What to Substitute for Gruyere Cheese in French Onion Soup?

If you love cheesy French onion soups, then you must have tried them at least a few times. 

Whether it’s for dinner, lunch, or even as an appetizer, they are perfect with cheese. These soups taste great when made with Gruyère cheese.

However, if you don’t have access to this delicious stuff, then don’t worry. There are lots of other substitutes that can work just as well in this recipe. 

Replacements and alternatives for using Gruyère cheese in French onion soup recipes include mozzarella, parmesan, and Jarlsberg.

Why Use Gruyere Cheese for French Onion Soup?

Gruyere cheese has a mild flavor that won’t overpower those in the soup itself and melts slowly making it a perfect topping for a steaming hot soup.

The idea of a creamy string of melted cheese covering the savory sable broth underneath is one of the things that draw people to this wonderful soup. 

Gruyere’s melting point and texture when melted are one of the reasons it’s the most popular cheese to top off the perfect bowl of French Onion Soup. 

Good French Onion soup requires a cheese that becomes stringy when melted rather than dissolving into the liquid. 

What Does Gruyere Taste Like?

Gruyere has a creamy and sweet, nutty flavor common among similar cheeses. 

Young gruyere tastes more nutty and salty with a creamy texture,

Older gruyere (aged) gains more earthy tones to its sweet, nutty flavor. Gruyere is typically aged between 5 and 12 months. 

What Cheese is Similar to Gruyere for French Onion Soup?

Mozzarella

Mozzarella is a go-to cheese in so many dishes from pizza to sandwiches. 

Why not melt this creamy cheese on top of your favorite French Onion soup and smother the toast?

With a salty and tangy flavor, this cheese melts superbly over your bowl of soup.

The mild flavors and creamy texture match the desired cheese effect of gruyere well and won’t overpower the rest of the soup. 

Don’t use fresh mozzarella in your soup though, it can add a watery content when it melts that won’t compliment your soup well.

Jarlsberg

Very similar to gruyere, Jarlsberg has that delicious and creamy taste that one craves over their French Onion soup. 

This Norwegian cheese has an identical flavor profile with those sharp and sweet, nutty notes. 

Why not use the cheese most often combined with gruyere in fondue recipes to replace gruyere in your favorite soup?

Parmesan

While Parmesan has a spicy and salty flavor with a more grainy rather than creamy texture, it’s still a favorite for many in French Onion Soup.

This easily found and affordable alternative to gruyere will add a pop of additional flavor without overpowering the depth of flavors in the soup beneath. 

Emmental

This Swiss-made, holey cheese has a similar texture to gruyere if not quite the same flavor profile. 

Emmental’s buttery, nutty taste would complement the sweet undertones of the onions and beef stock.

Emmental doesn’t dissolve when melted but maintains a creamy texture to shove your spoon through. 

With an excellent melting property and similar flavors, Emmental would be an easy gruyere substitute in your French Onion soup.

Fontina

As an easy-to-find cheese, and on the more affordable side, Fontina cheese makes a great gruyere alternative.

Its mild nutty flavor with a side of butter lends itself well to French Onion soup.

Even better, the creamy, melted texture that’s a must in French Onion soup is easy enough to achieve with this cheese.

Fontina is considered a semi-hard cheese but put it in that hot onion soup and it will melt like ice in hot water. 

Provolone

Most people don’t know that provolone comes in two flavors: sharp and sweet. 

This pasteurized cheese is a great gluten-free choice for those fighting celiac disease. 

With a well-rounded flavor and creamy texture, the melting slices of this cheese only increase the intensity of its flavor.

Raclette

With its unique flavor and mushroom-esque aroma, Raclette would compliment your French Onion soup in a way that gruyere can’t.

This cheese is actually famous for its melting properties!

Due to its savory and earthy flavors, raclette is often added to soups and stews.

If you like those flavors then the beautiful melt of Raclette would be a great addition to the top of your French Onion Soup.

Beaufort

If it looks like gruyere and tastes like gruyere, why not use it to substitute gruyere in French Onion soup?

Beaufort would be your next best choice compared to gruyere, but the downside is Beaufort is probably harder to find than gruyere…

If you’re lucky enough to snag some, then this creamy aged cheese would make an excellent topping for your next steaming bowl of French Onion soup.

Comté

Comté is French gruyere-style cheese. With those characteristics, why wouldn’t it be a great substitute for gruyere in French Onion soup?

While their textures differ, their flavors are nearly identical. You could even compare them to sibling cheeses who share the same ‘parents’.

Gouda

A list of wonderful melting cheeses wouldn’t be complete without one of the world’s favorites, gouda. 

This yellow cow’s milk cheese melts perfectly and the vast number of flavors all depends on age.

Whether you want a fresher slice with a soft texture and mild flavor, or a well-aged one with a buttery taste, gouda has something to please everyone’s palate. 

Not only is gouda a great substitute for gruyere in French Onion soup, but is easier to find and far more affordable. 

Monterey Jack

This American semi-hard cheese also has a characteristic nutty flavor that’s infused in the cheese during a long aging process in a mixture of pepper and cocoa. 

Resembling a soft cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack also melts well, the exact texture you’re looking for in a gruyere substitute for your French Onion Soup.

Asiago

Young asiago cheese has an amazing melting property, but aged asiago can’t be ignored when it comes to French Onion soup. 

The idea with French Onion soup is for the cheese to not melt completely and asiago will do just that with the smoky flavors of aged asiago or the milder, gentler flavors of young asiago.

Aged asiago will clump nicely in your soup negating the need for croutons, but the younger asiago will melt away to a creamier and silky texture. 

Chihuahua

No, not the dog! It’s also Mexican cheese. 

This spicy cheese has a stronger flavor, but that doesn’t mean it will ruin your soup.

If you like to experiment with flavors and don’t mind powerful flavors doing the tango on your tongue, then give Chihuahua cheese a try as a gruyere substitute in French Onion soup. 

If you want to maintain the flavor balance, then you might want to choose one of the other wonderful alternatives. 

Will French Onion Soup be as Good Without Gruyere Cheese?

Well-aged and therefore the most expensive gruyere cheese is supposed to be the best to seal the deal on that cup of French Onion soup.

However, you can combine two of the cheeses on this list with pretty good confidence to achieve those flavors and stringy, melty goodness that make a good cup of French Onion soup.

If you ask the experts though, you can’t achieve the perfect nutty creaminess of French bistro food without the gruyere. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of cheese is Gruyere?

Gruyere is a semi-hard swiss cheese made from cow’s milk. It was first made in the town of Gruyere, Switzerland. 

What goes well with French Onion soup?

The choices of sides or main dishes to serve alongside this iconic french soup are endless. 

Here’s a few favorites:

  • Lemon and Dill Salmon
  • Grilled Sirloin Steak
  • Lemon Seered Scallops
  • Roast Chicken
  • Garlic Shrimp Pasta
  • A fine arugula salad
  • Beet and Feta Salad
  • Baked sweet potato
  • Wild rice
  • Prosciutto-wrapped asparagus
  • Ratatouille
  • French scalloped potatoes
  • Garlic Parmesan Stuffed Mushrooms
  • Pasta with Morel Mushrooms
  • Simple Sauteed Mushrooms

What is Gruyere cheese best for?

Baking. If you have a dish for baking that needs cheese, gruyere is the king of baking cheese. This includes dips and fondues as well. 

Its unique creamy texture and subtle sweetness alongside the nutty tones make gruyere the perfect comfort food cheese in its melted glory.

To End

There are lots of ways to make your favorite French Onion Soup recipes. 

Some of the best options include using one or multiple types of cheese. 

Gone are the days when you have to use only the same type of cheese every time you make a French Onion soup. Instead, try something new and different every time.

You can also switch up your ingredients to make the soup even tastier. 

You can use different types of onions or substitute the beef stock with another hearty option. The options are endless if you love to experiment in the kitchen.

And don’t forget about that crusty baguette that you can slather with the last bits of melted cheese.