Call me quirky if you want, but I am a huge maniac for savoring anything spicy and tangy. The sprawling sweetness with a simultaneous slow but bold, fiery kick of spiciness is something worth relishing.
Am I talking about jalapeno peppers in a glass of wine or what? *laugh*. No, all this hype is about pepper jack cheese, of course! (Oh, by the way, hello, cheese people!)
Pepper jack cheese is a variant or kind of Monterey jack cheese flavored with peppers and herbs. It is a semi-hard cheese variety with a super-rich, creamy and buttery flavor that deliciously spikes up the spiciness in your pizzas, pasta, or burgers.
Agreed, pepper jack cheese is one of the most popular cheese varieties adored for its unique flavor. Should that stop us from finding out its best substitutes in case we run out of it? Nah. That is exactly what we are going to talk about today.
So, what are the best pepper jack cheese substitutes? They are gouda, cheddar, havarti, colby jack, mozzarella, and edam.
Brace yourself for a cheesy journey as we will look at pepper jack cheese in detail and its best alternatives.
Quick Peek: Pepper Jack Cheese
The following sections tell you about pepper jack cheese, its flavor, texture, uses, and health benefits.
What Is Pepper Jack Cheese?
Pepper Jack cheese, as you’d already know, is a type of cheese made from cow’s milk. It has its origin from its sibling Monterey jack cheese based in California. (Did you know that Monterey jack cheese is called an ‘American original’ cheese?)
Pepper jack cheese is a modification of Monterey jack cheese with the addition of spices and herbs. This is why it is sometimes called Monterey jack cheese with peppers.
The spicy kick that comes with pepper jack cheese is the venerable contribution of jalapeno peppers, serrano, habanero, and garlic and rosemary.
You don’t need me to blab about the SHU of these peppers to get an idea of their heat level, do you? (If yes, refer to my substitutes article on Scotch bonnet peppers here)
You know that cheese gets better with time (which is so like wine). The older the cheese is, the better the spicy flavor and its intensity.
Describing Pepper Jack Cheese: Flavor and Texture
Pepper jack cheese has a mildly sweet buttery flavor with a spicy tang. Its moist, firm texture makes it a great complimentary ingredient to pizzas, nachos, quesadillas, sandwiches, mac and cheese, etc.
Generally, pepper jack cheese is aged for only a few months. The more aged it is, the more intense its spicy flavor. Also, with aging, it attains a cream-colored, firm texture. This is all about its flavor and texture. Now, let’s quickly peek at the uses of Pepper Jack cheese.
Uses of Pepper Jack Cheese
Pepper jack cheese is a flavorful accompaniment to many foods. This creamy, yummy cheese melts beautifully on your pizzas, sandwiches, mac, and cheese, or tacos and diffuses the spicy flavor in a jiffy.
Pepper jack cheese slices are themselves a terrific, standalone snack item and usually used along with Mexican foods. It can also be paired with roast meat, crackers, or sandwiches which is sure to brighten your day.
Pepper jack cheese is also great with drinks like Chardonnay, Riesling, or dessert wines. The sweet taste of the drinks is boosted by the hot kick of our cheese!
Health Benefits of Pepper Jack Cheese
Pepper jack cheese is a rich source of high-quality protein and calcium. It has a low carb content making it a beneficial ingredient in a high-protein diet. It aids the smooth functioning of hormones and enzymes.
Consumption of pepper jack cheese can reduce the risk of osteoporosis while simultaneously boosting bone health. The presence of protein helps you escape from hunger pangs and keeps you fuller.
All is well with pepper jack cheese. So why should we find its substitutes? Let us see.
Why Should We Substitute Pepper Jack Cheese?
Pepper jack cheese is loaded with high unsaturated fat, which will not strike the chord well if you are trying to skim those extra inches off your body. To add to that, it has a skyrocketing cholesterol content as well.
Apart from these, some of us might be lactose intolerant (I can’t help remembering Leonard from TBBT). Also, those allergic to milk products are generally forced to find alternatives for their favorite ingredients.
You may be out of pepper jack cheese or looking for some fat-free spicy cheese alternatives. The next section will help you with all of these.
15 Best Pepper Jack Cheese Substitutes
Now that the description of Pepper Jack cheese is out of the way let’s see what we’re here for; its substitutes. The fifteen best substitutes for pepper jack cheese are as follows:
Gouda is a yellow-colored, semi-hard cheese variety coming to us all the way from the Netherlands. It is said to be one of the oldest recorded cheeses still in production. It has a sweet, tangy flavor and a hard texture.
Young Gouda cheese can be the best substitute for pepper jack cheese due to its tangy flavor and hard texture. In fact, gouda cheese has a more pronounced sweet flavor than pepper jack cheese.
It is best to avoid aged gouda cheese, which has an intensified sweeter, saltier flavor making it hard to melt, unlike pepper jack cheese. You can also use smoked gouda. Here’s a quick and easy recipe for smoked gouda.
Cheddar cheese is an English cheese variety that is popular, and much loved around the globe. It has a sharp, creamy flavor with a buttery texture. For the best cheddar version, it should be aged for at least two years.
Cheddar cheese comes in two colors – yellow and white. It is not akin to pepper jack cheese when it comes to the flavor profile. Cheddar tastes more creamy, while pepper jack tastes spicier.
Despite that, the hard texture of cheddar cheese makes it a good substitute for pepper jack cheese, especially in terms of texture. Go for Monterey cheddar to replace pepper jack cheese in baking recipes.
Want to know an interesting recipe using cheddar? Here’s the recipe for farmhouse cheddar skillet pie. Do give it a try!
3. Havarti Cheese
Havarti is a Danish semi-soft cheese variety made from cow’s milk like pepper jack cheese. It has a smooth, creamy texture with a sweet, buttery flavor. It has high moisture content and a mild taste.
Havarti can be an alternative for pepper jack cheese in terms of flavor but not texture. Havarti is a semi-soft cheese, while pepper jack cheese is a hard variety. Also, Havarti takes its own sweet time to melt, unlike pepper jack cheese.
4. Colby Jack Cheese
Colby jack cheese can be the cousin of pepper jack cheese in our story as it is a blend of Colby and Monterey jack, two types of hard cheeses. It has a sweet, sharp, tangy flavor and a semi-hard texture.
Colby jack cheese can be used to substitute for pepper jack cheese for grilling, sauteing, and frying purposes due to its mellow flavor, hard texture, and ability to melt easily.
Word of caution: use Colby jack cheese as soon as you open, or it will get all crumbly with time.
Mozzarella is an Italian curd cheese made from buffalo’s milk. It is low in fat but high in moisture with a delicate flavor and firm texture. It becomes more soft and sour with aging. It is one of the healthiest cheese varieties due to its low calorie and fat content.
Mozzarella cheese can be a good substitute for pepper jack cheese due to its mild flavor. Opt for dried mozzarella cheese while replacing pepper jack cheese in order to fully relish its creamy flavor.
There are a million recipes that you can use mozzarella. But it’s good to go with simple. Try the amazing recipe for Gordon Ramsay’s margarita pizza here!
6. Edam Cheese
Edam cheese is also a semi-hard cheese coming to us from the Netherlands. It is impossible not to talk about its unique structure.
Edam cheese often has a lovely spherical shape like that of a wheel, is covered in wax, and is pale yellow. It has a mild, nutty flavor with a salty taste that gets intensified with aging. When young, Edam cheese has a soft, elastic texture.
Edam cheese can be substituted for pepper jack cheese due to its mild flavor and soft texture.
Gruyere is a variety of Swiss cheese with a rich sweet and salty flavor. It belongs to the category of Swiss-type or Alpine cheeses, which have their origin in the Alps of Europe.
The thing about gruyere (or as with any other cheese) is that its flavor and structure change with aging. Young gruyere has a profound salty, nutty flavor and a creamy texture, whereas aged gruyere has more of an earthy flavor with cracks and grainy texture.
Gruyere has a salty flavor making it different from pepper jack cheese. However, as one of the best substitutes for pepper jack cheese with respect to texture, gruyere cheese works really well in pizzas, tacos, or sandwiches.
Also, make a grilled cheese to die for with some gruyere cheese. Here’s the recipe for Alton Brown’s grilled cheese. It’s definitely worth a try!
8. Mimolette Cheese
Hailing from France, Boule de Lille or Mimolette cheese is an orange-colored shape with a spherical shape (similar to cantaloupe melon). The term Mimolette comes from the French word mi-mou, which means semi-soft.
Mimolette cheese is a mild cheese with a caramel-like sweetness and citrusy flavor. The semi-soft texture is related to the oily texture of this cheese, which basically has a hard texture.
Aged Mimolette cheese will have an intense nutty flavor making it difficult to melt or consume. Choosing young Mimolette cheese will work when substituting pepper jack cheese due to its soft texture when subjected to high heat.
9. Muenster Cheese
Muenster or Munster is an American semi-soft cheese type. It is thought of as the facsimile of Alsatian Munster cheese, which has a mild flavor and a soft texture. There are many types of muenster cheeses available.
The American Muenster cheese is yellow colored and has a mild, creamy flavor with a smooth texture. It can easily melt even at low temperatures making it a worthy option as a substitute.
Muenster cheese, both French or American versions, can be used as an alternative for pepper jack cheese in pizzas and sandwiches due to its mild flavor.
10. Comte Cheese
Comte cheese is a French cheese, categorized into one of the Swiss-type or Alpine cheeses. It is usually made from unpasteurized cow’s milk and has a brown-colored rind. It has a mild, sweet, buttery flavor with a hard texture.
The flavor of Comte cheese may vary due to the absence of pasteurization. Despite being hard in texture, it easily melts and blends well with other ingredients, making Comte cheese a considerable substitute for pepper jack cheese.
Although, your clock starts ticking when you buy some cheese. After four months, you can slowly witness the cheese getting spoiled.
11. Emmental Cheese
The chances are probably slim that you have heard of this cheese before. Not to worry. Emmental cheese is yet another Swiss-type or Alpine cheese variety from Switzerland.
Emmental cheese has a buttery, fruity flavor with a tinge of acidity. It is a medium-hard cheese variety with a hard texture. The younger version of Emmental cheese has a more intricate flavor than the aged one.
Emmental cheese works as an alternative for pepper jack cheese solely due to its potential to melt effortlessly at average temperatures. It also easily gets along with other ingredients in your recipe.
Parmesan cheese is an Italian granular cheese with a gritty texture. It is a dry, hard cheese made from cow’s milk and aged for at least a year. It has a fruity, nutty flavor with a brittle rind.
Before choosing to replace pepper jack cheese with parmesan cheese, you will have to consider the type of pepper jack cheese. If you wish to replace an immature pepper jack cheese, you shall have to say goodbye to parmesan.
However, parmesan cheese is your best bet if you wish to substitute for aged pepper jack cheese. This is solely because aged parmesan cheese can be stored easily without spoilage.
Put your parmesan to good use. Make some chicken! Here’s the recipe for some delicious baked parmesan chicken!
13. Carolina Reaper Cheddar Cheese
Carolina reaper cheddar is reserved for those who are daring to get into an ultimate spicy session! It is a type of cheddar cheese mixed with Carolina peppers having a SHU of over 1 million.
Carolina reaper cheddar cheese is one of the hottest, spiciest cheeses. With an intense spicy flavor, Carolina reaper cheddar cheese is definitely one of the best substitutes for pepper jack cheese.
14. Cashew and Jalapeno
Coming to the non-cheese substitutes, we have a blend of cashew and jalapeno as an alternative for pepper jack cheese. This substitute is prepared by grinding soaked cashews and sauteed jalapenos until a thick consistency is achieved.
Cashews are rich in fiber and protein. They have vital nutrients that are important for the proper functioning of our brain, heart, and bones. They also boost our immunity.
Blending cashew and jalapeno offers a creamy butter flavor with a spicy kick, making it a good, healthy alternative for pepper jack cheese.
15. Walnut and Jalapeno
As with the case of cashew and jalapeno paste, a mix of walnuts and jalapeno peppers can also give you creamy results. *chuckle*
Walnuts are incredibly delicious with immense health benefits. They are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. Regular consumption of walnuts can mitigate the risk of cancer as well as inflammation.
This makes walnut a healthy alternative to pepper jack cheese when added with jalapeno peppers. For making this substitute, blend soaked walnuts, yeast, jalapeno, and apple cider vinegar.
The resultant thick paste comprising walnuts and jalapenos with a nutty, spicy flavor is sure to emulate the flavor of pepper jack cheese.
A Short Recap
Hey there, busy reader! If you are done with the exhaustive reading of the list of substitutes, here is a short recap for you. This will help you to choose a substitute based on the texture, flavor, and health benefits.
Flavor – If you want a flavor close to pepper jack cheese, consider Havarti, gouda, or Colby Jack cheese.
Texture – For a texture akin to pepper jack cheese, your choices should be cheddar, gruyere, and Mimolette cheeses.
Non-Cheese Substitutes – You might be avoiding cheese for your reasons and if that’s the case, use the mixtures of cashew and jalapeno and walnut and jalapeno.
That was all about the best substitutes for pepper jack cheese. If you are a cheese person, opt for any of the cheese substitutes after considering the flavor, texture, and aging characteristics involved.
The substitute you choose should cater to the demands of your recipe. Try these substitutes, and let me know how well they turned out. See you soon with a brand new article!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Pepper Jack Cheese Same As Monterey Jack Cheese?
Pepper jack cheese is a variant of Monterey jack cheese. To put it simply, pepper jack cheese is Monterey Jack cheese with spices and herbs.
Does Pepper Jack Cheese melt easily?
Certainly, pepper jack cheese is a great cheese owing to its great melting potential even at average temperatures.
Is Pepper Jack Cheese a Hard Cheese?
Pepper jack cheese does not belong to the hard cheese category. In fact, it is semi-hard in nature and melts easily.
What Are The Spices Used in Pepper Jack Cheese?
Pepper jack cheese comprises jalapeno and habanero peppers, rosemary, and garlic.