Monterey Jack cheese, also known as just ‘Jack’, is a semi-hard cheese, which makes it a great substitute for parmesan.
Known as an “American original” as far as cheese is concerned, it is white, has a unique sweetness to it, and has a rather mild flavour.
Because of this, it is commonly used as the cheese for cheeseburgers, in various cheesy pasta dishes, and also in burritos, quesadillas, and other Mexican-style delights.
It melts well, so makes a great topping for other dishes.
You may find that Monterey Jack cheese is quite difficult to get your hands on in the UK, and that’s because it is produced in California, United States.
The cheese gets its name from the town in which it is created, Monterey. There are a number of cheeses in the UK that are similar to Monterey Jack, however, and they would make perfect substitutions.
What Is the Closest Equivalent of Monterey Jack Cheese in the UK?
If you want a cheese that closely mimics both the taste and texture of Monterey Jack cheese, you will want to look at Gouda cheese.
Gouda cheese is a creamy but semi-hard to hard cheese made from cow’s milk, just like Monterey Jack, and it originates from the Netherlands.
It is more ivory-yellow in colour than Monterey Jack, but it has a similar sweetness to the flavour.
The longer Gouda ages, the darker and bolder the colours and flavours become. The texture changes with age too—it gets harder. It also becomes saltier.
Monterey Jack cheese is usually aged for approximately 30 days, but you can buy different varieties, just as with Gouda cheese. Some types are left to age for up to six months.
Is Cheddar Cheese Similar to Monterey Jack Cheese?
Cheddar is as popular in the United Kingdom is Monterey Jack is in the United States, but they’re not as similar as you first may have thought.
Cheddar is left to age and mature for a lot longer than Monterey Jack is. On average, Monterey Jack is left to mature for around 30 days, but cheddar can be left from three months to two years. The maturing time will depend very much on the type of cheddar.
Because cheddar cheese is left to mature for longer than Monterey Jack, the flavour of cheddar is bolder and sharper, and the dish is left with a creamier finish.
The flavours of cheddar are more complex, and the older the cheese gets, the more it turns crumbly and somewhat dry.
Cheddar also doesn’t melt quite as well, so is less suited to pasta dishes, grilled cheese toasties, etc.
Can I Substitute Monterey Jack with Parmesan Cheese?
Yes, you can use parmesan cheese in place of Monterey cheese, but you will ideally want to pick a variety that hasn’t been aged for a long time.
The longer-matured parmesan types will have very bold flavours and smells that can take over an entire dish, and the cheese also has a habit of getting saltier with age.
Monterey Jack is softer than parmesan cheese. Just as with mature cheddars, the more mature parmesan is, the harder, drier and crumblier it will become.
Can I Substitute Monterey Jack Cheese with Emmental Cheese?
Although you could if you wanted to (and you preferred Emmental cheese), it actually doesn’t make for a great Monterey Jack substitute.
This Swiss cheese has a very bold flavour, unlike it’s mild-flavoured Monterey counterpart. It melts well, however.
What Cheese Can I Use Instead of Monterey Jack?
Although no two cheeses will be exactly the same, there are some types that are easier to get hold of in the UK.
We have already taken a look at cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese and Emmental cheese. Let’s take a look at a few other Monterey Jack substitutes:
As well as Gouda cheese, you could also look at Edam, which also originates from the Netherlands. Gouda is from the south of the country, and Edam is from the north.
If it’s melt-factor you’ re looking for, Edam is similar to Monterey Jack.
It’s also a semi-hard cheese, just like Monterey Jack, and the less-aged varieties will be similar in flavour. The longer Edam matures, the bolder and sharper the taste will get.
Gruyere matches Monterey Jack in ‘meltability’, and it also has a similar texture (very creamy), and a butter-like flavour. This cheese will have more of a nuttier twang to it than Monterey Jack, however.
To use in the same ways that you’d use Monterey Jack, mozzarella cheese in its dried form works as a great substitution.
Unfortunately, the fresh and wet version of the cheese has too high a water content to be able to use it in the same ways.
As well as being very creamy in texture and simple in flavour, mozzarella melts really well, especially dried mozzarella.
Kim is a writer with more than a decade of experience, and a food enthusiast. When she’s not spending her time writing about her favourite dishes, you can find her in the cake aisle of her local supermarket, or making a mess in the kitchen.