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Looking for a good substitute for Monterey Jack cheese? How do 13 easy substitutes for this cheese sound? Keep reading to see how to replace Monterey Jack in your favorite recipes.
Monterey Jack is a semi-hard, creamy cheese with a buttery flavor that’s often the go-to cheese option for cooking or snacks in American kitchens. It’s highly versatile as its flavor goes well with most other ingredients and is easy to slice and melt quickly when in a rush.
Monterey Jack cheese has two variants that are also popular, if not quite so common. One is Aged Jack cheese, which has a firmer texture, with a sharper and nuttier flavor – clear indicators of aging. The second is Pepper Jack cheese, which has a semi-soft texture, creamier than the original Monterey Jack, and a more complex flavor due to the addition of jalapeños, habaneros, sweet peppers, rosemary, and garlic.
So, if you’re making a recipe that calls for Monterey Jack cheese and you can’t find any, here’s a summary of what you can use instead.
What to substitute for Monterey jack cheese
The best Monterey jack cheese alternatives are:
- Aged Jack cheese
- Pepper Jack cheese
- Gouda cheese
- Edam cheese
- Muenster cheese
- Havarti cheese
- Emmentaler cheese
- Colby cheese
- Comte cheese
- Gruyere cheese
- Cheddar cheese
- Parmesan cheese
- Vegan Monterey Jack-style block
Each substitute cheese listed here is discussed in more detail below.
Using Other Variants to Substitute Monterey Jack cheese
You can substitute Monterey Jack with either Aged Jack or Pepper Jack but will have to adjust the ratio and cooking time accordingly.
Use around 1:1.2 Aged Jack to Monterey Jack to account for sharper flavor and cook for a while longer as this hard cheese will take more time to melt.
Pepper Jack to Monterey Jack, on the other hand, should be 1:1.2 to account for Pepper Jack’s spicier flavor and will take a bit less time to cook as it melts faster.
Best Substitutes for Monterey Jack Cheese
Gouda is one of the closest cheeses to Monterey Jack in terms of texture. It is semi-hard, creamy, and melts well. Gouda cheese has a flavor that is not far from that of Monterey Jack. While Gouda has a bit more tanginess to it, it’s pretty mild and has characteristic buttery notes.
Due to their similarities, Gouda can easily act as a Monterey Jack substitute at a 1:1 ratio in burgers, sandwiches, mac & cheese, etc. But make sure you don’t get Aged Gouda (unless substituting for Aged Jack), as it has a sharper flavor and harder texture that’ll take more time to melt.
Edam cheese makes a good substitute due to its semi-hard texture that matches Monterey Jack’s and won’t need much adjustment when cooking. It has a mild, somewhat nutty flavor that goes well with most ingredients. Despite the differences in taste, you can use it at a 1:1 ratio when substituting it for Monterey Jack cheese. If you want to account for extra nuttiness, add a bit less Edam, maybe around a 0.8:1 ratio.
There are two versions of Muenster cheese, and right now, we’re talking about the American one, not French. American Muenster cheese has a mild flavor and creamy texture, similar to Monterey Jack, and will easily substitute at a 1:1 ratio in any dish. Meanwhile, French Muenster has a much sharper, smoky flavor and needs to be used more sparingly.
A semi-hard, springy cheese with a creamy, somewhat sweet flavor, many consider Havarti cheese an ideal Monterey Jack substitute in grilling and baking recipes. They match well in texture and flavor, though Havarti is less buttery and milkier. Substitute at a 1:1 ratio.
Emmentaler cheese is another semi-hard cheese with a buttery flavor, though it has a more robust flavor than Monterey Jack cheese. It’s one of the more versatile options on this list, as it’s typically consumed cold (cubes or slices) but has terrific melting qualities if you need a substitute for Monterey Jack cheese for a burger, sandwich, etc. Just make sure to stick to young Emmentaler as it has a noticeably robust, savory flavor, and will require a ratio adjustment (at around 1:1.5 of Monterey Jack).
Colby is considered similar to Monterey Jack, though its texture is a bit softer and the flavor a bit milder. It makes a great substitute, but you’ll need to use a bit more, at a ratio of about 1.5:1.
A semi-hard cheese that’s similar to Monterey in texture but has a noticeably sweeter flavor. To adjust for sweetness, use less Comté (at a ratio of maybe 1:1.3) or mix it with other semi-hard cheeses.
Young Gruyere cheese has a creamy texture and buttery flavor similar to Monterey, but it’s also harder and nuttier. Gruyere cheese makes a good substitute for recipes that require cooking, as it melts well. Add a little less Gruyere to adjust for its stronger taste at a ratio of around 1:1.3.
Cheddar is more of a last-resort substitute and only for recipes that require grilling or baking. Dry, aged cheddar with sharp flavor won’t work at all, but if you can get your hands on a younger, creamier Cheddar, you can make do with a bit of adjustment. The ratio of Cheddar to Monterey should be around 1:2.
Parmesan cheese has a dry, crumbly texture and a robust, nutty flavor that doesn’t match Monterey Jack at all unless we’re talking about Dry Jack. It’s not ideal in any way, but if you use it for a recipe that requires shredded cheese at a 1:2 ratio, it can work. At any rate, it’ll be better than skipping cheese altogether.
Vegan Monterey Jack-style block
Lastly, if you are vegan, this Monterey-style cheese block is a good vegan substitute for Monterey Jack cheese. Made with chickpeas and oats, this block of cheese is smooth, buttery, and delicious and can be used to make tacos, beans burgers, vegan platters and so much more for vegan eaters! You can get this Vegan Monterey Jack-style block of cheese here.