The 7 Best Cheeses For Chili (+10 Alternatives)

Quick Answer

The best cheese for chili is cheddar cheese. It adds a rich and creamy texture to the dish and brings out the flavors of other ingredients. You can also use Monterey Jack or pepper jack cheese for an extra kick, or feta or goat cheese if you want something more mild.

Chili is a hearty and comforting dish that is perfect for a chilly day or a cozy night in.

And what’s better than adding a generous amount of cheese to take it to the next level of deliciousness?

Choosing the best cheese for chili can be a challenging task, as there are so many options to consider.

But fear not, because we have compiled a list of the top 7 best cheeses for chili, along with 10 alternatives that will give your chili a unique twist.

Whether you prefer mild, tangy, or spicy cheese, we’ve got you covered.

So, let’s dive into the cheesy world of chili and discover the perfect cheese to elevate your bowl of chili to new heights of flavor.

chili topped with cheese

How to Pick the Right Cheese for Chili

When it comes to selecting the perfect cheese for your chili, there are a few things to consider. The right cheese will add richness, creaminess, and flavor to your chili. Here are some factors to keep in mind when selecting the best cheese for chili:

  • Flavor: The flavor of the cheese should complement the flavors of the chili without overpowering it. A mild cheese such as Monterey Jack or Colby will work well with a milder chili, while a spicier cheese like pepper jack or habanero cheddar will add a little kick to a spicier chili.
  • Texture: The texture of the cheese is also important. You want a cheese that will melt easily and evenly, without becoming stringy or grainy. Cheeses like cheddar, Colby, and Jack are great options as they melt easily and have a smooth texture.
  • Melting Properties: The cheese should melt easily and blend well with the chili. Some cheeses like feta or goat cheese are crumbly and won’t melt well, so they are not ideal for chili.
  • Toppings: Consider the toppings you plan to add to your chili. If you’re planning to add sour cream, avocado, or other creamy toppings, a milder cheese like Monterey Jack or Colby will complement them well. If you’re going for a spicier chili with jalapenos or hot sauce, a spicy cheese like pepper jack or habanero cheddar will be a great addition.
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By keeping these factors in mind, you can select the perfect cheese to add to your chili and take it to the next level of deliciousness.

The 7 Best Cheeses for Chili

Now that we have discussed what to look for when selecting cheese for chili, let’s take a look at the seven best cheeses that are perfect for adding to your bowl of chili:

1. Cheddar

Cheddar Cheese

Sharp cheddar is a classic choice for chili, as it has a bold flavor and melts easily. It adds a rich, creamy texture to chili and complements the other flavors well.

2. Monterey Jack

Monterey Jack

Monterey Jack is a mild, buttery cheese that melts easily and adds a creamy texture to chili. It has a subtle flavor that won’t overpower the chili and is a great option for those who prefer milder cheese.

3. Colby

Colby

Colby is a semi-soft cheese that has a mild, buttery flavor and a smooth texture. It melts easily and is a great choice for those who prefer a mild, creamy cheese.

4. Pepper Jack

Pepper Jack Cheese

Pepper jack is a spicier version of Monterey Jack, with the addition of spicy peppers such as jalapenos. It adds a kick of heat to chili and pairs well with other spicy ingredients like hot sauce.

5. Queso Fresco

Queso Fresco Cheese
Source: seriouseats.com

Queso fresco is a crumbly cheese that has a mild, slightly tangy flavor. It doesn’t melt well, but it adds a nice texture and flavor contrast to chili. It’s a great option for those who want to add a touch of Mexican flavor to their chili.

6. Cotija

Cotija Cheese
Source: isabeleats.com

Cotija is a salty, crumbly cheese that adds a unique flavor to chili. It doesn’t melt well, but it can be crumbled on top of chili for added flavor and texture. It’s a great option for those who want to add a little extra saltiness to their chili.

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7. Gouda

Gouda

Smoked gouda is a great option for chili, as it adds a smoky, savory flavor to the dish. It melts well and adds a rich, creamy texture to chili.

10 Alternative Cheeses for Chili

Feta Cheese

If you want to try something different and add a unique twist to your chili, here are ten alternative cheeses that you can use instead of the traditional options:

  1. Feta: Feta is a tangy, crumbly cheese that adds a salty and savory flavor to chili.
  2. Blue Cheese: Blue cheese has a pungent and tangy flavor that can add a bold and unique flavor to chili.
  3. Parmesan: Parmesan is a hard, nutty cheese that can be grated over chili for added flavor and texture.
  4. Asiago: Asiago is a semi-hard cheese with a mild and nutty flavor that pairs well with chili.
  5. Provolone: Provolone is a semi-hard cheese with a mild and creamy flavor that melts well and adds a smooth texture to chili.
  6. Fontina: Fontina is a semi-soft cheese that has a nutty and buttery flavor. It melts easily and adds a creamy texture to chili.
  7. Gruyere: Gruyere is a hard cheese with a nutty and slightly sweet flavor. It melts well and adds a rich and savory flavor to chili.
  8. Edam: Edam is a semi-hard cheese with a mild and slightly sweet flavor. It melts well and adds a creamy texture to chili.
  9. Brie: Brie is a soft and creamy cheese that can be melted over chili for added richness and creaminess.
  10. Manchego: Manchego is a hard cheese with a nutty and buttery flavor. It adds a rich and savory flavor to chili and pairs well with other Spanish flavors.

5 Tips for Adding Cheese to Chili

Adding cheese to chili can be a tricky business, as it’s easy to make mistakes that can ruin the texture and flavor of the dish.

Here are five tips to help you add cheese to chili like a pro:

  1. Shred the Cheese Finely: Shredding the cheese finely will help it melt evenly and prevent it from becoming stringy or clumpy in the chili.
  2. Add Cheese in Small Amounts: Add cheese in small amounts and stir it in until it has melted before adding more. This will help the cheese to melt evenly and blend well with the chili.
  3. Choose the Right Cheese: As we discussed earlier, choosing the right cheese is important. Make sure to select a cheese that complements the flavor and texture of the chili.
  4. Add Cheese Towards the End of Cooking: Adding cheese too early in the cooking process can cause it to break down and become oily. Add it towards the end of cooking, once the chili has had a chance to simmer and develop its flavors.
  5. Don’t Overdo It: Adding too much cheese can overpower the other flavors in the chili. Add it in moderation, and taste as you go to ensure that the cheese doesn’t overwhelm the dish.
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Conclusion

In conclusion, cheese is an essential ingredient that can take your bowl of chili to the next level of deliciousness. By choosing the right cheese for your chili, you can enhance its flavor and texture and create a dish that is full of warmth and comfort.

From classic cheddar and Monterey Jack to alternative options like blue cheese and fontina, there is a cheese out there to suit every taste and preference.

Remember to shred the cheese finely, add it in small amounts, choose the right cheese, add it towards the end of cooking, and not to overdo it. By following these tips, you can add cheese to your chili like a pro and impress your friends and family with your culinary skills.

chili topped with cheese

The 7 Best Cheeses For Chili

Looking to take your bowl of chili to the next level of deliciousness? Adding the best cheese for chili can do just that. In this article, we share the top 10 best cheeses for chili, including classic options like cheddar and Monterey Jack, as well as unique alternatives like blue cheese and fontina. We also provide tips for selecting and adding cheese to chili like a pro. Whether you prefer mild, spicy, or tangy cheese, we've got you covered.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Cheese
Cuisine American
Servings 4 people
Calories 365 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • Cheddar
  • Monterey Jack
  • Colby
  • Pepper Jack
  • Queso Fresco
  • Cotija
  • Gouda

Instructions
 

  • Select your favorite cheese from this article.
  • Organize all the required ingredients.
  • Prep a delicious chili in 30 minutes or less!