10 Most Popular Cheeses Originated in Norway

10 Most Popular Cheeses Originated in Norway - Cheese Origin

Welcome to the world of Norwegian cheeses, a realm rich in tradition, unique flavors, and undisputed culinary charm. Norway, with its lush meadows and clear, cold waters, is a dairy lover’s paradise. It’s no wonder that this Scandinavian country has produced some of the most distinctive and beloved cheeses in the world.

From the sweet caramel notes of Brunost to the sharp tang of Synnøve, Norwegian cheeses offer a diverse palette of taste experiences. In this post, we will embark on a journey through the 10 most popular cheeses that originated in Norway, exploring their unique characteristics, history, and the best ways to enjoy them.

Cheese NameShort DescriptionTasting Profile
JarlsbergA pliable, mild, semi-soft cheese made from cow’s milk with large, regular eyes. Originating from Jarlsberg, Norway, it resembles a Swiss Emmental.Distinct nutty flavor, reminiscent of Swiss cheese, soft and buttery, ideal for sandwiches and light lunches.
NorvegiaA semi-hard cheese, Norvegia is a family favorite in Norway due to its versatility.It has a mild and sweet taste that pairs well with a variety of foods.
GamalostTranslating to “old cheese,” Gamalost is a traditional Norwegian cheese known for its robust nature.Gamalost offers a pungent flavor, unique to traditional Norwegian cheeses.
NorzolaA Norwegian variant of blue cheese, Norzola brings uniqueness to the cheese platter.Norzola has a slightly sharp, yet creamy taste typical of blue cheeses.
NøkkelostNøkkelost is a semi-hard cheese known for its rich, aromatic qualities.This cheese has a distinct flavor profile infused with cumin and cloves.
RidderA soft and creamy cheese, Ridder is appreciated for its delicate texture.Ridder has a mild flavor that becomes sharper and more robust as it ages.
KraftkarKraftkar is a blue cheese that won the World Cheese Awards in 2016.It boasts a creamy, yet crumbly texture with the characteristic tang of blue cheeses.
Brown Goat Cheese (Geitost)This caramel-like cheese stands out with its fudge-like texture and distinct color.Geitost offers a sweet, caramel-like flavor that’s unique among cheeses.
GudbrandsdalenAlso known as Brunost or ‘brown cheese,’ Gudbrandsdalen is a caramelized whey-based product.This cheese has a sweet and tangy flavor, reminiscent of caramel.
SynnøveSynnøve is a popular brand in Norway, known for a variety of cheeses.Synnøve’s cheeses are loved for their mild and creamy flavors, suitable for a wide range of dishes.

1. Jarlsberg

  • Milk Type: Cow’s milk
  • Taste: Mild, nutty flavor similar to Swiss cheese
  • Texture: Semi-soft with large, regular eyes
  • Food Pairing: Ideal for sandwiches, light lunches, and cheese dips
  • Wine Pairing: Pairs well with a variety of wines, particularly light reds and aromatic whites

Jarlsberg is a quintessential Norwegian cheese, renowned for its characteristic large, regular holes and a mild, nutty flavor that’s reminiscent of Swiss cheese. This semi-soft cheese is made from cow’s milk and has a pliable texture that makes it a versatile addition to any dish.

Perfect for sandwiches, light lunches, or even cheese dips, Jarlsberg is a true delight for cheese lovers. Its unique nutty taste pairs well with a variety of wines, particularly light reds, and aromatic whites, making it a staple in cheese platters worldwide.

2. Norvegia

  • Milk Type: Cow’s milk
  • Taste: Mild and sweet
  • Texture: Semi-hard
  • Food Pairing: Versatile, can be used in sandwiches, salads, or melted for cooking
  • Wine Pairing: Pairs well with light and fruity wines, like Pinot Noir or Chardonnay

Norvegia is a popular Norwegian cheese known for its mild and sweet flavor. Made from cow’s milk, it has a semi-hard texture that’s both versatile and delightful. Its subtle sweetness makes it an ideal cheese for a variety of dishes – whether it’s in sandwiches, salads, or melted atop your favorite recipes.

It’s not just the food that loves Norvegia; this cheese also pairs excellently with light and fruity wines like Pinot Noir or Chardonnay, enhancing the dining experience. A true embodiment of Norwegian dairy craftsmanship, Norvegia is a must-try for any cheese enthusiast.

3. Gamalost

  • Milk Type: Cow’s milk
  • Taste: Strong, sharp, and slightly bitter
  • Texture: Firm, dry and crumbly
  • Food Pairing: Traditionally eaten on bread or with sour cream
  • Wine Pairing: Pairs well with strong, full-bodied red wines

Gamalost, also known as “old cheese,” is a traditional Norwegian cheese steeped in history. Made from skimmed cow’s milk, it’s a hard cheese with a crumbly texture and a strong, sharp taste that’s not for the faint-hearted. Its flavor profile is rich and intense, with earthy notes that reflect its lengthy aging process.

Despite its pungent aroma, Gamalost is a beloved delicacy in Norway, often enjoyed spread on bread or crackers. Pair it with a robust beer or a glass of aquavit to balance out its distinct flavor. Truly, Gamalost is a testament to Norway’s rich cheese-making heritage.

4. Norzola

  • Milk Type: Cow’s milk
  • Taste: Slightly sharp, typical of blue cheeses
  • Texture: Creamy with characteristic blue veins
  • Food Pairing: Great for salads, pasta dishes, or on a cheese platter
  • Wine Pairing: Pairs well with sweet dessert wines, port or full-bodied reds

Norzola is a delightful blue cheese hailing from the heart of Norway. Renowned for its unique taste, this semi-soft cheese is made from cow’s milk and features a striking network of blue veins throughout, contributing to its sharp and slightly spicy flavor profile.

Norzola’s texture is creamy yet crumbly, making it an excellent choice for a cheese platter, salads, or melted into pasta dishes. It pairs exceptionally well with sweet fruits and dessert wines, creating a delicious balance of flavors. In essence, Norzola is a testament to Norway’s vibrant and innovative cheesemaking traditions.

5. Nøkkelost

  • Milk Type: Cow’s milk
  • Taste: Distinct flavor infused with cumin and cloves
  • Texture: Semi-hard
  • Food Pairing: Excellent in sandwiches or melted in traditional Norwegian dishes
  • Wine Pairing: Pairs well with light and fruity wines, or beers with a slight sweetness.

Nøkkelost, often referred to as “Key Cheese,” is a traditional Norwegian delight. This semi-hard cheese, produced from cow’s milk, is known for its unique blend of flavors, thanks to the addition of cumin, caraway seeds, and cloves. Its texture is firm yet offers a creamy mouthfeel, with small holes dotted throughout.

Nøkkelost is versatile in its use, perfect for slicing into sandwiches, grating over dishes, or even enjoyed on its own. Its distinct flavor also makes it an excellent pair for a range of beverages, from robust beers to rich wines. Nøkkelost is indeed a flavorful key to the heart of Norway’s culinary heritage.

6. Ridder

  • Milk Type: Cow’s milk
  • Taste: Mild flavor that becomes sharper as it ages
  • Texture: Soft and creamy
  • Food Pairing: Ideal for cheese platters, in sandwiches, or melted over dishes
  • Wine Pairing: Pairs well with full-bodied white wines and light red wines

Ridder cheese is a Norwegian classic, often described as Norway’s answer to the French Camembert. Made from pasteurized cow’s milk, Ridder boasts a creamy and slightly crumbly texture that melts beautifully on the tongue. Its rind is washed in cultures during maturation, giving it an orange hue and contributing to its unique flavor profile, which ranges from mild when young to more robust and tangy as it ages.

The cheese can be enjoyed in a variety of ways – sliced onto crackers, melted into sauces, or simply savored on its own. With its rich flavors and creamy consistency, Ridder is a testament to Norway’s cheesemaking expertise.

7. Kraftkar

  • Milk Type: Cow’s milk
  • Taste: Strong, tangy flavor characteristic of blue cheeses
  • Texture: Creamy yet crumbly
  • Food Pairing: Excellent on a cheese platter or crumbled over salads and pasta dishes
  • Wine Pairing: Pairs well with sweet dessert wines or strong, full-bodied reds

Kraftkar is a true powerhouse in the world of Norwegian cheese. Made from unpasteurized cow’s milk from Tingvollost Dairy, Kraftkar is a blue cheese that stands out with its strong, intense flavor and crumbly yet creamy texture. The cheese has won numerous awards, including the prestigious title of ‘World Champion’ at the 2016 World Cheese Awards.

With its distinctive mold patterns and robust flavor profile, Kraftkar can be savored alone or used to elevate dishes. Whether paired with honey and figs or melted into a gourmet sauce, Kraftkar offers an unforgettable culinary journey into Norway’s rich cheesemaking tradition.

8. Brown Goat Cheese (Geitost)

Brown Goat Cheese
  • Milk Type: Goat’s milk
  • Taste: Sweet, caramel-like flavor
  • Texture: Fudge-like
  • Food Pairing: Perfect for spreading on bread or crackers, or melting over warm dishes
  • Wine Pairing: Pairs well with dessert wines or fruity white wines
  • Read in-depth guide

Geitost, also known as Brown Goat Cheese, is a Norwegian delicacy that stands out due to its distinctive brown color and caramel-like flavor. Made from whey of goat’s milk, this cheese is slowly heated until the sugars caramelize, giving Geitost its unique sweet-savory profile and fudge-like texture.

It’s commonly served sliced thin and eaten on bread or crackers, often paired with fresh fruit or jam for a delightful contrast. Some even enjoy it in cooking, where it adds a rich, creamy element to sauces and desserts. Geitost is more than just a cheese; it’s a cherished piece of Norwegian food culture.

9. Gudbrandsdalen

  • Milk Type: Cow’s and goat’s milk
  • Taste: Sweet and tangy, reminiscent of caramel
  • Texture: Smooth and spreadable
  • Food Pairing: Ideal for spreading on bread or waffles, or used in cooking
  • Wine Pairing: Pairs well with dessert wines or fruity white wines
  • Read in-depth guide

Gudbrandsdalen is a Norwegian cheese treasure, known for its unique blend of cow’s and goat’s milk. This brown cheese is characterized by its sweet caramel flavor, a result of slowly cooking the milk until the sugars caramelize. Its texture is firm yet creamy, making it easy to slice but also melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

Gudbrandsdalen is often enjoyed on bread or waffles, paired with coffee for a traditional Norwegian breakfast. However, its versatility doesn’t stop there; it can also be used in cooking, adding a sweet, creamy depth to sauces and desserts. Gudbrandsdalen offers a taste of Norway’s rich culinary heritage with every bite.

10. Synnøve

  • Milk Type: Cow’s milk
  • Taste: Mild and creamy flavors
  • Texture: Varies depending on the type of cheese, can be semi-hard to soft
  • Food Pairing: Suitable for a wide range of dishes, from sandwiches to cooking
  • Wine Pairing: Pairs well with a variety of wines, depending on the specific cheese type

Synnøve is a prominent name in the Norwegian dairy industry, producing a wide range of cheeses that cater to various taste preferences. Whether it’s their rich, creamy Gulost (yellow cheese) or their sharp, tangy Norvegia, Synnøve offers an authentic taste of Norway’s cheesemaking tradition.

The brand is known for its commitment to quality, using only the finest ingredients to create cheeses that are both versatile and delicious. From sandwiches to gourmet meals, Synnøve cheeses can add a touch of Norwegian flavor to any dish.

Final Thoughts

As we conclude our journey through the rich and diverse world of Norwegian cheese, it’s clear that each variety offers a unique taste of Norway’s deep-rooted dairy traditions. These 10 cheeses are more than just delightful additions to your cheeseboard; they are stories of Norway’s landscape, its history, and its people.

Whether you’re savoring the sweet caramel depth of Gudbrandsdalen or the sharp tang of Synnøve, every bite is an exploration of Norwegian culture and culinary innovation. So, next time you’re at the cheese counter, don’t hesitate to reach for a slice of Norway. It’s not just cheese – it’s a taste adventure waiting to happen.

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