Havarti: the stuff cheese dreams are made of

When you dream about cheese, it's probably havarti that fills your slumbers. With a buttery sweet flavor and soft and creamy texture - whether studded with dill or infused with jalapeno, Havarti is always seducing you to sample, savor, and swoon.

The delicate, creamy flavors of havarti originated in Denmark in the mid-1800s, where a Danish cheesemaker experimenting with washed-curd techniques discovered this versatile melter. In Wisconsin, where we dream about cheese A LOT, we always party with Havarti. Or enjoy it with dinner. Or before dinner. Or when you're just eating cheese at random times during the day because, well, it's cheese.

What to have with havarti

Havarti's creamy, melting texture makes it perfect for all kinds of baking. Wrap it up in puff pastry for an oh-my-goodness appetizer, or top a marinated chicken breast with slices of havarti before baking. Havarti can star in any charcuterie recipe – slices of aged havarti with Spanish sausage, walnuts, cornichons, fig preserves, and squares of brioche toast make for a great meat and cheese platter idea, thank you very much. Havarti on sourdough may be the best grilled cheese ever. And you can whip up melted havarti with cream cheese, mayo, garlic, and spinach for a killer cheese dip.

For a sumptuous cheese and wine pairing, introduce your havarti to a buttery chardonnay, riesling, sauvignon blanc, Beaujolais, or a lighter pinot noir. With beer, havarti really spreads its wings with weiss beer, doppelbock, stout, or ESB.

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FAQs: What is havarti?

What is havarti?

Havarti is a semi-soft, Danish-style cheese made from cow's milk and can be easily sliced, grilled or melted. Havarti has a smooth surface, a creamy texture and a sweet, buttery flavor. Young havarti cheese is very mild flavored while older varieties have a saltier, slightly acidic flavor with hints of hazelnut. Havarti is often produced with flavor variants such as dill, chives, cranberry, garlic and jalapeno. Havarti cheese was invented in the mid-1800s by Hanne Nielsen, a Danish cheesemaker, who named it after her farm, Havartigaard.

How is havarti made?

Havarti is a washed-curd cheese. After separating the whey, the curds are washed to remove more of the lactose sugar, giving the cheese a milder flavor.

Why does havarti have tiny holes in it?

The tiny openings in havarti are the product of microbial metabolism – the carbon dioxide gas released by the bacteria in the cheese which gives havarti its flavor. As the cheese ages, it hardens around the bubbles of carbon dioxide, resulting in small openings that are visible when the cheese is cut or sliced.

Wisconsin hearts havarti

Denmark might be the birthplace of havarti, but Wisconsin has gone whole hog on this smooth and supple beauty. Interesting cheese fact: at the US Cheese Championships in 2015, the top five havarti entries all came from Wisconsin.

And while that might surprise some, here in Wisconsin, we take that kind of cheesy domination in stride. We've been making cheese for 175 years, after all, we've gotten dang good at it. Consider the sheer volume of cheese that comes from Wisconsin – our 1,200 cheesemakers make more flavors, varieties, and styles of cheese than anywhere else on earth. What about quality, you ask? We've also taken home more awards than state or country on the planet. So, quality? You betcha.

It's no wonder, then, that havarti has found a home in Wisconsin. When a whole state dreams in cheese, havarti is bound to play a starring role.

Craving award-winning aged cheddar, pining for parmesan, or searching for a new cheese to try? The world’s best cheese is just a click away! Explore our directory of Wisconsin cheesemakers and retailers who offer online cheese shopping and get cheese shipped right to your door. What are you waiting for?

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