Let me start off by saying, I never used to be a bleu cheese fan, but after some travels to Europe, I am a changed person! It is a type of cheese that can take a little time to get used to, but when you do, you might just enjoy it as much as I do! Now, if you are looking for blue cheese substitutes, I have some of those as well.
What Is Bleu Cheese?
First off, is it blue or bleu cheese? Both. Both work and both are correct. Bleu is the French spelling and blue is more common here in the United States.
This cheese can be made from cow’s milk, sheep’s milk, or even goat’s milk. It is known for its sharp and salty flavor and distinct smell. It originally comes from Italy and France. (Also, note the rind is edible). These blue-veined cheese are delicious cheese. But, they are not only blue-veined, although that is the most common. They can also be green, gray, or even black!
Blue cheese is a little tricky to put into a box or category, but one thing is for sure. It is a cheese with Penicillium genus added in. Let me tell you about 3 of the most common blue cheese.
Roquefort Cheese- This is largely considered the oldest of the blue cheese, and considered a delicacy. It is a French blue cheese made with sheep's milk and has a crumbly texture. It is also filled with beautiful blue veins and the pungent smell you expect from blue cheese. This is the cheese Penicillium roqueforti is used in.
Gorgonzola Cheese- This is an Italian cheese made from cow's milk. You can buy it young or aged. The young are creamy and buttery, aged have a more earthy flavor. I personally prefer the creamy texture of the young cheese.
There are many types of Gorgonzola, Gorgonzola dolce is a favorite of mine for spreading on seedy crackers. I just love that soft texture.
Blue Stilton- Stilton cheese is an English cheese that happens to be a personal favorite of mine. It is made from cow's milk from the English Midlands. They made varieties mixed with dried fruits that I CANNOT resist! They are also described as having a nutty flavor.
Daniblu- This is a Danish blue cheese that is creamy with a sharp flavor. It is another made from cow's milk. This is a type of blue cheese I have yet to really delve into.
Best Substitutes For Blue Cheese
As noted above, there are so many varieties of blue cheese. One can easily be substituted for another, as long as the flavors are similar.
These substitutions can be made if you don't have blue cheese on hand, or if you have a picky or cautious eater that isn't ready for that strong flavor yet. These also do not have the pungent aroma typical of the blue cheese
family, so they might be easier for some people to eat.
Feta cheese is a great substitute. It has a tangy flavor but is milder than traditional blue cheese, and is a little saltier but will work. Feta is a good substitute for cheese boards, dressings, salads, and pasta dishes. It is made from sheep, cows, or even goat milk.
Goat cheese is another option. It is even milder than feta. This is good to add to your dressings and dips. In fact, I love this goat cheese dip as an appetizer. It is also my favorite for subbing into salad dressings. It is a good choice with a mild flavor. I love Gorgonzola on pizza, but goats' cheese is a really good sub for this.
Queso Fresco- This is another mild cheese that is crumbly and similar to the texture of blue cheese. It has a salty taste though, so be mindful of this. This is an easy one to swap on salads or sandwiches.
Aged Cheddar- This would be the last cheese I would recommend as the flavor profile is not very similar to blue cheese in my mind. But, if you want, you can easily swap this on your burgers, steaks, and salads.
Vegan Substitutes- I cannot give any advice on these cheeses as I have not ever tried them. But, it is another option.
How To Use Blue Cheese
If you are new to blue cheese and want to start trying it, let me give a few suggestions.
Adding small amounts to cheese boards can be a good place to start. Make sure you use hearty crackers or bread to serve with it. This helps especially when you are developing your palate for it.
Blue cheese also pairs well with fresh fruits and nuts. I love to eat mine with apples or apricots. I also enjoy it with dried fruits as well.
Blue cheese crumbles are so good on a spinach strawberry salad too. Especially when you pair it with a strong balsamic dressing.
Salad dressing is another way to test out blue cheese on your palate. Blue cheese dressing and dip are milder as they are mixed with mayonnaise and milk to mellow them out a bit. Wondering what it can be compared to? It is a strong ranch dressing.
Another way to try blue cheese is on a burger or steak. The sharp flavor pairs so well with beef!
We rarely eat all our cheese in one sitting, so storage is vital.
The leftover cheese can be stored in wax, parchment paper, or even foil in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.
Although let me say, I will still eat cheese that is 1-2 weeks past expiration.
It has a salty and sharp flavor. The smell will hit you before the flavor ever does. It can also be sweet, especially the fruit stilton.
It has a high calcium content and is rich in nutrients. It can also double as an anti-inflammatory!
It can last up to 3 weeks. Be sure to check the expiration date. But... I will let it go a week or 2 even after that date. Use your best judgment here though. If the cheese is looking really bad or has a particularly weird smell, don't use it!