What is Havarti? The Star Cheese of the Culinary World

A Guide to Havarti - The Star Cheese of the Culinary World - Cheese Origin

Welcome to the wonderful world of cheese, where every bite can transport you to a different country, culture, or time period.

Today, we set sail towards Denmark, to delve into the creamy, buttery, and mildly tangy realm of Havarti – a cheese that has subtly but steadily established itself as a culinary star.

Whether you’re a seasoned cheese connoisseur or a curious food enthusiast, this guide will help you unravel the intriguing journey of Havarti, from its humble Danish origins to its current status as a global favorite.

Get ready to embark on an exciting gastronomic adventure as we explore the fascinating history, unique production process, and versatile uses of this delightful cheese.

So, sit back, grab a cracker (or better yet, a slice of Havarti), and let’s dive in!

Quick Facts About Havarti

Milk SourceCow’s milk
TextureSemi-soft, creamy, with small and irregular holes
FlavorMild, buttery, slightly sweet
ColorPale yellow
Aging ProcessTypically aged for about three months
VarietiesCan be found in various flavors including dill, caraway, cranberry, garlic, and others
UsesSandwiches, cheese boards, melted in cooking, served with fruit and wine

What is Special About Havarti Cheese?

Havarti cheese holds a unique place in the world of dairy due to its distinct characteristics:

  • Origin: A traditional Danish cheese, named after the farm where it was first created in the 1800s. This gives it a rich historical background that adds to its uniqueness.
  • Versatility: Its creamy and semi-soft texture makes it highly versatile. Havarti can be used in a variety of dishes, from gourmet cheese platters to melting it over burgers or incorporating it into baked dishes.
  • Flavor Development: Unlike many cheeses, the flavor of Havarti develops with age. It starts off as mild and buttery, but as it matures, it acquires a deeper, sharper, and more complex flavor profile, somewhat akin to extra sharp cheddar.
  • Rindless: Made without a rind, which is unusual among cheeses. This means you can enjoy every bit of it without having to cut away any hard, inedible exterior.
  • Variations: Comes in various flavored versions such as dill, caraway, cranberry, garlic, and more. Each variant offers a unique twist on the original, making Havarti a truly adaptable cheese for all palates.

Does Havarti Cheese Taste Good?

havarti cheese

The taste of Havarti cheese is often described as a delightful gastronomic experience. It starts off with a mild, smooth, and slightly tangy flavor that is universally appealing.

Its buttery undertones and creamy consistency lend it a mouthfeel that is both indulgent and satisfying.

As the cheese matures, it develops a deeper, more nuanced flavor profile that resonates well with cheese connoisseurs.

The presence of small irregular holes scattered throughout the cheese adds an interesting texture contrast. Moreover, the variety of flavored Havarti cheeses, such as those infused with dill, caraway, or cranberry, offer a unique twist on the traditional taste.

So, whether you’re a fan of milder cheeses or prefer a stronger, more complex flavor, Havarti provides a taste experience that is sure to please your palate.

Havarti Nutrition Facts

The key nutrients in a 100 grams serving of Havarti cheese:

Calories375 kcal
Total Fat30.9g
Saturated Fat19.7g
Total Carbohydrate1.4g
Dietary Fiber0g
Please note, these values can vary slightly depending on the specific brand or type of Havarti cheese.

What Cheese does Havarti taste like?

It has a creamy, buttery taste with just the right hint of tanginess, comparable to a mild Swiss or Monterey Jack yet with its own unique Danish twist.

The texture is smooth and flexible, with tiny holes scattered throughout.

When aged, Havarti takes on a more pronounced, nuttier flavor and firmer texture, somewhat akin to an extra sharp cheddar but still maintaining its characteristic creaminess.

This versatile cheese can be enjoyed in a myriad of ways, making it a delightful addition to any cheeseboard or culinary creation.

Cheeses that Havarti is Similar to:

  • Swiss Cheese: Havarti is similar to Swiss cheese in terms of its mild flavor and the presence of small holes throughout.
  • Monterey Jack: It shares a creamy, buttery texture with Monterey Jack cheese.
  • Extra Sharp Cheddar: When aged, its deeper, nuttier flavor can resemble that of an extra sharp cheddar.
  • Colby Cheese: The flexibility and meltability of Havarti can be compared to Colby cheese.
  • Gouda: Its mild tanginess and smooth texture are somewhat similar to Gouda.
  • Tilsit: The Danish cheese Tilsit also shares some characteristics with Havarti.

Is Havarti a Melting Cheese?

Yes, Havarti is indeed a melting cheese and it’s renowned for this characteristic. Havarti is celebrated for its excellent melting properties that make it a versatile ingredient in various culinary preparations.

Its buttery and slightly nutty flavor adds a delightful dimension to dishes when melted.

What Havarti is Best Used for?

Because of its superior melting properties, Havarti is perfect for grilled cheese sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, or melted over burgers and hotdogs. Melted Havarti enhances the taste and texture of the dish with its smooth creaminess.

It can also be used in baking, where it adds a delightful gooeyness to pastries and a rich depth to quiches, which also makes it an ideal choice for cheese boards as well as fondue.

On a cheese platter, Havarti’s mild-to-sharp flavor profile pairs beautifully with fruits like apples, pears and grapes, as well as a variety of crackers.

Also read: 11 Best Crackers that Pair Well with Cheese

The flavored versions of Havarti, such as dill or caraway, offer interesting taste dimensions to salads and cold pasta dishes.

Havarti Cheese Pairing Guide

Wine, Beer, and Spirit Pairings

When it comes to wine, Havarti’s buttery and creamy flavors pair well with light-bodied white wines like Sauvignon Blanc or a fruity Pinot Grigio. For red wine lovers, a light Pinot Noir can be a good match.

Beer enthusiasts can rejoice as Havarti pairs beautifully with a range of beers. Try it with a crisp Pilsner or a Belgian Ale to complement its creamy texture and balance its rich flavor.

For spirits, consider pairing Havarti with Calvados, a French apple brandy. The fruity and warm notes of the brandy bring out the subtle sweetness of the cheese.

>> Click here to read Best Wine and Cheese Pairings

Fruit, Nuts, and Condiments Pairings

Fruits provide a refreshing contrast to Havarti’s creaminess. Try pairing it with crisp apples, juicy pears, grapes, or tart berries. Dried fruits like apricots or figs can also be a delightful addition.

Nuts like almonds or walnuts add a satisfying crunch and a hint of earthiness that complements Havarti’s smooth texture.

Sweet condiments such as honey, fig jam, or quince paste enhance the subtle sweetness of Havarti, while savory ones like whole grain mustard or pickled gherkins add an interesting contrast.

Also read: What Fruit Goes on a Charcuterie Board?

The History of Havarti Cheese: A Journey Through Time and Taste

Havarti cheese, a global culinary favorite, has a rich and fascinating history that dates back to the mid-19th century. Its story begins in Denmark, in a small farm called Havartigaard, nestled near Holte. The genius behind Havarti was Hanne Nielsen, a pioneering woman who had a passion for cheese making and an intrepid spirit that led her across Europe to learn the art of cheesemaking.

In the 1850s, Nielsen returned to Denmark after her travels and began experimenting with different cheesemaking techniques on her farm, Havartigaard. Her innovation and dedication resulted in the creation of a unique semi-soft cheese, which she named ‘Havarti’ after her farm.

Havarti cheese stood out from other cheeses due to its creamy body, sliceable nature, and springy texture. The delicate, creamy flavors of Havarti were developed by Nielsen using washed-curd techniques, a process that involves washing the curd in warm water before pressing.

Over time, Havarti gained popularity not only in Denmark but across the globe. Its versatility, exceptional melting quality, and mild to sharp flavor profile made it a hit among food enthusiasts. Today, Havarti is recognized as the most famous cheese from Denmark.

Havarti’s journey through time has seen it evolve into various forms, including flavored versions like dill or caraway Havarti. These variations have furthered Havarti’s appeal, offering an exciting twist on the traditional taste.

In conclusion, this cheese, with its unique characteristics and delicious flavor, has carved out a special place in the world of cheese. From a small farm in Denmark to tables around the world, Havarti continues to delight palates and stands as a testament to Hanne Nielsen’s pioneering spirit.

The 6 Different Types of Havarti You Must Absolutely Try

1. Original Havarti:

Original Havarti

This is the classic Havarti many of us know and love. Made from whole milk, it boasts a 45% butterfat content, giving it a creamy, semi-soft texture. Its mild yet distinctive flavor makes it perfect for sandwiches, cheese boards, or simply enjoyed on its own.

2. Cream Havarti (FlodeHavarti):

Cream Havarti (FlodeHavarti)

A more indulgent version of the original, Cream Havarti is higher in fat content, resulting in a creamier, richer texture. This variety is great for those who love a decadent cheese experience. It’s perfect for melting into sauces or adding a luxurious touch to your cheese platter.

3. Dill Havarti:

Dill Havarti

Roth Cheese’s Dill Havarti introduces a herbal twist to the classic Havarti, infusing the cheese with dill to create a fresh and aromatic flavor profile. It’s an excellent choice to spruce up your sandwiches or salads.

4. Jalapeño Havarti:

Jalapeño Havarti

For those who like a bit of heat, Jalapeño Havarti offers a spicy kick. Infused with jalapeño peppers, this Havarti variation brings a punch of spice that complements the cheese’s creamy base. Use it to add some zest to your dishes, like nachos or a spicy grilled cheese sandwich.

5. Horseradish Havarti:

Horseradish Havarti

Another flavorful twist on the classic Havarti, Horseradish Havarti combines the creamy cheese with the tangy, spicy flavor of horseradish. This unique blend makes it an excellent pairing for roast beef sandwiches or as a bold addition to your cheese board.

6. Infused Havarti Cheese:

Infused Havarti Cheese

These Havarti cheeses are infused with various ingredients such as cranberry, garlic, basil, sour cream, bacon, and red pepper. Each infusion adds a unique flavor profile, making these cheeses a delightful surprise for the palate.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is Havarti cheese like brie?

While both cheeses offer creamy indulgence, their differences give them unique roles in the culinary world.

TextureSoft with edible rindSemi-soft, smooth, slightly springy
FlavorMild to intense, depending on ageCreamy, buttery, ranging from mild to sharp with maturation
Melting PropertiesMelts well but often enjoyed at room temperatureExcellent, ideal for dishes that require melted cheese
PairingsOften paired with fruits, nuts, and crackersPairs well with fruits, nuts, light wines, and crisp beers
Common UsesEnjoyed on its own, on a cheese plate, or baked and served with bread or crackersUsed in sandwiches, casseroles, macaroni and cheese, and on a cheese board

>> Click here to read our in-depth guide on Brie

2. Is Havarti a smelly cheese?

Havarti is not typically classified as a “smelly” cheese. Its aroma is generally mild, pleasant, and slightly buttery, much like its taste.

Unlike some cheeses, such as Limburger or Roquefort, which are known for their potent smells, Havarti’s scent is unobtrusive and inviting. This makes it an excellent choice for those who enjoy the creamy richness of cheese without the strong smell often associated with more mature or blue-veined varieties.

3. Can you eat Havarti raw by itself?

Absolutely, Havarti can certainly be enjoyed raw and by itself. This Danish cheese is known for its creamy, buttery flavor and smooth texture which makes it a delight to savor on its own.

Its mild yet distinctive taste allows it to stand alone as a snack or appetizer.

Whether you’re hosting a gathering or simply seeking a satisfying nibble, a slice of raw Havarti can offer a simple yet indulgent treat.

4. Is Havarti a good substitute for cheddar?

Havarti can indeed serve as a substitute for cheddar, though it’s important to note that the two cheeses do have distinct characteristics.

TextureFirm, often crumblyCreamy, semi-soft
FlavorSharp, intensifies with ageMild, buttery
Melting PropertiesMelts well, but can become oilyExcellent melter, maintains creamy texture
PairingsApples, pears, robust wines, alesGrapes, almonds, light wines
UsesSandwiches, casseroles, cheese boardsSandwiches, cheese boards, sauces
ColorWhite to deep orangePale yellow

Cheddar is known for its firm texture and sharpness which intensifies with age, while Havarti has a softer, creamier texture and a milder, buttery flavor.

If you’re looking for a cheese that melts well for dishes like grilled cheese sandwiches or macaroni and cheese, Havarti can be an excellent choice.

However, if the recipe specifically calls for the characteristic sharpness of mature cheddar, Havarti may not provide the same depth of flavor.


In wrapping up our guide to Havarti, it’s clear that this Danish delight is far more than just a single cheese.

With its various types ranging from the classic original to the indulgent Cream Havarti, and even the uniquely flavored Dill, Jalapeño, and Horseradish Havartis, there’s a world of taste to explore.

Each variety brings a unique spin to the table, proving that Havarti is not only versatile but also full of surprises.

Whether you’re a cheese connoisseur or a casual foodie, embarking on a culinary adventure with Havarti promises delightful discoveries and unforgettable flavor experiences.

So, dive in and savor the world of Havarti!

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