Provolone cheese is a popular semi-soft cow’s milk cheese; it’s a versatile cheese with a mild and creamy flavour. So, it’s not a surprise when you visit your local Italian cheese deli and they are out of provolone.
But, no need to panic and change your planned meal. You can use different types of cheese that will work with your recipe.
What is Provolone Cheese?
Provolone cheese is a traditional Italian cheese used for cooking and desserts. It is made from cow’s milk with a pale yellow colour and a sweet, mild taste.
It’s a stretched curd cheese, like mozzarella, but unlike mozzarella, it’s an aged cheese. After the milk has been separated into curds and whey by adding rennet, the curds are heated and stretched. It’s the stretching that gives provolone its texture.
Provolone cheese contains about 45% fat content and is best served with an Italian red wine, such as a Chianti Classico.
There are 2 types of provolone cheese:
Dolce: Aged 2-3 months. Has a very mild taste with hints of salt and nuts and a smooth texture. This is the best to use for cooking.
Piccante: Aged 6-12 months. A stronger, spicy flavour with earthy aromas and crumbly texture. Best eaten as part of a balanced cheese board, paired with a full-bodied wine.
If you find provolone too mild, and would prefer a cheese with a more intense flavour, then look out for some provolone piccante.
10 Best Provolone Cheese Substitutes
If you can’t get any, however, don’t despair. Here are the 10 best provolone substitutes to substitute into cooked dishes.
- Low-Moisture Mozzarella Cheese
Low-moisture mozzarella cheese is one of the best substitutes for provolone because it is widely popular and accessible. This soft cheese is made from buffalo milk. Fresh mozzarella has a soft and moist texture with a slightly sour and delicate flavour; it’s perfect for tomato and mozzarella salad. Aged mozzarella has a harder texture and can be grated or sliced.
You can follow the same quantity when you use low-moisture mozzarella to replace provolone in cheese-based dishes.
- Fontina Cheese
Fontina is an Italian cheese made from unpasteurized cow’s milk. It has a semi-soft to hard texture with a nutty, creamy, buttery flavour. Its flavour is close to provolone.
Fontina cheese is a great option if you are searching for a gluten-free cheese substitute for provolone. Most fontina cheese manufacturers don’t add any preservatives or gluten. However, it is still best to check the label before purchasing it.
A well known cows’ milk cheese, Cheddar is a good substitute for provolone. Be aware though about the difference in textures. It has a semi-hard texture with a pungent and sharp flavour, perfect for cooking and making ham and cheese toasties.
Cheddar can be used to replace provolone piccante.
Emmental cheese, frequently just called Swiss cheese, is famous for its iconic holes. It’s made from unpasteurized cow’s milk; the holes are formed during the maturing and fermentation process. It has a medium-hard texture with an aromatic, sweet, and mild flavour.
It can be used as a substitute; I think you get much better results for a grilled cheese sandwich by mixing Emmental and gruyere.
- Edam Cheese
Edam cheese has a similar semi-soft texture and mild, nutty, and salty flavour as provolone. It is popular in the Netherlands. Edam cheese is made from pasteurized cow’s milk and comes in the well known cylindrical shape, sealed with a red wax coating.
- Monterey Jack Cheese
Monterey Jack has a strong but slightly sweet flavour. It is made from pasteurized cow’s milk with a smooth and semi-soft texture. Its texture and mildly sweet flavour make it a perfect alternative to provolone cheese.
- Provola Cheese
Provola cheese is a type of small provolone. It is made using the same process as mozzarella with either a mixture of whole buffalo milk and cows’ milk, or just cow’s milk. Compared to mozzarella, provola cheese is aged.
This soft cheese has a savoury flavour but is milder than provolone cheese. It’s an excellent substitute for provolone.
- Gouda Cheese
Gouda cheese is popular for its aroma with a hint of caramel, and sweetness. It is made from cow’s milk and has a smooth, semi-soft, and creamy texture, just like provolone cheese. This semi-soft cheese can be cooked or eaten as it comes. Gouda cheese is a good cheese for melting, and also perfect for sandwiches.
- Muenster Cheese
Muenster cheese is an American version of the French ‘Munster’. This semi-hard cheese is made from pasteurised cow’s milk and has a smooth and soft texture with mild to strong flavours. Muenster cheese can’t be used as a provolone cheese replacement alone. It should be mixed with low-moisture mozzarella to mimic the flavours and texture of provolone.
- Parmesan Cheese
Parmesan cheese is not a great provolone substitute. It is a gritty and hard cheese with a fruity, salty, and nutty flavour. Parmesan cheese is made from cow’s milk.
Mix the salty and nutty flavour with mild cheese, such as pecorino cheese, to balance the flavours.
Can I Substitute Provolone for Gruyere Cheese?
Yes, gruyere cheese can be used to substitute for provolone, and vice versa. It is aged for at least 6 months with a creamy texture. This swiss cheese can have a creamy and nutty flavour or earthy taste depending on how long it is aged.
You can add gruyere cheese when you make a fondue or macaroni cheese.
The texture and flavour are what make provolone cheese popular; it can’t be helped if the nearest deli runs out of it, but knowing which cheese can be used as a replacement can be help you out in an emergency.
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