Types of Cheddar Cheese

Oh, the types of cheddar cheese you'll see!

Cheddar cheese is truly one of the world's favorites – in part because there are so many types of cheddar cheese to choose from. Need a great melter? Choose a young and creamy mild cheddar. Seeking a star for the cheese board? Aged cheddar cheese is ready for its close-up. Want a mac & cheese that packs a punch? An extra sharp cheddar will definitely bring on the flavor.

Here in Wisconsin, our cheesemakers are veritable cheese genies, producing more flavors, varieties, and types of cheddar than anywhere on earth. Whether you like your cheddar cheese orange or white, young or old, flavored with peppers or rubbed with herbs, our cheesemakers are happy to grant your wish.

Poke around our website to meet all the types of cheddar cheese made in Wisconsin. Search our index for recipes for port wine cheese, mac & cheese, and many other cheesy favorites. Pick up some great ideas for a holiday cheese basket. Or scroll down for tips on pairing different types of cheddar cheese with food and beverages.

Pairing different types of cheddar cheese

Pairing different types of cheddar cheese comes down to age and flavor.

For aged cheddars, you'll want drinks that can match the bold sharp flavors of the cheese – or contrast it with a touch of sweetness. That could mean a riesling, chardonnay, or champagne, as well as a pinot noir, syrah, or chianti. For beer, a Belgian ale, cider, or IPA will make the grade. And for an after-dinner drink, consider a bold, sweet port.

Mild cheddars are down for all kinds of pairings. For beer, try pilsner, pale ale, or lager. In wine, a mild cheddar always makes a great cheese and merlot pairing, and a malbec, riesling, red zinfandel, or chianti are also safe bets. A rye whiskey or tequila reposado will go well with a mild cheddar if you're in the mood for something harder.

With blue cheddars, you'll need beverages that will stand up to the bigger flavors of these potent hybrids. In malt beverages, porters, fruit beers, and ciders can hold their own. Cabernet sauvignon and chianti are a good match for a blue cheddar, as is a glass of port or madeira.

Videos: Discover Your Next Favorite Cheese

FAQs: What are the different types of cheddar cheese?

What are the different types of cheddar cheese?

Cheddar cheese comes in mild, sharp, and extra sharp varieties. Mild cheddars are aged from 3 to 6 months, while sharp cheddars are aged 9 to 12 months. Extra sharp cheddars are generally aged up to two years, though some cheddars are aged as long as 10 years or more.

Why is cheddar cheese orange?

In 17th-century England, where cheddar cheese originated, the milk for cheddar cheese was often produced by cows with a diet rich in beta-carotene which lent an orange tint to the cheese. The orange color became associated with cheddar, and cheesemakers through the centuries have added coloring to create orange cheddar cheese. In its natural state today, cheddar cheese is white or pale yellow. Orange cheddar cheese is made by adding an odorless vegetable dye called annatto, which is the fruit of the achiote tree. The flavor of white cheddar vs. orange cheddar is not affected by the color of the cheese, but by how long it is aged.

Where can I learn how to make cheddar cheese at home?

There are many instructional videos on the Internet. The process for making cheddar cheese at home is fairly straightforward. But the difficulty in perfecting the process and aging the cheese for three months to two years causes many would-be cheesemakers to leave the cheddar recipes to the professionals.

All types of cheddar cheese are welcome in Wisconsin

If you want to stop a Wisconsinite in their tracks, just ask ‘em what type of cheddar cheese is their favorite. They'll immediately go silent. You'll see the wheels in their head start turning. And about 2 to 3 minutes later you'll get the inevitable answer: "Um, I can't say."

That's because in Wisconsin, we simply can't choose one cheddar over another any more than we could choose gorgonzola over gruyère. We love them all, and we can't get enough of any single variety. Just deciding which type of cheddar we'll choose for dinner tonight can be painstaking. Of course, the fact that our 1,200 cheesemakers make the tastiest, highest-quality, most award-winning cheese on earth just makes our decision harder.

So, next time you're deciding which types of cheddar cheese to take home from the grocery store, make your choice a little easier – just look for the Proudly Wisconsin Cheese badge on the label. That's when you know you've got a better chunk of cheddar in your hands.

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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