You can pair ham and cheese together without a second thought because this fantastic meat and protein combination celebrates two ingredients that complement each other.
But which cheese is best for pairing with ham? Let’s find out.
The Best Cheese to Pair with Ham
While the rest of the condiments in a ham sandwich can vary, cheese remains a classic ingredient in ham sandwiches all over the world.
From Britain to France, Brazil, and even Cuba, you will not find ham sandwiches without cheese, which reiterates the fact that cheese and ham are an unbeatable combination.
Here are the different types of cheese that go best with ham.
1. Swiss Cheese
Ham and Swiss cheese are a traditional combination that never goes wrong.
This classic pairing has been around for ages, and Swiss cheese continues to be one of the most widely preferred types of cheese used with ham.
Now, Swiss cheese can refer to the different types of cheese that resemble Emmental cheese.
They’re characterized by their nutty and earthy flavors.
Swiss cheese is generally salty with a hint of pungency.
Depending on the variety, it may or may not have holes that form during the fermentation process.
These holes are more pronounced and distinct in Emmental cheese.
Most types of Swiss cheese are soft when fresh, and they harden as they mature.
The rustic and rich creaminess of Swiss cheese complements the salty and savory flavors of ham.
It particularly goes well with honey-glazed ham.
Properly aged and sliced Swiss cheese paired with ham is always a best-seller at Delis and sandwich bars.
Brie is a soft, spreadable cheese with a rich, buttery, and slightly pungent flavor.
It has a very earthy taste with notes of mushrooms and grass.
This cheese is pale white with a slightly grey tinge around the rind.
It melts and spreads easily. As the cheese ages, the earthy flavors improve, and it becomes more aromatic.
Brie is widely paired with fruits and nuts on charcuterie and cheese boards.
It makes a very rich and indulgent pairing with ham, with the moisture of the cheese complimenting the saltiness of the ham.
The delicate flavors of the ham will not overpower the creaminess of the brie, and both the ingredients will complement each other beautifully.
Cheddar is often paired with ham for two reasons—the flavors work well with the meat, and this cheese is easily available.
Cheddar cheese originated in England but is now produced all over the world.
This cheese is easily available in different forms, ranging from blocks to slices and even cheddar cheese spreads.
It’s even mixed with other types of cheese.
Cheddar cheese is buttery and salty, with sharp flavors. The sharpness of the cheese increases with age.
When paired with ham, the savory flavors of the cheese work well with the saltiness of the meat to form a delicious combination.
The strong sharpness of a mature cheddar works especially well with honey-glazed ham.
The rich and salty cheese will cut through the sweetness of the honey to create a tantalizing mix of flavors.
4. Red Leicester
Red Leicester is a hard and mature cheese that bears some resemblance to Cheddar.
It’s hard and crumbly but mildly flavored.
The distinct tanginess and sunset orange color are the defining characteristics of this cheese.
The color becomes darker when you get close to the rind but pales slightly toward the center of the wheel.
This distinctive color comes from the presence of a pigment called annatto that is added to the milk during cheese processing.
It has a well-rounded flavor and is firm and chewy.
Red Leicester cheese pairs well with ham because the complex and intriguing flavor of this cheese works well with the subtle sweetness of the meat.
It melts nicely, making it a good choice for grilled ham and cheese sandwiches.
Gouda, or more specifically smoked Gouda, forms a delightful pairing with ham.
Gouda is a sweet and creamy cheese made from cow’s milk. This cheese originated in the Netherlands.
It has a beautiful yellow color, and fresh Gouda has a fudgy taste with hints of fruitiness and nuts.
However, the tanginess of the cheese increases as it ages, and it develops a sharper and saltier flavor.
Mature Gouda is hard, while young Gouda is semi-hard.
Gouda works well with sweet fruity preserves like apricots and marmalade, making it a staple on charcuterie boards.
It also goes well with a variety of meat, like bacon and ham.
Gouda and ham melt is an easy but deeply satisfying combination that you can whip up quickly.
Gruyere is a Swiss or Alpine cheese that is very creamy and rich.
It has deep nutty and buttery notes that add a decadent flourish to any dish.
The intriguing and complex flavor of this cheese is sweet and salty at the same time. Young Gruyere is mellow and creamy.
However, the flavor alters as the cheese ages.
It tends to become earthier and nuttier, with complex flavors.
Fully-aged Gruyere has a slightly grainy texture, and it crumbles easily.
This cheese is often paired with meat cuts because of its balanced flavors.
It melts beautifully and spreads evenly, making it a good choice for grilled ham sandwiches.
The smooth buttery texture will enhance the appeal of the ham and work well with the sweet and sticky nature of the meat.
Parmesan isn’t one of the first things to come to mind when you think of what to pair with ham.
However, this cheese goes surprisingly well with ham.
Parmesan is a hard Italian cheese made from cow’s milk.
Parmesan cheese must be aged well to bring out its best flavors.
It’s delicate and earthy when young but develops a sharp pungency and saltiness when aged.
Parmesan is widely used in pasta, pizza, and authentic Italian cooking for its unique and bold flavors.
Parmesan cheese generally goes well with savory dishes with a touch of sweetness.
Hence, it will work beautifully with honey-glazed ham and cut through the delicate sweetness of the meat dish.
When making ham and parmesan sandwiches, you can even add a dollop of rich fruit preserves or jam for a mix of savory and sweet goodness.
Grill the bread and make sure that the ham is sliced paper-thin for a deliciously memorable meal.
Velveeta isn’t a pure cheese but a processed variety similar to American cheese.
It’s named after its velvety smooth texture.
This cheese is made from a variety of cheese and milk solids.
It’s available in different forms, like blocks, cubes, slices, and spreads.
Velveeta cheese is an easy fix for your ham and cheese sandwiches when you don’t have the traditional and more expensive varieties of cheese.
You can also use Velveeta cheese with ham to prepare casseroles.
This cheese melts smoothly and forms a buttery yellow spread, making it perfect for grilled ham sandwiches.
It will melt and coat the ham, and the subtly sweet flavor will complement the delicate flavors of the meat.
It’s also perfect for making a cheese sauce to go with your ham.