Cheddar Cheese On Apple Pie: A Wisconsin Love Story

October 20, 2021

Cheddar Cheese On Apple Pie: A Wisconsin Love Story

Depending on where you’re from, the idea of cheddar on apple pie either is shocking or right as rain. If you ask us, apple pie without cheese is like peanut butter without the jelly, bacon without eggs, pumpkin without spice—you get the idea. To the skeptics out there, hear us out: cheddar and apple is a universally beloved pairing. It’s the ideal salty-sweet combo, on par with peanut butter pretzels and salted caramel.

So why not take it one step further with a flaky pie crust and some extra sugar and spice? In this guide, we’ll break down the history behind the tradition of cheddar on apple pie and share some of our favorite Wisconsin Cheese-inspired ways to combine cheddar and apples.

The story of apple pie and cheddar cheese

The story of apple pie and cheddar goes back centuries. There are several ideas for how this delicious, yet controversial, trend started. Back in the 1700s, it was quite common in England to top pies with a dairy-based custard. Naturally, other dairy products like cheese followed. In fact, you can find mentions of apple pies adorned with cheddar cheese dating back to 17th century England, and American poet, Eugene Field, who lived in the mid-1800s, penned an ode entitled "Apple-Pie and Cheese". (You know it's serious business when poets get involved.)

It’s also likely that the apples our ancestors had available weren’t quite as sweet as modern varieties, meaning that their apple pies may have skewed more towards savory. Once the apple pie and cheddar combo made its way to the U.S. with the first European settlers, it was here to stay. Today, the tradition remains alive, particularly in some regions of the U.S. like New England, the Midwest, and of course, Wisconsin.

How to pair apple pie with cheddar cheese

In Wisconsin, it's obvious we take our cheese seriously, and when it comes to pairing Wisconsin Cheese with apple pie, there is truly no fooling around. Below are four of our recommended pairings for this beloved classic to get you started on your Wisconsin Cheese journey.

4 Wisconsin Cheddars to pair with apple pie

Hook’s 10-Year Aged Cheddar: This legendary Wisconsin cheddar made by Hook’s Cheese in Mineral Point is a must-try for any cheese lover. Cheesemakers Tony and Julie Hook age this award-winning variety of cheddar for 10 whole years. This cheddar is proof positive that good things come to those who wait. The aging process gives this cheddar a dense texture with plenty of crunchy tyrosine crystals that turn each bite into a deliciously unique experience. This cheddar’s naturally tangy yet savory flavor notes make it a perfect topping for any apple pie.

Widmer’s 8-Year Aged Cheddar: Made by legendary Master Cheesemaker Joe Widmer, Widmer’s aged cheddar is a textbook example of a cheese done very right. Loaded with rich, nutty, and complex flavor, you can actually taste the love that goes into this handmade cheese. The richness of this cheddar is the ideal companion to the light acidity of the apples in pie.

Renard’s Apple Harvest Cheddar: If you’re looking for a creative cheese to top your apple pie, look no further than this apple and cinnamon flavored cheddar from Renard’s Cheese. The inspiration for this cheese comes from Wisconsin’s Door County, famed for its countless, vibrant fruit orchards and stunning vistas, where Renard’s Cheese is headquartered. A visit to Door County (and Renard’s Cheese) should be on everyone’s bucket list—just like this cheese should be on your grocery list.

Deer Creek’s The Doe: Deer Creek crafted an artisan cheddar that strikes a delicate balance between sweet and savory. The Doe is a bandaged-wrapped cheddar marbled with Madagascar bourbon vanilla bean, resulting in a lightly perfumed and velvety cheddar.

When you top a homemade apple pie with this cheddar, the vanilla adds an extra note of warmth to the already heady combination of cinnamon and nutmeg in the filling. Just make sure to buy more of this cheese than you'll need. Trust us. You'll want to have leftover cheddar to enjoy on its own. 

Our favorite cheddar and apple pie-inspired recipes

To help ease you into this realm of Wisconsinness, we also put together a list of recipes that combine these delicious lovelies. One taste, and you'll find yourself wondering where this great combination has been all your life. (Wisconsin, of course!)

Cheddar Apple Pie Bars

Featuring Hook’s One Year Sharp Cheddar, this simple and quick recipe has all the flavor of a perfectly baked apple pie without any of the fuss. These bars are the perfect dish to bring to a fall potluck or dinner party.

(Fair warning: We’re pretty sure you’ll have guests asking you for the recipe at the end of the night.) For these salty-sweet autumnal bars, we mix the cheddar directly into the crust before baking, but you can always sprinkle extra cheddar on top. After all, there’s no such thing as too much cheese.

Get the full recipe for our Cheddar Apple Pie Bars here.

Cinnamon Apple Pie Cheddar Galette

What’s a galette, you might ask? A galette is a rustic alternative to pie, baked freeform on a baking sheet. With a galette, you can say goodbye to time spent crimping or blind baking your pie crust. It’s all the texture of a pie without the work.

For our apple galette, we combine tart, fresh apples with apple and cinnamon infused cheddar cheese. Then we top it with cranberries for even more fall flavor and pops of color. Each bite is a celebration of autumn and the holiday season, and it’s bursting with complex flavor that is sure to impress.

Get the full recipe for our Cinnamon Apple Pie Cheddar Galette here.

Ready to try this classic?

Whether you love it or have yet to try it, we hope you learned a thing or two about the history of cheddar on apple pie. If this deep dive into cheesy history has worked up an appetite, check out our selection of over 400 handcrafted recipes featuring Wisconsin Cheese. Get inspiration from our Instagram feed or our Facebook page.

Searching high and low for that one Wisconsin Cheese with no luck? You can get all your favorite Wisconsin Cheeses delivered right to your door with our continuously updated list of cheesemakers and retailers that allow you to order cheese online. Award-winning Wisconsin Cheese is just a click away.


Is serving apple pie without cheese illegal?

This popular urban legend claims that restaurants in Wisconsin are required to serve apple pie with cheese on top. Unfortunately for the cheddar lovers out there, this isn’t true. This myth can be traced back to 1935, when Wisconsin lawmakers—to support the dairy industry—passed a requirement that restaurants serve a negligible amount of cheese and butter with certain meals. However, this law expired just two years later in 1937.

Why do you put cheddar cheese on apple pie?

To the uninitiated, we totally understand your natural skeptisim. Think of it this way: apple pie is sweet and sugary while cheddar is salty and savory. They are, in other words, a naturally perfect salty-sweet combo. You can bake cheddar into the crust or serve it on top of a freshly baked slice. Either way, you’ll probably have that ah-hah moment where you finally appreciate why some people can’t get enough of this pairing.

What kind of cheddar goes well with apple pie?

Aged varieties of cheddar are the most common pairing with apple pie, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pair milder varieties of cheddar, too. When compared to young cheddars, aged cheddars have a stronger, saltier flavor giving them a stronger contrast with a syrupy sweet bite of apple pie.


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