Sweet Cheese

Satisfying Your Sweet Cravings with Sweet Cheese

Cheese may not be the first thing you crave when you have a sweet tooth. But when it comes to flavorful delicacies that deliver thrills, there are plenty of sweetened or naturally sweet cheeses that can hold their own with sugary treats.

Some varieties, like gouda, have a natural flavor that is slightly sweet. Others, like mascarpone and ricotta – two sweet Italian cheeses – are favorites in sweet desserts. And many may be combined with ingredients like fruits, berries, vanilla, and even cocoa or chocolate that transform these specialty varieties into a sweet cheese delight.

Wisconsin: Home Sweet Home for Sweet Cheese

Wisconsin produces over 600 different flavors, styles, and varieties of cheese – more than anywhere else in the world – so you know there'll always be a sweet cheese within arm's reach no matter where you go. We make plenty of naturally sweet cheeses like baby swiss, fontal, ricotta, mascarpone, alpine-style, and triple cream brie. But you'll also find barnloads of specialty sweet cheese like Cheddar Cheese Cranberry White, made with white cheddar cheese and sweetened with cranberries. Balsamic BellaVitano is a fruit and sweet cheese that's bathed in balsamic vinegar. And Chocolate Walnut Fudge Cheese Log pairs cheddar cheese with creamy chocolate and walnuts for extra crunch. We also produce lots of fresh and slightly sweet Mexican cheese types, including queso fresco and Mexican manchego cheese. Yep, in Wisconsin, cheese is what sweet dreams are made of.

All about Sweet Cheese

What makes cheese naturally sweet?

Some cheeses have a flavor that is naturally slightly sweet, thanks to a lack of acid in the cheese. Gouda, for example, has a natural sweet butterscotch taste because the curd is washed during the make process. This removes much of the natural acids that occur during cheesemaking, with sweet results in every sense. Alpine-style cheeses lean toward sweetness because the acid doesn't get a chance to develop. That's why alpine cheeses tend to have a naturally sweet, nutty flavor. Some bacterial cultures add more sweetness to cheese than others. For example, lactobacillus helveticas is the culture that imparts a sweet, nutty flavor to some cheddar cheeses.

How does the age of cheese affect sweetness?

Older cheeses tend to be less sweet than younger, fresher cheeses because, over time, the enzymes in the cheese break down the lactose or milk sugars that give a cheese a slightly sweet flavor. Cheddars, like Hook's 15- and 20-year varieties, are the exception. According to Master Cheesemaker Tony Hook, they start trending toward sweeter notes around the ten-year mark.

What are naturally sweet cheeses?

  • Swiss cheese: The bacteria that cause the bubbles which give swiss cheese its iconic holes or “eyes” are also responsible for its sweet taste. The bacteria consume lactic acid in the cheese and release other chemicals that impart sweet flavor.
  • Fontina: Made from the milk of cows that graze in the Aosta Valley in northwestern Italy, fontina is typically aged only a few months and has a rich, creamy, slightly sweet flavor.
  • Provolone: Younger versions of this Italian cheese have a mild, sweet taste.
  • Ricotta: This cheese made from fermented whey and cream has a consistency like cottage cheese but with a sweeter taste.
  • Mascarpone: Made with cream and lemon juice, mascarpone is an incredibly creamy, slightly sweet cheese that is the very essence of tiramisu.
  • Parmesan: Though parmesan is an aged cheese, its salty, tangy flavor may also have a subtle sweetness, thanks to the cultures in the cheese.

Videos: Discover Your Next Favorite Cheese

What to Sip and Savor with Sweet Cheese

Choosing wine

You'll find lots of options when you're looking for a great match for your sweet cheese. Sparkling white wine will pair nicely with any sweet cheese. Alternately, try a creamy, buttery chardonnay or a dry sauvignon blanc. Sweeter wines can play nicely with saltier sweet cheeses. Bubbles perfectly balance the creaminess of a sweet mascarpone, for example, and a sweet or dry riesling goes well with a ricotta. Sweet cheese also goes well with dessert wines like port, tokay, or sauternes. If you must serve red, avoid the big, tannic varieties in favor of a beaujolais or a sparkling lambrusco.

Pouring beer

As with wine, you can choose a beer that either complements or contrasts with your sweet cheese. A lighter pilsner, weiss beer, or pale ale complement sweet cheese nicely, while a porter, a Scottish-style ale, a German bock, or an English bitter ale will offer a pleasant contrast.

Serving food

Fresh fruits, dried fruits, and nuts will draw out the subtle flavors of your sweet cheese. Figs are great with parmesan, while dried apricots pair beautifully with gouda and sweeter cheddar. Cranberry chutneys, honey, sweet graham crackers, flavored nuts, or bits of chocolate can round out a grazing board with sweet cheese.


What is sweet cheese?

Sweet cheese can either be a cheese with a naturally sweet flavor or a cheese to which sweet ingredients have been added. Some cheeses have a natural, slightly sweet taste because of the removal of naturally occurring acids during the cheesemaking process and the type of bacteria used to culture the cheese.

Why are some cheeses sweeter than others?

Some cheeses develop a sweeter flavor because of particular steps in the cheesemaking process or perhaps due to the diet of the cows, sheep, or goats from which the milk is made. Because enzymes in the cheese break down the milk sugars and cheese over time, younger cheeses can have a sweeter flavor than some aged varieties.

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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