France is the number one exporter of cheese in the world, producing over 300 varieties of cheese although some say the number is closer to 1,000. If you think Cheddar cheese is one of the cheeses produced in France, you would be wrong. As a result, it can be difficult and sometimes impossible to find Cheddar in France. So what can you do if you are in France and absolutely need cheddar cheese for that special Mac and cheese recipe but can't find any? Find out what we do.
“Cheddar Is NOT Real Cheese” said the Frenchman
My daughter’s best friend’s father Franck is your typical French guy. When I say typical, I mean he represents a good majority of the French population when it comes to French cuisine.
- He believes in always having a variety of cheese at hand to eat after meals.
- Baguette’s are a daily thing for breakfast and for dinner.
- Certain French dishes must not be tampered with and
- Most of all he believes that cheddar cheese is NOT A REAL CHEESE which really means, he believes it is beneath any French cheese produced. Not my words.
The French are after all a very proud people when it comes to their customs, culture and cuisine almost to a fault believing that if it is not made the French way, then it isn’t all that good.
Rather than get into a debate about this, I want to talk about what you can do for those recipes that require cheddar cheese. Or at least, what I have done while living in France because cheddar cheese is not ALWAYS available.
Is It Possible To Find Cheddar Cheese In France?
It’s not IMPOSIBBLE to find cheddar cheese however it can be hit or miss. For instance, your local French grocery store will most likely only carry one type of cheddar cheese, amongst hundreds of different types of mostly French cheeses which can make it difficult to find.
Some grocery stores don’t even carry cheddar cheese. While still others carry cheddar sometimes but not other times.
Our local grocery store (Intermarché and Carrefour) both carry cheddar intermittently so when I have a recipe calling for cheddar cheese, I am always on the ready to substitute different cheeses in the event that I cannot find cheddar cheese. Which turns out to be 50 percent of the time.
Once you know what cheeses are available, it’s easy to find good cheddar cheese substitutes.
What To Do If You Need Cheddar Cheese In France And Can’t Find Any?
Find a cheddar cheese substitute that suits your taste and your needs. This is what I recommend.
- Easy: Find a cheddar cheese replacement that is similar in taste and texture.
- Easy but may require experimenting: Find a completely different cheese for your recipe. I have put Bleu Cheese and Emmental in my mac and cheese recipes with great success.
- Costly and cumbersome: Order cheddar online.
- Search For A British Store: I found one in Paris. They are few and far between in France.
- DIY Cooks: Make your own cheddar cheese: Ummm…Need I say more?
Below are the cheeses I use in place of Cheddar cheese. Some taste and look similar to cheddar cheese while others taste nothing like cheddar but I choose to use it anyways.
1- Edam Cheese
Edam cheese is actually a Dutch cheese from North Holland named after the town of Edam. It is widely available through out France and very affordable. It is similar in taste to cheddar and even looks like cheddar. My kids approve this cheese for tacos so it can’t be all that bad as a cheddar cheese replacement.
2- Mimolette Cheese
Mimolette cheese dates back to the reign of Louis XIV, who prohibited the import of Dutch cheeses into France. The people who lived in the northernmost region of France, which is now Belgium had strong cultural ties to Holland and loved Dutch cheeses. Rather than smuggle in the contraband Edam cheese they started producing their own version of Edam cheese with a French twist. That is how Mimolette cheese was born.
As such it tastes similar to cheddar cheese and it is also widely available throughout France and very affordable.
3- Cantal Cheese
Cantal is probably one of the oldest French Cheeses made in France, pre-dating Roquefort (11th century). Surprisingly many people online said this was the least like cheddar cheese but both my husband and I found this tasted the MOST like cheddar cheese. To me it tasted like an aged cheddar cheese.
4- Emmental Cheese
Technically this is nothing like cheddar but this cheese is everywhere in France. Think of it as the cheddar cheese of of France in that it is widely eaten through out France. We buy bags of shredded emmental for omelette. Emmental is also used in fondu and French onion soup. Give it a try to use it instead of cheddar.
5- Aged Gouda Cheese
Another Dutch cheese which is widely available throughout France is aged gouda cheese which can taste very similar to an aged cheddar cheese.
There are of course more than these 5 cheeses you could use in lieu of cheddar cheese but these are my go to ones. For example:
- Mac and Cheese- I use Emmental and Gouda with a bit of Blue cheese.
- Nachos- I use Mimolette
- Tacos- I use Edam or Mimolette
- Sandwhiches- Swiss, sliced mimolette, Cantal, Gouda, Edam or any cheese I want to try.
- Fajitas- I use Mimolette
- Omlettes- For the most part I use Emmental but sometimes use the other cheeses listed in this post
Want to make your own cheddar?
I mentioned that you can find cheddar cheese at British stores and speciality stores. Well, If you are in Paris go to “Epicerie Anglaise http://www.epicerie-anglaise.com/. It’s expensive though, about 29 Euros per Kilo at the time of this writing.
DIY COOKS: Make Your Own Cheddar Cheese:
God help all you brave souls who want to attempt to make your own cheese, below I will list out a few cheese making books and kits you can use to do this. GOOD luck.