Is Gouda A Soft Cheese? You Should Read This

Gouda is an aged cheese with a semi-hard texture although some people say it’s a semi-soft cheese. But if you ever find a soft gouda cheese, be sure that it did not age beyond 4 to 8 weeks.

The method of preparation, maturation period, and the type of milk used are some of the factors that separate cheeses from each other. Moreover, it makes them uniquely develop their textures, tastes, and flavors.

Gouda is one of those cheeses that come in varying textures and flavors based on the maturation period. Here’s a brief and concise description of this Dutch cheese.

What is gouda cheese?

Gouda cheese is a yellow Dutch cheese commonly made from cow’s milk.

But some cheesemakers use goat’s or sheep’s milk to achieve a different taste or flavor. The cheese originated from Gouda town in the Netherlands which brought about its name.

Cheesemakers in other countries make gouda but it is true gouda only if it is made with milk from Dutch cows. Moreover, the milk may have gone through pasteurization or not, based on the preference of the cheesemakers.

Like every normal cheese, gouda goes from heating to fermentation to curdling with natural bacteria and rennet. Afterward, the curds are washed in warm water before the cheesemakers transfer them into a mold.

When the cheese takes its circular shape, it is plopped into a brine solution. The brine solution is used to control bacterial activity and help the cheese develop its unique flavor.

After a while, gouda cheese is brought out to dry for a few days. When it is dry, the cheesemakers apply paraffin wax to give it its yellow or orange rind, seal moisture and prevent contamination.

Then, the cheese is left to age for one month to a year or more. The texture and flavor the cheesemakers want largely determine how long they leave the cheese to age.

In addition, some cheesemakers make gouda cheese variants by smoking it in a brick oven.

Is gouda a soft cheese?

Traditionally made gouda is not soft. It is semi-hard or semi-soft as some people would rather describe the cheese.

Based on the different maturation periods and textures, there are four types of gouda cheese. They are:

  • Young or baby gouda: this type of gouda cheese ages for 4 to 8 weeks and is very soft
  • Mature gouda: mature gouda ages for 8 to 16 weeks with a semi-soft, semi-hard texture
  • Old gouda: this type of gouda ages from 8 to 10 or 12 months. Old gouda has a semi-hard texture
  • Very old gouda: this is the oldest gouda which is harder, darker, and has a deeper flavor. It is over 12 months aged

What does gouda cheese taste like?

The taste of gouda cheese varies with its maturation period.

The younger gouda has a mild, nutty, and sweet taste. It is also creamy and buttery.

Older gouda cheese has a deeper and more complex taste. It develops tangy undertones alongside the creaminess as it ages. Smoked gouda has a nuttier taste with sweet and salty undertones.

What does gouda cheese smell like?

As long as gouda is fresh and good, it smells like dairy.

How to use gouda cheese

  • Add gouda to a cheeseboard
  • Eat young gouda with crackers or in a sandwich
  • Add it to mac and cheese
  • Serve gouda cheese with wine
  • Add it to your next fondue recipe
  • Use gouda to make a cheesy soup
  • Make pigs in a blanket
  • Make gouda cheese puffs
  • Try out smoked gouda and apple crostini with honey drizzle
  • A smoky beer cheese dip wouldn’t be a bad idea
  • Use smoked gouda to make omelet cups
  • Gouda cheese balls for midday or late-night snack
  • Add gouda to your bacon and eggs breakfast
  • Use gouda cheese to transform stuffed pork chops leftovers into a new meal
  • Fill hand pies with gouda and some apples
  • Serve smoked gouda with a bowl of fresh or dry fruits and nuts

Substitutes for gouda cheese

Edam cheese

edam cheese - millenora

Edam is also a Dutch cheese with a similar taste profile to gouda. The young variety has a nutty and creamy taste while the older Edam cheese has a deeper and more complex taste.

Moreover, it is semi-hard and can fit into almost every recipe that requires gouda cheese.

Cheddar cheese

cheddar cheese - millenora

Although it is not Dutch, cheddar cheese fills in for almost everything you want from gouda cheese. It could be mild, sharp, creamy, buttery, or smoky. It is also a hard cheese and fits well into any gouda recipe.

Havarti cheese

havarti cheese - millenora

If you can find gouda for a bowl of fruits or mac and cheese, get Havarti cheese and carry on with your recipe. Havarti cheese is semi-soft, smooth, and has a nutty flavor.

Monterey jack

monterey jack gouda cheese substitute - millenora

Monterey jack is an American cheese but it has a very similar taste and flavor to gouda. It is mildly sweet and nutty. Also, it’s great for any recipe that requires you to use gouda cheese.


gruyere cheese - millenora

Just like gouda cheese, Gruyere cheese is named after a town in Switzerland. But this isn’t what makes it a good alternative for gouda.

Although Gruyere is harder than gouda it is also smooth and creamy with a nutty flavor. Because of their similar taste profile, Gruyere makes any recipe that requires gouda taste as delicious.

Swiss Emmental

gouda cheese substitute swiss emmental - millenora

Although Swiss Emmental is Swiss cheese, like gouda, it is readily available in grocery stores in the US. Swiss Emmental is a semi-hard cheese that pairs perfectly with wine and sandwiches. It is also a good pick for mac and cheese.


soft gouda cheese substitute - millenora

Just like gouda, the taste and flavor of muenster cheese get better with time. It is semi-soft with a mild taste and smoky flavor. Use equal parts of muenster cheese to replace gouda in any gouda recipe.


Is smoked gouda cheese soft?

No, it is not.

Smoked gouda is a semi-soft cheese. So, you may find some harder than others.

Can pregnant women eat gouda cheese?

Yes, they can.

Gouda cheese is semi-hard which means that it is free of moisture which makes it healthy and free of bacteria.

Is gouda cheese lactose-free?

Yes, it is.

Gouda is one of those cheeses with almost no lactose content. Cheesemakers explain that the lactose in the milk breaks down into galactose and glucose during fermentation to make it digestible.

Is gouda cheese vegetarian?

Yes and no.

Gouda cheese could be vegetarian-friendly if it is coagulated with vegetarian rennet. If you used a non-vegetarian rennet, gouda cheese is no longer vegetarian-friendly.


Gouda could be a soft cheese if you find a young or baby variety. Generally, it is a semi-hard cheese with a mild, sweet, and nutty flavor. Like every aged cheese, gouda becomes harder, tangier, and tastes more complex with time.

With all the information in this article, I believe you already know a good deal about this Dutch cheese.

Why not pick a recipe and try making it with gouda? Visit the grocery stores or supermarkets around you to buy fresh gouda cheese.

Thanks for reading.

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