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Monterey Jack Cheese Substitute (Top 5 Options)

In this article, we will embark on a flavorful journey to explore some delightful Monterey Jack cheese substitutes, allowing you to savor your favorite dishes without compromise.

If you love Monterey Jack cheese’s mild, buttery taste, you’re definitely not alone. This cheese is a perfect addition to many dishes, and recipes that call for it are abundant. If you don’t have any Monterey Jack cheese on hand, choose from one of the cheese alternatives below.

Block of Monterey Jack cheese on top of wooden cutting board.

What Is Monterey Jack Cheese?

Monterey Jack cheese is a semi-hard cheese that originated in Monterey, California, during the 19th century.

People make it using cow’s milk and then age it for a short period, usually a month to six.

This cheese falls under the white cheese category. It has a great melting property, so it is a great addition to baked recipes. And yes, it is perfect for grilled cheese sandwiches.

You don’t have to bake or cook it to enjoy Monterey Jack. Since it has a mild, buttery, and slightly sweet taste, this cheese makes a delicious snack on its own.

Monterey Jack is a popular cheese, so it is widely available. You can buy it easily in grocery stores, but if you want the best quality, get it from a specialty cheese shop.

Best Monterey Jack Cheese Substitutes

1. Colby Cheese

Because Colby cheese also uses cow’s milk, it shares a similar flavor profile with Monterey Jack.

You can find a young and aged version of this cheese in the market.

Aged Colby cheese develops a crumbly texture as it matures. So, you are better off using a young Colby cheese to replace Monterey Jack.

After all, a young Colby cheese has a moist and creamy texture.

The most significant difference is that Colby has a vibrant orange hue.

If you find Colby Jack cheese, that is an even better option because it is part Colby and part Monterey Jack.

Tip: Colby Cheese is also a semi-hard cheese, so it makes sense that it is among the best substitutes for Monterey Jack cheese. Use it for any recipe that calls for Monterey Jack, and your recipe will be almost the same.

2. Cheddar Cheese

Another melty cheese that makes the cut as a Monterey Jack cheese swap is Cheddar.

Cheddar cheese is incredibly versatile and popular. You can find it anywhere and may even have it on your fridge already.

Do note that Cheddar is creamier, sharper, and slightly tangier than Monterey Jack. And as opposed to Monterey Jack’s semi-hard texture, Cheddar is a hard cheese.

Still, its flavor profile makes it perfect for grilled cheese and mac and cheese recipes.

Cheddar cheese can also step in for Monterey Jack cheese in quesadillas.

Cheddar becomes more crumbly and robust with age, as with any other cheese.

Tip: Opt for a young Cheddar because it is closer in texture to Monterey Jack. Plus, it is not as sharp as aged Cheddar cheese, making it a better flavor match.

3. Pepper Jack Cheese

Like Colby Jack cheese, Pepper Jack cheese is another variation of Monterey Jack. As the name implies, Pepper Jack is just Monterey Jack with added peppers.

Cheesemakers put habanero, serrano, and jalapeno peppers to create this spicy cheese.

That said, Pepper Jack is the perfect alternative if you are looking to add some heat to your recipes. And since it is just a spiced version of Monterey Jack, you can use it as a direct swap.

Do consider that spicy ingredients like this usually do not cater to children. So if you feed children, there are

better options for you.

Tip:  It is an equally accessible option, as you’ll typically find it anywhere you’d find Monterey Jack. Please note, this cheese is spicy.

4. Provolone Cheese

Provolone cheese, like Monterey Jack cheese, is a semi-hard cheese. For this reason, it is another option, especially if all you’re looking for is a texture match.

This Italian cheese does have a buttery taste, but it comes with an added mild nutty flavor. That said, it does not taste exactly like Monterey Jack. There might be a slight flavor shift if you use it in your recipes.

The good thing is that provolone melts like Monterey Jack. It gives you that satisfying cheese pull. And, of course, it also boasts a good amount of protein, so it is a great addition to your diet.

Tip: It works perfectly in a quesadilla recipe, but you can try it with any dish that calls for Monterey Jack.

5. Parmesan Cheese

Parmesan cheese is also a decent alternative to Monterey Jack. It works especially well in recipes that need Dry Jack, which is just aged Jack cheese.

Dry Jack cheese has a firm texture that’s perfect for grating.

You can easily replace it with Parmesan cheese. After all, this cheese has an equally dry texture that grates well.

And, of course, remember that Parmesan also melts beautifully.

It is important to choose young Parmesan cheese, as the aged variety is too crumbly. Using it will alter your dish’s consistency.

Tip: Use young Parmesan to replace Monterey Jack in pasta dishes and grilled cheese sandwiches for the best results.

How To Use Monterey Jack Cheese Substitutes In Recipes

Mexican Cuisine

Monterey Jack is a common addition to Mexican dishes such as nachos, enchiladas, and tacos.

When it comes to nachos, a perfect Monterey Jack replacement would be Colby Jack or Cheddar. Their rich cheesy taste will give your nachos a burst of flavor.

For enchiladas, try a combination of provolone and mozzarella. They will offer a gooey and melty texture that melds well with the basic ingredients of this dish.

Lastly, try using shredded Pepper Jack in tacos to add a bit of heat on top of a buttery taste.

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

The best swap for Monterey Jack in grilled cheese sandwiches will depend on the type of sandwich. For extra flavor in your sandwiches, experiment with tomato, basil, ham, or bacon.

Then, choose between provolone, sharp Cheddar, or young Parmesan cheese.

These all offer a great flavor and melt to a stringy consistency. We all know that a stringy texture gives grilled cheese dishes.


Each type of quesadilla will call for a unique swap that will pair well with its main ingredient.

For example, if you’re making beef quesadillas, you are better off with provolone or Cheddar.

These kinds of cheese have bold flavors that won’t take a back seat to beef.

For chicken quesadillas, a great option would be Pepper Jack. Since chicken has a mild flavor, adding a hint of heat will not hurt but, instead, make your dish more balanced.

What Type Of Cheese Is Monterey Jack?

Monterey Jack cheese is an American, semi-hard fresh cheese. It uses pasteurized cow’s milk. As a result, it has a mild, buttery flavor and a white to pale yellow color. For this reason, it also falls under the white cheese category.

What Is A Good Substitute For Monterey Jack Cheese?

Many other kinds of cheese can be a good substitute for Monterey Jack cheese. Among the best ones are Colby Jack, Provolone, and Parmesan Cheese. Other options include Edam cheese, Gouda cheese, Muenster cheese, and Havarti cheese.

Can I Substitute Queso Fresco For Monterey Jack Cheese?

Queso fresco is also a white, fresh cheese like Monterey Jack. But it has a much milder flavor. So, it may not be the best choice if you’re looking for the closest Monterey jack cheese replacement. Yet, you can use queso fresco in dishes that use Monterey Jack as a topping. You can also use it in recipes where Monterey Jack is not the star ingredient. For instance, you can add it to dips and sauces.

Is Monterey Jack The Same As Cheddar Jack?

No. Monterey Jack is not the same as Cheddar Jack. Cheddar Jack is a variation of Monterey Jack that has added Cheddar. On the other hand, Monterey Jack is its own kind of cheese. That said, they have lots of similarities, but they are still not the same cheese. Depending on the recipe, you can use these cheeses interchangeably, though.


Monterey Jack cheese is a popular cheese that makes its way into many recipes. But if you don’t have any Monterey Jack cheese on hand, there are several good alternatives that you can use. The top Monterey Jack cheese substitute options are Colby, Cheddar, and Pepper Jack.

Each swap has its unique flavor profile, texture, and melting properties. So, choosing the right replacement is crucial to get an almost similar dish.

Block of Monterey Jack cheese on top of wooden cutting board.

Top 5 Monterey Jack Cheese Substitutes

Natalia-Flavorful Home
If you love Monterey Jack cheese’s mild, buttery taste, you’re definitely not alone. If you don’t have any Monterey Jack cheese on hand, choose from one of the cheese alternatives below.
5 from 1 vote
Course substitutes


  • Colby Cheese
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Pepper Jack Cheese
  • Provolone Cheese
  • Parmesan Cheese


  • Choose from our list the best alternative that works for your recipe.
  • Adjust the recipes if needed.
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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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