A turkey sandwich is a classic lunchtime meal. It’s also one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to use up leftover Thanksgiving turkey. But it can be hard to come up with new flavor combinations when you’ve eaten turkey for every meal for a week straight!
Whether you want to use up those tasty holiday leftovers or the deli meat in the fridge, we’ll cover all the best cheese options to make your sandwiches unique and flavorful.
For a flavorful turkey try provolone, Edam, Havarti, or Monterey Jack. For a milder turkey go with something with more flavor like Gouda, Pepper Jack, or Swiss.
Why Add Cheese to a Turkey Sandwich?
The answer is simple: cheese adds flavor, texture, and moisture to your turkey sandwich. It also makes it a little more filling because of its protein content.
Turkey is a versatile meat that goes with many different flavors and textures. That’s one of the reasons it’s the favorite sandwich meat out there.
Cheese is one of those ingredients that can really make or break your meal–it’s important to choose the right kind!
What Cheese Goes Well with a Turkey Sandwich?
What cheese will work best will depend on the turkey you’re using. For instance, a smokey or heavily flavored (herb brine maybe?) turkey meat will pair best with a mild, young cheese. With so much flavor in your turkey, you won’t want to send your taste buds spinning.
If you’re planning on toasting or grilling your sandwich, you’ll want to consider how your cheese choice melts too. That can change the texture of your sandwich in a good or bad way depending on your preferences.
Cheddar is a classic cheese for turkey sandwiches. It’s versatile, and can be used in a variety of recipes–it’s great for grilled cheese sandwiches and quesadillas, too! But it’s not for the lovers of mild cheese.
Cheddar has a strong flavor of earthy and pungent notes that doesn’t cater to every sandwich lover. If you want your cheese to take the show alongside the turkey then give cheddar a try. It pairs especially well with smoked turkey.
Cheddar blends perfectly with a little smoked turkey, onions, and some sweet cherry tomatoes.
Swiss cheese is a semi-hard cheese with a mild, nutty flavor. It’s smooth and creamy, but it doesn’t melt as easily as other cheeses.
Swiss can be used in place of American or Cheddar on your sandwiches because it melts well without getting too greasy.
You can’t get any better than the classic turkey and swiss on rye.
Havarti is a semi-soft cow’s milk cheese that hails from Denmark, Holland, and the United States. It has a mild, nutty flavor and is best served at room temperature.
The name Havarti comes from the Danish word “havre,” meaning oats or barley; this refers to how farmers used to feed their cows during winter months when grass was scarce. Today’s Havarti can be made with raw or pasteurized milk depending on where you live in the world–and many people prefer it without artificial coloring agents added!
Havarti’s slightly acidic flavor pairs best with oven-roasted turkey breast.
Provolone is a mild, semi-hard cow’s milk cheese with a firm texture and a slightly nutty flavor. It originated in the northern regions of Italy (Campania) and is usually made from whole milk.
Provolone has been produced since at least the early 1700s when it was first mentioned in a document written by Giuseppe Baldassare Ferri. Today, provolone is produced throughout Europe and North America; however, most American versions are pasteurized rather than aged like their Italian counterparts (which means they have less flavor). The aged varieties like dolce (aged 2 months) and piccante (aged 4 months) are becoming more popular.
Young provolone has a nutty, savory flavor that ends in a hint of sweetness. It pairs perfectly with that roast turkey meat hiding in your fridge.
Provolone’s most common uses are on sandwiches or pizza because it melts well without losing its shape or becoming too soft to bite into easily–but don’t let that stop you from eating this delicious cheese straight off your knife!
5. Pepper Jack
Pepper Jack is a spicy, semi-hard cheese that’s made with Monterey Jack and spicy peppers. It has a sharp flavor and should be used in sandwiches with other bold flavors.
You can use Pepper Jack on any sandwich: turkey, ham, or egg salad. Look for pepper jack that uses fresh rather than dried peppers. The pepper flavor in the cheese will be so much better.
Enhance the taste of your turkey with the subtle addition of spice. If you think the spice might be a little too much you can make it a little milder by adding a complementary mild cheese.
Gouda is a cow’s milk cheese that originated in the Netherlands. It’s semi-hard and has a sweet, nutty flavor. Gouda melts easily, which makes it great for grilled sandwiches, especially with turkey leftovers!
Gouda has a smooth and mild flavor with a hint of butterscotch. It’s considered a semi-firm cheese and has an incredibly smooth texture. It adds flavor without overpowering the delicious turkey.
Gouda will melt perfectly over your turkey and compliment the taste of the meat to a tea. Pair it with arugula, and a slice of cucumber on sourdough bread.
Mozzarella is a great cheese for a turkey sandwich. It has lots of flavor and it melts well, which means that you can spread it on your bread without worrying about it getting all over the place.
Mozzarella is also delicious when paired with tomatoes, lettuce, and other vegetables. This makes it the perfect addition to almost any kind of sandwich!
Muenster is a semi-soft cow’s milk cheese that originated in the US. It has a mild flavor and creamy texture, making it perfect for sandwiches, burgers, and salads. You can also eat muenster as a snack or use it in recipes such as macaroni and cheese.
The mild buttery flavor will compliment your turkey without overpowering any of the other flavors in your sandwich.
Don’t confuse this with the French Munster cheese. Munster has a sharper more intense smokey flavor.
9. Parmesan, grated or shredded
Parmesan is a hard Italian cheese that has a sharp, nutty taste. It’s best for grating on top of a turkey sandwich and can also be used to add flavor to many different dishes.
The long aging process for Parmesan lends it an intense nutty flavor that comes away both sweet and salty.
If you’re looking for a cheese that will lend flavor without adding a lot of fat, then parmesan is a great choice. Due to its intense flavor, a little goes a long way. You can sprinkle a little on your sandwich packing in some great cheesy flavor without adding all the calories.
As a pressed cheese, Asiago has holes like swiss, but they’re much more irregular. The nice thing is the range of flavors you’ll find with this cheese.
Depending on its age, asiago can taste sweet and buttery like Brie or tangy and salty. As such, think about combining asiago with a lighter cheese like Edam or Havarti on your turkey sandwich. You won’t be disappointed.
If you want a cold sandwich cheese that packs a little punch then go with Emmental. This fruity and nutty cheese has a firm texture that lends well to leg and thigh meats.
Layer on the dark meat and some pickles and iceberg lettuce with Emmental and you’re asking for a wonderful palate experience. The flavors of this sandwich will wow even the heartiest taste buds.
12. Monterey Jack
This classic grilled cheese sandwich cheese lends well to a grilled turkey sandwich. The flavor of the turkey pairs well with the creamy and buttery flavor of the Monterey Jack for the perfect hot sandwich and it melts superbly.
Try pairing it with some bacon and jalapenos!
This buttery and delicate spreadable cheese works well with cooked turkey breast. If you’re looking for a creamy, subtle cheese then Brie is your new best friend.
The classic holiday leftover sandwich is thinly sliced turkey breast with cranberry and brie.
A great munching cheese, Edam is often ignored when it comes to sandwiches. Due to its salty flavor and smooth texture, you’re looking at the best cheese for your turkey club sandwich.
This semi-hard, savory cheese blends perfectly with the crispy bacon and juicy tomatoes.
15. Colby Jack
This American cheese is a blended cheese with Monterey Jack. The more robust but still mild nutty flavor blends well with turkey and it melts to perfection for the perfect grilled sandwich.
Consider the flavor combination of turkey and colby jack with some beef chili and spicy jalapenos.
If you’re planning on making a turkey melt and want something nice and strong, then go with Gruyere. This hard-rind cheese packs a punch of earthy flavor. Bring out the flavor of the cheese and turkey with a little salt and pepper.
How to Choose the Best Cheese for a Turkey Sandwich?
Depending on your preference, there are many different cheeses that will work well in a turkey sandwich. There are so many different cheeses to choose from, this decision can be nerve-wracking.
- Look for a cheese with a strong flavor; this will help to bring out the taste of the turkey and may even result in an even more delicious sandwich! You also have to decide if the cheese will be the star of the sandwich or the turkey. That will determine the strength of your cheese choice.
- Texture. Do you want your cheese to be firm? Crumbly? Soft? Do you want one that melts?
- Flavor profile and age. If you want a nuttier, smokier, and smoother flavor to the cheese then go with something more mature. If you want something tangy and sweet, then you’ll want to pick a younger cheese.
- Additional flavors. Some cheeses are smoked to add another layer of flavor and others have additional herbs that may compliment your chosen turkey exceptionally well.
So, what’s the best cheese for a turkey sandwich? Well, that depends on your taste. It also depends on the turkey and the sandwich you’re making.
With all the options above, you’re sure to find a cheese to make your own perfect turkey sandwich. We hope this guide has helped you find the right match for your sandwich!