16 Best Types of Cheese [Soft, Hard & Mild Varieties]

The best cheeses from around the world. From mild cheddar to soft camembert, discover everything you need to know with our cheese guide.

Best Types of Cheese

Cheese is a dairy product made from milk that has been coagulated and pressed into a hard, edible mass. It can be found on nearly every table in the world! But what are the best types of cheese?

We’ve compiled a list for you below to help you find your favorite type of cheese. From soft cheeses to hard cheeses, we have it all here for you!

brie cheese


Brie was named for the region of France where it was invented and is one of the most famous soft cheeses. It has a milky taste and texture with some bitter overtones. It has a thin white crust on the outside. All brie comes from cow’s milk.  


Most Brie is aged for five to ten weeks. The Brie Noir variety can be aged for up to two years. 

Best Food Pairing

Due to its mild and bitter taste, Brie pairs best with exceptionally sweet fruit. Peaches, apricots, plums, and figs all work well with the cheese’s creamy texture. 

cheddar cheese


Cheddar was invented in the town of Cheddar in the United Kingdom. It’s one of the oldest cheeses in the world and has been produced since the 12th century. It is a hard cheese and can appear off-white or yellow. A good cheddar should have a firm texture and a mild taste with the ability to melt in your mouth. All cheddar comes from cow’s milk. 


Most mild cheddars will only age for two to three months before they’re ready. However, sharp cheddars can be aged for more than a year. The sharpest cheddars on the market can age for two or more years. 

Best Food Pairing

People love to put cheddar on their cheeseburgers. If you want a more elegant pairing, then try apple or pear slices. 

edam cheese


Edam is a Dutch cheese that comes from the town of Edam in the north of the Netherlands. 

It is a semi-hard cheese that does not spoil, it only gets harder. It has a light yellow color and typically comes as a wheel encased in wax. 

It comes from cow’s milk, has a soft texture when sliced, and has very light flavors. The Czech Republic and Indonesia are some of the biggest consumers of Edam in the world and love to include it in their sandwiches. 


Edam is usually aged for two months to a year, depending on the variety. The longer your Edam has been aged, the stronger its flavor will be. It will also have a flakier texture. 

Best Food Pairings

Edam is great to melt over potatoes or bread. It’s a nice compliment to any glass of beer or wine. 


Gruyere was invented in the Swiss village of the same name. Gruyere has a creamy flavor even though it’s a hard cheese. The rind is a light brown color and very dry. It is dark yellow and has a very dense flavor. At first, you might get the creamy sensations of an Emmental or swiss, but it also has a sweet and salty taste. It comes from cow’s milk. 


Typically, Gruyere ages for three to six months. Some of the harder varieties can be aged for more than a year. Gruyere takes on a different texture as it gets older, becoming dryer and earthy with some cracking. 

Best Food Pairing

Gruyere works well with nuts, crackers, bread, and mustard. 


This semi-soft cheese has been called the “cheese of kings and popes” in France due to its rich flavors. It originated in Southern France and has blue veins throughout. Being soft, Roquefort breaks into pieces when you chew it and is very crumbly. It has a sharp and tangy flavor and comes from sheep’s milk.


The aging process takes just three to five months for Roquefort. This short aging time is typical for any soft or semi-soft cheese. 

Best Food Pairing

Roquefort makes an excellent addition to any salad and also works well as a spread on crackers. 


Marie Harel is the inventor of Camembert cheese. She made her first wheel from raw milk in Normandy, France, in 1791. While Marie Harel may have invented it, most people do not use raw milk to make camembert anymore. Those who do receive the distinction of Camembert Normandie regardless of where they produced it. 

It is a soft, artisan, or soft-ripened cheese. It comes as a small wheel with a light and flaky crust and creamy center. Camembert is one of the blandest cheeses, with most of its flavor coming from the bitter crust. It comes from cow’s milk. 


Camembert has one of the fastest aging processes of any cheese at just four weeks. You can identify a ripe Camembert based on its softer texture and stronger taste. 

Best Food Pairing

Most people like to pair Camembert with red wine like a Chenin Blanc or a Normandy cider. 


Cotija cheese comes from a town of the same name in Mexico. Mexicans have been making the cheese for nearly 400 years. It is fresh and soft and falls into the parmesan family. It does not have a rind and is white. Despite its softness, the text is dense and crumbly. It has a strong salty flavor. 

Artisanal Cotija uses raw milk, which produces a more robust flavor. It comes from cow’s milk. 


There are two different types of Cotija depending on how it’s aged. The younger Cotija has a consistency similar to feta, and the aging process lasts only a few months. Older Cotija becomes rough and crumbly like parmesan and is aged for more than a year. 

Best Food Pairing

Cotija does not melt, so it’s best used for salads and soups. It also works well with tacos and chili. 


Chevre is a French cheese and translates to “goat’s cheese.” Chevre is a soft cheese (although it can also be semi-soft, hard, and firm). It most famously comes in a wheel or tube and looks a lot like cream cheese. It tastes earthy with some tangy and tart overtones. It comes from goat’s milk. 


Like Brie and Camembert, most Chevre is aged for just four weeks. This gives the outer layer of skin enough time to develop. 

Best Food Pairings

Goat cheese pairs best with white wine or a light red wine. 


Greece isn’t known for its cheese, but everyone knows feta. It has a 70% share of Greek cheese consumption. Feta is a soft, brined cheese. It has a high calcium content and a white, porous appearance. It will crumble in your hand but has a moist texture and a strong nutty aroma. It has a full taste with some salty and tangy overtones. It comes from goat’s milk.

Unlike many other cheese, feta has a short shelf life. This means you have to serve it soon after buying, or learn how to freeze feta properly.


Feta is aged in a brine (salt-water solution). Some Feta will only take two months to produce, but the best will be aged for up to twelve months. 

Best Food Pairing

Anything sweet will pair well with feta, especially fruits like melons. You can also get an excellent combination of vegetables and most proteins.


Mozzarella originated in Italy and initially came from the milk of water buffalo. However, the cheese is now primarily made from cow’s milk due to the buffalo’s rarity. Mozarella is a semi-soft sliceable cheese. It’s so soft that you can pull it apart with your hands. 

It’s white and has a stringy and gentle texture. The flavor is exceptionally milky, as is the aroma. 


Most mozzarella is aged for two to four weeks. 

Best Food Pairing

The best food to pair with mozzarella is tomatoes. The sourness of the tomato blends perfectly with the creamy texture of the cheese. 


Also known as simply “Swiss cheese,” in America, Emmental is a hard cheese made from cow’s milk. You can recognize it by the large holes in the cheese caused by air bubbles in the maturation process. It smells sweet and has a fruity taste with a little bit of acidity. Emmental comes from the central regions of Switzerland. Its’ name comes from the Emmental river near the city of Berne. It was first produced in 1353. 


Emmental is aged for eighteen months and is traditionally made from raw cow’s milk. 

Best Food Pairing

Salami pairs well with Emmental cheese either on a cheese board or in a sandwich. 


Gouda is a semi-hard cheese made from either goat, sheep, or cow’s milk. It has an off-white or light yellow color and often comes with an outer layer made from wax. It has a rich and creamy flavor with some hints of nuttiness and sweetness. It smells pungent. 

Gouda is another cheese that was named for the city where it was invented — Gouda, Netherlands. It is one of the most popular cheeses globally and holds a 50-60% stake in cheese production worldwide. 


Gouda is another cheese that has several different age durations. Young goudas can be aged for just two to six months. Older goudas can be aged for years, leading to a harder cheese and a richer flavor. 

Best Food Pairing

Gouda works well on a cheese board with bread, crackers, fruits, and mustard. 


Taleggio is a semi-soft cheese made from pasteurized and unpasteurized cow’s milk. It has a very soft appearance, and you can smear it with a knife. It has a thin crust and a potent aroma when cut open. It has a mild flavor that’s fruity and a little tangy.

This cheese is named after the caves of Val Taleggio in Italy, where it was first produced. It is one of the oldest soft cheeses globally and is typically harvested in the autumn or winter. 


The aging process takes around six to ten weeks, depending on when the outer crust forms on the cheese. 

Best Food Pairing

A piece of fresh and crusty bread is the best pairing for Tallegio. You can also try it in a risotto. 

Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmesan)

One of the favorites of cheese connoisseurs, this hard and artisanal cheese is made from cow’s milk. Parmesan’s hardness is apparent in its appearance with its straw yellow, stone-like exterior. On the outer edges is a natural rind, and it has a dense and grainy texture. 

The aroma is unique and powerful, with a savory and distinct flavor. 

The first parmesan recorded in history was in 1254 in the Parma-Reggio region of Italy. It was invented by Benedictine monks who needed to find a way to make their milk storage last longer. 


It takes about one year for parmesan to fully mature. 

Best Food Pairing

One of the most common food pairings is to put your parmesan on top of pasta or in a cream sauce. It also tastes delicious with caramel roasted pears.  


Manchego is a semi-soft cheese made from sheep’s milk. It is white or a very pale yellow and has a waxed rind made from a grass mold. The cheese has a grassy aroma that is more pleasant than some of the stinkier cheeses on this list. The flavor is a combination of fruity, tangy, nutty, and sweet. 

Manchego comes from the La Mancha region of Spain, which is the same as the hero from the famous novel Don Quixote. It is one of the most popular cheeses in Spain. 


Manchego has four different aging processes: fresco, semi curado, curado, viejo. The aging process will give the cheese a stronger flavor and takes two weeks to two years. 

Best Food Pairing

Manchego tastes good with nuts like almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts. 

Monterey Jack

Monterey Jack is a semi-hard cheese that comes from cow’s milk. It is a very pale yellow and sometimes off-white. It’s often paired with cheddar to make an excellent filling for a taco. It has a creamy yet firm texture that is soft to the touch. It’s got a buttery flavor and a noticeable aroma. 

Mexico and American both claim Monterey Jack cheese because Mexican Franciscan friars invented it in what is now Monterey, California. The monasteries in this region were known for their cheese-making in the 1700s. 


Monterey Jack cheese is aged for six to nine months. 

Best Food Pairing

Monterey Jack is best known for appearing in famous Tex-Mex dishes like tacos, burritos, and quesadillas.