Sometimes we find ourselves without this delectable cheese in our pantry. Fear not! There’s a wide array of fantastic Pepper Jack cheese substitutes that can bring a similar taste and texture to your dishes.
Whether you’re seeking a milder alternative or an extra kick of spice, this food guide will share with you a selection of enticing substitutes.
Pepper jack cheese is a spicy and flavorful variety of the famous Monterey Jack cheese.
It’s the same cheese with spices, herbs, and chili peppers.
This cheese’s main ingredient is either cow’s or goat’s milk.
Cheesemakers commonly use garlic, rosemary, and jalapeños to impart a spicy taste.
You may also find sweet peppers, habanero chilis, and serrano peppers in this cheese.
Pepper jack cheese fall under the semi-soft cheese category. It has a high moisture content, so it melts beautifully.
The texture is delicate, with an almost buttery flavor. And with the infusion of chilis, the resulting cheese has spicy undertones.
For this reason, pepper jack is a popular choice for Tex-Mex dishes with this flavor profile.
You may also use it in grilled cheese sandwiches, hamburgers, and omelets.
As pepper jack cheese ages, its peppery flavor becomes more intense. Aged pepper jack has a zesty taste and a semi-firm texture.
Havarti cheese is a semi-soft, nutty-tasting cheese that is among the best substitutes for pepper jack cheese.
This cheese has a creamy texture and melts well like pepper jack cheese.
When it comes to appearance, it has small “eyes” that Pepper Jack doesn’t have.
Plus it does not have the red specks of chilis that pepper jack is widely known for. So it will look different, especially on a cheese board.
Tip: It is a good alternative to pepper jack cheese because it pairs well with many other foods. You can melt it and use it as a topping on burgers or baked potatoes as well.
Like pepper jack cheese, Gouda cheese uses cow’s milk and sometimes goat’s milk.
Regarding texture, it is a good match with pepper jack as it also has a smooth and creamy texture. But it has a yellowish-orange color, so your swap will be noticeable.
What really makes it a good option is its versatility. Its mild, sweet flavor and nutty undertone pair well with foods that taste great with pepper jack.
And as with pepper jack cheese, you can also melt Gouda and use it in various savory dishes.
Tip: For the best substitution experience, use a young Gouda instead of an aged one. Aged Gouda cheese can be difficult to melt and is sweeter than the younger version.
Parmesan cheese is an excellent substitute for pepper jack Cheese. This cheese has a dry, firm texture and a mild nutty flavor, close to pepper jack.
But make sure to get a young Parmesan, as it can replicate its texture better. Aged Parmesan has a granular, crumbly texture that doesn’t fit the profile of a good pepper jack swap.
Be wary of buying Parmesan cheese, as copies of this cheese are abundant in the market. Look for varieties that use 100% milk, and avoid the pre-grated ones, as they may contain fillers.
Only a high-quality Parmesan cheese will be a great alternative to pepper jack.
Tip: It won’t have the spicy taste of peppers. So you may need to add the peppers to your recipes directly to get a spicy flavor.
Another good option for a pepper jack cheese replacement is mozzarella cheese. This melty cheese is widely available, making it a quick substitute.
On top of that, mozzarella has a perfect texture and flavor to serve as a swap. Mozzarella cheese has a creamy, mild, and slightly salty taste that can enhance any dish. This cheese is an excellent choice for pizza, sandwiches, and pasta.
Remember that mozzarella has a high moisture content and tends to release water.
Tip: For the best results, use low-moisture mozzarella cheese. This variety has a denser texture, closer to pepper jack cheese.
Colby jack cheese is a combination of Colby cheese and Monterey Jack cheese.
That said, it shares many similarities with pepper jack cheese. It is also a semi-hard cheese that uses pasteurized cow’s milk. And it has a creamy texture and a slightly sweet, mild flavor.
But where the difference is obvious is in appearance. Colby Jack has a marbled appearance of yellow and orange hues. That said, this cheese does not look anywhere near pepper jack.
The good thing is that the cheese stands out. It will provide a similar aesthetic appeal to cheese boards.
Tip: Colby Jack does not have the spicy flavor of pepper jack. Use chili flakes in your recipes for a closer flavor match.
Cheddar cheese is a widely known and loved cheese from the Cheddar Village in England. It’s a semi-hard cheese with a sharp, tangy taste and crumbly texture.
That said, it has a stronger taste than Pepper Jack which might result in a flavor shift in your recipe. But if you’re okay with that, use Cheddar as a substitute for Pepper Jack.
It will work great in grilled cheese sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, and salads.
Tip: To replicate the spicy taste of Pepper Jack, you may add finely chopped chilis to your recipe. For a quicker option, you may opt for chili flakes.
When picking the best substitute for Pepper Jack cheese, it is best to look at some factors:
Mozzarella and Cheddar cheese are your top options for a quick replacement. You can easily find them in stores, and you may already have either in your fridge. If you’re in a pinch, they will save the day.
For the best swapping experience, choose a substitute that tastes like pepper jack. That said, Colby Jack is your best bet as this cheese also has some Monterey Jack, the base cheese for pepper jack.
If you have lactose intolerance, the above options are unsuitable for you. After all, they are all dairy-based. For non-dairy options, you can go for vegan pepper jack cheese. This cheese is plant-based. And people specifically make it for those who cannot have regular pepper jack cheese. Cashew cheese is another option, but you must ensure that you go for the sliceable variety.
Pepper Jack cheese can be used in numerous delicious ways to add a zesty kick to your dishes.
Here are some popular ways to use Pepper Jack cheese:
Sandwiches and wraps – Slice or shred Pepper Jack cheese and add it to your favorite pinwheel sandwich for a flavorful twist. It pairs well with various deli meats, vegetables, and condiments.
Burgers and Sliders – Place a slice of Pepper Jack cheese on top of your burger patty while it’s still hot, allowing it to melt and infuse your burger with spicy, creamy goodness.
Quesadillas and Tacos – Sprinkle shredded Pepper Jack cheese onto tortillas when making quesadillas or tacos. The heat will melt the cheese, creating a gooey, flavorful filling.
Mac and Cheese – Add shredded Pepper Jack cheese to your macaroni and cheese recipe for an extra layer of spice and creaminess. It blends well with other cheeses to create a unique flavor profile.
Casseroles – Whether it’s a breakfast casserole, enchilada casserole, or a chicken and rice casserole, incorporate shredded or diced Pepper Jack cheese into the dish for a burst of flavor and heat.
Stuffed Peppers – Slice Pepper Jack cheese and stuff it inside bell peppers, then bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly. It adds a delicious kick to this classic dish.
Nachos – Sprinkle shredded Pepper Jack cheese over tortilla chips, then bake until the cheese is melted. For irresistible nachos, add your favorite ingredients like salsa, guacamole, and jalapeños.
Cheese dips and sauces – Melt Pepper Jack cheese into creamy dips, such as queso dip or cheese sauces. It will infuse the dip with a delightful spiciness.
Aside from the alternatives we listed above, you may also use Edam cheese. Its flavor and texture do not fall far from that of pepper jack. Gruyere cheese is also another decent alternative. Despite its saltier taste, the texture of Gruyere is very similar to pepper jack.
The closest cheese you can use to substitute pepper jack cheese is Colby jack. As mentioned, pepper jack and Colby Jack have some Monterey Jack cheese. So, their flavor profiles are similar. Colby jack is a bit sweeter than pepper jack. But this difference makes it perfect for those who do not love the spicy flavor of pepper jack.
Yes, pepper jack is spicy. After all, it has chili peppers as one of its ingredients. But the spice level of this cheese is manageable. It is just enough to add a bit of kick to your dishes. Plus, the spice level also depends on the brand. So, you can shop for a brand that makes pepper jack with a spice level you like.
There are several pepper jack cheese substitutes that you can use in your dishes. Havarti cheese is a great option, with its nutty flavor and creamy texture. Gouda cheese is another, as it provides versatility with its sweet and mild taste. And mozzarella is a convenient choice with a similar texture and flavor profile.
Undoubtedly, Colby jack cheese is the best option for its mild flavor and creamy texture. It’s safe to say that you will find the best pepper jack cheese substitute to fit your preference and your recipe.