We Have the Hole Story on the 7 Best Swiss Cheeses

As a person who eats Swiss cheese on a fairly regular basis, I didn’t realize how many questions I had about it until I sat down to eat a lot of it at once. For instance, why does one Swiss have more holes than another Swiss? (I’m just gonna let you read about how Swiss gets its signature “eyes” on your own time.) And does Swiss taste bitter to everyone? The terms “mild” and “nutty” get thrown around a lot on Swiss cheese packaging, but to my tastebuds, what makes Swiss unique is its lingering bitterness. What if my experience of cheese is totally different than your experience of cheese? Am I just utterly alone in some or all of my sensory experiences??

I’ll save the existential crisis for another day and instead tell you that I highly do not recommend eating this much Swiss cheese in a single sitting. But, all in all, it was fascinating to dissect the differences between a bunch of different brands. We tried both sandwich slices and blocks (I almost never buy Swiss by the block!) to find Swiss cheeses that are flavorful, dry yet creamy tasting, and have that ineffable bitterness we (or just I) know and love.

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best swiss cheese

Best of the Best

Sargento Sliced Swiss

In my time here at Sporked, I’ve yet to eat a Sargento product and not say aloud, “Persnickety people, exceptional cheese.” Excellent work, marketing team! This is certainly exceptional cheese—it has a great dry, chewy texture that sort of squeaks between your teeth as you chew and a perfect amount of salt to accompany its creaminess. Plus, it’s sliced to a pretty much ideal thickness—not too fat and nowhere near thin, which I imagine would please multiple people in a single household. A perfectly palatable Swiss cheese to have on hand in the fridge for sandwiches, chef salads, and lots more.

Credit: Merc / Walmart

Rating:

10/10

Sporks

best swiss cheese

Best for Crackers

Trader Joe’s Sliced Swiss

I tend to smell cheese before I eat it (gross?), and this one has a good, rich aroma that heralds its creamy, salty taste. I found this cheese to be particularly dry and nutty, although not in an off-putting way. If you tend to like a thinly sliced sandwich cheese, be forewarned: These slices are thick as hell. It’s not my style, but it’s not a bad thing either. Break these slices into quadrants and stack them on Triscuits for a highly satisfying snack.

Credit: Merc / Sporked

Rating:

9/10

Sporks

best swiss cheese

Best Funky

Kerrygold Swiss Cheese

I typically associate Kerrygold with cheddar cheese (in fact, their Reserve Cheddar earned high marks in our recent cheddar tasting), but the brand knows its way around a block of Swiss too. This was the most unique of the cheeses we tried. It has a sharp flavor that almost reminds me of Manchego, even though it’s made from cow’s milk rather than sheep’s milk. This would be great grated on top of a crock of French onion soup or mixed with a roux and milk to make cheese dip. I brought this block home because I was so into it.

Credit: Merc / Walmart

Rating:

9/10

Sporks

best swiss cheese

Best Thin Sliced

Boar’s Head Gold Label Imported Switzerland Swiss

When I hit the grocery store deli counter, I always ask for my meats and cheeses to be sliced very thin, which I truly hope isn’t annoying for the deli workers (I suspect it is). I wanna see through the stuff. For a pre-packaged cheese, these slices from Boar’s Head are beautifully thin and delicate. And we’re dealing with Boar’s Head, so you know the quality is there too. At 120 days, this Swiss was aged longer than any others we tried, and it really seemed to contribute a more complex flavor and maybe just a slight sock-y smell I could totally get past. This is excellent cheese.

Credit: Merc / Instacart

Rating:

8.5/10

Sporks

best swiss cheese

Best Reduced Fat

Jarlsberg Lite Reduced Fat Swiss Cheese

I buy reduced fat Swiss every now and then (when I feel like punishing myself, I guess) and find it has a slightly rubbery consistency I’ve kind of warmed up to. That’s definitely the case here, but Jarlsberg’s Swiss makes up for being “lite” by packing a lot of that bitterness I won’t shut up about. Whatever that signature Swiss flavor is exactly, this cheese has so much that it really fills your mouth with every bite. I’m not in love with the way reduced fat cheese melts, but this will work great on a cold sandwich or paired with crackers. If you’re watching your fat intake, Jarlsberg is the way to go.

Credit: Merc / Instacart

Rating:

8/10

Sporks

best swiss cheese

Best Budget

Lucerne Swiss Cheese

I love a grilled cheese made with Swiss, and this cheese would be great paired with buttery bread with a little bit of char. It’s thick, substantial, and pleasantly salty. It has a pleasantly creamy and natural flavor, particularly for a budget brand. Lucerne is almost always on sale at my local grocery store, and I love that almost as much as I love the cheese itself.

Credit: Merc / Instacart

Rating:

7.5/10

Sporks

best swiss cheese

Best for a Sandwich

Dietz & Watson Swiss Cheese

Dietz & Watson is the deli option in lots of parts of the country, and this Swiss is a good argument in favor of that hegemony. This one has a bitterness I think would hold up nicely to a lot of sandwich fixins, from meats to condiments. It’s bold and hit the sides of my tongue in a way that really thrilled me. I usually stick with a single slice of cheese, but I think I would stack a couple of these on a sandwich for emphasis.

Credit: Merc / Amazon

Rating:

7.5/10

Sporks

Other products we tried:

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About the Author

Gwynedd Stuart

Gwynedd Stuart, Sporked’s managing editor, is an L.A.-based writer and editor who spends way, way too much time at the grocery store. She’s never met an Old El Paso taco or mozzarella stick she didn’t like.

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