Raclette Cheese vs. Gruyère

Raclette and Gruyère are two of the most popular cheeses used in Swiss cuisine. Both have nutty, aromatic flavors and excellent melting properties that make them perfect for dishes like fondue and raclette.

Raclette Cheese vs. Gruyère

But while they share some similarities, raclette and Gruyère are distinct cheeses with unique production methods, flavors, and traditional uses.

What Is Raclette Cheese?

Raclette is a semi-hard cow's milk cheese named after a popular Swiss dish in which it is melted and scraped over potatoes, bread, vegetables, and cured meats.

It originated in the Valais region of Switzerland near the French border. Traditionally, raclette was made from raw milk and aged for a minimum of three months. Today, pasteurized and thermized milk varieties are also common.

The flavor of raclette is mild, creamy, and nutty with fruity and floral notes. It has a smooth, pale yellow interior and an edible rind coated in yeast and bacteria that produces its characteristic aroma. As it ages, raclette becomes firmer in texture and more robust in flavor.

Raclette has excellent melting properties since its high milk fat content prevents greasiness when melted. This makes it perfect for melting, grilling, and scraping over foods. It can also be enjoyed sliced or cubed in salads and cheese boards.

Key Takeaway: Raclette is a semi-hard Swiss cheese renowned for its meltability and use in the raclette dish where it is melted and scraped over foods.

What Is Gruyère Cheese?

Gruyère comes from the French-speaking Fribourg region of Switzerland. It's named after the town of Gruyères. Gruyère is a hard, aged cow's milk cheese typically aged 6-12 months or longer.

Traditional Gruyère is made from raw milk and aged a full 10 months to develop its signature flavor. Young Gruyère has a softer, creamier texture with fruity, nutty notes. Aged Gruyère becomes drier and crumbly with an intensely complex, earthy flavor.

All Gruyère has a distinctive brown rind and small holes or "eyes" throughout the paste. Its rich, creamy flavor pairs well with cured meats, hearty breads, and red wines.

Thanks to its low moisture content, Gruyère can be grated or shredded neatly. Along with fondue, it's commonly used in dishes like croque monsieur, French onion soup, and quiche.

Key Takeaway: Gruyère is a aged, hard Swiss cheese with small holes and a complex nutty, earthy flavor. It is grated or melted in many dishes.

Differences in Production

While raclette and Gruyère are both Swiss cheeses, they differ significantly in their production:

Milk Type

  • Raclette is made from cow's milk, usually from herds grazing in Alpine pastures. The milk has a high fat and protein content.
  • Gruyère is specifically made from raw milk from Brune des Alpes cows. This breed produces exceptionally rich, flavorful milk ideal for Gruyère.

Cooking Temperature

  • Raclette curds are cooked at a relatively low temperature to preserve the flora and avoid excessive protein breakdown. This results in a pliable, melty cheese.
  • Gruyère curds are cooked at a higher temperature which makes the curd contraction stronger leading to a denser, firmer texture in the finished cheese.

Size and Shape

  • Raclette wheels are fairly small, around 6-8 pounds. The wheels are round with a slightly bulging shape.
  • Gruyère wheels are quite large, at 75-200 pounds each. They have very large, flat wheels with slight bulges at the side.


  • Raclette has a sticky, orange-brown rind that is washed with brine or alcohol during aging. This allows flavor-producing bacteria to grow.
  • Gruyère has a hard, brown, leathery rind that is dried and coated to prevent excessive mold growth during aging.

Aging Time

  • Raclette is aged a minimum of 60 days but often 3 months or longer. This results in a moderately firm cheese with mellow, creamy flavors.
  • Gruyère is aged for 6 months to a year or more. The longer aging produces a harder texture and more intense, complex flavor.

Key Takeaway: Raclette and Gruyère differ in milk type, cooking process, size, rind treatment, and aging time leading to very distinct textures and flavors.

Flavor Profiles

The different production methods yield cheeses with unique flavors:

Raclette Flavor

  • Creamy, smooth texture
  • Mild, milky taste
  • Subtle fruity and floral aromas
  • Notes of butter, nuts, and herbs
  • Mellow flavor intensifies with age

Gruyère Flavor

  • Dense, crumbly texture when aged
  • Rich, earthy taste
  • Fragrant, brown-buttery aromas
  • Robust, complex nutty and caramel flavors
  • Sharpness increases with longer aging

Of course, there is some variation even within the same type of cheese based on factors like animal diet, season, aging duration, and whether raw or pasteurized milk is used. But overall, raclette tends to be milder and Gruyère more pronounced in flavor.

Key Takeaway: Raclette has a smooth, creamy taste with delicate fruit and nut flavors. Gruyère is crumbly and earthy in flavor with strong nutty, brown butter notes.

Traditional Uses

Raclette and Gruyère each have customary culinary uses due to their distinct textures and flavors:

Raclette Uses

  • The signature raclette dish where it is grilled or broiled and scraped over foods
  • Melted in fondues
  • Cubed or sliced in salads
  • Layered in sandwiches and burgers
  • Baked in casseroles and gratins
  • Toppings for pizza, nachos, baked potatoes

Gruyère Uses

  • Grated into sauces like mornay, souffles, and croque monsieur
  • Cubed or shredded over salads
  • Melted in fondues
  • Baked in gratins and tarts
  • French onion soup and other broiled cheese dishes
  • Grilled cheese sandwiches

Of course, there's no reason you can't melt a nice Gruyère on your raclette grill or use chopped raclette in your gratin. But following tradition can help ensure you use each cheese in a way that highlights its best qualities.

Key Takeaway: Raclette is classically scraped over foods while Gruyère is finely grated or melted in sauces and fondues. But both can be used more flexibly in cooking.

Buying and Storing Tips

Raclette and Gruyère are available at many grocery stores, cheese shops, and online. Here are some tips for selecting and storing each cheese:

Raclette Tips

  • Seek out authentic Swiss raclette like Le Fou or Albert Spahr
  • For melting, choose a younger 3-5 month aged wheel
  • Look for a smooth interior and sticky washed rind
  • Avoid any dark mold or dry, cracked rinds
  • Wrap tightly in waxed paper or parchment paper
  • Store in the warmest part of the fridge for up to 2 months

Gruyère Tips

  • Look for Gruyère AOP from Switzerland for authentic flavor
  • Check the age; minimum 6 months and preferably 10-12 months
  • Seek ivory colored paste studded with small holes
  • Avoid any dark brown rinds or mold growth
  • Wrap in waxed or parchment paper
  • Store in cheese drawer for 3-4 months

Key Takeaway: When buying, inspect the rind and paste closely. Wrap tightly in paper and store raclette in the warmer fridge section and Gruyère in the cheese drawer.

Serving Suggestions

Here are some ways to enjoy raclette and Gruyère on a cheese board or as part of a meal:

Serving Raclette

  • Slice or cube and serve with cured meats, pickles, nuts and dried fruit
  • Melt over boiled potatoes, carrots, onions and cornichons for classic raclette
  • Grill open-faced sandwiches with bacon, tomatoes and raclette
  • Top pizza with cubed raclette 5 minutes before finished baking
  • Sprinkle over nachos and broil until melted

Serving Gruyère

  • Slice or shred over salads with nuts, tomatoes, and vinaigrette
  • Grate into sauces for croque monsieur, tarts, soufflés, and gratins
  • Make café croissants with ham, fried egg and grated Gruyère
  • Bread and fry cheese curds for tasty fromage fort croutons
  • Skewer cubes with grapes, apples, and cured meat for an apéritif

Key Takeaway: Raclette is often melted and served over foods while Gruyère pairs well grated over dishes or cubed with breads, cured meats and fruit.


Are raclette and Gruyère interchangeable in fondue?

Both can be used in fondue, but they will provide different textures and flavors. Gruyère is more commonly used. Raclette may melt more smoothly but Gruyère will offer a more complex, nutty taste. Mixing the two can give a pleasant balance.

Can you use raclette on a cheeseburger?

Absolutely! A slice of raclette melted over a burger patty is delicious. Make sure to add it on top towards the end of cooking so it melts without separating or becoming greasy.

What wine pairs best with Gruyère?

The complex, robust flavors of aged Gruyère pair wonderfully with bold red wines like syrah, Grenache and cabernet sauvignon. A nice champagne or prosecco also complements the nutty notes.

Why is Gruyère so expensive?

True Gruyère AOP is expensive because of the long aging time of 10-12 months or more which reduces yields. The raw milk and special bovine diet also limit production volume and increase costs. Industrially produced "Gruyère-style" cheeses are more affordable.

Is raclette good for melting on vegetables?

Yes, raclette's smooth melt and mild flavor make it excellent for melting over vegetables. Try asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes or onions. The cheese complements the vegetables nicely.


Raclette and Gruyère may seem interchangeable if you know only that they are both famous Swiss cheeses. But in fact, raclette and Gruyère have notable differences in their production, aging, shape, texture, and flavor profiles.

Raclette is mildly flavored with a focus on smooth meltability for dishes like fondue and its namesake raclette, where it is melted and scraped over foods.

Gruyère is aged extensively to produce a hard, crumbly texture and intensely complex, nutty flavor that stands up boldly in sauces and fondues.

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!