Wisconsin’s top 10 cheeses

Credit: Wisconsin Cheese Masters

By Christina Lorey

January 4, 2024

FACT: If the state of Wisconsin were a country, it would rank fourth in the world in total cheese production at 2.86 billion lbs./year, behind the entire US, Germany, and France, and just ahead of Italy.

While there are 19 cheese-based “holidays” each year (ever heard of National Cheese Doodle Day on March 5th?), National Cheese Lovers’ Day, held every January 20, is the biggest and most representative of Wisconsin culture–where there’s one cow for every five people!

To celebrate, we’re counting down the Top 10 most-popular, most-produced types of cheese in Wisconsin, according to data from the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board:

10. Gouda (.4% of all Wisconsin cheese)

Originally sold in the Dutch market town of Gouda, this creamy, almost chocolate-like cheese was brought to Wisconsin by immigrants. 

9. Gorgonzola (.6%)

Yes, the blue stuff is mold (penicillium roqueforti, to be precise), but it gives the creamy, crumbly cheese its flavor.

8. Swiss (.8%)

Although Swiss originated in Switzerland (go figure), Wisconsin producers modernized its process–wrapping the cheese in plastic to keep in the moisture–no hard, inedible rind required!

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7. Muenster (2.0%)

This orange-crusted white cheese evolved from semi-soft varieties in France and Germany, but was perfected in Wisconsin.

6. Hispanic (2.5%)

Wisconsin produces 71 million pounds of queso fresco (crumbly and mild) and queso blanco (white cheese), which are key in Mexican cuisine.

5. Feta (2.8%)

In Greece, feta is made with sheep or goat’s milk, but here in the midwest, it’s made with regular old cow’s milk.

4. American (9.7%)

Don’t judge–while heavily processed, all that blending and pasteurizing gives American cheese a longer shelf life and the ability to melt quickly and avoid separating.

3. Italian (16.1%)

Parmesan, Romano, and Asiago are the most common hard Italian cheese made in the Badger State.

2. Cheddar (19.5%)

While it’s named after a British village (and remains the UK’s most popular kind of cheese), Wisconsin makes more cheddar than any other state–whether it’s golden or white, mild or sharp, aged for 2 years or aged for 20.

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1. Mozzarella (33.9%)

The most popular cheese in Wisconsin and the US, thanks to Americans’ love of pizza. Our state produces nearly 1 billion pounds of it annually.

Author

  • Christina Lorey

    Christina is an Edward R. Murrow-winning journalist and former producer, reporter, and anchor for TV stations in Madison and Moline. When she’s not writing or asking questions, you can find her volunteering with Girls on the Run, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and various mental health organizations.

CATEGORIES: FOOD AND DRINK

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