What Does Havarti Cheese Taste Like? A Chef’s Opinion!


Havarti is a Danish semi-hard cheese made from cow pasteurized milk. It is used for cooking pizza, pasta, grilled vegetables, and chicken. Havarti is not the most popular cheese variety, but it is definitely worth trying if you can’t get enough of cheese! In this article, we will guide you through Havarti cheese’s taste, why it is so good, and what it goes best with. 

What does Havarti cheese taste like? Havarti has a delicate creamy taste with hints of nuttiness, however as the cheese matures, it obtains a stronger, more pronounced buttery flavor. This semi-soft Dutch cheese is often flavored with herbs like hot peppers, dill, or caraway. 

Havarti cheese matures at least for three months. The older cheese is, the saltier and the more hazelnut-like its flavor becomes. Young Havarti is very mild, soft, and buttery and is sometimes considered lacking in taste, while matured Havarti varieties have a strong hint of nuts and a gentle tartness. Even though it is not the most popular cheese, after you try Havarti for the first time, you will not be able to forget its richness, and extremely delicate texture. Havarti can also be eaten as a standalone dish – it has a subtle hazelnut-like aroma and a tender texture. Havarti melts fast at room temperature, so its taste and texture are ideal for grilling or adding to pizza.

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Why is Havarti cheese so good? Many say Havarti cheese is so good thanks to its irresistible rich buttery taste, delicate semi-soft texture, excellent melting properties, and affordable price. Another reason why Havarti is so good is that it goes well with anything – from pasta, risotto, and pizza to pies, soups and sauces.

Havarti Cheese Taste – All You Need to Know

Havarti, like any other cheese, cannot please everyone. If you are a fan of delicate cheeses with nutty flavor, then Havarti is your best go-to. This cheese was created by a Danish farmer Hanne Nielsen in the 19th century who was looking for new cheesemaking techniques in Europe. Once Hanne came up with Havarti recipe, she started sending the cheese to the royalty, and the cheese quickly gained popularity among the King and Queen of Denmark. Then she started selling Havarti in local shops, so its popularity soared!

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Havarti has a unique making technique which separates it from other cheeses. Hanne Nielsen came up with an idea of rinsing the curd in fresh spring water before making the cheese, so it acquired a remarkably delicate soft texture admired by many gourmets around the world.  Currently, Havarti is made in Denmark (40% of the entire world production), the USA (mainly in Wisconsin, California and Ohio), Canada, Spain, Germany, and even Australia. Havarti cheese is just gaining popularity, and can be found in major food shops all over the world.

Is Havarti cheese spicy? The taste of Havarti cheese is mild rather than spicy. It has subtle acidic notes with hints of sharpness like Swiss cheese. Havarti becomes saltier and more piquant as it matures. Havarti can be spicy if seasoned with red and green jalapeño.  

Since Havarti can age not just for months but for years, it acquires a spicier and more pronounced saltier taste. It also has small holes evenly spread throughout the cheese, which gives additional airiness and lightness to the taste. If you like spicy cheeses, go for matured Havarti with added herbs and spices.

Is Havarti cheese nutty? Havarti has a pronounced nutty flavor reminiscent of hazelnuts. The more matured the cheese is, the richer its nutty notes. Since Havarti cheese is made from pasteurized milk, it adds rich hints of nut butter.

Havarti is used in many recipes – pasta, risotto, lasagna, pizza, cheese-based soups and sauces, and pies. Havarti is often added to sandwiches and fondue. Some recipes recommend using 12-month mature Havarti when it acquires the most distinct, rich nutty flavor.

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Havarti Cheese Pairings

What does Havarti cheese go well with? Havarti goes well with grilled meat (chicken and turkey), vegetables, crackers and fruits (grapes, apples, pear, fig), dry salami, prosciutto, raspberry and strawberry jam, walnuts, almonds, and crusty bread. Since Havarti melts well, it goes well with pasta, risotto and even pizza. 

What meat goes best with Havarti? Havarti goes well with baked, grilled or fried turkey, chicken, beef and pork. It pairs well with dry salami, ham, or bacon. Try adding fresh tomatoes, parsley, pepper or dill to make the dish even juicier. 

Havarti is often added to beef burgers and sandwiches and goes well with caramelized onions. It is also added to baked turkey with garlic marinade. Havarti goes well with light beer, or red (Merlot, Pinot Noir) and white (Chardonnay, Chablis, Sauvignon Blanc) wines. It is impossible to go wrong mixing Havarti with meat. Rich nutty flavor and excellent melting properties will make any meat dish mouth-watering.  

What is Havarti cheese best used for? Havarti cheese is best used for pasta, pizza, meat dishes, and fondue as it makes the dish juicier and more flavourful. It is creamy and soft, so it melts quickly even at room temperatures. Havarti cheese taste also goes well with panini or cheese sandwiches for breakfast. 

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Since it has good melting properties, Havarti is often added to hot dishes giving them a real “gourmet” feel. Whether its Mac and cheese or lasagna, scrambled eggs or an omelet, Havarti will give all its creaminess and nuttiness to the dish. If you have a sweettooth, try mixing Havarti with strawberry or raspberry jam and figs, pears, grapes, and apples. The cheese also goes well with honey, raspberry, cranberry or apricot jam.

What wine goes best with Havarti cheese? Havarti cheese goes best with red wine like a Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Red Zinfandel. White wine like Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, or Riesling would be a good addition to the herbal, nutty taste of Havarti.

Wine and Havarti cheese are usually consumed with raisins, walnuts, dried fruits, and hearty bread. Havarti with wheat salted or sugarcoated crackers will also make a tasty snack . Havarti cheese is also good with the entire range of beers like Weiss, stout, or ale. Sometimes Havarti is served with tahini or hummus. It also goes with other cheeses like matured Cheddar or Brie. Another good option is to serve Havarti with smoked sausages and crisp crackers with butter to make a tasty appetizer.

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Havarti Cheese Substitutes

What is Havarti cheese similar to? In terms of texture and taste, Havarti can be comparable to other semi-firm cheeses. Tilsit is the best Havarti cheese alternative as it has the same semi-soft texture, nutty flavor, subtle creamy aroma and similar color. Havarti cheese is also similar to Monterey Jack, Gouda, Emmental, and Colby.

Unfortunately, Havarti cheese is hard to find unless you go to a specialised cheese shop or a huge supermarket like Walmart or Target, so you will often need substitutes. Havarti cheese can only be substituted with cheeses that melt well. Let’s look at the 7 best Havarti cheese alternatives:

7 Havarti Cheese Alternatives

  1. Tilsit (German/Danish) – Tilsit has a pale yellow color and is made from pasteurized and unpasteurized cow’s milk. It matures for six months and has similar flavorings like caraway and pepper.
  2. Monterey Jack cheese (American) – This Havarti substitute is a semi-firm cheese that has noticeable notes of sweetness and a mild flavor. It has good melting properties and is used similarly for pasta, Mac and cheese, casseroles.
  3. Esrom (Danish) – Esrom is a semi-soft cheese and has a delicate texture, slightly acidic flavor, and a rich aroma.
  4. Emmental (Swiss) – This cheese has big holes and ages for at least four months. It has a distinctive fruity flavor, good melting properties, and a nutty aroma.
  5. Colby (American) – A semi-hard cheese, but with a mild, milky flavor and bright orange color. Colby goes well in sandwiches, salads, and snacks, just like Havarti.
  6. Saint-Paulin (French) – Saint-Paulin is a semi-soft melting cheese with a slightly sweet flavor and a light yellow color. It goes great with fruity wines like Bordeaux or Riesling and is one of the best Havarti cheese alternatives when making fondue, pasta, risotto, and grilled sandwiches.
  7. Gouda (Dutch) – A semi-soft cheese with a fruity, nutty flavor, a pleasant aroma, and pleasant caramel notes. 

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Havarti Cheese Price

How much does Havarti cheese cost? In big food supermarkets like Target, Havarti costs around $8 to $12 per 1lb. However, sometimes the price can go up to $30 per 1 pound, depending on the producer, ingredients, and country of origin. Aged Havarti is always more expensive, around $16 per pound. 

Havarti is a premium delicacy that not everyone can afford. It is a truly unique cheese that has an EU Protected Geographical Indication status. The high price of the delicacy is determined by its long history, unique way of producing (you need to rinse the curd in spring water before pressing and draining). This cheese contains moderate levels of sodium and cholesterol, is gluten-free with 60% fat content. It is fairly calorie-dense (371 calories per 100 g), so you have to be careful if you are on a diet! 

Why is Havarti cheese so expensive? Original Havarti cheese is expensive because it is made in tune with the old Danish recipe created in the 18th century. It contains no antibiotics, artificial preservatives, or hormones. Havarti is a good source of protein, vitamin A, and calcium which provide great nutritional benefits. 

Conclusion

Havarti is a traditional cheese, originating from Denmark and is produced in line with specific techniques dated 130 years ago.  This semi-hard cheese is made from pasteurized milk and is famous for its creamy, buttery taste with notes of hazelnuts, a delicate texture, and unforgettable nutty aroma. Its rich flavor is complemented with slightly acidic tones and a springy, smooth texture. 

Havarti cheese taste goes perfectly with a wide range of foods like pasta, lasagna, mac and cheese, grilled meat, vegetables as well as with fresh or dried fruits and jams (cranberry, strawberry, raspberry, peach). Havarti is often added to beef burgers and sandwiches and goes well with caramelized onions and turkey with garlic marinade. Havarti pairs nicely with light beer, or red (Merlot, Pinot Noir) and white (Chardonnay, Chablis, Sauvignon Blanc) wines.

See also: What Is Gruyère Cheese? Taste, Nutrition, Price

Havarti Cheese Taste FAQ

Is Havarti like Gouda? Havarti cheese flavor is similar to young Gouda – they both feature a buttery, creamy taste with hints of nuts and pale yellow color. Young Gouda is also sweet and soft. But old Gouda has a crumble solid texture and spicy taste, unlike Havarti, which is smooth and mellow.

Is Havarti cheese good on pizza? Havarti cheese has great melting properties, so it is often used on pizza together with mozzarella. Havarti’s creamy taste will make any pizza juicy, especially when combined with tomatoes, juicy meat and other cheeses (Cheddar, mozzarella).

Is Havarti a good melting cheese? Havarti is a semi-soft cheese with a delicate texture and amazing melting properties. It melts well even at room temperature and goes well with hot dishes giving them an additional creamy taste and buttery aroma.

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