U.S. Dairy Products > Cheese > Cheese Categories

Specialty Cheeses

specialty cheesesU.S. specialty cheese production goes back centuries with farmstead cheese making when European immigrants settled in America. Today, even though the United States alone produces a quarter of the world's cheese output in mostly large, state-of-the-art factories, specialty cheese making is still widely practiced and is currently the fastest growing segment of the American cheese market.

The size of U.S. specialty cheese factories is usually small and production often times occur in an open-vat environment. However, these factories are subjected to the same stringent level of inspection and quality assurance programs like larger facilities to ensure consumers' safety. 

The range of specialty cheese varieties produced and available from the United States is quite broad. Every family of cheese includes specialty cheeses whether it is a more high-end version of an everyday-type table cheese such as Monterey dry jack, which is an aged version of Monterey jack, or a new cheese uniquely crafted and/or named by American specialty cheese makers.  

The following list, divided by degree of hardness, contains just a small sample of the specialty cheeses made in the U.S. Some of them might be produced by more than one cheese maker while some are specific brands.

U.S. Cheese Categorized by Degree of Hardness

Soft-Fresh Cheese - Crème Fraîche
- Crescenza
- Quark (Plain & Flavored)
- Feta (Plain & Flavored)
- Fromage Blanc
- Mascarpone
- Schloss*
Soft-Ripened Cheese - Brie
- Camembert
- ColoRouge*
- Green Hill*
- Hudson Valley   Camembert*
- La Petite Crème
- Les Frères*
- Mt. Tam*
- Pierce Point*
- Poudre Puffs*
- Tomme
- Velvet Rose*
Blue - Amish Blue*
- Berkshire Blue*
- Buttermilk Blue*
- Point Reyes Blue*
- CreamyGorg*
- Maytag Blue*
- Mountain Top Blue*
Semi-Soft - Brick (Surface Ripened)
- Fontina
- Gran Cru Surchoix*
- Havarti (Plain & Flavored)
- Knights Vail*
- Limburger
- Muenster
- Red Hawk*
- Teleme Jack
Gouda & Edam - Aged Gouda
- Geliefde*
- Smoked Gouda
Pasta Filata - Aged Provolone
- Burrini/Manteche
- Fresh Mozzarella
- Oaxaca
- Scamorze
Cheddar - Naturally Bandaged Cheddars
- Aged Cheddar (2-8 Years Old)
- Raw Milk Cheddar
Swiss Cheese - Gran Cru Surchoix*
- Pleasant Ridge Reserve*
- Petite Swiss
- Raclette
Hard Cheese - American Grana
- Monterey Dry Jack
- Stravecchio Parmesan*
- Romanello*
- Sareanah*
- Pepato

* Indicates brand name

Testifying of the resurgence of specialty cheese making in America, the American Cheese Society (ACS), an organization headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, was formed in1982 by a group of American artisan and farmstead cheese makers. ACS is dedicated to promoting the growth of artisan, farmstead and specialty cheeses and their makers. By their definitions, the term Artisan refers to unique, hand-made cheeses, produced with minimal mechanization. Farmstead refers to cheeses made on the same farm that produces the milk while the term Specialty indicates limited production and special attention to quality through the cheese making and curing process.  

U.S. specialty cheeses consistently win many awards at international competitions such as the World Cheese Awards and the World Championship Cheese Contest. Over the years, while competing side-by-side with European cheese makers, the U.S. cheese industry has proven that it is a true contender to supply the world with safe, wholesome and high quality cheeses.