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Blue Cheese

From mild, buttery Cashel Blue to peppery, piquant Roquefort, blue cheeses vary widely in flavor, texture, and intensity. There’s one for everyone—even the skeptics.


Published July 14, 2020. Appears in America's Test Kitchen TV Season 22: Holiday Dessert and Salad

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What You Need To Know

In the roughly five years I worked as a cheesemonger, the shoppers I encountered never seemed nervous to pick out a wedge of Brie or a block of cheddar. But people were often a little apprehensive when they approached our blue cheeses. I was sympathetic. Blue cheese is a big, diverse category of cheese with a reputation for being strongly flavored and punchy. It can intimidate or perplex even adventurous eaters, as evidenced by the questions I heard: Is Gorgonzola the Italian word for blue cheese? How does the mold grow? Can you cook with fancy blue cheeses or should you save them for a cheese plate? And—perhaps the most common question—if you love other styles of cheese but have yet to find a blue that you enjoy, what should you buy?

I’m not at the cheese counter anymore, but I still wanted to help clear up the confusion. Rather than assembling a 21-person panel of tasters to sample a selection of blue cheeses in a blind tasting, I approached this topic differently. Because blue cheese is a big category with many different styles—all of which are worth learning about and trying—I decided to highlight a broad selection of styles, each good in its own way.

To put together this list of blue cheeses, I consulted with experts from The Guild of Fine Food, which organizes the World Cheese Awards, and the American Cheese Society to identify some of the world’s best and most important blue cheeses. I then narrowed them down to 14 that are readily available at American supermarkets, specialty shops, or online. I interviewed many of the manufacturers and ordered all the cheeses. Nine of the blue cheeses highlighted here are imports that have been produced for decades or even centuries. Five are produced domestically by cheesemakers that have helped define artisan cheese in America. These 14 blue cheeses are wildly different in flavor, texture, and intensity—and they are all excellent.

Blue Cheese Basics 

Let’s get one of those questions out of the way. Gorgonzola is not just the Italian name for blue cheese. Like Parmigiano-Reggiano and Gruyère, it is a unique style of cheese manufactured according to specific regulations defined by European Union law. These regulations, which are divided into two tiers called Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), limit a given cheese’s production to a specific area and include standards for everything from ingredients to the size of the wheels to the number of days a cheese must be aged. Seven of the imported blue cheeses highlighted here have PDO or PGI status; the other two are trademarked and can each only be made by one specific company. The Ameri...

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*All products reviewed by America’s Test Kitchen are independently chosen, researched, and reviewed by our editors. We buy products for testing at retail locations and do not accept unsolicited samples for testing. We list suggested sources for recommended products as a convenience to our readers but do not endorse specific retailers. When you choose to purchase our editorial recommendations from the links we provide, we may earn an affiliate commission. Prices are subject to change.

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The mission of America’s Test Kitchen Reviews is to find the best equipment and ingredients for the home cook through rigorous, hands-on testing.

Kate Shannon

Kate is a deputy editor for ATK Reviews. She's a culinary school graduate and former line cook and cheesemonger.