Best brie cheese brand

Table of Contents

10 Best Brie Cheeses

Share this…

Experts sometimes disagree on whether brie is the king of cheeses or the queen, but they always agree brie is cheese royalty. In fact, its popularity really boomed in the U.S. during the 70s and 80s and became practically a staple that guests expected at any dinner party. Dueto a variety of factors, the way brie is produced has changed somewhat over the years but it remains a popular choice among cheese enthusiasts, nonetheless. We’ll take you through our list of best brie cheeses based on texture, flavor, appearance, and value. And if you’d like to know more about which wines go with brie, we’ve got you covered!

10. Brie Notre Dame

This wheel of brie looks good on any cheese plate, and appearance is just as important as taste when it comes to brie. The texture is an ideal mix of soft and smooth and many users appreciate the strong, rich taste. Many users appreciate that the product ships quickly and that the richness increases longevity.
The price is somewhat high for a two-pound cheese wheel.

9. French Brie Eiffel Tower

One of the things we like most about this brie is its classic aesthetic. It will look good on any cheese plate or paired with some fruit of your choice. The other high point for us is the price, which is quite affordable for a two-pound rind of brie. There is scant information available on taste and texture, but consumers seem to love it, with very few exceptions. The product has expedited shipping and comes complete with a reusable cooler, so we’re confident it will arrive fresh right to your door.

8. Notre Dame Baby Brie

This item is an excellent choice for those who are just entering the world of cheeses and want to try a little brie. It’s smaller than other brie products but still looks great, allowing consumers to feel comfortable with the purchase even if they’re not sure about brie yet. There’s a blooming, soft rind just as one would expect from brie, giving it a pleasant aroma and strong, quality taste.
We like that the purchase price and shipping costs are very economical and set with the consumer in mind.

7. La Bonne Vie Brie

This brie is made and packaged to aethetic perfection and has a very rich, creamy texture. The rind is edible just as it should be in all good brie and the taste is said to be deliciously buttery. This is definitely a premium brie but even so, the price could be better; we’ve seen brie wheels of identical weight at better prices.

6. Woolwich Triple Creme Goat Cheese Brie

An interesting take on the traditional Brie, this goat cheese Brie has a creamier texture and spicier flavor. It’s a great Brie alternative for those who are not fond of cow milk cheeses, or those who would like to experiment a little with their Brie. If you enjoy the rich, smooth texture of Brie but would like something with a stronger flavor, this goat cheese Brie is definetely worth trying. It also goes well on a cheese platter, alongside traditional Bries.

5. Dairy Food Brie

Many users praise this brie for its creamy and smooth texture and what they describe as a strong, high-quality flavor. The wheel also looks great, which is a consideration when one is deciding on the best brie cheese. The price plus shipping for this brie is somewhat high in our opinion, though that is likely because it ships overnight to ensure consumers receive it with maximum freshness and quality.

4. Creme de Brie Plain

This cheese offers consumers something a bit different but is still classic brie. This product is actually made without the rind and ready to spread on your favorite crackers or enhance any party appetizers. The creme has a mild, fresh taste that perfectly complements things like French bread. Of course, it doesn’t have the aesthetic appeal of a brie wheel, but the convenience and taste make up for this. The price is great but the shipping is somewhat prohibitive here.

3. President Brie Plain

This brand of brie may not be as well-known as some competitors, but we like it for a variety of reasons. For one, it gives a pleasant aroma and has a mild taste combined with a smooth texture. Another big plus for this cheese is that although the price might be a little high, the shipping weight is quite heavy. The result is a large amount of some of the best brie cheese you can get that should last for quite some time. One downside that may be serious for some consumers depending on location is the packing method for the cheese. Some users report that it was shipped in a padded envelope, causing it to be spoiled on arrival. We recommend planning your ordering and shipping times carefully.

2. French Cheese Brie ‘Mon Sire’

We like this brie from Mon Sire because it is usually available within one day of ordering and ships overnight to ensure the highest quality and freshest brie possible. It has a wonderfully creamy and smooth flavor that is sure to please any cheese enthusiasts at the party.
Our one criticism would be that shipping prices can vary greatly depending on the vendor. Some offer high shipping prices while others give you free shipping but raise the product price by quite a bit. We recommend checking vendors carefully prior to placing an order.

1. Fromager D’affinois

Our top choice for best brie cheese is something a little different from the other products here. We’ve chosen a cheese that is similar to more traditional brie, but for one aspect of the production process. This cheese undergoes ultrafiltration to remove excess water from the cheese, resulting in a stronger taste than other cheeses. This effect also allows the cheese to be made much quicker than other brie while maintaining the same quality and texture. This brie also has an edible rind and is sold per pound, with a decent product and shipping price.

Brie became popular here some decades ago and although the manufacturing has changed a little over the years that popularity has remained strong. Brie is still a great addition to any dinner party or a versatile choice to enhance any snack. We’re confident that you can find some of the best brie cheeses using our list.

Centuries ago, Brie was given as tribute to French Kings. It’s easy to taste why, especially when you know how to eat Brie.

Soft and creamy, with a mild yet deeply-satisfying taste, Président Brie is a staple at any memorable gathering. Whether you are a newcomer to this wonderful cheese, or a veritable cheeseboard veteran, let us provide you with some expert tips and tricks on how to eat Brie just like the French do.

When To Serve Brie

Brie is ready to serve when it’s ripe: the outside will be firm, while the inside will be slightly bouncy and resilient. Underripe Brie can be stiff to the touch, while overripe Brie may be creamier and almost runny.

Traditionally, the French give cheese its own dedicated course at a meal, served just before dessert. However, serving cheese at a party or for an appetizer is widely accepted (and with good reason). Don’t hesitate to open your gathering, dinner party, or snack session with delectable Brie.

How To Serve Brie

When planning to serve Brie, take it out of the refrigerator about an hour before eating. This will allow the cheese to come to room temperature, and it will be irresistibly creamy.

Set the wheel or wedge on a tray with a knife and your accompaniments of choice. If serving a wheel, slice one or two small wedges ahead of time. This will give your guests an idea of an appropriate serving size. (It may also relieve anyone who feels intimidated to make the first cut!) If serving a wedge, don’t cut off the tip of the cheese, which is often the most flavorful part. Instead, cut along the side of the wedge. This will ensure everyone get to try each part of the cheese.

Savor Brie bite by bite – it’s unnecessary to scoop out half of the wedge, spread the cheese, or create a sandwich. Simply pair a small piece of cheese with a small bite of bread.

And yes, you can eat the rind! In fact, it is considered gauche by some to merely scrape the inside of the cheese and avoid the rind. Again, go ahead and set an example for guests in case they are confused.

What Food To Serve With Brie

Brie has a sumptuous yet delicate flavor. When picking things to accompany brie, it is important to enhance these qualities without overwhelming them. The French will traditionally serve Brie with baguette or another crusty bread that won’t compete with the cheese. Plain crackers are another convenient choice that won’t detract from the cheese.

Pairing Brie with something acidic will bring out its velvety texture – try fruits like apples, grapes, or pears, or sweet and zippy sides like fig jam or honey. If the occasion calls for something more substantial, try earthy nuts like unsalted pecans or candied walnuts, or laying out a charcuterie alongside cheese options.

Of course, what better to pair with Brie than more cheese? Having multiple cheeses to choose from will thrill your guests. For aesthetic purposes, we recommend having an odd number of cheeses on a cheese plate. Arranging them according to flavor, from mildest to strongest will ensure a fantastic taste experience. For instance, try starting with Président Brie for its creamy texture, building to nutty Président Don Bernardo Manchego, and finishing the journey with delectable Président Le Bleu.

Beyond these basic ideas for pairing, the options are endless. If you would like to keep exploring how to eat Brie, Président has a myriad of seasonal cheese plate ideas. Président’s guide to putting together the perfect cheese and charcuterie plate is also sure to inspire.

What To Drink With Brie

The go-to beverage to pair with Brie is champagne. But Brie also pairs fantastically with certain wines and beers. Soft and fruity red wines, such as Pinot Noir, will contrast beautifully with the mellowness of Brie. Acidic, herbaceous, dry white wines like Sauvignon Blanc will also work well.

Try pairing hearty beers, like Scotch Ale, Stout, or Porter, with Brie. Additionally, beer that is on the fruiter side, or a highly carbonated Pilsner, will enhance any Brie experience. And if alcohol isn’t on the menu, light and fresh fruit juices like apple or grape juice pair perfectly.

How To Store Brie Properly

Cutting into Brie halts the ripening process. At this point, eat the cheese within the next several days, or refrigerate it until your next snacking occasion.

The trick is to wrap the remaining cheese in waxed paper or parchment paper – avoid using plastic wrap for fresh Brie. This will allow the rind to continue to breathe and stay dry.

Beyond Cheese Plates

Once you know how to eat Brie, there are endless options for making use of its creamy, desirable flavor. If room temperature Brie is silken and soft, then warm, baked Brie is positively luxurious. Président has many recipes to get you started baking Brie, and in warmer months, try placing a wheel on the grill. Brie also works fantastically as a velvety ingredient in many delightful dishes, like a decadent stuffed pork chop, or on top of sought-after sliders. Bon appétit!

Supermarket Brie

How we tested

A few decades ago, Brie was the pinnacle of sophistication on American cheese plates. Its longtime French reputation as the “cheese of kings,” coupled with its lush, buttery, not-too-pungent profile and velvety edible rind, made it at once fashionable and approachable. But Brie sold in America has changed over the years. The original name-protected versions have been banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for using raw milk, and these days most products found in supermarkets are produced domestically. You’re also increasingly likely to find specimens that are bland, rubbery, and encased in rinds as stiff as cardboard. And yet, if there was a creamy, satiny, richly flavorful Brie available in the average grocery store, we wanted to know about it. So we gathered 10 nationally available brands that ranged broadly in price (from $5.92 to $19.98 per pound), purposely selecting cheeses that spanned a variety of traits that we thought might affect flavor and texture—in particular, fat content (we included standard-fat, double, and triple crème cheeses), nationality (American or French), and format (some are sold as small wheels, others as wedges cut from larger wheels). We sampled the Bries plain at room temperature (the ideal serving temperature) and also baked into phyllo cups with dollops of red currant jelly to see how the cheeses behaved when heated.

Process of Elimination

We could tell just by handling the cheeses that their textures varied considerably: Wheels and wedges alike ranged from soft and pliable to almost rigid. When we tasted the cheeses, we found that their flavors varied just as much—some were “boring,” with “almost no flavor,” while others tasted “mushroomy” and “nutty-rich.” Heating the cheeses only underscored these differences: Fuller flavors intensified and creamier textures became even plusher, while bland cheeses tasted the same and barely melted at all. When we tallied the scores, we were pleased to find that we could recommend without reservation four out of the 10 cheeses—in particular, a standout wedge that embodied everything we want in Brie: a lush, buttery, full-flavored interior encased in a pillowy rind.

But surprisingly, factors like origin, price, and format had no bearing on our preferences. Though our favorite was a wedge from France, our runner-up was an 8-ounce wheel made in California. And a bargain wedge from Michigan outranked French Bries costing two or three times as much.

We also assumed that Bries labeled triple and double crème would taste richer and creamier than standard-fat cheeses—but that wasn’t always the case. Though cream is generally added to the milk when making both double and triple crèmes, the amount can vary substantially within each category. (Triple crèmes contain upwards of 75 percent butterfat while double crèmes range from 60 to 75 percent.)

Culture Shock

It wasn’t until we dug deeper into the Brie-making process that we uncovered the key factor explaining what gave a cheese the lush texture and earthy flavor we liked best: the culturing process. Cultures in the milk and on the exterior of the Brie react with the milk proteins as the cheese ages—a process called proteolysis—and cause the proteins to break down. This results in a rind forming on the wheel and its interior softening and developing flavor from the outside in, a process known as surface-ripening.

According to Dean Sommer and Mark Johnson at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Dairy Research, the nature of that ripening—and the flavor and texture of Brie—largely depends on the type of cultures a cheesemaker uses. French appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) Bries are made exclusively with raw milk, which can contain enough natural bacteria to culture the cheese. But Bries made with pasteurized milk need added cultures. These fall into two main strains, mesophilic or thermophilic. Mesophilic cultures are more reactive with milk proteins and lead to so-called traditional Brie that more closely mimics the AOC raw-milk cheese with fuller flavor, gooier texture, and a thinner, spottier rind. Thermophilic cultures are less reactive and create milder, firmer cheese with a thicker, more uniform rind. Such cheeses are referred to as “stabilized” in the industry.

Since labels don’t indicate whether a Brie is traditional or stabilized, we asked each manufacturer directly—and among those that answered, we saw a pattern. Most of our top-ranking cheeses were traditional, which correlated with our tasters’ preferences for Brie with creamier body and somewhat fuller flavor, while stabilized cheeses dominated the middle and bottom of the pack. What’s more, the makers of our top two Bries add Geotrichum, a yeast-like fungus that is naturally present in raw milk, which contributes to a gooey, silky texture, more delicate rind, and rich, earthy flavor with less bitterness.

So why would a manufacturer make a stabilized Brie? For one thing, there’s a market demand for blander cheese both here and in France (where stabilized Brie is often fed to schoolchildren). Another more compelling reason is quality control: As long as a wheel of traditional Brie is left uncut, it will continue to soften and develop flavor, so makers must rely on supermarket staff to handle and rotate the stock appropriately. Stabilized Brie, on the other hand, will remain consistently firm and mild as it sits at the store.

The makers of our winner wouldn’t confirm that their cheese is made with mesophilic cultures but its silky body, buttery-rich flavor, and downy-soft rind are the qualities that we associate with traditional Brie. It’s a double crème that we’ll happily seek out for our cheese plates.


Twenty-one Cook’s Illustrated staff members tasted 10 nationally available Brie-style cheeses served plain at room temperature (the ideal serving temperature) and then baked with red currant jelly in phyllo cups, rating each sample on flavor, texture, and overall appeal. We obtained information about the age, butterfat, and style of cheese (either traditional or stabilized, dependent on the type of cultures used) from manufacturers. Products are listed in order of preference.

Staring down a cheese case can intimidate even the most confident cook. The array of styles, textures, hard-to-pronounce names (bonjour, chabichou!), and ingredients is puzzlingly labyrinthine. Is goat’s milk stronger than sheep’s? What is a bloomy rind, exactly?

Cheesemonger Liz Thorpe, formerly of NYC’s legendary Murray’s Cheese, devised a system to demystify cheese, helping mere mortals explore the category.

In “The Book of Cheese,” Thorpe identifies 10 “gateway” cheeses. Grouped by taste and texture, each serves as a point of access to a family tree of cheeses with similar properties.

Let’s say you like Cheddar. (Who doesn’t?) If you want to scratch that same itch with a different cheese, should you stick to ones made with cow’s milk? Or from England? By following Thorpe’s roadmap, you learn that cheddar fans tend to enjoy chunky, crumbly cheeses you can eat by the slice. Now you’re on the road to discovering such lesser-known cheddar cousins as Cheshire, Red Leicester, Hafed, and Laguiole.

“The gateways are your cheeses of departure,” Thorpe writes. “They’ll introduce you to a larger group, arranged along a spectrum of increasing flavor intensity, you can confirm what you like branch out across gateways with confidence.”

The concept is revolutionary in cheese, yet will be instantly familiar to anyone who has ever walked into a wine shop and said, “I like dry reds.” It’s an anecdotal, personal approach.

“Consumers today are much more interested in exploration and discovery,” Pamela Danzinger, president of Unity Marketing, says. “There’s a strong drive to experience new and different things.” Whereas previous generations might have just stuck to Brie because it’s familiar, French, or what their parents served, the gateways system makes the wide world of cheese accessible to curious palates.

Ready to change your life, one cheese at a time? Buckle up.

All cheeses are listed in order of ascending flavors and pungency. Brand names, when applicable, are linked.

If You Like Mozzarella

Try: Quark, Paneer, Mascarpone, Burrata, Halloumi, Crescenza/Stracchino, Fromage Blanc, Chevre, O’Banon, Feta

Listed in order from easygoing and creamy, to intensely briny, these cheeses are all unaged and rindless, and taste primarily like milk, yogurt, and/or salt. No wacky barnyard flavors here.

Serve with: Smoked fish, buckwheat honey, herbed flatbreads
Pair with: Coffee

If You Like Brie

These soft, spreadable cheeses have white rinds and flavors that range from buttery creamed corn to intensely vegetal, reminiscent of cooked mushrooms or bitter greens. They liquefy as they temper, making them excellent schmears.

Serve with: Thin crackers, dried cherries, arugula
Pair with: Unoaked Chardonnay

If You Like Havarti

Try: Colby, Monterey Jack, Toma, Asiago, Tomme de Crayeuse, Fontina, Morbier, Pawlet, Raclette, Tomme de Savoie

Pillowy and smooth, Havarti types have milky, approachable flavors that can be innocuously oozed into grilled cheese sandwiches, or provide majorly earthy aromas with everything from hay to complex, loamy notes. All are solid melters.

Serve with: Seasoned crackers or flatbreads, apples, tomato jam
Pair with: Oaked Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Grenache, Syrah

If You Like Taleggio

Try: Dorset, Quadrello di Bufala, Schloss, Brick, Munster, Oma, Vacherin Mont d’Or, Grayson

Taleggio gateways are soft, sticky, and stinky — though don’t be turned off by strong odors. Flavor profiles here range from salted butter to prosciutto to savory bouillon. These are luscious, lingering cheeses with ample umami, akin to Brie but “stronger,” Thorpe says.

Serve with: Crudite, pickles, dried apricots
Pair with: Riesling, Gewurztraminer

If You Like Manchego

Try: Ticklemore, Manchester, Queso de Murcia, Pecorino Toscano PDO, Madeleine, Gabietou, Berskwell, Boont Corners, Pastorale, Pecorino Romano PDO

Aged sheep and goat cheeses are less prevalent in American supermarkets than, say, shrink-wrapped balls of fresh mozz, but they’re worth seeking out. Manchego-style cheeses start out quietly herbal, and progress to nutty caramel, and eventually become meaty and complex. Sturdy and subtle, cheeses in this family are their own vessel, so feel free to ditch the cracker.

Serve with: Quince or other tart fruit spread, raw almonds, or walnuts
Pair with: Brown ale, Merlot, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese

If You Like Cheddar

Try: Red Leicester, Double Gloucester, Cheshire, Toussaint, Lancashire, Prairie Breeze, Flagship, Corra Linn, Hafod, Laguiole PDO

These chunky cuts range from moist and buttery, to sour and lactic, to earthy and gamy. Options in the cheddar family can be clothbound cow’s milk or tangy sheep’s milk cheeses; what connects them is that springy, chewy, occasionally crumbly texture that slices beautifully.

Serve with: Apricot or fig spread, sweet chutneys, bread and butter pickles
Pair with: Cider, porter or stout (middle-of-the-road cheeses only)

If You Like Swiss

Try: Jarlsberg, Emmentaler, Comte, Gruyere, Pleasant Ridge Reserve, Challerhocker

Alpine-style cheeses are cooked and pressed, which means they are firm but still pliable, and generally sweet and nutty. This family is great at melting, whether it’s the Gruyere bubbling atop a bowl of onion soup, or Emmentaler sandwiched between ham and butter in the croque-monsieur of your dreams.

Serve with: Raw or pickled onions, high-cacao chocolate, broccoli rabe
Pair with: Belgian ale, espresso, Jura Vin Jaune, Sherry

If You Like Parmesan

Try: Pave du Nord, Parrano, Aged Goat or Sheep Gouda, Asiago PDO, Grana Padano PDO, Piave PDO

While many of us treat these hard, crumbly cheeses as a condiment, high-quality versions are complex enough to stand up to fatty charcuterie or nibbling straight. Flavors range from buttered toast to butterscotchy bourbon to uber-salty seawater.

Serve with: Balsamic vinegar, chestnut honey, caramelized nuts, or fried Marcona almonds
Pair with: Lambrusco, big reds like New World Malbec or Zinfandel

If You Like Blue

Saint Agur, Saga, Blu di Bufala, Gorgonzola PDO, Bleu de Berger, Dunbarton Blue, Stilton PDO, Maytag Blue, Queso de Valdeon, Roquefort PDO

This is a remarkably diverse category, spanning yogurt-like spreadable cheeses with tang, to crumbly, mic-drop final courses. All blue cheeses are salty, with tastes reminiscent of cream, coconut, anise, unsweetened chocolate, and black pepper. Blue cheeses are notoriously divisive; if you’ve had one or two you don’t like, Thorpe suggests trying others. They just might surprise you.

Serve with: Chocolate, Medjool dates, endive, or celery
Pair with: Stout, Viognier, off-dry Riesling, Moscato

And, Finally, The Misfits

This catchall category includes everything from soft-ripened French goat cheeses that are cakier than your average Brie; to loudly sour Portuguese and Spanish cheeses made with thistle rennet; to “WTF” varieties like geitost, a sugary sweet Norwegian goat cheese that weirdly resembles fudge.

Serve (and pair) with an open mind.

I love cheese, like a lot. Whenever I go to a gathering where there’s food, I go straight for the cheese platter and observe all the delicious choices I get to eat. I’d say over the past few years I’ve tried a lot of different types of cheeses, so I like to say that I have a very diverse cheese palette. But little did I know how expensive cheese can be.

I work at a grocery store in my town and I’ve seen the prices of cheese. When I first started working there, which was four years ago, I was shocked by how expensive it is. I’m still shocked, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying it. Once a cheese lover, always a cheese lover.

Amanda Shulman

A family friend of mine makes cheese once in a while and sometimes brings it over to my house, and let me tell you, the days he stops by I get so excited. The types of cheeses he makes aren’t the typical ones your hear like provolone, mozzarella, Parmesan, American, or cheddar. They have some cool-funky names that I can’t remember because I’m so infatuated with the taste.

After doing some extensive research about how expensive cheese can be, I realized I don’t have that big of a cheese palette as I thought, because there are so many types out there that I have yet to get my hands on. I guess I’m going to have to make a cheese bucket list.

Natalie Pressman

So if you’re a cheese lover like me and have stuck to your top three of four of your favorite kind, you may want to broaden your cheese horizon and check these top tier cheeses out. But a heads up, they’re pretty pricy so you may want to reach out to other cheese lovers that you know and split the cost and have yourself a cheese tasting party.

For some cheese guidance, here are the 10 most expensive cheeses in the world:

10. Lord of the Hundreds: $20/pound

Lord of the Hundreds comes from East Sussex, England and is made from local sheep’s milk. This type of cheese is rustic with a slightly dry, sharp, and nutty flavor.

9. Winnimere: $30/pound

This creamy, gooey and soft cheese originates in the state of Vermont. As part of a tradition, this cheese is only made during the winter months. So make sure to stock up on this cheese so you don’t run out before they make more.

8. Rogue River Blue: $40/pound

Rogue River Blue originates from the lovely state of Oregon and was first made by a guy named Tom Vella who opened a creamery in Southern Oregon during the Depression. This firm textured cheese will definitely cheer you up with its hazelnut and fruity flavors.

7. Jersey Blue: $45/pound

This juicy, award-winning cheese was first made by Willi Schmid all the way in Switzerland. Even though this cheese has an American sounding name, it’s actually a Swiss cheese that was named after a breed of cow whose milk it’s made from. To me, this cheese looks like a piece of art, no wonder it won two awards.

6. Caciocavallo Podolico (Horse Cheese): $50/pound

Also known as the “Horse Cheese,” Cacuicavallo Podolico is very popular in the southern part of Italy. Although it’s nickname is horse cheese it’s actually not made from horse’s milk, it comes from a rare Italian breed of cow called Podolica. It is a very creamy cheese that is in the shape of pear, what’s better than cheese looking like a fruit?

5. Old Ford: $50/pound

This delicate, firm cheese is aged and then pressed to perfection by hand. It’s made from a goat’s milk that comes all the way from England. This cheese is known for its savory, salty, and buttery flavor.

4. Extra Old Bitto: $150/pound

Get your travel shoes ready, this cheese comes from across the pond—all the way from China, in fact. China actually has some of the most expensive and oldest cheeses. This cheese in particular was made by a Hong Kong importer in 1997. Old Bitto cheese is aged for up to 10 years so this one is extra special.

3. Wyke Farms Cheddar: $200/pound

This rather expensive cheese is known for making sandwiches taste better and often pairs perfectly with wines and beers. It is actually one of the most traditional cheeses. This cheese, made in 1861 by the Wyke Farms family in Great Britain is also an award-winning cheese.

2. White Stilton Gold: $420/pound

White Stilton cheese is actually the cousin to the famous blue cheese from Britain but is extra creamy and deliciously tangy. This cheese is often made with different fruit flavors like lemon, ginger, apricots, and many other combos.

1. Pule: $600/pound

Here we have the most expensive cheese. What makes it so expensive is that it comes from the milk of a Balkan donkey from Siberia. It’s not just the most expensive cheese, but also one of the rarest of them all. It takes 25 liters of the donkey’s milk to make just one kilogram of the cheese. It is originally from Siberia but will soon be making its away around the world.

Now, with all of these newly discovered cheeses I hope to be able to get my hands on some of these beauties and cross them off of my cheese bucket list.

How Can You Select The Best French Cheeses?

Here’s My List from A-L

The labels on some French cheeses contain the letters A.O.C.. What does this mean?

Literally, A.O.C. means Designation of Controlled Origin – or – Appellation d’Origine Controlée.

Similar designations describe certain Italian cheeses – D.O.P. or Denominazione di Origine Protetta – and certain Spanish cheeses – D.O. or Denominacion de Origen. These official designations represent a system of standards that are used for certain food products and wines. When applied to cheese, the A.O.C. designation guarantees that the French cheese adheres to certain mandated standards, is made using specific traditional techniques and that it has consistent and distinctive flavor, texture and appearance characteristics.

Specifically, you, the consumer, can be sure of the following:

1. the French cheese’s origin (such as the town of Meaux or the region of Normandie) and often the breed of animal whose milk is used to produce the cheese;

2. the cheese has been made using traditional methods, some of which might date back 1000+ years;

3. the shape, size, texture, minimum fat content etc. of the cheese is regulated;

4. the country (France) stands behind the cheese and guarantees its authenticity and quality.

The A.O.C. (as well as the D.O.P and the D.O.) carry more weight than the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval! There are plenty of terrific French cheeses which do not carry the A.O.C. designation for various reasons and I don’t mean to exclude or disparage any of them.

It’s really very difficult to select just 15 cheeses out of the many hundreds produced in France! It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it! So after much soul searching, tasting, comparing and sipping appropriately paired wines … I have come up with my short list of Outstanding French Cheeses. 14 of the 15 have the coveted A.O.C. designation. Use this list as a starting point to create your own Favorites List! And please share your list with me and the visitors to the Gourmet Cheese Detective website!

1. Banon (A.O.C.), a French cheese made from raw goat’s milk, is best consumed very fresh. It is typically ripened for just 2-3 weeks, but sometimes aged up to 2 months. Produced in Provence in the south of France, true A.O.C. designated Banon is almost impossible to find in the U.S., due to the laws preventing importation of raw milk cheese which has been aged less than 60 days. So look for it on your next trip to France where you will find small, flat rounds of Banon wrapped in leaf wrappers which have been soaked in spirits – wine or marc (a French brandy), and tied with raffia twine. French Banon will have a fruity flavor, as you might expect from the soaked wrapper. As a young cheese, it will be crumbly and tangy/tart. But if it is allowed to age a bit, the leaf wrapper will darken naturally and the cheese paste will begin to liquify and ooze, developing a stronger fruity and nutty flavor.

One of the best French brands is Fromagerie Royannais-Teche. While this company does export to the U.S., it is a less desirable version made to comply with U.S. regulations. Instead I recommend that you buy Judy Schad’s U.S. made Capriole Farm’s O’Banon, mentioned in the American Artisanal Cheeses section of this website. It is an outstanding alternative for those who cannot travel to France this year – and some would say it is even better than the raw milk Banon produced in France!

These cheeses are made from unpasteurized (raw) cow’s milk and are classified as soft, uncooked bloomy rind cheeses. The two Bries are typically produced in 5-6 lb. wheels so that you would buy them already cut into wedges. Camembert de Normandie is made into small 5-10 oz. wheels and packaged in the familiar thin, wooden wheel-shaped boxes. All 3 cheeses have soft, creamy textures and as they ripen to their best (à point) they will be almost oozing in consistency. The paste (interior) is straw colored or very pale yellow when ripened, and the thin bloomy rind will be white and velvety to the touch, changing in color to reddish as it ripens. When made in true artisan fashion (as all the A.O.C. cheeses are), these 2 Bries and the Camembert de Normandie will have very rich flavor, slightly sweet and nutty.

Brie de Meaux, produced in the Île de France region near Paris, dates back to the time of Charlemagne in the 8th century. By 1815 it had become truly famous when Talleyrand designated it at the Congress of Vienna … as the King of Cheeses. Other cheeses have also been called King of Cheeses – Roquefort and English Farmhouse Cheddar, for example. True A.O.C. Brie de Meaux cannot be imported into the U.S., but there is a pasteurized version available in the U.S., known as Fromage de Meaux. Rouzaire is an excellent maker of Brie de Meaux and produces both the French A.O.C. version and the imported Fromage de Meaux version.

Brie de Melun, produced in the southern part of the Île de France region, has slightly different A.O.C. standards of manufacture. It will taste just slightly stronger and will be a little firmer than Brie de Meaux. It cannot be imported into the U.S.

Camembert de Normandie (A.O.C.) probably made its début in the late 1700s. Like the word cheddar, camembert is not an origin controlled word. So there are many camembert cheeses made in Europe and the U.S.. In fact, only 6% of all camembert cheese produced in France is true A.O.C. Camembert de Normandie! Good names to look for are: Moulin de Carel, Ferme de la Héronnière and Grand Beron, all of which produce A.O.C. Camembert de Normandie.

Try the ultimate recipe forBrie (or Camembert) en Croute.

3. Named after the famed Jean Brillat-Savarin, an 18th century épicure and gastronome, this renowned triple-crème French cheese is produced in the Normandy and also Burgundy regions of France. It is not an A.O.C. designated cheese.

Brillat-Savarin was first produced in the 1930s. It is made from both pasteurized and unpasteurized (raw) cow’s milk. Brillat-Savarin, like other triple-crème cheeses, is a bloomy rind cheese with a soft velvety rind and an interior paste which is off-white to pale yellow in color. Cream is added in the production process to increase the butterfat content to a minimum of 74%. Decadently delicious to the taste, Brillat-Savarin dissolves in your mouth. Soft and oozy, the texture is moist and the flavor is rich, buttery and sweet. Look for La Ferme imports brand, which is a Brillat-Savarin selected by Pierre Androuëts. It is packaged in a round wooden box. Pierre Robert is a very similar triple-crème cheese … and frankly … it is virtually a toss-up between the two!

Jean Brillat-Savarin is believed to have said ” A meal without some cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye.” (Yes, he did take his cheese seriously…)

Poster Art!
Cheeses of France

4. Crottin de Chavignol is among the most popular of the French cheese chêvres (goat cheeses) in France. The authentic A.O.C. Crottin de Chavignol must be made from raw goat’s milk around the small town of Chavignol, near the town of Sancerre in the central Loire Valley. There are also many non A.O.C. versions of Crottin, produced in that region, which are just as good. Best to look for one of the 30+ producers which have the word “Fermier” (farmstead) on the label. Examples are: Jacquin and Bougon. In the U.S. your best bet is to look for the pasteurized goat’s milk version which is called Crottin de Champcol.

When selecting this cheese, look for one that is not too young (white exterior) … nor too old (dark brown exterior). The cheese is typically aged from 3-4 weeks, up to 4 months, so pick one with a beige exterior which has been aged about 2 months if possible. As the cheese ages, the texture will change from semi-soft to more firm and crumbly; the flavor will change from quite mild to very rich and pungent. Crottin de Chavignol is a rustic cheese, and pairs very well with the renowned dry white wine of the region, called Sancerre. Please don’t be put off by the literal translation of the word “crottin”, which means horse turd! It is simply a descriptive reference to its shape, a small flat disc about 2″ in diameter.

5. Like Crottin de Chavignol, A.O.C. Époisses de Bourgogne is name-controlled. You can only buy the true A.O.C. raw cow’s milk version in France – look for either the Berthaut brand or the Germain brand. It is classified as a washed-rind “stinky” French cheese. If you like washed-rind cheese, then this one is for you!

Époisses de Bourgogne is thought to date back to the 1500s and was probably first made by Cistercian monks in the Village of Époisses in the region of Burgundy. By the time of Napoleon it had become very popular and in fact was one of his favorite cheeses. Brillat-Savarin praised it highly and called it the King of Cheeses. (So many cheeses have received the same acclaim that one almost tends to discount the phrase! But it does reveal just how passionately people can feel about their favorite cheeses!)

True connoisseurs of washed-rind cheeses know that while the aroma or smell can be really “stinky” and off-putting … a well-made artisan or fermier washed-rind cheese, perfectly aged, will have a well-rounded, balanced and complex flavor. The cheese is washed daily in a brine of water and marc (brandy made from grape skins and seeds), which causes the bacteria to spread and the mold to develop. As it ages over a period of 5-6 weeks, the exterior rind will become a reddish-orange and the interior paste will change from smooth and creamy to a gooey, thick, spoonable texture. Simply delicious! If you have not tried Époisses de Bourgogne, you owe to yourself to try it – or one of the local fermier producers of Époisses in the Burgundy region, preferably paired with a big red Burgundy wine. You will find Époisses de Bourgogne, and other non A.O.C. Époisses, packaged in small round wooden boxes which come in several sizes. Check the label to be sure you are buying an artisanal or fermier (farmstead) Époisses. In the U.S., alas, we must settle for a pasteurized version, which while very tasty, is not quite as good as the raw milk version.

6. A.O.C. Fourme d’Ambert is an ancient recipe French blue cheese made from raw cow’s milk. Pasteurized versions are also available. Fourme d’Ambert is one of just 32 name-controlled cheeses in France. A similar or related cheese to try would be Bleu d’Auvergne. Both cheeses are produced in the Auvergne region of south central France … and like all blue cheeses, are natural rind cheeses with no special

treatment given to the rind. (The rind is inedible, by the way). Fourme d’Ambert has lots of flavor, with thick pockets of blue throughout the interior paste underneath the rind. The paste will be white to straw-colored and will not be as strong, sticky or sharp as the well-known Roquefort. Compared with the British Stilton, Fourme d’Ambert is a little moister, not quite as dry and crumbly. Fourme d’Ambert is shaped during production by a wooden mold (“fourme”) into 5 lb. cylinders and is typically aged from 1 to 5 months.

Note: A fun taste challenge for you and your friends would be to place portions of Stilton, Roquefort, Fourme d’Ambert and Gorgonzola on a plate and see who can identify each correctly. Does one of the four stand out as the favorite and if so, why? Try to detect the nuances of taste, texture, appearance and aroma.

The Roussel brand is a good name to try. If you cannot find Roussel, look for one of the artisan or fermier produced brands from the Auvergne region.

7. A.O.C. Livarot is another excellent washed-rind French cheese which will appeal to those who prefer really “stinky” cheeses! It has been made in the departement of Calvados in the Normandy region for centuries, dating back to at least the 13th century. A good French brand to look for is La Ferme de la Viette, which is an A.O.C. Livarot made from raw cow’s milk. A very good pasteurized milk version is available in the U.S. – look for Levasseur. Livarot is similar to Époisses de Bourgogne and Pont l’Évèque, both of which are included in this list of 15 outstanding French cheeses.

You can easily identify Livarot because it is wrapped in orange paper, encircled with 5 strips of raffia and encased in a thin round wooden box. It comes in 3 sizes: 3″, 3 1/2″ and 4″. Like all washed-rind cheeses, it is regularly washed in brine, with annatto added to the final bath to give the rind its distinctive orangeish color. The rind itself is smooth, not sticky and the interior paste will be pale to light yellow with a very strong, moist flavor when eaten during its very brief, perfectly ripe stage. Once it has passed its prime ripe stage Livarot quickly becomes … in a word … putrid, and you will know it! It is typically aged from 3 weeks up to 5 months, with 2 months being the most common period of aging. Enjoy this fine cheese wtih some Calvados (the apple cider brandy made in the same Normandy region), or with a big red wine.

That ends Part 1 of my Outstanding French Cheese List. Please click on the link below to go to the continuation of this list – French Cheeses M to Z – for 8 more outstanding French cheeses for you to try! And you might also like to investigate my page on French Regions with a helpful map of reference. See that link below.

You simply can’t eat French cheese without thinking about what French wine would be a wonderful accompaniment. You can click on the link below to find out more about pairing French cheeses with French wine.

Go to French Cheeses M-Z
Go to Pairing French Cheeses with Wine
Go to French Regions
Go to Swiss Mountain Cheeses
Read about Pairing American Artisanal Cheeses with Wine

HOME › French Cheeses A-L

Looking for something specific on

Enter your request below:

Follow The Gourmet Cheese Detective on Twitter: @The_Cheese_Tec


9 Awesome French Cheeses Everyone Should Know

Nothing says joie de vivre français like an oozing triple crème. The French enjoy a lot of cheese. And more importantly, they are deeply connected to and proud of their cheese. As well they should be! They have a rich and storied cheese history, a deep-rooted culture of cheese, and more than a thousand cheeses in their lexicon.

France takes its cheese so seriously, they have a whole system of Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC). This means “controlled designation of origin,” and serves to protect the authenticity of cheese. For example, for a cheese to be awarded the AOC-protected name “Cantal,” it must come from the Cantal mountains in Auvergne from the winter milk of Salers cows, made according to specific methodology, and aged a minimum of one month.

Only a small percentage of those cheeses get imported to the U.S., and most of them are made specifically for the American market. You guessed right: those cheeses tend to be less complex, factory-made, and tragically disappointing.

But don’t despair—the French cheese lover in The States still has many glorious options. These are my favorite nine, although I have real love for other greats that didn’t make this list: Epoisses! Alsatian munster! Abondance! Morbier! Bleu d’Auvergne! But hey, gotta leave something for next time.

Full disclosure: I work at Fairway market in NYC, where these gorgeous cheeses were shot.

See all the cheeses in the slideshow “

9 Awesome French Cheeses

Langres “
Fromage de Meaux “
Comte “
Le Châtelain Camembert “
Oussau-Iraty “
Roquefort “
Chèvre “
Pont l’Evêque “
Tomme de Savoie “

And More Cheese!

13 Cheeses Everyone Should Know “

All products linked here have been independently selected by our editors. We may earn a commission on purchases, as described in our affiliate policy.

GET crackers in this Christmas — and not the ones that go bang.

Last week a British cheese beat others from around the world to be crowned the best.

33 The Sun’s Nick Pritchard taste tested Britain’s favourite cheeses from seven different supermarketsCredit: Louis Wood – The Sun

The Cornish kern, made by the Lynher Dairies Cheese Company, near Truro, claimed the title of Supreme Champion at the World Cheese Awards.

But the supermarket shelves are also crammed with incredible products.

Here’s NICK PRITCHARD’s definitive guide to which stilton, brie, cheddar, goat’s cheese and fruity cheese are the whey forward with marks out of five.

Extra Special blue Stilton, 220g (£2.20, Asda)

33 Asda’s Stilton packs a punchCredit: Louis Wood – The Sun

A salty blue, tastes almost spicy. Intensity may put some off, but mottled veiny wedge packs a punch.

Score: 4/5

Tuxford & Tebbutt blue Stilton, 210g (£2.50, Sainsbury’s)

33 Sainsbury’s effort is perfect for eating next to the fireCredit: Louis Wood – The Sun

Fatty, decadent and with a nice bitter taste – perfect for piling on crackers sat by the fire.

Score: 4/5

Cropwell Bishop blue Stilton, 150g (£3, M&S)

33 M&S’s Stilton is sure to be a crowd-pleaserCredit: Louis Wood – The Sun

Very salty, but the brackish edge is well balanced by the rich buttery fats. A crowd-pleaser.

Score: 3/5

LOSER: Specially Selected blue Stilton, 150g (£1.49, Aldi)

33 Aldi’s blue Stilton may be cheap, but its dull and tastes like soapCredit: Louis Wood – The Sun

Dull, lacks complexity and tastes like soap. I’d prefer a lump of coal in my stocking to this.

Score: 1/5

Colston Bassett Dairy, 1kg (£18.99, Waitrose)

33 Waitrose’s Colston Bassett Dairy Blue Stilton is the type of cheese you either hate or loveCredit: Louis Wood – The Sun

Crumbly with a peppery sharp taste which is a bit like Marmite – so you’ll either love it or hate it.

Score: 4/5

WINNER: Clawson Mature blue Stilton, 125g (£2.75, Tesco Finest)

33 Tesco Finest’s mature blue Stilton is deliciously salty and would be ideal for a cheeseboardCredit: Louis Wood – The Sun

You’ll be singing the blues after eating this. Delicious salty tang, creamy with a bitter edge.

Score: 5/5

Deluxe Mature blue Stilton, 454g (£2.99, Lidl)

33 There’s not much flavour in Lidl’s blue cheeseCredit: Louis Wood – The Sun

Not an overwhelming flavour-bomb. But a good first Stilton for cheese-lovers feeling blue-curious.

Score: 3/5

Whole French brie, 1000g (£9, M&S)

33 M&S’s Brie will make a great addition to a turkey sarnieCredit: Louis Wood – The Sun

Big festive wheel won’t leave much room on the cheeseboard. Perfect in a turkey and cranberry sarnie.

Score: 3/5

Specially Selected Brie de Meaux, 172.5g (£1.99, Aldi)

33 Aldi’s Brie looks good but doesn’t have the taste to matchCredit: Louis Wood – The Sun

Looks the part, but doesn’t knock your socks off. A good choice for those not keen on pong.

Score: 3/5

French ripe Brie, 170g (£2.75, Waitrose)

33 Waitrose Brie fails to impressCredit: Louis Wood – The Sun

Gooey goodness stank to high heaven but sadly didn’t taste as good as it pongs. Really bland.

Score: 2/5

LOSER: Deluxe Brie de Meaux, 200g (£1.99, Lidl)

33 Lidl’s Deluxe Brie de Meaux would bounce if you threw it off a buildingCredit: Louis Wood – The Sun

Throw this off a building and it would bounce back, far too firm. Texture and taste like plastic.

Score: 1/5

Extra Special Brie de Pays, 150g (£2.20, Asda)

33 Asda’s Brie is far too boring for to grace your cheeseboardCredit: Louis Wood – The Sun

A bit boring and barely tastes of cheese. It seems pointless even attempting to chew it.

Score: 2/5

WINNER: Taste the Difference Brie de Meaux, 175g (£2.75, Sainsbury’s)

33 Sainsbury’s Brie De Meaux would even impress the French this ChristmasCredit: Louis Wood – The Sun

Ripe, pungent, just runny enough and tasty. Even the French would love this for Christmas.

Score: 5/5

Finest Brie with truffle, 135g (£2.50, Tesco)

33 Tesco’s French brie twist with truffle elevates the cheese in a big, impressive wayCredit: Louis Wood – The Sun

The truffles make a big impact on this plain cheese. It’s funky, earthy and a bit garlicky.

Score: 4/5

Taste the Difference Barber’s Cruncher, 400g (£2.50, Sainsbury’s)

33 Sainsbury’s Cheddar has a brilliant textureCredit: Louis Wood – The Sun

Slightly spicy and tangy which crumbles under the knife. Crunchy nuggets add extra texture.

Score: 4/5

Deluxe Somerset crunch extra mature, 350g (£1.99, Lidl)

33 Lidl’s Cheddar would be good in a toastieCredit: Louis Wood – The Sun

Too bland so not one to gorge on. Might be OK in a toastie, but would be lost on a cheeseboard.

Score: 3/5

WINNER: Ford Farm Farmhouse, 170g (£2, Tesco)

33 Tesco’s Farmhouse Cheddar is completely creamy, milky and comes sealed in an impressive waxCredit: Louis Wood – The Sun

Creamy, milky and not too bland. Sealed in wax.

Score: 5/5

Cornish Cruncher Vintage Cheddar, 300g (£5, M&S)

33 The M&S three-year vintage Cheddar bizarrely tastes like salted caramelCredit: Louis Wood – The Sun

Pricey and tastes a bit like salted caramel. Aged for three years before being packaged.

Score: 4/5

LOSER: Cornish quartz Cheddar, 300g (£3.50, Waitrose)

33 Waitrose’s Cornish quartz Cheddar isn’t totally impressive, but it certainly isn’t impressiveCredit: Louis Wood – The Sun

Tangy ’n’ ripe but very unremarkable. Pick another cheese.

Score: 2/5

Specially Selected vintage reserve, 250g (£2.29, Aldi)

33 Aldi’s Cheddar is a full-on taste explosionCredit: Louis Wood – The Sun

A bit full-on, probably great melted in a toastie served with a dollop of brown sauce.
Score: 4/5

Yorkshire Wensleydale and cranberry, 200g (£1.50, Sainsbury’s)

33 Saimsbury’s Wensleydale with cranberries is velvety and richCredit: Louis Wood – The Sun

Fruit-infused cheese is a Christmas staple and this ticks all the festive boxes, velvety and rich.

Score: 4/5

Yorkshire Wensleydale and apricot, (£1.49, Aldi)

33 Aldi’s Wensleydale is far too sweetCredit: Louis Wood – The Sun

Just like eating a bag of sweets. Even Wensleydale lovers Wallace and Gromit wouldn’t eat this.

Score: 2/5

WINNER: Yorkshire Wensleydale and cranberry, 225g (£2.50, Waitrose)

33 Waitrose’s Wensleydale is everything you want from a fruity cheese with the cranberry as a subtle complimentCredit: Louis Wood – The Sun

Berries subtle enough to let Wensleydale shine through.

Score: 4/5

Wensleydale and cranberry, 200g (£1.50, Asda)

33 Asda’s fruity Wensleydale is so dry that you are desperate to bite into a cranberryCredit: Louis Wood – The Sun

Chalky and dry. Small pops of cranberry are a welcome relief from the dusty Wensleydale.

Score: 2/5

LOSER: White Stilton, apricot, orange and amaretto, 250g (£2.29, Lidl)

33 Lidl’s Wensleydale is too sickly and sweetCredit: Louis Wood – The Sun

Sickly, revolting and likely to give you nightmares.

Score: 1/5

White Stilton and Cranberry, 200g (£2.50, M&S)

33 Similar to their Cheddar, the M&S white Stilton lacks character and personalityCredit: Louis Wood – The Sun

Dry and characterless, but a good one for those who can’t stomach smellier, more vibrant varieties.
Score: 3/5

La Fleuret, 150g (£5, Waitrose)

33 Waitrose’s goat’s cheese is a gloopy messCredit: Louis Wood – The Sun

So runny, I had to dip my crackers in it. Sweet and milky flavour, but gloopy mess is a nightmare.

Score: 2/5

Abergavenny goats’ cheese, 125g (£1.80, Sainsbury’s)

33 Sainsbury’s goat’s cheese will be a cracker on a… crackerCredit: Louis Wood – The Sun

Creamy with a salty kick. Spreads like a cream cheese, delicious on bread or on a cracker.

Score: 4/5

WINNER: Ravens Oak, 136g (£2.54, M&S)

33 M&S’ Raven’s Oak Goat’s Cheese is made for fans of smelly cheesesCredit: Louis Wood – The Sun

Gnarly, earthy flavour. One for fans of whiffy cheese.

Score: 5/5

Extra Special cave-aged goat’s cheese, 150g (£2.50, Asda)

33 Asda’s Wookey Goat’s Cheese is pretty average, but it offers a great crumbCredit: Louis Wood – The Sun

Aged in Wookey Hole Caves, Somerset. Crumbly and tastes like a UK version of Manchego.

Score: 3/5

LOSER: Welsh goats cheese, 125g (£1.29, Aldi)

33 Aldi’s Welsh goats cheese contains a revolting and odd aftertasteCredit: Louis Wood – The Sun

Inoffensive but with odd aftertaste. Spicy tang is revolting.

Score: 1/5

Beacon Blue Goats Cheese, 150g (£2.75, Tesco)

33 Creamy and tangy… Tesco’s goats’ cheese will definitely impress your guestsCredit: Louis Wood – The Sun

Beautiful and covered in lace-like blue veins. Clean and creamy mouthfeel, with salty and tangy kick.

Score: 4/5

Holly Willoughby admits she binged on cheese during her holiday


February 2: If any part of you feels unprepared, ask for more time or support


I made £1million by the time I was 17 after starting a fake nails business at 13 Comment


The cost of endless, awful dates is just one part of the ‘single tax’ Exclusive


Jess Wright reveals she snogged another guy on the night of her first kiss


Having 13 miscarriages has brought our dream of parenthood to an end

The Rich And Frugal

Forget jets & yachts? These are the stars who penny-pinch like us


Weekly horoscope for February 2 – 8 – your week ahead according to Kerry King


An campervan holiday in Scotland will leave the kids exhausted by bedtime Exclusive


Louis Tomlinson on why he’s not ready to make up with Zayn Malik


B&M fans rave about £4 ‘pink peony’ candle that is too ‘lovely’ to burn

The Most Underrated Section at Trader Joe’s

We’ve written many a Trader Joe’s love letter here at Food52. The freezer aisle has all of the best goodies, and don’t get me started on the snack selection (!). But there’s one part of the store people underestimate and don’t laud enough: the cheese section.

Trader Joe’s has a fairly compact, but thoughtful, selection of excellent cheeses. So while the choices might not be as varied as those of a cheese shop, you can be assured that they’ve done a lot of the thinking and culling for you.

Not to mention their prices are quite reasonable if you’re a quality cheese lover (and know that good cheeses can quickly soar to $20 or $30 per pound, even higher). But at Trader Joe’s? Low prices, high quality. This quality is ensured not least because TJ’s inventory turnover is so high—which means that what you’re getting is fresh or ripe or aptly aged, depending on which cheese we’re talking about.

So the next time you’re at Trader Joe’s, consider my picks for the most underrated aisle:

Best Trader Joe’s Cheese

1. Brie

You just can’t go wrong with Brie: It’s a mild-tasting classic and everyone loves it. You can choose the Trader Joe’s Double Cream, or the richer (higher-butterfat) Triple Creme version from France ($7.89 a pound). If you like yours by the slice, pick up a pack of their block-shaped Brie. For a less traditional option, go for the Triple Creme German Brie with Wild Mushrooms for $10.49 a pound, or the goat’s milk Brie (only $2.99 for a little 4.4-ounce round).

Recipes: Baked Brie en Croute With Raspberry Jam, Pasta Shells in a Creamy, Cheesy Sauce, Air Fryer Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

2. Camembert

I had an uncle who loved this cheese so much, we called him Uncle Camembert. The slightly funkier cousin of Brie you can get at TJ’s for $7.99 a pound, or if you’re a fan of the cute, archetypal little wooden container it comes in, the Le Rustique variety for $10.99 a pound.

3. Port Salut

Also from France, this semi-soft cheese is very delicate in flavor (so a good mild offering for the less cheese-curious in your life), and available at Trader Joe’s under their own label for $9.99 a pound.

4. Parmesan Reggiano

The Crown Jewel of cheeses, for a few reasons: TJ’s hawks it for $12.99 a pound, which is a darn good price for real Italian Parm (and there are a lot of cheeses labeled Parmesan out there, which are not the real deal). Parmesan is DOP/PDO classified, which means it can only be called Parm if it comes from Italy, from a particular type of cow, grazing solely on grass and hay, made using specific practices. Looking for Parm shavings? You can get them for $17.57; they’re pricier but irresistible additions to salads and pastas (not to mention terrific for snacking while you are cooking).

Recipes: Best Parmesan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Parmesan Mashed Potatoes, Creamed Kale With Parmesan, Green Salad With Pears, Parmesan & Puff Pastry Croutons

5. Grana Padano

Another hard, crumbly raw cow’s milk cheese that you can add to a cheese board in chunks, or use in cooking much the way you would use Parmesan. Grana comes from Latin for “grain” and Padano indicates it is “of the Po River.” It has a nuttiness, butteriness, and salty-sweetness to it, with a dense, granular texture. Like Parmesan, it’s DOP/PDO-classified—though more affordable.

6. Gruyère

Yet another raw milk cheese, Gruyère is from Switzerland and probably one of the most famous cheeses from one of the most famous cheese-producing countries. It’s nutty and firm, but not as hard or crumbly as Parmesan or Grana Padano, and AOC-protected (another type of government protection for individual foods produced in specific ways in specific places). Trader Joe’s carries a few varieties which start at $13.99 a pound, which is really reasonable. Not all Gruyères are created equal (the producer and the age of the cheese affect price), but I have seen it sold at near $30 a pound.

Recipes: Scalloped Sweet Potatoes, Classic Swiss Fondue

7. Manchego

A DOP Spanish sheep’s milk cheese, aged for 6 months, Manchego is another crowd-pleaser and cheese-plate favorite. TJ’s sells it at $9.99 a pound (again, a great price, as I’ve seen 6-month Manchego selling for way north of $20). The flavor is nutty, grassy, sheepy, and kind of caramelized. It’s hard yet still creamy and holds together when you slice it.

Recipe: Spanish Lamb Burgers With Manchego

8. Cheddar

A classic you’re sure to be acquainted with. Trader Joe’s has lots of cheddars, but one special pick is the Tillamook Kosher Cheddar for $7.58 a pound. Tillamook Creamery makes some terrific cheeses out of Oregon, and this is a super solid cheese with all of the flavor and texture you look for in a “good” cheddar. It’s vegetarian as well (did you know that lots of cheeses contain rennet, which is not a vegetarian ingredient?).

Recipes: Cheesy Beef & Hash Brown Casserole, Pimento Cheese Spread, Stovetop Macaroni & 4 Cheeses

9. Harbison Cave-Aged Cheese

This cheese from Jasper Hill Farm in Vermont has become a cult-favorite amongst cheese lovers. It’s wrapped in a spruce band that ages and flavors the cheese in a particular way; it was also named 2018’s Best of Show by the American Cheese Society. TJ’s sells the 9-ounce round for $12.99 (but it sells for $20 elsewhere).

10. Mascarpone

Spoonable (with a texture like sour cream), silky, sweet, buttery, and slightly tangy, mascarpone features in many dessert preparations, perhaps most famously tiramisu. You can get it for a very attractive $5.98 a pound at TJ’s.

11. Crème Fraîche

The French cousin of Italian Mascarpone, crème fraîche is a tangy, velvety mixture of heavy cream and buttermilk, sour cream, or yogurt. You can use it to garnish savory foods like soups, but it also appears often on desserts as a richer version of whipped cream, sometimes sweetened with a bit of honey or sugar. It’s nicely priced at $8.09 a pound.

Recipes: Smoked Salmon & Crème Fraiche Puff Pastry Tartlets, Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

12. Goat Cheese

Trader Joe’s carries many choices of goat cheese, many clearly geared for a festive cheese board twist. I’m more of a classicist and head for the plainer variety, but if you’re game for something different, you can try the fig, blueberry, and cranberry versions, all around $4.49 for an 8-ounce log. Or there are 5-ounce plain, honey goat’s milk, or fine herb-crusted logs for $2.99. They also carry Silver Goat Chèvre for $4.99 for an 11-ounce log, which is a steal.

Recipes: Bistro Salad With Warm Goat Cheese, Leek, Mushroom & Goat Cheese Quiche, Creamy Goat Cheese & Spinach Linguine

13. Gouda

They have a couple of versions of this rich, tangy, creamy-but-firm cheese, made in the Netherlands (the home of Gouda). One is aged for 1,000 days ($11.99 a pound) and is briny and sharp (like a cheddar, but amped up); another is an interesting double cream version ($7.99 a pound). Fun fact: Gouda apparently accounts for about half of the cheese eaten in the world today!

14. Blue Cheeses

Trader Joe’s carries Stilton, one of the most loved blue cheeses of them all, selling at $11.99 a pound (compared to $22 or more at other shops). You can also pick up a 60-day cave-aged blue at a really affordable $6.99 a pound, or a 90-day aged crumbly cow and sheep milk–blend gorgonzola (another core blue cheese) for a delightful $5.99 a pound. Or how about white Stilton with cranberries or apricots for a serious dose of holiday cheesiness? Both are from England, for $9.99 and $10.99 a pound, respectively.

Recipes: Blue Cheese Dip, Roasted Winter Vegetables With Blue Cheese, Prosciutto, Asian Pear & Blue Cheese Crostini

15. Truffle Cheeses

When it comes to adding truffle flavor, there are a few choices! Pick up an Italian Truffle Cheese, a cow’s milk cheese speckled with black truffles for a layer for added earthy flavor. It’s $11.99 a pound, which is quite good for something that has the word “truffle” attached. There is also a cute little hexagonal Brie with truffles for $15.04 a pound and a hard sheep’s milk cheese with truffles, Moliterno al Tartufo—which won some prestigious World Cheese Awards—for $22.99 a pound.

What’s your favorite thing to buy in the Trader Joe’s cheese section? Let us know in the comments below.