Want to know more about Spanish Cheese? Here’s a list of the most popular types of cheeses from Spain with a description of each one and more information about where they are from and their characteristics.
Manchego is the most famous cheese from Spain, and it’s produced in the La Mancha region with milk from the Manchega sheep. It has a certified Protected Designation of Origin (P.D.O). It has to be aged for a minimum period of 30 days at least and a maximum of 2 years.
Manchego is one of my absolute favorites when it comes to Spanish cheese. The flavor isn’t too strong, but it’s very rich and pleasant. It goes well with various kinds of dried ham and wines such as Rioja or cava.
There are four different varieties of Manchego, namely: Fresco, Semicurado, Curado, and Viejo depending on their age. It is most common to make Manchego with pasteurized sheep milk, but it can also be raw, and then it’s typically referred to as Manchego artesano.
Queso Cabrales is one of the most famous kinds of cheese from Asturias in northern Spain. It’s a blue cheese that is made with unpasteurized cow milk. The traditional version is typically blended with sheep and goat milk as well, which give added flavors.
It is well-known for its strong flavor and it does have a certified Protection of Origin. Cabrales cheese is always made with milk from cattle in a special and limited production zone in the mountains of Picos de Europa.
Mahón, or formatge de Maó as it’s called in Catalan is an artisan cheese from Menorca in the Balearic islands. It has a nutty and sweet aroma combined with buttery sharp notes, although it can sometimes come with a hint of salt as well.
Queso Mahón has a D.O.P certification since 1985 and is regarded as one of the most iconic types of cheese from Spain. The texture can range from soft to hard and the typical aging time is between 3 weeks and up to 2 years, although it can be aged for longer.
Menorca is famous for its cattle who has one of the highest milk production in all of Spain. Traditionally, the farmers aged the Mahón cheese in caves and controlled every aspect of the aging process, including temperature and winds.
Tetilla (literally meaning small breast in Spanish) is a popular cheese from the autonomous region of Galicia. Since 1993 it has had a Denominación de Origen certification, and it received a D.O.P certification by the European Union in 1996.
Originally, it was only produced in small towns such as Melide, Curtis, and Arzúa, but nowadays it is produced in more places in Galicia. Tetilla is made from cow milk that can be of either of these three breeds, Rubia Gallega, Friesians, and Parda Alpina.
When you see the cheese it’s easy to understand its name as it has a cone-shaped form. Tetilla Cheese can weigh between 0.5 to 1.5 kilo and it has a buttery and tangy flavor with a mild bitterness.
It is best served as a dessert along with a dry full-bodied red wine or Galician white wines such as Ribeiro or Albariño. It also goes well with quince and crackers.
It’s an aged cheese that can be either semi-cured or cured depending on how long it has been aged for. Idiazabal is made with whole sheep’s milk from the Latxa breed, or sometimes the Carranzana breed, and the milk is unpasteurized.
While the most common version is un-smoked, Idiazabal can also be smoked at the end of the aging process. Just like the majority of Spanish cheeses, this one has gained a P.D.O certification by the European Union.
The cheese has a pale yellow color and a buttery and nutty flavor with smokey hints, which is a result of the cheese being stored near fireplaces. In 2013, Idiazabal smoked cheese won the Super Gold medal in the World Cheese Awards and is generally considered as one of the best cheeses from Spain.
Nata de Cantabria
Nata de Cantabria is a traditional Spanish soft cheese made in the region of Cantabria. It is prepared from the unpasteurized milk of Friesian cows that are specific to the region with a usual aging time of 14 days to 2 months.
The flavor of Nata de Cantabria is mildly acidic but buttery and sweet with a texture that is smooth, creamy, and firm. Nata de Cantabria is a certified PDO product from the EU and is used for cooking a variety of dishes.
It is also known as Cantabrian cream cheese and it has a P.D.O certification since 1985. Queso de nata de Cantabria has a yellow/creamy color and there are no holes in it.
Queso Roncal is another traditional artisan cheese from Spain, more precisely from Valle de Roncal in the Navarre region. It has a P.D.O certification by the European Union, which states that it can only be made from milk of the Latxa and Rasa breeds.
It has a robust flavor that is well defined and buttery. Roncal Cheese is best accompanied by a glass of good wine, but it can also be used for certain cooking recipes.
Zamorano is another popular Spanish cheese and it’s typically aged for at least 6 months, giving it a crumbly and hard texture. It’s made in the Zamora province in the autonomous region of Castile and León.
Zamorano cheese is made with milk from the Churra and Castilian sheep breeds that results in a very unique flavor. It’s very creamy and sweet but savory at the same time. Some will also feel a nutty flavor and a hint of piquancy.
Afuega’l Pitu is another famous Spanish cheese from the Asturias in northern Spain. It is known for its high-fat content and strong flavor. Another striking characteristic is the fact that it traditionally comes without a rind, and is instead being wrapped in a special type of cloth.
Moreover, there are several varieties of Afuega’l Pitu, such as Rag, Trunk, and Blanco that can be soft, semi-cured, or cured. It holds a P.D.O status both by Spain and the European Union.
The largest production of Afuega’l Pitu takes place in the municipality of Grado, but Las Regueras, Morcin, Pravia, SAlas, and Riosa are also some main production centers.
Majorero is the most famous Spanish cheese from the Canary Islands, and it is made on the island of Fuerteventura. The cheese has a P.D.O certification by the European Union and was in fact the first goat cheese to be protected in Spain.
It is somewhat similar to Manchego and it has a pale white color with milky and nutty flavors. The cheese is made from milk from the Majorera goat, which is known for its thick and aromatic milk with high-fat content.
The Majorero cheese is very nice to eat and goes well into cooking as well for desserts. There are several ways that Majorero can be served, but my favorite is with something sweet, like quince.
Cabra Al Romero
Cabra al Romero is made in the Murcia region from pasteurized goat milk. It is typically aged between two to four months and what characterized this Spanish cheese is the fact that it’s fully covered in rosemary, basically acting like the rind.
The cheese has a sweet and tangy taste, and it goes very well with fruity and deep red wine.
Queso de Gamonéu
Queso Gamonéu is a lightly smoked cheese with red, green, and blue patches from Asturias. It has a buttery and nutty flavor with smokey and spicy hints.
The texture is crumbly and firm and it has a pale yellow color. Queso de Gamonéu is made with a mix of milk from sheep, cow, and goat.
Torta del Casar
Torta del Casar is a popular Spanish cheese that is well-known all over the country. It’s produced in the Extremadura region and is renowned for its soft and creamy texture with a rich and salty flavor.
Unpasteurized sheep milk is used to make Torta del Casar and it can only be made with milk from Entrefina or Merino sheep, regulated by its protected origin status.
Torta del Casar is aged for a minimum of 60 days and it’s traditionally eaten by slicing off the top and scooping out the creamy ripe cheese inside. It goes well as an appetizer or along with a glass of red dry wine.
Arzúa-Ulloa is a traditional Spanish cheese with origins in the autonomous Galicia region. It is made from pasteurized cow milk and has a DOP certification from MAPA in Spain.
There are two varieties, Arzúa-Ulloa farmhouse cheese (made with milk from cows at the same farm where it’s produced) and Arzúa-Ulloa mature cheese which requires a minimum of six months curing. The mature version gets a yellow dark color with a shiny look.
Arzúa-Ulloa is a soft and creamy cheese that has the shape of a disc with a soft pliant rind. A ready-made package of Arzúa-Ulloa can weigh between 0.3 to 2 kilos. The aging process ranges from 6 days to 6 months which results in various textures.
Payoyo Cheese is made with milk from the Payoya goat and the Merina sheep from Sierra de Grazalema, in southern Spain. It has been featured several times in World Cheese Awards and is a true artisan cheese that shouldn’t be missed.
It is also known as Queso de Grazalema and those visiting Finca Las Hazuelas can go on tastings every Sunday at 12:30.
More information about Spanish cheese
There is a total of 26 varieties of cheese from Spain that have been classified as D.O.P, which means they have a Protected Designation of Origin. Most of the traditional cheeses are made from one type of milk, from cow, goat, or sheep, but some varieties have a mix of different kinds of milk.
Furthermore, there is a wide variety of textures when it comes to Spanish cheeses ranging from fresh and soft to semi-cured and cured, and they come in various forms and sizes. Some traditional kinds of cheese from Spain have become famous worldwide, such as Manchego and Mahón.
Some other famous types of cheese from Spain include Queso de Afuega el Pitu, Zamorano, Queso Cabrales, Arzúa-Ulloa and Queso Majorero. Cheese has an essential role within Spanish cuisine and can be served as an appetizer or together with Serrano ham, or paired with a suitable wine.
What is your favorite cheese from Spain? Leave a comment below!