14 great American cheeses you should be eating

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Cheese curds from the Midwest.
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Flickr/Connie Ma

The U.S. is sitting on a 1.2 billion-pound surplus of cheese.

Thanks to a European excess of milk and a plunge in pricing, the EU is exporting more cheese than the US.

Meanwhile, American dairy production continues to grow. The culmination of cheap imports from the EU and record high American production rates have led to a cheese crisis.

It’s time to decrease that surplus and hit the fromagerie, folks.

Here are 14 great American cheeses to gorge on now.


Cheese curds are the ingenious product of Midwesterners. They’re often dipped in batter and deep fried. Cheese curds are sold at carnivals, fairs, restaurants and fast-food chains across America.

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Fried cheese curds
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Connie Ma, Flickr

California is on track to surpass Wisconsin as the nation’s number one cheese-production state. The state produces gourmet cheeses like the award-winning Red Hawk cheese from Cowgirl Creamery in Point Reyes Station.

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Red Hawk Cheese from Point Reyes, California.
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Simon Law, Flickr

Monterey Jack is an American sandwich staple. Variations on the original semi-hard, white cow’s milk cheese include Colby-Jack, Cheddar-Jack and Pepper-Jack. All types melt perfectly onto burger patties or tortillas.

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Monterey Jack has the perfect texture for a melt on the grill.
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Charnsitr, Shutterstock

Kunik is a semi-aged, triple cream cheese made in Thurman, New York. It’s buttery like brie but has a tangy kick.

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Kunik is 25% Jersey cow cream and 75% goat’s milk.
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Jacob Enos, Flickr

Humboldt Fog is a stinky goat milk, mold-ripened cheese with a bluish, crumbly core. It’s from Northern California and has won first-place awards from the American Cheese Society three times since 1998.

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Humboldt Fog with honey and toasted pecans.
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Arnold Gatilao, Flickr

Parmesan is lovingly known as the “King of Cheeses” because it goes well on anything from pasta to pizza to soup to salad. The American version is very similar to Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano, but it is legally labeled “Parmesan” when produced in the US.

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Parmesan is hard, sharp and tasty.
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Francesco Carniani, Shutterstock

Muenster is a low-fat, semi-soft American cheese (not to be confused with the French “Munster”). It’s mild in taste but melts well and is therefore used in grilled cheeses, tuna melts, quesadillas, and even pizza.

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Muenster inside-out grilled cheese.
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jefferyw, Flickr

Forget the Camembert and Brie — string cheese is by far the most fun. These snack-sized servings of low-moisture mozzarella are packaged individually and perfect for any time of day.

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Warning: this is not the proper way to eat string cheese.
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Quinn Dombrowski, Flickr

Farmer’s cheese is made from cow, sheep or goat milk. The coagulation process separates solid curds from the whey liquid, which is drained out. The result is a semi-soft, mild and crumbly cheese.

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Farmer’s cheese is a pressed cottage cheese.
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istetiana, Shutterstock

Creole cream cheese is a variation of farmer’s cheese. It’s traditional in New Orleans, where locals mix the cheese with cream, sugar and fruit for dessert. It’s also made into Creole cream cheese ice cream.


Despite the name, “Swiss cheese” is actually an American invention. It can come sliced, pocketed with holes, and sandwich-ready.

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Swiss cheese goes best on a Reuben.
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Kimberly Vardeman, Flickr

Colby is a classic Wisconsin cheese. It was named after the village it was created in, and every year the town celebrates with free Colby cheese for everyone.

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Due to its mild taste, Colby is rarely used in cooking.
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Joshua Resnick, Shutterstock

Cream cheese was originally created in England but Philadelphians were the first to brand and sell the soft, fatty spread. The pioneering company eventually became Philadelphia Cream Cheese, and its products are sold in grocery stores today.

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Cream cheese pairs perfectly with a toasted New York bagel.
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Lara604, Flickr

Finally, there’s good ol’ American cheese. It’s processed and easy to melt for a classic mac and cheese. It may be bright orange, but this cheese is red, white and blue through-and-through.

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Wikimedia Commons