So, your recipe calls for Monterey Jack cheese, but you don’t have any on hand.
That’s where these Monterey Jack cheese substitutes come in!
If you need a solid, basic, tasty cheese, Monterey Jack is the way to go. It’s not as sharp as cheddar, but it’s not as mild as mozzarella.
That’s why it’s so popular in so many recipes. From cheese sauces to soups to enchiladas, Monterey Jack does it all.
But if you’re out, fear not! You can still make a delicious, cheesy meal with the right Monterey Jack cheese substitutes.
What is Monterey Jack Cheese?
Monterey Jack (a.k.a Jack or Fresh Jack) is a white, semi-hard cheese. It’s made from cow’s milk, which results in a mild, slightly sweet, buttery-tasting cheese.
Since it’s a semi-hard cheese, it slices really well. That makes it a wonderful choice for cheese boards.
It tastes great with a buttery Ritz cracker and a slice of salami.
Monterey Jack is a United States original! The cheese we call Jack cheese was first created by Franciscan friars in Monterey, California.
So, it does have some influence from the Spanish rule of the nineteenth century.
Since the Franciscan missions were established then. This is probably why Monterey Jack is so popular in Latin-inspired dishes.
In fact, it is the most commonly used cheese in US-based Mexican restaurants.
But it was first sold commercially by a Monterey, California man named David Jacks.
People called it “Jack’s cheese,” and the name stuck. #marketing
But history aside, there is one thing I really love about Monterey Jack cheese. It melts so well!
So, it’s fantastic to use in your cooking and baking.
It’s super ooey-gooey and delicious, ideal for an Insta-worthy cheese pull.
You can easily find Monterey Jack cheese and its variants in stores across the States.
Monterey Jack Cheese Variants
There are a few variants of Monterey Jack cheese that you’re probably familiar with.
There’s Dry Jack, which is an aged version of regular Monterey Jack.
Dry Jack can be aged anywhere from 10 months to 4 years! This results in a more yellow, nutty-flavored cheese.
Dry Jack is also quite a bit harder in texture. Think along the lines of parmesan cheese.
Then there’s Pepper Jack. It’s Monterey Jack seasoned with hot peppers, garlic, and herbs.
It has the same semi-hard texture, and it also melts really nicely.
Finally, Monterey Jack provides the base for cheese blends like Colby Jack or Cheddar Jack.
Monterey Jack Cheese Substitutes
A good substitute should be similar in taste, texture, and melt-ability!
They should be able to perform the same function as Monterey Jack in your recipes.
Obviously, the Monterey Jack variants are a great choice if you have those on hand.
But if not (or if you don’t like them), there are other great options.
You can use an equal amount of any of these substitutes to replace Monterey Jack.
Here are my favorites!
In taste, texture, and melt-ability alike, Muenster cheese is the best option for substitution.
American Muenster, that is. Don’t get it confused with the French Munster which is super smoky.
American Muenster is a semi-hard cheese made from cow’s milk.
You’ll know it’s Muenster by its dark, yellow-orange outside and light yellow inside. It has a delicious though mild flavor.
It’s a great choice for recipes where you don’t want cheesiness to overpower the dish.
And since it melts really well, it’s a great choice for burgers, pizza, and paninis.
Havarti is a Danish cheese that is also made from cow’s milk.
It’s white, like Monterey Jack and it has a mild, buttery flavor. This makes it a fantastic option!
However, Havarti is creamier than Monterey Jack. It’s on the softer side of semi-hard.
So, it actually melts even better! Making it a great choice for grilling and sauces.
Parmesan cheese is a fantastic substitute for Dry Jack (aged) and vice versa.
It’s a hard-textured, cow’s cheese with a nutty flavor.
However, be sure to use a young parmesan.
Their raw textures are not very similar, but they will act similarly in cooking. And they’ll taste similar, too.
You can use young Parmesan to replace regular Monterey Jack. But, ideally, you only use it to replace Dry Jack.
Gouda is a Dutch cheese, but you can find it quite easily in the States.
It can be made from both cow’s milk and goat’s milk. Traditionally, it’s made from cow’s milk.
Gouda has a firm texture and a nutty, though mild flavor. It also melts really well. The younger it is, the meltier it will be.
Speaking of aging, it spans a large age range in the store.
Use young Gouda to replace Monterey Jack. Although, an older Gouda can replace Dry Jack.
Smoked Gouda is also delicious, but it can overpower your dish.
I find smoked is best for burgers and snacking.
Colby cheese is an American cheese made from cow milk.
It’s actually a variant of Cheddar cheese. Therefore it has a slightly harder texture than Jack cheese, but it’s very melty.
Really, it’s like the love child of Cheddar and Monterey Jack in taste and texture.
It’s a fabulous option for recipes featuring multiple types of cheese.
This is because it blends well, texturally, and in terms of flavor. So, basically, it’s perfect for mac and cheese!
However, young Colby is the best. Older Colby splits and cracks, and can be really dry.
Edam is another delicious Dutch cheese. It is easily recognized by its red wax coating and cylindrical shape.
Edam has a wonderfully nutty flavor that gets stronger as it ages.
Texturally, it’s a harder cheese. But it’s softer when it’s younger.
Therefore, younger Edam is best as a replacement for Monterey Jack.
Overall, Edam is a really versatile cheese that tastes great with most things.
I think it’s perfect on a platter, cheese board, or on a sandwich or burger.
Cheddar is probably the most common cow milk cheese in the United States.
It comes in a range of ages and flavors. But commonly, Cheddar is known for its sharp bite.
It’s quite a bit stronger in flavor than Monterey Jack.
Also, young Cheddar has a much creamier texture while old Cheddar is way too hard.
Therefore, it’s not the best direct replacement for Monterey Jack.
However, it does work well as a replacement for Jack cheese in baking.
But I also like it for snacking and sandwiches.
It’s best to use white or light yellow. The traditional orange might be too strong.
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