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The Havarti Cheese Taste: What Is It Really Like?

Havarti cheese is a semi-soft Danish cheese with a creamy, buttery flavor and small irregular holes throughout the body. Made with cow’s milk, it has been around since the 19th century. What does havarti cheese taste like?

This article will tell you about its flavor, origin, and other kinds of cheese that taste just like it. We’ll provide you with enough information so you can decide if this cheese is worth trying!

white plate with sliced havarti cheese

What is Havarti Cheese?

Havarti is created by Hanne Nielsen, a Danish cheesemaker, in the 1800s. It is a semi-soft cheese made from cow’s milk. It got its name from Nielsen’s farm – Havartigard.

This sliceable cheese is native to Denmark and can only be produced using Danish milk. 

It is aromatic and has holes called “eyes” in the cheese industry. However, these eyes are not as big as the ones you can find in Swiss cheese.

Its color ranges from cream to yellow, depending on age. It can be enjoyed both in its mild form or as an aged variety.

Havarti has a good melting ability, making it a versatile cheese. 

How Havarti Cheese is Made

The cheesemaking process of Havarti starts by adding rennet to cow’s milk. Rennet is an organic substance found in the stomach of young cattle which still drink milk. You can find it in plants such as artichokes and nettles, too.

Rennet makes the milk curdle, separating the curds from the whey. The cheesemakers then drain the curds and press them into cheese molds.

Then, the aging process begins, which can last from 3 to 12 months. The longer you age cheese, the more moisture it loses. For this reason, some Havarti cheese can also be semi-hard. 

Types of Havarti Cheese

Original Havarti

Danish cheesemakers create the original Havarti cheese using whole pasteurized cow’s milk. Havarti has a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status. This means the process is guarded, and only a few dairies are granted the right to produce this.  

Creamy Havarti

Creamy Havarti cheese is also called cream Havarti and has a similar PGI status. They make this using the same process as the original. However, they add extra cream to the mix. Doing so makes creamy Havarti cheese a “double cream” like Brie. 

Infused Havarti

Cheese manufacturers have come up with other variations of the creamy Havarti. One of the most popular types is dill-infused Havarti.

They also use caraway, Chipotle, and Jalapeno peppers to enrich this cheese. Horseradish is another top ingredient they use for infusion. 

Smoked Havarti

There are smoked Havarti cheeses, and the process varies. Some are cold-smoked, while some are smoked slowly over hickory wood. The smoky notes are, of course, evident in the final cheese. 

What Does Havarti Cheese Taste Like?

So, what does Havarti cheese taste like? Well, you should know that, like other types of cheese, Havarti’s taste depends on how long it is aged. In general, it has a creamy texture with a sweet and buttery aroma and flavor.

Some describe it as the perfect blend of nutty, tangy, and creamy. Depending on the age, Havarti can have a slightly acidic taste, like blue cheese. It is mild and supple, so you’re in for an amazing mouthfeel.

If you have hands on Havarti that they did not age for long, expect a sweeter, buttery taste. But, if you buy an aged Havarti, you may taste some bitterness. Some liken the flavor of aged Havarti to hazelnuts. 

As you would expect, the creamy Havarti cheese is a lot creamier and richer than the original. 

Infused Havarti cheeses still have that signature buttery flavor. But obviously, it will taste like whatever they infused it with. For instance, Chipotle-infused Havarti will be hot, while dill-infused will have herby notes.

Lastly, smoked Havarti has a distinct smokiness not present in other varieties.

What Cheese Tastes Like Havarti?

The taste of Havarti is unique. There is no exact flavor match with other cheeses, but some come close to this Danish cheese. 

1. Tilsit Cheese

Tilsit cheese is the closest to Havarti. It has a similar texture and appearance. It also has small eyes, identical to Havarti. Tilsit cheese is just more intense as compared to Havarti’s mild taste.

It is noticeably saltier, but the flavor notes are the same. For this reason, Tilsit and Havarti are great substitutes for each other in most recipes. 

2. Monterey Jack

Monterey Jack is another cheese that tastes almost like Havarti. Some people might even find it hard to tell these two apart. After all, it has a similar mild and buttery flavor.

The biggest difference is texture, as Monterey Jack is a semi-hard cheese. 

3. Danish Port Salut

Also called Esrom cheese, this is buttery, so you can use it in place of Havarti in many dishes. It just has a fuller taste, but it is still close.

You only have to note that Danish Port Salut is often labeled as a stinky cheese. It has an intense aroma that might be off-putting for some. 

Nevertheless, its similar flavor profile puts it on the Havarti substitute list.

4. Swiss Cheese

Havarti cheese is often compared to Swiss cheese. Most people use them interchangeably, as they look and almost taste the same.

Swiss cheese is milder, as they do not age it as long as Havarti. But they both come from cow’s milk, so their flavor does not differ much. This is especially true for aged Havarti cheese. 

5. Butter Cheese

Butterkäse or butter cheese is another close contender. This cheese looks and tastes like butter, hence the name. It is smooth and mild, so it fits the bill.

They are both tangy and creamy, so you can use butter cheese as a Havarti cheese alternative.

Nutritional Benefits of Havarti Cheese

Havarti boasts many nutritional benefits, making it a healthy addition to any diet.

A single serving of Havarti (about 1 ounce) has just over 100 calories and provides an excellent source of protein.

It also offers a good amount of calcium, iron and important vitamins like B12, riboflavin, phosphorous and zinc.

Havarti is low in fat as well, with 7 grams per serving. For those looking for a healthy alternative to high-fat cheese options, Havarti is a great choice.

Culinary Uses of Havarti Cheese

Since it is a semi-soft cheese, it is perfect for dishes where sliced, grilled, or melted cheese is needed. Havarti is a popular addition to a charcuterie board. It is a mainstay in a cheese platter too.

Havarti is a top choice when it comes to grilled cheese sandwiches. You can use it in pasta dishes, including the all-time favorite mac and cheese. This cheese can make salads richer and elevate your dips. Sauces and casseroles also taste better with Havarti cheese in them. 

It is flexible, so you can use it in both sweet and savory dishes.

Sandwich with havarti cheese and fresh tomato

What To Pair With Havarti Cheese

Due to its mild flavor, Havarti pairs well with numerous foods. You can serve it with sweet fruits like apples, grapes, and figs. It tastes good with honey, walnuts, and butter crackers as well. Popular pairings for havarti cheese include bread, crackers, fruit, wine, and cured meats.


Bread is a classic accompaniment to havarti cheese. To make it even more indulgent, top slices of crusty or artisan bread with butter and a thick slice of melted havarti cheese. You can also use havarti to make grilled cheese sandwiches on sourdough, rye, or whole wheat bread.


Crackers are a great way to enjoy havarti cheese. The creamy texture and mild flavor of the cheese pairs well with a variety of crackers, from classic buttery crackers to flavored ones such as garlic-herb or cranberry-almond. You can also use havarti cheese in place of cream cheese on crackers to make a savory snack.


Fruit is another popular pairing for havarti cheese. The mild sweetness of the cheese pairs well with fresh apples, pears, and figs. For extra flavor and texture, top slices of fruit with crumbled havarti and a sprinkle of chopped nuts.


Wine is a classic pairing for havarti cheese. If you’re having a wine and cheese party, you’ll never go wrong with Havarti and red wine like Merlot or Pinot Noir. For white wine lovers, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are top pairing choices. 

Cured meats

Cured meats such as salami and prosciutto are classic accompaniments to havarti cheese. The salty flavor of the meats balances out the mild tanginess of the cheese. For an elegant appetizer, serve slices of havarti and cured meats alongside crackers, olives, and grapes.


Havarti’s buttery profile goes best with sour ale and German Berliner Weiss. You can try it with a pilsner or Indian pale ale (IPA) too!

Is Havarti Cheese Expensive?

Yes, Havarti cheese can be pricey. For this reason, people often opt for more affordable substitutes. The most popular replacement for those on a budget is young Cheddar cheese. 

How Do You Prolong The Shelf Life Of Havarti Cheese?

To maximize its shelf life, you should store Havarti cheese properly in the fridge. Wrap the cheese with parchment or wax paper, then cover it with plastic wrap. Aluminum foil also works in place of plastic wrap. 

Can You Use Havarti Cheese In Salads?

Yes, you can add Havarti cheese to salads. Its sweet taste is best for pasta and vegetable salads alike. Havarti cheese is a good addition to fruit and cheese salad recipes as well.


What does Havarti cheese taste like? Original Havarti is buttery, tart, and slightly acidic. Young Havarti has sweet notes, while aged Havarti cheese tastes like hazelnuts. 

Creamy Havarti has a richer and creamier flavor. Meanwhile, smoked Havarti has an obvious touch of smokiness. Try it for yourself and be the judge!

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!
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