The Best Affordable Substitute For Gruyère Cheese

By some estimations, there are over 1,800 types of cheese produced in the world. That's a lot of curds and whey. Fortunately, Gruyère cheese is one of them. Made in the French-speaking Swiss town of Gruyères, Gruyère adds a very special flavor to anything it touches, namely French onion soup, fondue, grilled cheese sandwiches, and macaroni and cheese. When creamy, nutty, rich Gruyère cheese melts, it produces a cheese pull worthy of Instagram posts and magazine covers. It's no surprise that this Swiss treasure is also kind of expensive.

Many of us don't mind shelling out a couple more bucks on cheese if it's for something really special like a holiday potatoes au gratin or a birthday cheese board. But for a Tuesday night batch of grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, springing for imported Gruyère might not be possible. Of course, you don't want to sacrifice flavor either, so what to do? 

There are several cheeses that make great substitutes for Gruyère cheese, but some can cost just as much if not more. The most affordable alternative may sound Swiss but comes from right here in the U.S.: American Swiss cheese can be found prepackaged or behind almost any deli counter in the country. At a fraction of the cost of Gruyère, it will give you all of that gorgeous cheese pull you're craving.

Swiss, but American-made

Widely available, super-affordable, and adorably holey, American Swiss can take the place of Gruyère in any recipe that calls for the latter. Honestly speaking, you will not get the same nutty, earthy flavor, but you'll get something close: A mild cheese that is creamy, a bit sweet, and melts extraordinarily well. It's even made similar to the way Gruyère is, in a style called Alpine. Cow's milk is heated before rennet is added, which separates the curds from the liquid. The curds are then put into molds that are compressed and soaked in a brine, after which the cheese is aged before finally being sold to market.

American Swiss is perfect for sandwiches, soups, pasta dishes, and anything that you want chewy, goey cheese in. If price isn't necessarily an issue but you can't seem to find Gruyère cheese, you can look for Jarlsberg, Comté, Emmental, or Fontina. These are all imported European cheeses that feature beautiful flavor and melt well.