What is Three Cheese?

Three cheese refers to any combination of three different types of cheese used together in a dish or product. Using three cheeses adds depth of flavor, varied textures, and usually a blend of milks. Almost any cheeses can be combined, but there are some classic three cheese pairings that work especially well together.

What is Three Cheese

Three cheese dishes and products have become popular because the blend of flavors is more complex and interesting than just a single cheese. When you use cheeses with different characteristics, the end result is a symphony of tastes and textures.

Cheesemakers discovered long ago that mixing various cheese types creates delicious results. Many cultures have their own traditional three cheese combinations passed down through generations. In modern cooking, new and creative three cheese blends are constantly being invented. The options for three cheese recipes are endless!

Common Types of Three Cheese Blends

While creativity is encouraged, there are some three cheese groupings that just work exceptionally well together. Certain textures and flavors complement each other perfectly in these blends:

A Sharp Hard Cheese, a Buttery Semi-Soft Cheese, and a Soft Blue or Brie

This classic trio combines the bite of an aged, hard cheese like Parmesan or Asiago with the smoothness of a French double or triple cream. The pungent blue or Brie adds even more creaminess and a touch of sharpness. The mix of textures from crumbly to spreadable is delightful.

Cheddar, Monterey Jack, and Queso Blanco or Queso Fresco

All three of these cheeses frequently appear in Tex-Mex and Mexican recipes. The nutty Cheddar, melty Jack, and crumbly white Quesos create an authentic flavor profile. This blend works great in quesadillas, tacos, nachos, etc.

Swiss, Provolone, and Gruyère

These cheeses all originated in Europe and have a distinctly alpine taste. Nutty Gruyère and smooth Provolone balanced with the slight sweetness of Swiss make a wonderful flavor combination. This threesome is often used in grilled sandwiches and French onion soup.

Mozzarella, Parmesan, Ricotta

Popular in Italian cooking, this trifecta highlights the diversity of Italian cheeses. Fresh mozzarella provides milky richness, salty Parmesan packs a punch, and creamy ricotta adds a lovely tang. Use this blend on pizzas, pastas, and in baked Italian dishes.

Feta, Goat Cheese, Kasseri or Kefalotyri

Common in Greek cuisine, these cheeses offer the signature tastes of the Mediterranean. Salty, crumbly feta, tart and creamy goat cheese, and subtly sweet kasseri or kefalotyri complement each other flawlessly. They pair beautifully with Greek ingredients like olives, tomatoes, and oregano.

Gouda, Edam, Leyden

This Dutch combination highlights the range of cheeses from Holland. Smooth, creamy Gouda, mellow Edam, and caraway-studded Leyden give you an authentic Netherland taste profile. The variety in texture from semi-soft to hard adds interest.

Flavor and Texture Variety is Key

The basic idea behind a winning three cheese blend is to include a variety of flavors, aromas, and textures. Here are some examples:

  • One fresh cheese, one soft-ripened cheese, one hard grating cheese
  • One blue cheese, one semi-hard cheese, one Swiss style cheese
  • One cheese with herbs/spices, one nutty cheese, one sharp cheese
  • One soft spreadable cheese, one crumbly cheese, one sliceable or melty cheese

When putting together a three cheese combo, think about overlapping characteristics as well as contrast. For instance, Gruyère has nutty notes that pair well with equally nutty Parmesan, but the textures differ since Gruyère is semi-soft while Parmesan is a hard grating cheese.

Complementary flavors, diverse textures, and a mix of milks are what you want in a three cheese blend. Don't be afraid to experiment with both traditional and innovative combinations!

Common Uses for Three Cheese Blends

There are infinite ways three cheese mixes can be incorporated into recipes both savory and sweet. Here are some of the most popular uses:

  • Pizza - A three cheese white pizza with ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan is delicious. Or try a blend of provolone, Gouda, and feta.
  • Pasta - Mix into creamy macaroni and cheese or toss with cheeses like pecorino, Asiago, and Romano for a pasta dish.
  • Lasagna or Baked Pasta - Layer lasagna with ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan or bake ziti with goat cheese, provolone, and cheddar.
  • Quesadillas or Tacos - Monterey Jack, cheddar, and queso fresco is a tasty Mexican-inspired blend for quesadillas.
  • Panini or Grilled Cheese - Gruyère, extra sharp cheddar, and Brie or Camembert make a fabulous grown-up grilled cheese!
  • Salads - Sprinkle crumbled or shredded three cheeses like blue, feta, and Swiss over a fresh salad.
  • Soups - Mix Gruyère, Emmentaler, and Appenzeller into French onion soup or add cheddar, Jack, and cotija to tortilla soup.
  • Appetizers - Top crostini with a trio like Brie, Gorgonzola, and aged cheddar or fill mini phyllo cups with a feta, goat cheese, ricotta blend.
  • Breakfast Dishes - Combine cheddar, Monterey Jack, and queso blanco in a breakfast casserole or sandwich them between slices of French toast.
  • Sandwich Spreads - Blend cream cheese with two additions like Roquefort, aged Gouda, and fresh chèvre for a sandwich spread.
  • Cheesecakes or Sweet Pies - Mix ricotta, mascarpone, and cream cheese into the filling for a New York-style cheesecake.

The possibilities are endless when you use a creative three cheese blend!

Key Takeaway: There are infinite ways to use three cheeses together in both sweet and savory recipes. Combining three different cheeses adds more complexity of flavor and varied textures.

Pairing Cheeses from Different Milk Types

Another strategy for an exceptional three cheese combo is to pick cheeses from the three main milk categories:

For example, you might combine a cow milk cheddar, a goat milk feta, and a sheep milk pecorino. Playing with the taste profiles of the different milks keeps things exciting! You get the full spectrum from tangy goat to sweet sheep to rich cow.

Some other diverse milk trios could include:

  • Cow milk Swiss, goat mozzarella, sheep manchego
  • Cow milk Gruyère, goat Camembert, sheep ricotta
  • Cow milk Gouda, goat cheddar, sheep Parmesan

Don't be afraid to think outside the box and blend milks for a really unique three cheese twist!

Key Takeaway: Combining cheeses from cow, goat, and sheep milk adds diversity of flavor to three cheese blends. Each milk type contributes its own distinct tang, sweetness, and richness.

Expert Tips for Building the Best Three Cheese Combos

With all the different cheeses available from regions around the world, the options for creating signature three cheese blends are endless. Here are some top tips for picking cheeses that work wonderfully together:

  • Select a mix of textures - Choose cheeses ranging from soft and spreadable to semi-soft to hard and crumbly for variety.
  • Include different milk types - Mix cow, goat, and sheep cheeses for depth. Their milks each bring something unique.
  • Balance mild and pronounced flavors - Have some cheese flavors that are delicate and some that are strongly aromatic.
  • Combine complementary flavors - Match earthiness with nuttiness, spice with sweetness, saltiness with tang.
  • Consider cheeses from the same region - Blending cheeses with shared origins often works seamlessly.
  • Mix and match colors - Opt for an array of eye-catching hues from ivory to yellow to blue.
  • Mind storage needs - Be aware of optimum storing temperatures so cheeses don't affect each other.
  • Sample as you go - Taste potential combinations to ensure the flavors mingle well.

Following this guidance will lead to show-stopping three cheese dishes! Don't limit yourself though - taste preferences are personal, so have fun seeing what you like best.

Key Takeaway: Pay attention to contrasting textures, diverse milks, complementary flavors, colors, storage needs, and regional traditions when pairing three cheeses.


What is the best way to store a pre-mixed three cheese blend?

If you make a three cheese blend in advance, optimal storage depends on the types of cheeses. Hard cheeses can last weeks or months refrigerated, while soft cheeses have shorter life. For a mix, go by the storage time of the most perishable cheese. Seal tightly in an airtight container.

What are some good options for a vegetarian or vegan three cheese blend?

Skip the traditional animal milk cheeses and use plant-based options like almond cheese, cashew cheese, coconut cheese, or soy cheese. There are many interesting vegan cheese flavors and textures to blend for meatless recipes.

Is pre-shredded three cheese blend better than shredding my own?

Pre-shredded cheese contains anti-caking agents that can affect melting properties. For the best results, buy blocks and shred or crumble cheeses yourself. Hand-cut offers more authentic texture too.

Can I use pre-crumbled feta or blue cheese instead of the block?

Pre-crumbled soft cheeses often include stabilizers so they don't get mushy. For a fresher taste, buy feta, blue, or other soft cheese in blocks and crumble them yourself where you need crumbles.

What flavors pair well with a classic Italian three cheese blend?

Popular additions that complement the Italian cheeses mozzarella, Parmesan, and ricotta include garlic, basil, oregano, tomatoes, peppers, olives, prosciutto, artichokes, spinach, and balsamic vinegar.

What can I substitute if I don't have one of the cheeses in a recipe?

Substitute as closely as possible to the original cheese's properties. Replace soft with soft, hard with hard, blue with blue, etc. Aim for a similar milk type, flavor, texture, and melting qualities. Consult a cheese flavor profile chart for matches.

How can I use up leftover bits of a three cheese blend?

Toss shreds into an omelet, stir into macaroni and cheese, sprinkle over pizza, add to a grilled cheese, fold into mashed potatoes, mix with pasta and veggies, stuff into chicken breasts, or use in a quiche. Get creative!


From timeless classics like cheddar, Monterey Jack, and queso to innovative fusions like Camembert, manchego and gouda, a well-crafted three cheese blend is guaranteed to bring depth of flavor to both simple family meals and gourmet recipes.

Guiding principles like mixing textures, regions, milk types and flavors will help you design cheese trios tailored to your own tastes.

Whether enjoying a trio as a snack with wine and crackers or melted into a decadent dish, you simply can't go wrong when you combine the flavors and aromas of three glorious cheeses!

AGAH Productions
AGAH Productions