Do you ever wonder what’s the best cheese in the world?
For the love of cheese! Yes, I do wonder the same.
Cheese is one of the by-products of dairy products that are typically sourced from cow or sheep. It is one of the main staple foods in Europe and loved by many due to the amazing flavour. The good news is cheese comes in various flavour, shapes, colours and sizes made to perfection by the respective countries of origin.
- The history and origin of cheese
Here is the selection of the best tasting cheeses in the world and where they came from.
- Payoyo Cheese from Costa Del Sol, Spain
- Smoked Cheese from the Netherlands
- Fontina Cheese from The Aosta Valley, Italy
- Formaggi di Fossa in Bologna, Emilia Romagna, Italy
- The Blue Vein Cheese from Apostle Whey Cheese, Australia
- Sheep’s Cheese from Serra da Estrela, Portugal
- Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese from Italy
- Dutch Gouda cheese from The Netherlands
- Pecorino Toscano from Tuscan region, Italy
- Cheddar cheese from Cheddar, Somerset, UK
- Manchego Cheese from La Mancha, Spain
- Camembert Cheese from Normandy, France
- Buffalo Mozzarella from Campania, Italy
- Appenzeller Cheese from Appenzell, Switzerland
- Gruyere Cheese from Gruyere, Switzerland
- Paneer from Asia
- Echourgnac aux Noix from France
- Västerbottensost from Burträsk, Sweden
- Cotherstone Cheese of Cotherstone, Barnard Castle, County Durham
- Bulgarian Sirene from Bulgaria
- Young Buck – Belfast, Northern Ireland
The history and origin of cheese
Cheesemaking originated 7 millennia ago, evidence was found to prove that cheese making was practised in the ancient Egyptian civilization. The exact origin of cheese making is not clear, but it is believed to originate from the ancient civilisations of the world like Central Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
The Cheesemaking process in Europe became refined during ancient Roman times and it has been widely embraced within the continent.
I asked my fellow travel bloggers to share the best cheese in the world that they have found during their travels. I gathered here the top cheeses in the world! Let me know which one is your favourite.
Here is the selection of the best tasting cheeses in the world and where they came from.
Payoyo Cheese from Costa Del Sol, Spain
Payoyo cheese is made locally in the Andalusian region of Spain. The Payoyo cheese is made from the milk of an indigenous breed of goat that can only be found in the Andalusian region called Payoya goat.
Payoyo cheese is typically made by the artisan cheesemakers of the local region and hailed as the best cheese in the world in the renowned World Cheese Awards.
On our recent visit to Costa del Sol, Spain, we had an opportunity to taste the locally produced Payoyo cheese and wine. It was amazing and tasty!
Smoked Cheese from the Netherlands
I visited the cheese factory during my visit to the Zaanse Schans in Zaandam, Netherlands.
Among the myriad variety of cheeses in this factory, I immediately had my personal favourite among the different Dutch cheese selection. I absolutely love the creamy goodness of smoked cheese!
Smoking is a typical method of curing food. Any types of cheese can be cured using this method to enhance the taste and flavour of the cheese. Smoked cheese typically has a brown crust due to the smoking process.
Fontina Cheese from The Aosta Valley, Italy
Suggested by Gemma of A Girl and Her Dog On The Road
Suggested Tour: Aosta Market Tour, Home Cooking Demo and Dinner
This traditional and ancient cheese, made from raw whole milk from the cows local to the region, will only be found in the Aosta Valley due to its Protected Designation of Origin status. It is a semi-soft cheese with a strong and nutty flavour. The cheese, like many local foods from the region, has a high energy level.
Perfect for giving you a boost whilst burning off calories in the mountains! The locals are extremely proud of this product and it is commonly served alongside traditional Black Bread and meats or used as a sauce for the main meal. My favourite way of serving it alongside some walnuts and local honey – seriously yummy!
Formaggi di Fossa in Bologna, Emilia Romagna, Italy
Suggested by Amber of With Husband In Tow
One of the most unique cheeses to eat in Bologna, Italy has to be Formaggi di fossa or cave cheese. At its most simple, this is cheese aged in a cave.
Suggested Tour: Parma: Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese Tasting Tour
The history of cave cheese dates to the Middle Ages when people protected their food supplies from invaders by hiding the food in the ground. The word fossa technically translates to the word “pit”, although cave cheese seems to be a more popular interpretation.
Simply put, cave cheese is a pecorino sheep’s milk cheese that is aged inside a pit in the ground or pecorino di fossa. Each cheese wheel is wrapped in a cloth bag and placed in the pit each August. The pit is sealed for about three months.
When removed from the pit in November, it’s entirely different from the softer cheese that was placed in the pit. It is particularly pungent in both smell and taste. In addition to eating Formaggio di fossa on its own, it can be sprinkled over pasta or served with honey or traditional balsamic vinegar.
It’s a must-eat cheese when travelling in Bologna or in Emilia Romagna, Italy.
The Blue Vein Cheese from Apostle Whey Cheese, Australia
Suggested by Jane of Fun Things to do in Melbourne
The Blue Vein Cheese from Apostle Whey Cheese along the famous Great Ocean Road in Australia is one of the best we have tasted, and we’ve tried a few around the world now!
There is no shortage of flavour and the ‘veins’ are prominent, making it a really delicious cheese. The milk is produced from their own dairy farm, keeping the manufacturing process entirely onsite which is reassuring too. Paired with fig or their own rhubarb relish and added to a picnic hamper, this cheese is to die for. So to speak.
Sheep’s Cheese from Serra da Estrela, Portugal
Suggested by Julie of Julie Dawn Fox in Portugal
Suggested Tours: Dão and Coimbra Tour with Food & Wine Tastings and Lunch
My favourite Portuguese cheese is the sheep’s cheese from the Serra da Estrela region in central Portugal. Runny and tangy when young, it becomes harder and more pungent with age and can reach the old sock stage within months.
Made by hand, the cheese is shaped into fat discs, wrapped in a muslin bandage and left to mature. It takes about 30 days for a rind to form. After that, it can continue to mature for up to a year, by which point, it’s almost rock hard. In this state, the cheese is best soaked in extra virgin olive oil and accompanied with a full-bodied red wine.
I prefer mine while the cheese is soft and squishy to touch and runny on the inside. The best way to eat it is to cut a lid out of the top of the cheese then scoop out the gooey goodness with a spoon. Balance the flavour with quince or fig jam.
Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese from Italy
Suggested by Kate of Our Escape Clause
Original Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese from (where else?) the towns of Parma and Reggio Emilia near Bologna in Italy has very little in common with the product found in grocery stores across the world.
It’s heavier. More fragrant. More flavorful. And ultimately, more delicious.
Suggested Tour: Parma: Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese Tasting Tour
Whether you prefer the smooth, creamy texture of a young, 12-month aged cheese or the intense flavour and crumbling texture of a 36-month (or longer!) aged cheese, there’s no doubt that a slice of Parmigiano-Reggiano is guaranteed to entice any cheese lover.
Served grated over pasta, in small chunks next to a glass of wine, with a drop of balsamic vinegar on top, or just about any other way imaginable, Parmigiano-Reggiano is an absolute treat for the taste buds.
Dutch Gouda cheese from The Netherlands
Suggested by Lisa from FlipFlopGlobetrotters
The best-known type of Dutch cheese, Gouda cheese (or ‘Goudse Kaas’), is famous all over the world.
Suggested Tour: Gouda: 2-Hour Monument Walking Tour
Gouda is a yellow cheese made out of cow’s milk. It’s a traditional cheese that dates back to 1184, in fact, it’s one of the oldest types of cheese you can still buy today! The name doesn’t come from the city where it’s produced but derives from the location where it was traded.
In the Middle Ages, the city of Gouda obtained market rights on cheese. The taste of Gouda cheese varies with age. The longer it ages, the stronger the taste. There are six age gradations: young cheese (‘jonge Kaas’), young matured (‘jong belegen’), matured (‘belegen), extra matured (‘extra belegen’), old cheese (‘oude kaas’) and extra old cheese (‘overjarig’). In the Netherlands cubes of Gouda cheese are often served as a snack together with some mustard.
Pecorino Toscano from Tuscan region, Italy
Suggested by Katy of Untold Morsels
Pecorino Toscano comes from Pienza, a picturesque town in southern Tuscany. A firm sheep’s milk cheese, it is aged for at least 6 months and up to 18 months.
As the cheese ages, its flavour becomes more intense and it is delicious paired with fruit and the full-bodied local wines. Young Pecorino Toscano has a delicate flavour and is used in salads. Visit Pienza and you can try a wide variety of pecorino including wheels flavoured with hay or truffles.
If you are lucky enough to be there in early September you might see the annual pecorino festival and its famous cheese rolling competition – Gioco del Cacio al Fuso.
Cheddar cheese from Cheddar, Somerset, UK
Suggested by Clare of Epic Road Rides
It’s a staple of the British diet.
Suggested Tours: Glastonbury and Cheddar Gorge Day Trip from London
You can buy cheddar from shops all over the country in a range of strengths, from mild to vintage. These days you can even buy reduced fat versions (but they don’t taste as good!).
Cheddar is a hard cheese. The mild versions have a creamy, consistent texture. The stronger versions can sometimes be a bit crunchy and/or crumbly (yum!). Cheddar doesn’t have a strong smell, which is probably part of the reason it’s got a broad appeal. Give it a go, you’ll love it!
Manchego Cheese from La Mancha, Spain
Suggested by Justine of Latitude 41
Manchego cheese is an ancient cheese originating from the central heartland of La Mancha region of Spain.
Real Manchego cheese is made from the Manchega sheep’s milk, why grazes on dry pasture. Compact and semi-hard to the touch, Manchego comes in a wheel and has a waxy herringbone-patterned rind, not to be eaten.
Its flavour is nutty and sweet, and as it ages, it has a stronger flavour and granular texture. It’s often served as a tapa by itself, or accompanied by Serrano ham or a sweet membrillo. Enjoy this classic ham with a glass of sherry, and you’ll be taken back to the days of Don Quixote. It’s one of the most traditional foods you’ll find at parties throughout Spain!
Camembert Cheese from Normandy, France
Suggested by Alison of Cheese Web
Suggested Tour: Full-Day Gourmet Tour to Normandy
If you’ve only ever heard of one French cheese, it is probably Camembert. However, the plastic wrapped version you find in your local grocery store doesn’t have much in common with the creamy, unctuous, and yes, slightly stinky authentic Camembert.
True Camembert comes from the Normandy region of France, more known for its D-day landing beaches than the rolling green fields of the interior. These fields are home to a speckled breed of cow, called Normande, recognized by the dark spots, or ‘glasses’ around their eyes. These happy cows produce the rich, creamy milk that makes Camembert so delicious.
You can visit the tiny village of Camembert, where there is a museum dedicated to the namesake cheese. It is rather commercial though. A better experience is to head to the nearby town of Livarot to the E. Graindorge Fromagerie, a small factory producing a variety of local cheeses including Camembert.
You can tour the factory and learn about the cheese-making process, and of course, taste and purchase the delicious result of their labours in the shop. You can also tour some of the dairy farms in the region, through the French Open Farm system and buy cheese and other produce directly from the farmers making it the ultimate Normandy cheese tour.
Read More: Insider Tips For Travelling to France
Buffalo Mozzarella from Campania, Italy
Suggested by Hayley of A Lovely Planet
Suggested Tour: Tasting Cilento: Full-Day Gastronomy Tour from Paestum
This delicious Italian cheese is made from the milk of Italian Mediterranean buffalo. It has DOP status (Denominazione di Origine Protetta), which means only cheese made under strict regulations and methods, in certain locations, can hold the name Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP.
It is made from three simple ingredients: whole buffalo milk, rennet and salt, and unlike many imitations of the cheese, Buffalo Mozzarella is rich and creamy, with a strong flavour and oozes milk when you bite into it. Best tasted in one of the areas it is produced (Campania and Lazio) accompanied by a glass of Italian wine or on a pizza!
Appenzeller Cheese from Appenzell, Switzerland
Suggested by Sabrina of Moon & Honey Travel
Suggested Tour: Swiss Traditions: Full-Day Appenzellerland Tour
I first tried Appenzeller cheese when I was living in Cologne, Germany. I developed an obsession and decided that I needed to make a pilgrimage to the land of the great-tasting cheese. Appenzeller cheese is a hard cow’s milk cheese exclusively made in the Swiss region Appenzell (Appenzellerland). It has a distinctly bold and spicy taste that’s unlike anything I’d ever tasted before.
The cheese’s unique flavour is attributed to the quality of the milk as well as the herbal brine that’s applied to the wheels of the cheese while they cure. There are 75 dairies producing Appenzeller cheese in the region and each has its own special brine recipe.
Luckily, I did make the trip to Appenzell and fell in love with the region’s idyllic scenery and bell-wearing cattle. In summer, you can hike into the mountains – the Alpstein – and buy cheese directly from farmers. You can also eat delicious Rösti made with Appenzeller Cheese is perfectly situated mountain huts.
Gruyere Cheese from Gruyere, Switzerland
Suggested by Corinne Vail of Reflections Enroute
Suggested Tours: Private Swiss Cheese & Chocolate Tasting Trip in Gruyeres
Gruyere is steeped in the Swiss tradition. Gruyere is a full-bodied almost hard cheese from the canton of Fribourg. This cow’s cheese gets its taste from the high alps meadows in summer and hay in winter. It takes six months to mature and is extremely versatile. If you go up to Gruyeres, the town the cheese is named after, during summer, you can head up the mountain and watch the cheese being made in its traditional copper vats.
I love Gruyere in French onion soup, Croque Monsieur, with a salad. However, the very best way to enjoy Gruyere is in the depths of winter in a traditional Swiss fondue. Dipping the potatoes into this gooey richness warms you up, especially after a hard day of skiing.
Paneer from Asia
Suggested by Bradley of Dream Big Travel Far Blog
Suggested Tours: Mumbai Hidden Street Eats by Train
It was when we were journeying across India that I first discovered paneer. To me, it tasted a lot like mozzarella and I soon became pretty fond of it. Which is helpful seeing as it is a staple food used in vegetarian curries all across India! It is a farmer’s cheese that doesn’t melt. As such, it works as a great meat alternative in all kinds of food.
My particular favourite is paneer butter masala. This was my go-to meal, everywhere we went. And perhaps the best one I had was in Udaipur. So, if you find yourself in India, then I highly recommend giving paneer a try! It is also found in many neighbouring countries, like Nepal and Sri Lanka. However, the Indians do it best!
Echourgnac aux Noix from France
Suggested by Jennifer of Luxe Adventure Traveler
Suggested Tour: Sarlat Gourmet Tour & Market Visit with Tastings
France is just about as famous for its many, many kinds of cheese as it is for producing outstanding wines. You could spend every single day of an entire year trying a different cheese in France, and you still wouldn’t make a dent in the list of cheeses produced.
So you need Francophiles like Jennifer and Tim from Luxe Adventure Traveler, who also just happen to live in France, to point you in the direction of the very best cheeses to try. One of the harder to find cheeses that is oh-so-worth the effort of tracking down is Echourgnac aux Noix. It’s a cow’s milk cheese and the rind has been soaked in walnut liqueur. You’re not likely to find this particular cheese all over France. You should head to the Perigord in the south-west where it’s been produced by monks since 1868.
Echourgnac aux Noix has a more powerful scent when it comes to cheeses. It’s not exactly stinky, but a bit of a peculiar smell. It’s a semi-soft cheese that gets its nutty flavour from the walnut liqueur bath. It’s best enjoyed with a plain baguette so that you can appreciate the flavours from the walnut liqueur. It pairs with white wines, particularly from the Jura wine region nearby where the cheese is produced. And non-drinkers will appreciate the cheese with a cup of unsweetened chai tea that is just slightly warm.
Västerbottensost from Burträsk, Sweden
Suggested by Summer of Eat Something, Go Somewhere
Produced in the north of Sweden in a tiny village called Burträsk.Västerbottensost is an aromatic cheese with a uniquely dewy texture. Aged for a minimum of 14 months, it’s a crystalline, fruity, salty delight with a balance of sweet and bitter flavours.
Västerbottensost is still produced today using the original recipe from 1872, developed semi-accidentally by a dairymaid named Ulrika Eleonora Lindström. A smoked variety can be found in limited quantities; as well as an extra-aged, which rests for at least 24 months. Popular throughout Sweden—particularly during Midsummer and Christmas—demand for the cheese often exceeds supply.
Cotherstone Cheese of Cotherstone, Barnard Castle, County Durham
Suggested by Sarah of A Social Nomad
Cotherstone cheese is a semi-hard cheese made from unpasteurized full fat cow’s milk. There are two versions – white and blue-veined, although the white is much more prevalent.
Cotherstone cheese is related to Wensleydale. It’s named after the village of the Cotherstone, close to the market town of Barnard Castle in Teesdale, County Durham. It is a “dales style” cheese, soft and crumbly, and it is moister than its neighbouring Wensleydale.
Found for purchase in local grocers and butchers in Barnard Castle, it’s sold in pre-packed slices or in waxed rounds. It’s a Moorish taste, tangy and moist, with a fresh sometimes citrusy smell. You’ll find it served in local eateries as a dessert and also included in quiches and tarts.
Bulgarian Sirene from Bulgaria
Suggested by Stephanie of Sofia Adventures
Bulgarian sirene, which is Bulgaria’s version of feta cheese, is a popular ingredient in many important Bulgarian dishes. Like many Balkan cuisines, Bulgarian food includes many delicious pasty dishes. For these, sirene is the most common cheese used and is one of the national foods of Bulgaria.
Sirene is commonly thought of as a version of feta, but it’s sweeter than Greek feta. Crumbly but not brittle, it’s the perfect cheese for salads and is one of the main ingredients in the ubiquitous Shopska salad, a dish served at nearly every restaurant in the country. While sirene can be eaten on its own, I prefer mine inside a delicious banitsa, a pastry made from sirene and phyllo dough. Typically considered a breakfast dish, I find that there’s never a bad time for an amazing local cheese pastry!
Young Buck – Belfast, Northern Ireland
Suggested by Kacie of The Rare Welsh Bit
The capital of Northern Ireland, Belfast is home to a much-loved creamy blue cheese, known as Young Buck. Similar to Stilton, this creamy blue cheese is made with raw milk and has a rich, tangy taste.
Young Buck is produced directly by Mike’s Fancy Cheese Co. – a co-operative that also sells cheeses made by other independent producers. I’ve never been the biggest fan of blue cheese but this stuff was so good, I spent £4 on a big block to take home with me.
Wherever you go in Belfast, no doubt you’ll see Young Buck being dished up in everything from burgers and cheese toasties, to arancini (risotto balls) and blue cheese steak sauces. The Belfast food scene practically runs off the stuff!
The cheese can also be bought from all good local delicatessens and cheesemongers, including the historic St. George’s Market and the long-running Sawyers Ltd. deli shop.
All the cheesy goodness! I hope you have enjoyed the list of the best cheeses in the world!
Read more of our collection of world food and drinks posts!