Provolone Cheese Taste: Profile & Substitutes

It’s no news that some of the best cheese comes from Italy. What makes a cheese unique is its quality, taste, smell, and flavor. Provolone cheese is one of the outstanding Italian cheeses with a unique taste.

Moreover, this cheese tends to taste like many things at a time. This classic cheese greatly complements many delicious dishes. And the unique taste is worth exploring.

This article concisely describes the taste of provolone cheese and compares it with similar cheeses. It also gives an insight into its health benefits and how to add this delicious cheese to your meals.

What is provolone cheese?

Provolone cheese is a semi-hard, smooth, white, aged Italian cheese. This cheese comes in 4 to 6 inches in length and also in pear, sausage, and spherical shapes.

According to age, there are two different types of provolone cheese. Provolone Dolce and provolone Piccante. The former ages within 2 to 3 months while the latter ages within 6 months to 1 year.

Provolone originates from Lombardy and Veneto regions in Italy. Production of this cheese started in the 19th century, and it is still produced to date in cities like Cremona.

Furthermore, it is made from cow or buffalo milk. Provolone preparation starts with curdling boiling milk with the rennet. Then, the cheesemakers separate the curds from the whey protein and pass them through hot water.

Afterward, they knead, stretch, and mold the cheese. Thereafter, they leave the cheese to soak in brine, cool them, and leave them to age in cellars or natural caves.

What does provolone cheese taste like?

Provolone cheese has a rich creamy taste that ranges from mild to sharp and sweet to salty. The taste of provolone cheese varies with the age of the cheese.

Provolone Dolce has a mild, creamy, sweet, and nutty taste. Provolone Piccante, on the other hand, has a sharp, spicy, and salty taste.

In addition, it adds a mild yet rich tarty, tangy punch to meals. The mild taste of provolone cheese makes it a perfect choice when you don’t need cheese to overpower the flavors in your meal. Yet, it is strong enough to lend your meal a hand.

This complex yet delicious taste of provolone makes it the perfect choice for creamy, sweet, and savory cheesy pizzas.

It melts well and pairs well with pizza toppings like chicken, onion, broccoli, spinach, tomato, bell peppers, and pesto.

Does provolone cheese taste like mozzarella cheese?

Mozzarella cheese comes close in taste to provolone. However, provolone cheese has a more complex taste profile when compared with mozzarella cheese.

Provolone is sharper and Tangier than mozzarella, which is more buttery and milky. Additionally, provolone cheese is more aged and undergoes a different curing process than mozzarella cheese.

Although they are processed the same way, provolone cheese is a semi-hard cheese and mozzarella cheese is a semi-soft cheese.

Does provolone cheese taste like American cheese?

Provolone cheese and American cheese have a similar mild taste.

However, American cheese is processed cheese made from different cheeses, which is why it does not have the natural taste of provolone cheese.

In summary, provolone cheese tastes better than American cheese.

Does provolone cheese taste like Swiss cheese?

Yes, it does. Provolone cheese and Swiss cheese have similar tastes and flavors.

But Swiss cheese has a more intense taste. It is sweeter and nuttier than provolone. But provolone cheese is tangier because it is more aged than Swiss cheese.

Additionally, when comparing the texture, provolone is softer than Swiss cheese. Also, the smoked varieties of provolone cheese are good substitutes for Swiss cheese when you need to add a smoky flavor to your meals.

Is provolone cheese healthy?

Provolone cheese is healthy if you eat it in moderation.

One slice of provolone cheese contains 98 calories, 7g fat, 7g protein, 1g carbs, 19.3mg cholesterol, 245.3mg sodium, 38.6mg potassium, and vitamins and minerals.

Adding provolone cheese to your diet provides your body with calcium, phosphorus, and protein. These nutrients help to build strong, healthy bones.

Provolone cheese is also rich in vitamin A, which is essential for sharp vision and healthy eyes.

The low cholesterol content of provolone makes it healthy for the heart and reduces the risk of getting cardiovascular disorders and other heart diseases. Additionally, provolone cheese can help maintain blood sugar levels because of its low carbs content.

How to use provolone cheese

The following provolone cheese recipes are worth trying:

  • Add shredded provolone cheese to salads, casseroles, pasta dishes, mashed potatoes, roasted chicken, steaks, and cabbage rolls
  • Use provolone cheese to make creamy bruschetta
  • Make melted provolone cheese provoleta by grilling provolone. Serve the provoleta with toasted baguettes
  • Use provolone cheese to make a frittata with zucchini and provolone
  • Broiled provolone with parsley toast
  • Provolone sandwich with sausage, onions, and peppers
  • Serve provolone cheese on a cheeseboard with spicy and salty ingredients
  • Provolone scones
  • Beef sliders with provolone cheese
  • Provolone broccoli cheesesteaks

Provolone cheese substitutes

1. Mozzarella cheese

mozzarella cheese - millenora

Mozzarella, especially low-moisture mozzarella, is the perfect substitute for provolone. It is salty and has a mild taste.

This cheese is readily available, and you can use it in equal amounts to replace provolone in any recipe that requires provolone.

2. Fontina cheese

fontina cheese provolone substitute - millenora

Fontina is also an Italian cheese. It comes close to the firm texture and rich, buttery taste of provolone cheese.

It also has a nutty flavor that makes it an excellent ingredient for sweet and savory dishes.

3. Gouda cheese

gouda cheese - millenora

Mature gouda cheese is sweet, smooth, and has a strong aroma. Gouda is one of those cheeses that come close to provolone in many ways. So, go for it if you can’t find provolone in the stores.

4. Cheddar cheese

cheddar cheese - millenora

In the UK, cheddar cheese is their version of provolone. It has a similar sharp taste, but it packs more pungency to its provolone-like texture.

In addition, if you’re opting for cheddar cheese as an alternative, buy young cheddar.

5. Parmesan cheese

parmesan cheese provolone substitute - millenora

Parmesan cheese is nutty and shares more similarities with older provolone (Piccante). It is spicy and creamy, which makes it a perfect choice for savory dishes, except for fish-based dishes.

Additionally, the best way to use Parmesan in place of provolone is to use it in its grated form as a pasta topping.

6. Monterey jack

monterey jack - millenora

If you need a semi-soft cheese with a similar texture and mild taste as provolone, go for Monterey jack cheese. It is also one of the perfect provolone alternatives you’ll easily find in stores.

7. Manchego cheese

manchego cheese provolone substitute - millenora

If you’re substituting provolone with Manchego cheese, use young Manchego to come close to the unique provolone taste.

8. Muenster cheese

muenster cheese provolone substitute - millenora

Muenster has the smooth texture of provolone. However, it cannot replace provolone cheese by itself. To achieve the sweet, creamy taste of provolone, you’ll have to add low-moisture mozzarella.

9. Edam cheese

edam cheese - millenora

Edam has the salty, nutty taste of provolone cheese. It is also mild and sweet and an excellent replacement for provolone dolce.

Besides, Edam cheese from the Netherlands is the best choice for substituting provolone.

10. Gruyere cheese

gruyere cheese - millenora

Young gruyere is the perfect gruyere for replacing provolone. It melts well like provolone. Gruyere also has a creamy taste and nutty flavor, making it great for grilling, pasta, roasted potatoes, fondues, and dips.


What does provolone cheese smell like?

Provolone cheese has a strong aroma that could be pungent or sour. Smoked provolone has a strong smoky aroma.

Is provolone cheese vegan?

No, it is not. Provolone cheese is made from cow’s milk; therefore, it is not vegan.

Is provolone cheese dairy-free?

No, it is not. Provolone cheese is made from cow’s milk. Therefore, it is not dairy-free.

It is, however, low in lactose. Stay off provolone if you have a dairy allergy, but it is safe to eat it if you’re lactose intolerant.

What meat goes with provolone cheese?

Turkey breast, salami, deli meat, bacon, lamb, ham, chicken breast, and ground turkey are some of the meats that pair well with provolone cheese.


Every cheese has its distinct flavor, smell, and taste. Provolone cheese is not left out. The taste of the two types of provolone cheese – provolone Dolce and provolone Piccante – can be described as multi-faceted.

They complement both sweet and savory dishes perfectly with their mild, sharp, creamy, nutty, sweet, buttery, and spicy taste.

Go for provolone if you need creamy cheese that will melt perfectly for your hot dogs and sandwiches.

Expand your cookbook with this list of cottage cheese substitutes for lasagna.

Thanks for reading.