12 Popular Chain Grocery Stores For Cheese, Ranked Worst To Best

This ranking is for people who are obsessed with cheese. It's for those whose casual relationship with cheese has transformed into one of passion. It's for those who want to know once and for all where they can find the highest-quality cheese in their area without having to sell their arm, leg, or soul. It's for people who want — nay, need — to know that their cheese originated in the Swiss Alps or the French countryside; that their cheese was lovingly caressed by the experienced hands of a cheesemonger; that every wedge, wheel, loaf, and log has never seen the inside of a processing plant.

Casual cheese lovers, this list is for you, too. Even the shredded cheddar cheese you sprinkle over your tacos can be the difference between a lackluster meal and a spectacular one. I trawled comment sections, Reddit, and company reviews to find the opinions of enthusiastic customers, disgruntled cheese lovers, and even ex-employees. My objective? To learn once and for all which grocery store cheese department reigns supreme. When it comes to the size, diversity, and uniqueness of cheese departments, not all grocery stores are in the same league. For more insight into how we arranged this ranking, check out the methodology at the end of this article.

12. Walmart

Walmart's Great Value brand usually lives up to its name, but that doesn't mean the brand's food tastes like a million dollars. There's a reason why The Daily Meal suggested consumers stay away from Great Value's cheeses, and the reviews explain these reasons perfectly. One customer described Great Value's Original Ricotta Cheese as being "not real ricotta — almost like thick yogurt." The commenter went on to say that the ricotta had a "terrible texture, almost like sour cream that's been frozen and thawed." Yuck. But let's be realistic: Most of us don't mind buying an unpretentious bag of shredded cheese for less than $3. All that matters to most consumers is that the cheese is fresh and tasty enough to be used at dinner. But according to other consumer reviews, you're not guaranteed even these low-bar qualifications with Walmart's Great Value brand.

Great Value's Deluxe Slices of pasteurized process American cheese seems promising based on its "deluxe" status, but reviewers weren't happy with the ingredients. "I noticed on the label that it now contains a 'bioengineered product.' Will not buy it again because of this," wrote a customer. Their opinion was mirrored by other Walmart customers. Obviously, Value is the furthest thing from fancy. For casual cheese-eaters, Walmart's brand will probably get the job done. But if you want to know where your cheese came from, and if you want to trust that it will be high-quality and delicious, Walmart might let you down.

11. Meijer

In 1934, a Dutch immigrant named Hendrik Meijer opened his first grocery store with a couple hundred bucks and his teenage son by his side. Since then, the grocery store has transformed into what is today called a "supercenter." Thrifty Acres Supercenter is credited with being the inspiration behind other superstores like Walmart. Meijer has prided itself on being "the first" to innovate in the grocery store world, but there are times when the company may fall short — such as in its cheese department. Even something as seemingly straightforward as finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese wasn't safe from dissatisfied customers.

"For whatever reason the last several times we have bought this store brand cheese it has smelled and tasted horrible within days of opening," one reviewer wrote on Meijer's website. Meijer Original Cream Cheese was also slammed, with another reviewer calling it "Absolutely horrible. Weird grainy texture. Very hard — like you're cutting into a block of cheddar." On the bright side, Meijer clearly cares enough about its cheese department to offer up a charcuterie guide and a wine and cheese pairing guide on its website. Meijer's premium deli cheese brand, Frederik's by Meijer, has also earned better reviews from customers on its website. However, Frederik's prices – most of the premium cheeses are $7.29 a pound — would turn casual cheese-eaters away. If you want to find high-quality cheese at store-brand prices, you probably won't find it at Meijer.

10. Safeway

Everything you need to know about Safeway can be inferred by its name: It's a classic, dependable grocery store. Safeway's reliability comes with perks, such as an always-stocked shelf of quality private-label brands like Primo Taglio, Open Nature, and Signature Select. And as this guide to shopping at Safeway attests, the grocery store's higher-quality cheese brands are also not to be missed. The store carries Lucerne cheeses, a private label that has been producing farm-fresh cheeses for over 75 years. Tillamook, another fan-favorite cheese brand, can also be found at Safeway.

However, as reliable as Safeway is, it can also, well, play it a little safe. This is especially true when it comes to offering diverse and uniquely-sourced cheese. With classic brands like Kraft, Sargento, and Philadelphia filling its shelves, you won't go without your average shredded cheddar or low-fat cottage cheese at Safeway. But you also may not find unique cheeses you need to try at least once in your lifetime, like halloumi or epoisses, for reasonable prices or through brands like Lucerne and Tillamook. When one Redditor posted about their pricy cheese haul at the grocery store, another user had a frank reply, "You got Safeway'd." Another user wrote how "The cheese I bought at Safeway today is a month expired." This obviously could have been a rare one-time oversight on Safeway's part, but when you're shelling out big bucks for high-quality cheese, you never want to find it covered in mold.

9. Publix

When you walk into Publix, the scent of Publix's deli counter will make your mouth water. Publix's deli counter is not to be missed, and not only because of its fan-favorite sub sandwiches. The deli counter is so beloved that it ranked highly on this Mashed ranking of grocery store delis. And since cheese is one of the most important elements of a good deli counter, you wouldn't be out of line to assume that Publix stocks up on the best-quality cheeses. In the r/Cheese subreddit, where cheese lovers can commune with like-minded enthusiasts, a few people defended Publix's cheeses. "Ask the deli counter what the cheese of the week is or ask them to recommend one based on what you need it for," one person suggested. "Personally I like the smoked gruyere sliced on my subs, or the chipotle gouda. You also can't go wrong with the Publix yellow American from the deli counter. It's the best."

With over 40 Publix brand cheeses to choose from, some of which are imported from France, Switzerland, and Spain, Publix is well-stocked with a diverse array of cheeses. Despite the high quantity of Publix-brand cheese, however, there are only a few well-known premium cheese brands available at Publix. What Mashed considers to be high-quality brands, such as Kerrygold and President, are only available in small amounts at Publix. So you should go to Publix for delicious subs and a huge variety of cheeses, but not necessarily for artisan or premium options.

8. Amazon Fresh

"Does Amazon really need to be involved in my clothing/streaming/meal prep purchases?" Amazon's response to this question is always a resounding "Why not?" This sentiment seems to have been the motivation behind Amazon Fresh. Amazon Fresh's dedication to being a top-notch grocery delivery service is unmatched according to this Mashed ranking. Although Amazon Fresh is mainly an online store, some real-life locations have opened across the U.S. You may think that having an online store instead of a brick-and-mortar store would make Amazon Fresh's cheese department a veritable cheese wonderland, but according to some customer reviews, that's just not the case.

There's a big silver lining here: Reviews for most Amazon-brand cheeses are overwhelmingly positive. The Amazon Fresh brand Aplenty offers artisan cheeses, and one reviewer called an Aplenty block of Parmesan cheese "really good quality parmesan for the price." Another Aplenty offering, a block of Aged White Cheddar, received more mixed reviews, with one reviewer going so far as to say that it had a "processed cheese taste at gourmet cheese prices." Overall, however, Aplenty's artisan cheeses seem to be an almost guaranteed win — with one big downside. The actual artisanal cheese options are few and far between. In fact, there are only five blocks of Aplenty artisan cheese available for purchase through Amazon Fresh. Use Amazon Fresh if you want your groceries delivered, but you can have even more options for a lower price at other brick-and-mortar stores.

7. Sprouts Farmers Market

The classic downside to organic food has always been its steep price, but Sprouts Farmers Market aims to provide consumers with affordable organic food, even in the cheese department. Although the Sprouts brand has minimal deli cheeses to choose from (at least online), each of these cheeses comes highly recommended by Sprouts customers. Each option, from Sprouts Sliced Pepper Jack to Sprouts Sliced Provolone, has an average 4.5 to 5-star customer rating. If this sounds like too few options for your cheese-loving family, worry not: Sprouts carries more, albeit more expensive, cheese brands for you to choose from, like BelGioioso, President, and Organic Valley.

And because this is Sprouts we're talking about, the cheese is as all-natural as it can get. "All of our bulk cheeses are fresh cut daily in-store and crafted from all-natural whole milk," Sprouts claims. Plus, most Sprouts Farmers Market locations have a Culinary Director who makes sure that the prepared foods are fresh and at the peak of their deliciousness. A Reddit user wrote in r/AskLosAngeles that Sprouts sandwiches with cheese are "way better than Subway." A Redditor was more critical of Sprouts' cheese offerings and said it had an "awful selection... Sprouts is only good for veggies and possibly fruit." Many other reviewers agreed that Sprouts' produce is far superior to other grocery chains. But since this is a ranking of cheese departments, not produce departments, it can't take our top spot.

6. Costco

If you don't have a Costco membership, then you probably look at those who do with envy. Here's something else to feel jealous about; Costco is the perfect place to unearth a diamond in the rough, and the store's cheese department is hiding some truly breathtaking diamonds. When asked in r/Costco what the best Costco cheese is, a user said that "the Kirkland feta and chevre are legit and a great value. The English one with cranberries is incredible." Pitiful-Mobile-3144 is partial to the President-brand brie wheel, in part because "it's maybe ⅓ the cost of brie anywhere else." You can usually count on Costco's cheese being cheaper than in other stores. Even the average cheese lover will find something to love at Costco's incredibly varied deli. But what kind of cheese you should look out for is more of a toss-up.

Most Costco locations are stocked with slightly different food items depending on regional popularity. You may not always find the exact brand or type of cheese you're looking for at your local warehouse. But if you happen to be in the market for a gourmet 72-pound wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano, then look no further than Costco's website. It has a 4.6 out of 5 stars customer rating, and one reviewer said that "all the P-R I've bought at Costco has been as fresh and flavorful as any I've had, indicating sound storage and handling." The only catch? It's $949.99.

5. Aldi

A shopping cart may cost a few cents at Aldi, but you're more likely to save money at the non-brand name store than any ordinary grocery store (besides, you get the change back when you return your cart). There are Aldi locations all across the U.S., but it still has the essence of a small family business even 60+ years after its grand opening. The store's shelves are full of unique private-label foods at affordable prices, but its deli counter may be the real star of the show. One glance at the cheese section and you'll be greeted with a feast for the eyes: Emporium Selection Aged Reserve New York White Cheddar, which earned a Chef's Best Award for excellence; premium-quality Emporium Selection Edam Cheese; a fan-favorite Emporium Selection fresh mozzarella ball; even applewood smoked gruyère, which a Reddit user said smells "like a campground. It is smokey, smooth, creamy, tiny tang. I love it."

The praise from Reddit didn't stop there. "The Tete de Moines cheese is unbelievable," a user wrote. "I will weep when it's gone." If tears are shed when you run out of a certain kind of cheese, then you know it has to be good. Even vegans can get in on the action, as Earth Grown Vegan mozzarella style shreds came highly recommended on Tasting Table's list of the best vegan foods at Aldi's.

4. Wegmans

"Building relationships and helping people are at the core of what we do," Wegmans claims. This may sound like a lofty statement coming from a grocery store, but at Wegmans, the customer/employee relationship really is apparent. This especially comes in handy in the cheese department, where the mountains of cheeses of different textures, scents, and flavors can be downright overwhelming. A Redditor user said that other grocery stores aren't "even close to a Wegmans-like cheese counter." Another user agreed: "They have a solid cheese game. Get the Triple Creme Brie that comes in its own small wheel and it's great." The fact that Wegmans staffs actual cheesemakers to help you select the perfect cheese is a huge point in the grocery chain's favor.

Wegmans has even built its own manmade "cheese caves," or facilities where "soft and washed-rind cheese are nurtured to delicious ripeness" in an environment that's meant to reproduce authentic European cheese caves. The man in charge of the cheese caves, Mathieu Callol, is legitimately a cheese expert if his years of experience in the cheese-making industry are any indication. Best of all, Callol's expertise trickles down to the grocery chain's cheese experts who work in individual stores. From fresh goat cheese to Wegman's Beemster 18-month medium gouda cheese, many Wegmans-brand cheeses come highly recommended by customers on the store's website.

3. Kroger

On its company website, Kroger openly dedicates itself to providing a positive customer experience: "We've always been about value, convenience, and making customers' lives simpler." Look no further than Kroger's vast cheese department to see this credo come to life. Murray's Cheese shop in Kroger is fully committed to serving up the most selective, high-quality cheese on the market. There's a wide array of unique artisanal offerings that are chosen specifically by experienced cheesemongers. A Kroger employee said as such in the r/kroger subreddit: "Buy cheese at the cheese shop. It's soooooo much better than anything else in the store. If it's intimidating, just ask a monger [as] they're there to help you."

Yes, Kroger also carries high-quality brands like Tillamook, Private Selection, and Boursin. But for the true Murray's experience, try Murray's nutty shredded gruyere, Dansk blue crumbles, and creamy Camembert Fermier. "Best camembert I've had in the U.S.," one reviewer wrote. Still, another customer wrote that it was "the worst camembert I've ever tasted," so you'll have to decide for yourself if Murray's camembert is up to snuff. "I love Murray's!!" another customer wrote in r/cheese on Reddit. "I order a box from the NYC location for my parents for every holiday." Judging by Murray's strong fan base, the bad review is probably a fluke. You can do your own investigation into the matter at Murray's Cheese Caves. Clearly, the road from the cheese cave to Kroger is paved with camembert.

2. Whole Foods Market

Let's state the obvious: Whole Foods Market is expensive. Its preservative and antibiotic-free fare comes at a steep price, but it ensures higher-quality foods. In its specialty cheese section, Whole Foods carries an almost unmatched selection of organic, vegan, and authentically sourced cheeses. Whether you're ordering from the deli counter or opting instead for the vegan-friendly brand 365 by Whole Foods Market, you're sure to get cheese that has been surveyed and approved by the store's cheese experts. Even the "bad cut" cheese bin is filled with hidden cheese treasures. "There are more than 300 Certified Cheese Professionals in Whole Foods Market stores — along with countless cheesemongers... Our certification represents the highest level of expertise in the cheese industry," CCP Devin Lamma wrote on Whole Foods' website.

And the store's dedication to expertise has not gone unnoticed by cheese enthusiasts. "I worked for WFM for 9.5 years, and my favorites are the Lincet and the St. Angel. So creamy! The Lincet just melts in your mouth!" someone wrote in r/wholefoods on Reddit. An ex-employee, chimed in on r/Frugal: "Specialty cheeses are awesome at Whole Foods. You can't find a lot of their cheeses anywhere else." This seems to be the consensus among Whole Foods apologists: As expensive as the cheese may be, you'd be hard-pressed to find more unique, higher-quality varieties at other stores.

1. Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's offers affordable foods without sacrificing quality, which is why it nabbed the top spot on this list. As someone wrote in r/Frugal, "Trader Joe's is closer to Aldi prices on most items, but with Whole Foods quality." Trader Joe's cheese department is always diverse, growing, and evolving. Sure, you can find your everyday fetas, cheddars, and mozzarellas, but you should also keep an eye out for Trader Joe's more unusual offerings: a hot cocoa-inspired cream cheese spread, 1,000-day gouda, Chevre goat cheese, and the Toscano with black pepper, to name just a few. And the store's cheese experts aren't casual about their love for cheese. "Our cheese makers, based in Wisconsin, have origins in Valdastico, in Italy's mountainous, Northeastern Veneto region," Trader Joe's site states. Each cheesemaker brings with them generations of experience, not to mention flair, passion, and creativity.

"I cannot stop eating the Unexpected Cheddar spread," a customer wrote on r/traderjoes. What's "unexpected", you ask? The cheddar flavor slowly transforms into Parmesan in your mouth. Another point for Trader Joe's creative cheese geniuses. Another user didn't hold back when describing their love for TJ's cheese, either. "The caramelized onion cheddar... I would trade my first born for one block of it. My soul? Sold. My life? Changed." Thank you, Trader Joe's, for your vital contributions to cheese. If you're still having trouble choosing just one cheese, take a gander at this Tasting Table ranking of the best cheese at Trader Joe's.


In order to rank these grocery store cheese departments as accurately as possible, I took a few parameters into account: The size and diversity of each store's cheese department, the general affordability of the store's cheeses, the store brand cheese quality vs. private label, whether actual cheese experts/mongers are involved in the product's creation or are available for consultations in-store, and user reviews of cheese products from each store's website, as well as Reddit. I also took my own experience at these stores into account, as well as the expertise of fellow Tasting Table staff members and their own articles on the subject.