U.S. Dairy Products > Cheese > Cheese Categories

Semi-Soft Cheeses

Varieties include:semi soft cheeses

  • Brick, dry- and washed-rind
  • Fontina
  • Havarti
  • Limburger
  • Monterey Jack
  • Muenster
  • Pepper Jack  

Manufacturing Process

These cheeses share one important similarity in make procedure; they are all made with whole milk, sometimes with added cream, but never part-skim milk. This gives them their characteristic soft, creamy texture and great melting ability. There are two distinct styles of semi-soft cheeses, dry-rind and washed-rind. Washed-rind cheeses, also referred to as surface-ripened, are surface-treated with a bacterial smear and then washed with a solution to encourage the smear to grow. Washed-rind cheeses ripen from the outside in. Dry-rind cheeses are cured without a surface treatment.  


Semi-soft cheeses can be shredded, sliced and cubed. Semi-soft cheeses melt well and lend themselves to hot applications, even microwave applications. They have some stretch, and they can be broiled and browned.  

Key Applications

Their melting ability makes them ideal for sauces, soups, casseroles and roulades. They can be blended easily with other cheeses to build signature gourmet pizzas. Many are available flavored with a variety of items, from hot peppers to herbs and spices and more. They are also sliceable, making them perfect for sandwiches and consumer-ready snacks.  

Marketing Advantages

Add value to products in a cost-effective manner. Excellent acceptability by children. Provides visual appeal when melted or browned. Dry-rind versions are mild and buttery and have universal appeal. Washed-rind versions have premium European-style image and gourmet appeal.  

Key Benefits in Foodservice and Prepared Foods

Their mild flavor profiles make them excellent flavor carriers. Blend well with other semi-soft cheeses or with stronger flavored cheeses. Good slicing and shredding properties. Highly versatile cheeses, with applications from the cheese course to the oven and from fast-food to fine dining. Ready to use cubes, shreds and slices provide labor and cost savings.