While they are both popular cheeses, swiss cheese and provolone cheese have a few big differences. Despite this, both are great in sandwiches and can even replace each other in various dishes.
What is swiss cheese?
Swiss cheese, also known as Emmentaler, is a type of cheese originally from Switzerland. It is known for its distinctive holes and light yellow color. It has a mild flavor and is slightly salty, with hints of a nutty flavor.
Where is it from?
Swiss cheese originated in Switzerland, in the Emme River valley in the canton of Bern. After being developed, it spread to neighboring countries like Norway. Now, it is a commonly consumed cheese all over the world.
How it’s made
Swiss cheese is made from cow’s milk. It is made into large wheel shapes, about three feet in diameter. The curd is formed using rennet and pressed into a shape.
It is then salted with a strong brine and wrapped tightly. The cheese is then held at a specific temperature which leads to the fermentation process which produces the cheese’s distinct large holes.
What recipes use it?
Swiss cheese is commonly used in sandwiches, but can also be found in a variety of other recipes. It can be used to make French onion soup, fondue, quiche and on top of burgers or casseroles.
Where to buy
Swiss cheese is a fairly popular cheese, meaning you will likely find it at any of your local grocery stores. If you are having no luck, try a local cheese shop or an online grocery store.
What is provolone cheese?
Provolone cheese is a kind of cow’s milk cheese originating from Southern Italy. It’s a kind of semi-hard cheese with a smooth texture and it’s a rather popular choice. You can find it in two varieties, one that is milder and another that is more aged and sharper.
Where is it from?
How it’s made
Provolone cheese is made by mixing the curd with whey and kneading it into a smooth consistency. It is then molded into various shapes. The cheese is then wrapped in cords and hung to ripen.
What recipes use it?
Provolone cheese, like swiss cheese, is commonly used in sandwiches. It is also used in a variety of other dishes like grilled cheeses, pasta bakes, burgers and even pizza in some instances.
Where to buy
Provolone is a popular cheese, meaning it should be easy to find at your local grocery store in the cheese section. If you are unable to find it there, try your local cheese shop or order it at an online grocery store.
Taste and texture differences
Both swiss cheese and provolone cheese are mild cheeses, provolone has a slightly milder flavor. Swiss cheese is slightly sweet and nutty, while provolone cheese is buttery and a bit tangy.
When it comes to texture, swiss cheese has a firm texture, while provolone cheese is much smoother and softer. Along with this, swiss cheese has distinct holes which will affect the texture as well.
Which is the better tasting cheese? Well, that’s all up to personal preference. If you prefer a softer, milder cheese, provolone is the way to go. But, if you like your cheese nuttier and harder, swiss may be a good option.
Now that we’ve compared the taste and texture differences of swiss cheese vs provolone cheese, let’s discuss the differences in nutrition. While they are quite similar nutritionally, there are a few small differences.
All nutrition information was collected from cronometer.com under the entries “Provolone Cheese, Natural” and “Swiss Cheese, Natural”.
One slice of provolone cheese (about ¾ oz) contains about 74 calories, while one equal slice of swiss cheese contains about 83 calories. While this difference is pretty small, provolone cheese is slightly lower in calories compared to swiss.
One slice of provolone cheese contains about 5 grams of protein, while one slice of swiss cheese contains about 6 grams of protein. Again, these differences are very small, but swiss contains slightly more protein per slice.
One slice of provolone cheese contains about 6 grams of fat, while one slice of swiss cheese contains about 7 grams of fat. A very small difference, but swiss cheese contains slightly more fat.
They also contain almost the exact same amount of saturated fat, with provolone containing 3.6 grams and swiss cheese containing 3.8 grams. This amount is so small it’s almost negligible.
Both provolone cheese and swiss cheese contain less than 1 gram of carbohydrates per slice, making both of these cheeses low carbohydrate.
One slice of provolone cheese is a good source of vitamin B12, calcium and phosphorus. One slice of swiss cheese is a good source of vitamin B12, calcium, phosphorus, selenium and zinc.
While the amounts aren’t too different, swiss cheese is the more nutrient dense option by a hair.
It’s also important to consider swiss cheese is more calorie dense, meaning the increased amount of micronutrients could be due to the fact that swiss cheese is just more dense in general.
Alternatives to try
If you don’t like swiss cheese or provolone cheese or just can’t find either at the store, here are a few of the best substitutes. There are several kinds of cheese that are similar in taste and texture to either option.
Mozzarella cheese is a good substitute, especially for provolone cheese. It’s a bit milder and it has a high moisture content, making it much softer and more pliable.
You can purchase mozzarella cheese in slices, balls or wheel form. It melts very easily and works great on sandwiches, in pasta dishes and of course on pizza.
Monterey jack cheese
Monterey jack cheese is an excellent choice as well. It’s most similar to provolone cheese, in fact, it almost looks identical. It’s smooth and has a rather mild flavor.
You can use monterey jack cheese in a variety of applications. It melts well, so it’s great for grilled cheeses, but it’s also great raw. Cheese and crackers, sandwiches, charcuterie boards, you name it!
Pecorino romano is a hard, salty cheese that is a good choice if you are looking for a replacement for swiss cheese. It is made with sheep’s milk, so the flavor is slightly different.
Typically, pecorino romano is used for grating since it’s a hard and dry cheese. That being said, you can cut it into slices and serve it with crackers or put it on sandwiches.
White cheddar cheese
White cheddar cheese is another great substitute for swiss cheese or provolone cheese. It has a slightly yellowish white color, similar to swiss and provolone and is very smooth.
The flavor is a bit different than either though. It has a sharper, more aged flavor, though it’s less strong than standard cheddar cheese. I love white cheddar cheese with macaroni and cheese.
Gruyere cheese is another great alternative to swiss cheese. In fact, it’s a kind of swiss cheese. While it typically does not have holes, like traditional swiss cheese, it has a similar flavor.
It has a creamy texture on the inside and has a hard, dark rind on the outside. Plus, it melts so perfectly. This means it’s great on a hot sandwich, in grilled cheeses, on top of a casserole or on a tuna melt.
Feta cheese is another good alternative to swiss cheese or provolone cheese. I know the crumbly cheese probably isn’t the first great alternative you think of. But, it can work great as a replacement for either cheese in salads, wraps and even warm dishes and casseroles.
Goat cheese is another possible alternative for swiss or provolone cheese. Yes, it has a very distinct flavor profile, but it can still work great in sandwiches, on a charcuterie board, on crackers or in a salad. I personally love it on top of a flatbread pizza.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is cheese healthy?
It depends. Labeling a food as “healthy” or “unhealthy” can be tricky since it depends on your personal goals as well as what you mean by the term “healthy”.
Cheese can have some health benefits due to its high calcium and protein content. That being said, some varieties of cheese are high in saturated fat and sodium, which can be harmful to those with high blood pressure or a history of heart disease.
As for nutritional value, cheese is pretty nutrient dense, especially if you choose a “light” or “low fat” version.
For example, one ounce of reduced fat cheddar cheese is a good source of vitamin B12, vitamin A, calcium, phosphorus, selenium and zinc. Overall, it contains a good amount of several nutrients that can be lacking from the typical American diet.
Nutrition information collected from cronometer.com under the entry “Cheddar Cheese, Natural, 50% Reduced Fat”.
Is cheese good for your bones?
Yes, cheese can be good for your bones due to it being a good source of calcium. Adults need about 1000-1200 mg of calcium per day, which is a rather hard number to reach.
Groups that should take extra care to ensure they reach their calcium requirements are children and teenagers aged 4-18 years old, those of Asian and African descent and adults over the age of 50 who are living in poverty.
During the aging process, many adults lose bone density due to being less active. Ensuring adequate calcium intake helps ensure that bone density is adequately maintained.
Can you eat cheese with lactose intolerance?
It depends. If you are very sensitive to lactose, it’s best to completely avoid dairy products. But, if you have a mild or moderate intolerance, some forms of cheese can be consumed.
Hard, aged cheeses tend to have less lactose than soft cheeses like mozzarella cheese and brie cheese. Examples of cheeses that are very low in lactose include:
- Cheddar cheese
- Parmesan cheese
- Swiss cheese
- Gouda cheese
- Colby cheese
- Monterey jack cheese
Again, everyone has a different reaction to lactose, so it’s best to start slow and small when it comes to reintroducing cheese into your diet.
Ideally, speak to your doctor or dietitian before introducing cheese if you have medically diagnosed lactose intolerance.
Which is better for weight loss?
Swiss cheese and provolone cheese will be very comparable when it comes to weight loss. Both have similar amounts of calories and protein.
Provolone cheese may be marginally better than swiss cheese since it’s about ten calories less per serving. But this really only matters if you are consuming large amounts of cheese daily.
If you are trying to lose weight, you will want to focus on your overall caloric intake. If you consume a lot of cheese, consider trying a low fat (and therefore lower calorie) cheese variety or reducing the amount of cheese you consume.
Also, be sure to fill up on low calorie foods throughout the day, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean proteins.
What cheese is best for sandwiches?
It really depends on your personal preferences, which is typically why there are multiple options for cheeses at sandwich shops.
If you want a more mild cheese, consider adding provolone, swiss, mozzarella, monterey jack or havarti to your sandwich.
If you want something a bit stronger, consider adding cheddar, parmesan, gouda, asiago, pimento or any aged cheese.
What cheese is best for grilled cheese?
This is another question that really depends on your personal taste preferences. One thing is for sure though, you must choose a cheese that melts well.
Here are a few cheeses that can work really well in a grilled cheese:
- Cheddar: Classic and melts well.
- Gouda: Creamy and slightly nutty.
- Swiss: Nutty and melts smoothly.
- Provolone: Sharp and melty.
- Mozzarella: Stringy and gooey.
- Monterey Jack: Mild and creamy.
- Colby: Mild and melts nicely.
- Brie: Creamy and rich.
- Fontina: Melts with a mild flavor.
- Pepper Jack: Spicy kick and melts well.
Is provolone ok for pizza?
Yes, you can use provolone on a pizza if you so desire. While it’s not traditional, it can still taste delicious and add a different flavor profile to your favorite slice.
Compared to mozzarella, which is what is typically used for pizza, provolone is aged, meaning it has a stronger flavor and is less mild.
Along with this, provolone is harder to melt than mozzarella. While mozzarella will begin to spread and melt with just a touch of heat, provolone takes a bit longer to melt.
While provolone can be used to make pizza, it’s probably best to use in sandwiches and wraps. But, to each their own!
How should cheese be stored?
Proper storage of cheese is important to maintain flavor, texture, and quality. To ensure your cheese stays at its best, it should be stored in a cool environment, ideally between 35-45°F (1-7°C). Use a dedicated cheese drawer in your fridge or a cheese storage container.
Along with this, cheese needs to breathe, so avoid airtight containers. Wrap it in wax paper, parchment, or cheese paper to prevent moisture buildup. While plastic wrap can be used in the short-term, it can trap moisture and alter the cheese’s flavor over time.
It’s also important to consider moisture. Excess moisture can cause cheese to become slimy or moldy. Keep it in its original packaging or wrap it loosely to maintain moisture balance.
If you have multiple kinds of cheese, store separately to prevent the flavors from transferring. Use separate containers or wrap them individually.
And finally, cheeses should be refrigerated. The only exception is hard, aged cheeses, which can be stored at room temperature.
By following these guidelines, you can enjoy your cheese at its best, whether it’s swiss cheese or provolone cheese.