What Is Gorgonzola?

All you need to know about Italy's version of funky, creamy blue cheese.

gorgonzola cheese
Photo: Getty

Blue cheese has a reputation for asserting itself in a dish and sometimes even clearing out a room – you either love it or hate it. But Italy's Gorgonzola is blue cheese for blue cheese lovers and blue cheese haters. It's the perfect mixture of salty, funky, creamy, and sweet, bold enough to call attention but mellow enough to get along with others.

What Is Gorgonzola Cheese?

Gorgonzola is one of Italy's oldest cheeses, its presence dating back hundreds of years. It's usually made of cow's milk, but in some regions, sheep and goat's milk are added, yielding a sharper flavor. The curds are inoculated with Penicillium roqueforti, a strain of mold responsible for that classic blue cheese marbling. The cheese is commonly aged in extremely humid rooms to promote more mold growth at a quicker pace than traditional methods.

Gorgonzola originates from from Northern Italy, particularly the region of Lombardy. This region is one of the northernmost points of the country and shares much in common in the way of culinary traditions with neighboring countries France and Switzerland.

Are Gorgonzola and Blue Cheese the Same Thing?

Blue cheese is a term that encompasses many different types of cheese that contain blue or green mold veins. Gorgonzola is a type of blue cheese, just like Stilton and Roquefort. If a recipe calls for blue cheese, Gorgonzola is an excellent choice due to its milder flavor and soft, crumbly texture.

What Does Gorgonzola Taste Like?

There are several different types of Gorgonzola, and the amount of sharpness and funk depends on how long it's aged; a younger cheese will be more creamy and soft with less tang, while older cheeses will have a more pronounced flavor and firmer texture.

If you like blue cheese, you'll definitely love Gorgonzola, but if you're hesitant about blue cheese in general or find it too strong, you still might find yourself loving Gorgonzola. It's softer and milder than other blue cheeses. Gorgonzola can actually be closer in flavor to feta than other stinky and assertive blue cheeses.

Types of Gorgonzola

Gorgonzola is usually sorted into two flavor categories: dolce and piccante. Dolce is the sweeter, younger variety and has a softer and creamier quality. It's usually only aged a few months and has a fresher quality that allows the milk's flavors to shine. Piccante is the sharper variety — it's aged longer and develops more of that signature funk, and is hard and crumbly. It has more defined veins of blue-green mold and is slightly spicy overall.

Ways to Use Gorgonzola

close up view of Pear and Gorgonzola Ravioli with thyme in a green and white bowl on a wooden cutting board

Get the recipe: Homemade Pear and Gorgonzola Ravioli

Gorgonzola is known for its distinct salty, funky flavor and plays well with rich, sweet, and earthy flavors. Since Gorgonzola dolce also has a mild sweetness, things like honey and fruit go exceptionally well. Gorgonzola and pears or figs are classic combos that can liven up any salad, especially when paired with earthy nuts like walnuts. Beets and mushrooms are also great compliments due to their deep umami and woody taste.

Gorgonzola is a classic topping for a salad with bitter greens like frisee, endive, and especially radicchio. Gorgonzola is a rich dairy product so doubling up by adding it to things like a cream sauce or atop a cheesy pizza are home runs. If you want to stick with tradition, try swirling it into hot polenta for a creamy and salty treat often eaten in Lombardy. Similarly, many Italians melt Gorgonzola into risotto right before plating to add a salty depth to a classic dish.

1023302 Fantastic Gorgonzola and White Wine Cheese Ball 24913 jrbaker
Photo by jrbaker.

Get the recipe: Fantastic Gorgonzola and White Wine Cheese Ball

One thing most loved about Gorgonzola is its complex flavor, allowing it to stand alone. This is why Gorgonzola is a common choice for cheese boards or eating plain– it's sharp and funky but not too much. The dolce variety is often included as a dessert cheese selection in Italy due to its inherent sweetness.

Substitutes for Gorgonzola

Depending on the recipe or setting, other types of blue cheese can easily be substituted. Gorgonzola is a milder blue cheese than most other types, so if you use a more robust variety, just know the flavor will be much more pronounced. If you're just crumbling it on top or using it to finish a dish, you can use a bit less of a more assertive cheese for a similar effect.

Stilton is an English variety that has a similar texture to Gorgonzola but with much more of blue cheese's reputation for being a stinky cheese. Roquefort is France's most famous blue cheese, which brings a strong, distinct barnyard flavor to the party and is a bit milder when it comes to the zing Gorgonzola is known for.

How to Store Gorgonzola

Storing Gorgonzola is easy; all you need is a piece of parchment or wax paper. If you don't have wax or parchment paper, plastic wrap can work in a pinch, but it's not ideal. Loosely wrap the cheese so the paper isn't super tight across the surface, but none is exposed to the air. Store in the refrigerator, preferably in a cheese drawer, for up to a month.


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