Plus, what’s a good substitute?

If you're a cheese lover, probably tried Gruyère before (perhaps in a decadent croque monsieur, an ooey gooey fondue, or atop a cozy bowl of French onion soup). But do you know what Gruyère cheese — or what makes it so delicious and versatile? Here's what you need to know about the fancy-sounding, yet surprisingly approachable, cheese: 

What Is Gruyère Cheese? 

closeup of a spoon lifting a mouthful of cheese-topped French onion soup from a red bowl
Credit: France C

Gruyère is a firm yellow Swiss cheese. It is named after the town of Gruyères in Switzerland. Gruyère is generally aged for six months or longer and is made from whole cow's milk. It features very few small eyes (or holes), an unusual characteristic for Swiss cheese. Most Swiss varieties have a lot of large holes, which are created by gas bubbles during the cheesemaking process. 

What Does Gruyère Taste Like? 

Gruyère is known for its rich, creamy, salty, and nutty flavor. However, its flavor does vary depending on age: Young Gruyère has pronounced creaminess and nuttiness, while older Gruyère has developed an earthiness that is a bit more complex. 

Gruyere at French farmers market
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How to Pronounce Gruyère 

The correct pronunciation is "groo-YAIR." If you're still not sure, visit Merriam-Webster to listen to an audio recording. 

How to Use Gruyère

Cheese Fondue on a floral plate
Credit: Denise Sakaki

Its pleasant, but not overwhelming, flavor makes Gruyère the perfect cheese for baking. It adds a distinct creamy texture and subtle sweetness to cheese-infused comfort foods, like quiches and gratins. A wonderful melting cheese, Gruyère is also ideal for fondues and dips. Why does it melt so beautifully? Gruyère has a high water-to-oil ratio. This extra water ensures that cheese melts evenly instead of separating into pools of fat. This quality makes it the perfect choice for classic cheesy French dishes like the croque monsieur and French onion soup

If you're making a cheese board for your next event, you may want to consider adding Gruyère to the mix — not only is it an attractive cheese, but the salty-nutty flavor is universally appealing. 

You can also add shredded Gruyère to mozzarella-topped pizza or mix it into mashed potatoes or grits instead of Cheddar. Really, when it comes to Gruyère, the options are limitless. 

Best Wine Pairings for Gruyère

A firm, delicate, nutty cheese like Gruyère pairs well with a medium-bodied white or a fruity red. Try it with your favorite Chardonnay, Riesling, or a fruit-forward Pinot Noir. 

Gruyère Substitute

You shouldn't have much trouble finding Gruyère at your local supermarket, as it's widely available these days. If you must use a substitute, though, opt for another semi-hard, yellow, Swiss option like Emmental. Other good choices include Jarlsberg, raclette, or Beaufort. You can substitute all these cheeses for Gruyère using a 1:1 ratio (if your recipe calls for a cup of shredded Gruyère, use a cup of your alternative). 

Gruyère Recipes

layers of sliced potatoes on a glass dish
Credit: lutzflcat

Feeling hungry after all this cheese talk? Try your hand at one of our absolute favorite recipes using Gruyère: 

Next, explore our entire collection of Swiss Cheese Recipes