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Manchego Cheese Substitute


Below, you’ll find a Manchego cheese substitute list for all recipes you would use this tasty cheese. If you’re throwing together a charcuterie board last minute and don’t have Manchego cheese on hand, there are plenty of alternatives with a similar punch of flavor.

The Manchego cheese taste is unrivaled, especially as an addition to a beautiful cheese plate. It’s the perfect accent to cured meats, nuts, and figs. You will also love using it in baked dishes like mac and cheese.

large slice of cheese wrapped in plastic and labeled "Manchego cheese"

What Is Manchego Cheese?

Manchego cheese, also known as queso Manchego, is a cheese that originates in La Mancha, Spain. This Spanish cheese is a semi-soft variety from pasteurized sheep’s milk. Manchego is under the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) regulations, meaning it must be made in La Mancha using Mancha sheep’s milk.

While most versions of this nutty, aromatic cheese come from pasteurized milk, it’s not uncommon for farm-made varieties to be created from unpasteurized milk. The appearance of Manchego is distinct due to the crosshatching on the exterior left by woven grass molds. The exterior shouldn’t be consumed, and it’s best left cut off.

Types of Manchego Cheese

There are many types of Manchego cheese; what differentiates each is the flavor and how long they are aged. The available varieties include Fresco, Semi Curado, Curado, and Viejo.

Fresco is a fresh cheese with a subtle, sweet taste. Semi Curado and Curado are both semi-hard cheeses, though each offers a much different flavor. Semi Curado is aged up to three months and provides a fruity, grassy taste. Curado ages for 3-6 months and is sweet and nutty. Viejo, the final variety, is firm and ages for up to two years. This variety is a hard cheese with a crumbly texture, much different from the younger varieties. It offers the sweetest flavor out of all the available types.

Best Manchego Cheese Substitutes

1. Monterey Jack Cheese

Monterey jack cheese is not from sheep’s milk; but instead, it is a cow’s milk cheese. This semi-firm cheese originates in Mexico and America. Monterey makes a good substitute for Manchego due to its buttery taste and subtle flavor, along with its similar light-yellow color.

This cheese is easy to find in grocery stores and works well as both a melted cheese and sliced on a charcuterie plate. Monterey jack does have an edible rind, though most blocks of this cheese in grocery stores have no rind whatsoever. Its buttery texture makes it easy to slice through and convenient to use in place of Manchego. Use it in any capacity that you would use queso Manchego.

Pros
This cheese is a tasty alternative to Manchego and offers a similar mild, buttery taste. It is versatile in its uses, and you can use it for any dish the calls for Manchego.

Cons
While it does have a similar flavor profile, this swap also provides a slight tanginess which creates a subtle flavor difference.

Cooking Tip:
Use a 1:1 ratio to replace Manchego with Monterey.

2. Pecorino Romano

Pecorino Romano is a hard Italian cheese with a crumbly texture and salty taste. While this cheese’s flavor is much different from Manchego’s, it’s an excellent cheese to cut for a cheese platter or melt over a pasta dish.

When using pecorino, you can expect a smokey, sharp flavor. Its complex taste makes it a great cheese to pair with bread or crackers. This cheese works well for melting also, making it an excellent replacement for many dishes.

Use pecorino Romano as a replacement for Viejo Manchego cheese because of the similar texture.

Pros
This cheese is delicious and offers a complex flavor that amps up any recipe. You can use it melted or slice it for a cheeseboard. The consistency is similar to that of aged Manchego cheese.

Cons
Pecorino and Manchego have very different tastes, so that the flavor difference will be noticeable in recipes. It’s also very salty, which may turn off some people both in uncooked form and baked dishes.

Cooking Tip:
Start with ¾ the required amount of pecorino if cooking with it, then add more if needed. Consider leaving additional sources of salt out of recipes to avoid an overly salty dish.

3. Muenster Cheese

Muenster cheese can work as an alternative to Manchego; however, it does have a much different taste and consistency. This American cheese is a soft cheese that works excellently for melting. While you can also slice it up and serve it with crackers, the flavor difference will be noticeable.

There are multiple varieties of Muenster; some offer a subtle flavor, while others have a sharp test similar to that of cheddar. It also provides an intense aroma, especially once it ages. Use this replacement for grilled cheese sandwiches, paninis, and pizza.

Pros
This swap is easily found in local grocery stores and provides an excellent melty consistency when heated. You can use serve it sliced or use it in cooked dishes.

Cons
Muenster has a much different flavor from Manchego, leaving a noticeable taste difference in dishes. Its consistency is also very different.

Cooking Tip:
Use a 1:1 ratio to replace Manchego with Muenster cheese.

4. Asiago Cheese

Asiago cheese is another Italian cheese with a smooth or crumbly, hard texture. The aged version of this cheese has a much different flavor than Manchego offers. Asiago Pressato (made with pasteurized whole cow’s milk) is cheese only aged for about a month. It provides a mild flavor that is similar to fresh Manchego cheese.

While you can use the two aged versions of Asiago, they will provide a sharp taste and strong aroma that may be off-putting in specific recipes. This versatile cheese works well for melting, slicing, and grating.

Use Asiago for Italian recipes like tomato-based sauces, cheese plates, and to garnish soups.

Pros
Asiago is a versatile cheese with many uses, not just Italian recipes. It provides a full-flavored milky taste to dishes. This cheese is an excellent budget-friendly replacement for Manchego, as it’s much cheaper to purchase.

Cons
This cheese has a much different flavor than Manchego creating a noticeable difference in taste.

Cooking Tip:
Start with ¾ the amount required for cooked recipes, then adjust as needed.

5. Zamorano Cheese

Zamorano cheese is the best substitute for Manchego cheese. It’s a Spanish cheese made from sheep’s milk in Zamora. While there are differences in texture (Zamorano is crumbly), the flavor is close to Manchego.

This cheese ages for about six months and provides a sweet, nutty flavor to dishes. It also has a similar appearance with a light yellow color and crosshatching on the exterior. Unlike Manchego, you can eat the outside of this cheese as it has an edible rind.

This cheese option melts well, and you can eat them sliced. Use Zamorano cheese in place of Manchego in any recipe. Remember that this cheese is much saltier, so you will want to use a smaller quantity and adjust any other salt in the recipe to avoid an overly salty taste.

Pros
Zamorano cheese has a similar taste and appearance to Manchego. It is versatile, and you can include it in all recipes that call for Manchego.

Cons
When Zamorano cheese is sliced, it does offer a different consistency than Manchego.

Cooking Tip:
Start with ½ the amount required in the recipe and add more as needed.

6. Cheddar Cheese

Cheddar cheese is a hard English cheese with a mild to sharp taste depending on how long it ages. A younger cheddar will have a more similar appearance and taste to Manchego. Cheddar provides a similar buttery, creamy flavor and a light yellow color when it is aged less.

Initially, this cheese was only produced in England. Now it is cultivated worldwide, making it easily accessible at stores. When choosing a cheddar to replace Manchego, consider its age and look for labeling which includes the word mild for a better chance of a flavor match.

This is another cheese option that works well cooked and sliced. You can use cheddar for most recipes that call for Manchego, though keep in mind that there will be a flavor difference, especially if a sharp version is used.

Pros
Cheddar is easily accessible in local grocery stores; it’s affordable and comes in many varieties, from mild to sharp, allowing individuals to purchase a block according to their tastebuds. Use cheddar for cooked recipes and alongside nuts and fruit.

Cons
If using aged English cheddar cheese, the flavor and color will differ from Manchego.

Cooking Tip:
Use a 1:1 ratio when using young cheddar cheese as an alternative.

7. Mozzarella Cheese

Mozzarella cheese is an excellent replacement for Manchego cheese for those seeking a mild taste that blends well with other cheeses or other flavors. This cheese is a semi-soft cheese from Italy. It has no rind and provides a creamy, milky consistency and taste.

There are multiple varieties available, though they all offer a similar subtle flavor. Fresh mozzarella or mozzarella balls are ideal for serving in a salad or cheeseboard, while low-moisture mozzarella is excellent for adding a melty consistency to cooked foods.

Pros
Mozzarella is versatile and can be served sliced or cooked into a pizza or a casserole. It has a mild flavor that bodes well with various seasonings and ingredients.

Cons
This cheese swap does not provide the same flavor as Manchego and is much softer consistency-wise.

Cooking Tip:
Start with a 1:1 ratio of mozzarella cheese and add more if necessary.

8. Cashew Cheese

Cashew cheese is an excellent dairy-free alternative to Manchego for people with dietary restrictions. This option is made from soaked cashews that are blended, nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor, water, and additional spices.

It provides a nutty, salty taste to dishes and has a sauce-like consistency when purchased. While it does share some flavor notes, there will be a noticeable difference in taste and texture. You can serve this cheese in a bowl on a cheeseboard. However, you will need to dip crackers and veggies into it.

This cheese replacement works well in mac and cheese and casseroles. Unfortunately, it does have its recipe limitations. However, it is still a good alternative for those who can’t eat dairy.

Pros
Cashew cheese offers a creamy consistency and nutty taste similar to Manchego. It works well in specific cooked recipes and offers a non-dairy option to those who need it.

Cons
The uses for cashew cheese are much more limited than for Manchego cheese. The flavor is also noticeably different.

Cooking Tip:
Use a 1:1 ratio when alternating cashew cheese with Manchego cheese.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Manchego Cheese Uses?

Manchego cheese uses vary and include a cheese option on a charcuterie board or a compliment to Spanish ham on a tapas plate with olives. You can also use it to create a tasty mac and cheese recipe or even in sandwiches. This cheese is delicious in slices or as a melty cheese.

Is There a Cheese Similar to Manchego?

Yes, there is a cheese similar to Manchego which is Zamorano cheese which has a similar Manchego cheese taste. There are also multiple alternatives that offer a similar gooey texture and buttery taste. In most recipes, you can use cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack, or pecorino as replacements. Each provides a different flavor, though they are equally delicious.

How Does Manchego Cheese Taste?

Manchego cheese has a creamy and mild flavor that is also sweet with fruitiness. It is well-loved for its buttery texture and buttery flavor. When eating Manchego cheese, especially an aged variety, you’ll notice a nutty flavor with a light sheep’s milk aftertaste. With such a complex taste, it’s easy to see why many love eating Manchego.

Is Manchego Similar to Cheddar?

Yes and no. Manchego and cheddar both melt similarly when you use them in cooking, and both offer a buttery flavor. However, their additional flavor notes are different, causing a noticeable taste difference between the two. Cheddar cheese also provides a bolder flavor than Manchego.

Can You Substitute Parmesan for Manchego?

Yes, you can substitute parmesan for Manchego. Like Manchego, parmesan provides a nutty, fruity taste in recipes. Parmesan also works well as melting cheese, though the quality needs to be higher for this to occur without clumping.

Summary

Whether Manchego cheese is out of budget or is nowhere to be found at the local grocery store, the above choices will provide excellent alternatives. From the Manchego substitute list, Zamorano cheese is the top choice as it has the closest flavor to Manchego. Besides Zamorano, Monterey jack is an excellent replacement for charcuterie boards and cooked recipes.

If none of the options above are available, Tomme de Brebis, French cheese, or Chihuahua cheese, a Mexican melting cheese, will work well as alternatives.

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document easy real food recipes perfect for busy families. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!

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