, blocks and cream cheese. Their signature shreds melt smoothly.
  • Chao Slices by Field Roast: Known for their exceptional meltability and texture, their creamy provolone-style slices are very convincing.
  • Miyoko's: Renowned for realistic funky, sharp aged cheese flavors with cultured cashew and nut-based cheeses.
  • Kite Hill: Specializes in soft, spreadable almond milk cheeses like cream cheese, ricotta, and soft ripened varieties.
  • Treeline: Creates soft French-style nut-based cheeses washed in wine, beer or bourbon offering unique flavor complexity.

Don't be afraid to experiment with whatever plant-based cheeses you find until reaching desired texture and flavor. Blending different kinds often helps maximize melt factor.

How To Substitute Provolone

When selecting a provolone substitute, consider the role it plays in your cooking. Factors like meltability, sharpness, saltiness, and overall flavor impact how different cheeses perform.

In most applications, swapping equal amounts works fine. However, adjust to your taste and needs:

  • For pizza, lasagna and baked pasta, use highly meltable cheeses like low moisture mozzarella or Monterey Jack.
  • In salads, sandwiches, antipasto platters and snacking, sharper aged cheeses provide more flavor, while fontina, Havarti or Gouda offer milder provolone notes.
  • Grilled cheese demands flexible melting cheeses, while maximizing sharpness boosts flavor. Combine Fontina, cheddar, Gruyere or Emmental.
  • For cheese sauces or fondue, incorporate easily melted and stringy types like Emmental, Jack or Havarti to achieve creamy cohesion.

Season to taste when substituting, as you may need additional salt, spice, acidity, or sweetness to balance new flavors. Blending cheeses can result in optimized texture and complexity too.

Don't be intimidated to think beyond provolone and discover new favorite cheeses! With an abundance of diverse flavors, textures and applications out there, the possibilities for enhancing recipes is endless.


How can I tell if a cheese will be a good provolone substitute?

The best provolone swaps mimic its smooth, pliable texture, good melting properties, and mild flavor. Solid substitutes include low moisture mozzarella, Monterey Jack, fontina, Emmental, Havarti, and Gouda. Comparing cheese descriptions can identify similarities.

Is regular mozzarella cheese similar to provolone?

There are a few differences that can impact results when substituting. Soft, fresh mozzarella has high moisture content so it can become soggy when baked or grilled. Low moisture mozzarella has a texture and flavor more comparable to provolone. For best melting properties, part-skim mozzarella works better than whole milk varieties.

What cheese is most like provolone but has more flavor?

Aged Italian cheeses tend to become intensely flavored as they crystallize and harden over time. Options like Parmesan, Asiago, Romano and Pecorino Romano offer sharper, richer provolone notes. Fontina and Gouda also develop stronger taste profiles during aging. Manchego offers distinctive sheep's milk flavor.

Can I use cheddar cheese instead of provolone?

Yes, cheddar makes an excellent substitute for provolone! Young cheddar provides creamy texture and mild flavor similar to provolone dolce. Aged cheddar can mimic piccante notes but gets crumbly instead of sliceable. For an interesting blend, combine both young and aged cheddar shredded or crumbled in provolone's place. The mix of creamy and sharp cheddars imparts welcome complexity.

What is a good vegan substitute for provolone?

Early generations of vegan cheeses lacked convincing textures and flavors, but new innovative brands like Miyoko's and Treeline offer cultured, aged products with exceptional sharpness, funkiness and firmness. Well-melting shredded alternatives like Daiya provolone-style shreds or Chao by Field Roast slices satisfy cravings too. Blending different vegan cheese types best approximates dairy cheese properties.


As a mildly flavored, approachable table and cooking cheese, quality provolone substitutes share key characteristics that allow them to fill provolone's role nicely. Whether you seek authentic Italian flavour or simply need a handy swap for baking, several cheeses fit the bill.

Consider the dish and your preferences - firmness, saltiness, sharpness, melt factor, and tang all vary across cheese types and with age. Pairing fresh melty mozzarella with crumbly Parmesan can balance textures and flavors beautifully. Havarti offers butteriness, while Asiago brings concentrated paprika-like vibrancy.

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!