The Trader Joe's Cheeses You Need in Your Life (2023)

Trader Joe's is a treasure trove for those who know what to look for, offering everything from killer snacks to sneakily great beer and wine. But often overlooked is the store's ability to help you build a show-stopping cheese plate at a fraction of the price you might pay at fancier grocery stores.

Yet with enough cheese to satisfy a room full of Wisconsinites who studied abroad in France, perusing TJ's selection can be an exercise in trial and error. To make choosing the right cheeses easier, we sat down for a tasting with Michelle Stevens, owner of Buffalo, New York's Buffalo Cheese Traders, to identify the best cheeses at TJs. Obviously, you're gonna need some Two Buck Chuck before you read this.

The Trader Joe's Cheeses You Need in Your Life (1)

Trader Joe’s Unexpected Cheddar Cheese

Generally, finding something “unexpected” in your food is a horrible experience. This isn’t the case when it comes to Unexpected Cheddar. This is, hands down, one of Trader Joe’s most talked about products, the Cookie Butter of the dairy section. It earned its name due to the small, salty pieces of parmesan hidden inside the sharp white Cheddar like little crystallized treasures. Each bite packs a surprise, leaving us to wonder what other things would be good to hide in a block of cheese.
Flavor notes: The cheese’s super salty crystals add some great flavor and a slight crunch to the cheese. “It’s a great snacking cheese that held up well in its packaging,” says Stevens.
What to do with it: Pair it with a mix of hard and soft pretzels with a variety of smooth, blended mustards, which would sync up nicely with the salt.

Jasper Hill Vault No. 5 Cave Aged Cheese

In Europe, they've been known to use the same caves to age cheeses for hundreds of years, but in the US "cave aged" generally translates to a form of aging in a clean, humidity controlled climate. So even though this was made with minimal spelunking, it still has that ripe tanginess, texture, and aroma indicative of the subterranean practice. Although not categorized as a Cheddar, the Vault #5 from Jasper Hill -- not a TJ-brand cheese, but one you can find at the store -- definitely has a similar flavor, slightly sharp taste, and smooth texture.
Flavor notes: “This cheese has a fudgy, nice creamy finish. It just melts in your mouth and saturates your tongue… you’re definitely going to want a drink with it,” says Stevens.
What to do with it: This would be great on paninis or paired with marinated vegetables and olives. A piece of the cheese with marinated mushrooms or dalmatian prosciutto on a slice of crusty bread would make all the flavors pop.

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Trader Joe’s Traditional Whole Milk Ricotta

Ricotta is a universal cheese that can add a certain richness to foods like calzones, lasagna, and even desserts. Given its mild profile, don’t expect a strong flavor punch like you’d get from parm, but rather some mellow freshness. There are a few versions at TJ's, but go for the whole milk. When the fat content is higher, you really get that extra-creamy, smooth texture.
Flavor notes: This particular ricotta is extremely mild, light, and fluffy... not too salty, which would make it a wonderful cooking cheese for texturizing dishes.
What to do with it: Add it to pasta for a rich finish or use it to bake some warm ricotta cookies. You can just plate some of the cheese with a little lemon zest, salt, and pepper and chow down with a spoon and fresh bread. Wash it down with a light summer beer like a Kölsch.

The Trader Joe's Cheeses You Need in Your Life (2)

Trader Joe’s 1,000 Day Gouda Cheese

They say age ain't nothing but a number. But hey, when a cheese is aged for 1,000 days, you can be forgiven for ignoring old Aalyiah lyrics... or the fact that it's actually older than 1,000 days, given it had to get packaged and shipped. Anyway, the aging gives the cheese an intense flavor and causes crystallization.
Flavor notes: When most people hear gouda, they expect a smokey flavor, which can often overpower often pretty strong. This isn’t smokey at all, but more briny and sharp. Its flavor intensifies when it’s paired with a fruity jam like fig or berry, making it the perfect blend of salty and sweet.
What to do with it: Ever just craving some mac & cheese and wish you had something better on standby than some orange mystery cheese powder? Michelle suggests melting this down along with any other random cheese pieces you have laying around in the fridge, milk, and butter and tossing it with pasta. If there's leftover sauce, pour it into a muffin tin and freeze it. Whenever you’re craving a single serving of mac and cheese, you pop one out of the freezer and melt it into your hot cooked pasta for a fast alternative.

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Castello Aged Havarti

Castello has been at the cheesemaking game since 1893, long before the first Trader Joe's employee donned a Hawaiian shirt, but their recent addition to supermarket's roster is a welcome dose of old-school clout. Costello's aged havarti is a semi-hard white cheese that’s easily breakable with a visible white marbling on the outside because of the aging process.
Flavor notes:Despite its semi-hardness, when you pop a cube of the havarti into your mouth, it melts leaving a slightly sweet, caramel flavor behind. Stevens notes that it's got a mild and buttery texture, but crystals throughout give it an unexpectedly nutty flavor.
The cheesemonger’s suggestions: Pair it up with a bold flavored jam along with some toasted crunchy almonds and pecans.

Trader Joe’s Le Délice de Bourgogne

This triple cream soft-ripened cheese from France has a rich, buttery texture perfect for spreading on specialty breads and crackers. With some bries, the rind actually tastes pretty good, but don’t eat the rind on this cheese. It’s beyond strong it the worst way. But the actual cheese is so buttery and soft it practically falls off the knife on it’s way to your baguette slice.
Flavor notes: It’s salty and creamy with a mild lemon tang, “a perfect gateway to the soft, creamy style. After getting used to this, you won’t be afraid to try something with a different finish and scent… something wilder and stronger,” says Stevens.
What to do with it: First and foremost, don't eat it right out of the fridge. Letting the cheese sit out on your counter at room temp for at least an hour is so important with these soft cheeses to get the right texture. But after that, pair it up with a Belgian beer, dry ciders, mead, or a good bubbly like Prosecco.

The Trader Joe's Cheeses You Need in Your Life (3)

(Video) Trader Joe’s Unexpected Cheddar Cheese Taste Test #shorts

Trader Joe’s Cambozola Triple Cream Soft Ripened Blue Cheese

If you’re searching for a way to get that same bold flavor of a blue or a gorgonzola with a more satisfying texture, you have to try the Cambozola. You get the same buttery, spreadable texture similar to the Le Délice de Bourgogne with the strong flavor of traditional blues.
Flavor notes: “I think Trader Joe’s version of a Cambozola is very well represented when it comes to other versions and it has a great texture. You’re going to get that peppery, nutty flavor throughout,” says Stevens.
What to do with it: You can pair it with a bold, dark beer like a coffee porter and spread the cheese on a piece of hearty, toasted bread with pecans. For a dramatic twist, try it with (or in) brownies: put slices of the cambozola blue on top to let it melt a little then swirl it in with some dried cherries.

Trader Joe’s Goat’s Milk Cheese Medallions Marinated in Herbs

These slices of soft goat cheese are submerged in olive oil seasoned with herbs, but they're not at all greasy. They're also really good at picking up whatever you roll them in, be it nuts, more spices, or Skittles, which we didn't try, but aren't at all opposed to, now that we think about it.
Flavor notes: You definitely taste the herbs and spices in this cheese, especially the rosemary and the coarse black peppercorns. The tangy goat cheese is soft and effortlessly broken apart, making it easy to spread if crumbles of the cheese onto warm flatbreads.
What to do with it: You can use crescent roll crust or pie crust to make a lavash or a flatbread. Just cook it in the oven with the cheese and tapenade or some caramelized onions and asparagus. Let it bubble a little and get that slight tinge of brown like a toasted marshmallow and you’ll be good to go.

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Jessica Kelly is a freelance food and travel writer that realized during this assignment that just eating a lot of cheese all the time doesn’t make you an expert. Watch her add extra cheese to already cheesy foods on Instagram @Adventures.Are.Waiting.



The Trader Joe's Cheeses You Need in Your Life? ›

Pavé d'Affinois, also known as Fromager d'Affinois, is a French double cream, soft cheese produced by the Fromagerie Guilloteau Company. It is prepared from cow's milk.

What kind of cheese is fromage pave? ›

Pavé d'Affinois, also known as Fromager d'Affinois, is a French double cream, soft cheese produced by the Fromagerie Guilloteau Company. It is prepared from cow's milk.

What are good cheeses to try? ›

  • Asiago. The tradition of making this cheese comes from Italy and dates back hundreds of years. ...
  • Blue (Bleu) Cheeses. ...
  • Brie. ...
  • Camembert. ...
  • Cheddar. ...
  • Gouda. ...
  • Gruyere. ...
  • Mozzarella.

How long does cheese from Trader Joes last? ›

After opening, you can safely store most soft cheeses in the fridge for at least 7 days and most hard cheeses for 3–4 weeks. Carefully inspect hard cheeses for mold and cut off any spots, but toss soft cheeses and crumbled, shredded, or sliced cheeses (whether hard or soft) if you see mold.

Does Trader Joe's have Mizithra cheese? ›

You can buy mizithra cheese from Harmons, Sprouts, and Trader Joe's.

What does fromage pave taste like? ›

An excellent country cheese, delicate to the palate with a smooth and slightly piquant taste. The rind of the pave blesois is dry and covered with silvery blue mould. The pate's texture is fine, dense with a well balanced aroma of goat's milk, typical of the cheeses of the Loire Valley.

What cheese is similar to fromage d affinois? ›

Fromager d'Affinois is similar to Brie in production and appearance.

Why is Trader Joe's Unexpected cheddar so good? ›

While Trader Joe's Unexpected Cheddar is not as hard as parmesan, it's more crumbly than normal cheddar, landing between granular and melty. Trader Joe's itself notes that some of its cheesemakers hail from Northeast Italy, which likely plays a part in how they created this special cheese.

What cheese has the longest shelf life? ›

Parmigiano Reggiano (and Parmesan, Grana Padano, etc.)

In Italy, Parmesan is often stored at room temperature without going bad. In fact, if you're just buying one cheese to keep in your fridge for as long as it takes to go through the block, buy some Parm.

What cheese lasts longest unrefrigerated? ›

Let's start with the good news. Cheeses that are great without refrigeration: Super-aged cheeses, most of which get more than two years of age: Goudas, Parmigiano Reggiano, Piave, Grana Padano, and Mimolette.

What cheese is closest to mizithra? ›

Substitutes. Myzithra is a whey cheese, and while nothing matches the original, you can use mascarpone or ricotta in place of fresh myzithra, and ricotta salata, Parmesan, or Pecorino Romano in place of aged myzithra.

What kind of cheese is mizithra? ›

Mizithra (Mi-zee-thra) is a traditional Greek whey cheese that has been enjoyed in Greece for thousands of years.

What are the benefits of mizithra cheese? ›

Note that fresh cheese, such as mizithra, is healthier than other forms of cheese in addition to the protein, calcium and vitamins has lower fat content and is more diet friendly. Mizithra can be also dried up and aged at different degrees, producing another type of cheese called “tirozouli” or “anthotiros”.

What does Selles sur Cher cheese taste like? ›

Its taste is lightly salty with a persistent aftertaste. The exterior is dry with a grey-blue mould covering its surface, and has a musty odour. The mould is often eaten and has a considerably stronger flavour.

Why is Le Gruyere so expensive? ›

Most cheese is not fresh, so it needs some form of ageing. Time in a hygienic, temperature and humidity controlled environment costs money.

What does Époisses cheese taste like? ›

Tasting Notes

Époisses is technically a soft cheese, very creamy, but with a chewy and firm texture. Spicy as well as meaty, salty and with hints of earthiness and nuts, this is by all accounts a complex and powerfully rich flavour.

What cheese is like Brie but creamier? ›

Camembert: This soft cheese made from cow's milk is similar to Brie. It's also from France, and it has the same white mold on its rind. As Camembert matures, the cheese grows softer and more buttery, with an earthy flavor.

Which soft cheese is known as the queen of cheeses? ›

Brie is the best known French cheese and has the nickname "The Queen of Cheese". Brie is a soft cheese named after the French region Brie, where it was originally created.

What cheese is most like farmers cheese? ›

Ricotta. This cheese is one of the best Farmer's cheese substitutes thanks to its closeness in texture and flavor. Similar to farmers cheese, ricotta has a mild taste and adds a beautiful smoothness to recipes. However, it's higher in dairy, so ricotta is a bit more on the creamy side.

What is the king of all cheeses? ›

Known as the “King of Cheeses”, Parmesan, or Parmigiano Reggiano was first produced by Benedictine and Cistercian monks a thousand years ago. Over the centuries, it has acquired global prominence and is now a hugely popular choice for food-lovers the world over.

What is the number one cheese in the world? ›

What are the best cheeses in the world? According to Taste Atlas, at the top of the list of the world's most popular cheeses, you find Parmigiano Reggiano and Gorgonzola piccante, followed closely by Burrata, Grana padano and Oaxaca cheese (from Mexico, also known as quesillo) in the top five.

What is the most eaten cheese in the world? ›


Which cheese is best for daily use? ›

The 6 Healthiest Cheeses You Should Be Buying
  1. Parmesan. Pictured Recipe: Eggplant Parmesan. ...
  2. Fresh Mozzarella. Pictured Image: Caprese Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms. ...
  3. Cottage Cheese. ...
  4. Ricotta Cheese. ...
  5. Swiss Cheese. ...
  6. Goat Cheese.
Sep 8, 2022

What cheese is hardest to digest? ›

So those with particularly sensitive stomachs will want to avoid creamier varieties such as ricotta or cottage cheese at all costs. Sugar is the primary component of lactose that makes it difficult to digest, which means that aged, hard cheeses—which have a lower sugar content—are easier on the stomach.

What is the healthiest cheese for weight loss? ›

Cheese variants such as Feta, low-fat cottage cheese, cheddar, swiss, and parmesan are excellent choices for weight loss, especially regarding reducing belly fat. Not only are these cheeses full of beneficial nutrients, but they also come in low-calorie servings.

Is there a healthiest cheese? ›

Castro Mortillaro believes harder cheeses such as Parmigiano, pecorino or gouda are also among the healthiest options, when consumed in moderation.

How do you eat Trader Joe's unexpected cheddar? ›

There are great uses for Unexpected Cheddar beyond the board, too. It melts like cheddar but has a hint of nuttiness that I haven't been able to replace with another cheese. I like to melt it on a piece of buttery toast, add it to creamy pasta sauces, or fold it into eggs.

Is Trader Joe's cheese expensive? ›

Trader Joe's is one of my favorite places to buy cheese. They do a good job of balancing value with quality. The prices you pay for the cheese is on par with other stores, if not cheaper in some cases. And the quality is generally better.

What is the most expensive cheddar cheese? ›

At $200 per pound, Wyke produces the most expensive cheddar cheese. It has been produced by the Wyke family farm in Great Britain since the 1860's, and is described as tangy, full-flavoured, taking 12 months to reach its peak. Despite the price tag, it's Wyke's most popular cheese.

What cheese can go bad? ›

Soft cheeses

"Soft, less-mature cheeses will go bad much more quickly than the hard or semi-hards," Freier said. "I would be very careful eating them even one to two weeks after their expiration date. These cheeses have so much moisture inside them, they are kind of like ticking time bombs.

What cheese doesn't need refrigeration? ›

Soft cheeses such as cream cheese, cottage cheese, shredded cheeses, and goat cheese must be refrigerated for safety. As a general rule, hard cheeses such as cheddar, processed cheeses (American), and both block and grated Parmesan do not require refrigeration for safety, but they will last longer if kept refrigerated.

Should you keep cheese in the fridge or freezer? ›

It's best to keep cheese, of all varieties, in a dark, cool and airy space – the vegetable compartment of an average fridge is ideal, as it is not too humid or cold.

Do eggs need to be refrigerated? ›

Do Fresh Eggs Need to Be Refrigerated? Freshly laid eggs need to be refrigerated immediately. Fresh eggs purchased from a farmers market need to be refrigerated as soon as you get home. Per USDA guidelines, eggs should be stored at 40 degrees F or below to help minimize the risk of Salmonella.

What cheese doesn't melt? ›

Semifirm Cheeses That Don't Melt

Semi-firm cheeses in the family include queso fresco, queso fresco, paneer, halloumi, feta, cotija, Ricotta, and soft goat cheeses.

What meat does not need to be refrigerated? ›

Meats. There are quite a few options for meat that don't have to be kept cold and make for great additions to camping meals. Cured meats like summer sausage, pepperoni or turkey pepperoni, and salami are safe to take camping without a fridge.

What is fromage cheese made of? ›

Fromage Frais is a soft, fresh, creamy fresh cheese made out of whole or skimmed milk and cream. A French speciality, traditionally, this cheese is made with cream.

What is pave on French menu? ›

“Pavé” is a French culinary term used to described flat rectangular shaped foods. Bake this layered potato dish in a rectangular dish, then weigh the potatoes down to get that flat pavé look.

What is the meaning of fromage in English? ›

(fʀɔˈmaʒ) French. noun. cheese. Most material © 2005, 1997, 1991 by Penguin Random House LLC.

What is the rarest form of cheese? ›

The world's rarest and most expensive cheese, known as Pule, is made out of the milk of Balkan donkeys. And it is only produced at the Zasavica Special Nature Reserve in Serbia. These donkeys are endangered and are under special protection. The process of milking takes three months.

How do you eat cheese fromage? ›

Don't spread the cheese like butter. The correct way to enjoy your cheese in France is to gently place a small piece of cheese on a bite-sized morsel of the bread and then put it nicely into your mouth. According to French dining etiquette the platter of cheese should be passed around to each guest.

What is the difference between brie and fromage? ›

It's produced from milk that has been specially filtered to break down some of the fat content; yielding a lighter, smoother, silkier texture than other Brie. The filtering makes the Fromage d'Affinois lighter than other Brie in terms of weight, but is certainly creamier and a little thicker than most.

What is the king of cheese in France? ›

In France, Roquefort is often called the "King of Cheeses" or the "Cheese of Kings", although those names are also used for other cheeses.

What's the best cheese in the world? ›

Le Gruyère AOP surchoix, a matured cheese made from raw cow's milk that is full-bodied with a slightly crumbly texture, was named winner of the 2022 edition of the World Cheese Awards in Wales. The Le Gruyère AOP surchoix was entered by Swiss cheesemaker Vorderfultigen and affineur — or "refiner" — Gourmino.

What is the most consumed cheese in France? ›

The most sold cheese in all of France is Emmental! Yes, that large pressed cooked cheese with the large eyes. Actually, the main reason for this stat is the versatility of this particular mountain cheese. Indeed, Emmental is sold in wedges, blocks, cubes and slices and it does not disappoint in any form.

What is the French word for cow cheese? ›

Fromage blanc is a French fresh cheese made from cow's milk. It shouldn't be confused with fromage frais, which must contain live cultures, while the fermentation in fromage blanc has been stopped. Its texture is soft, creamy, and spreadable. The aromas are fresh, while the flavors are mild, smooth, and citrusy.

What is Bouche? ›

noun (1) ˈbüsh. plural -s. obsolete : an allowance of food and drink for retinue in a royal or noble household. : a slit in the edge of a medieval shield for a sword blade or a rounded opening for the shaft of a lance.

What does escargot translate as? ›

noun, plural es·car·gots [es-kar-goh; English es-kahr-gohz]. French. an edible snail.


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