10+ Portuguese Cheeses you have to try before you die

Portugal makes any cheese lover’s dreams come true. One can find amazing portuguese cheeses throughout the country – from north to south, and let’s not forget the islands. So today we’ve decided to share 10+ portuguese cheeses that you have to try before you die. We invite you to take one of our Porto Food Tours if you want to sample some of these items from one of the best Queijarias (cheese shops) in town.

Everything is fine when you have cheese and wine

Just like wine, every region in Portugal has its own cheese. And just as portuguese wines have protected designation of origin labels, so do portuguese cheeses. In fact, we had a look and there are 10+ portuguese cheeses with PDO designations (PDO stands for Protected Designation of Origin). This label ensures that these slow-food products are produced within the demarcated area and according to old artisanal prescriptions. Stick around, we’ll tell you more about our favorite portuguese cheeses.

Portuguese cheeses

Famous portuguese cheeses

What is a good portuguese cheese? How many different cheeses are there? Are there any vegetarian cheeses in portuguese gastronomy? We put together a list of 10+ national cheeses, including the portuguese cheese names and tips on how to eat them. Authenticity: guaranteed!

1. Serra da Estrela cheese

Serra da Estrela cheese is one of Portugal’s oldest and most traditional products. It is produced in the mountains that are located in the beautiful region of Serra da Estrela. The milk used comes from sheep, but not any sheep – they must be raised in that region in order for the Serra da Estrela cheese to receive the PDO classification. Let’s (literally) dig in!

Serra da Estrela Cheese
  • Portuguese cheese name: Queijo Serra da Estrela;
  • Cheese type: Sheep’s milk cheese (creamy, buttery and very smelly);
  • Region: Serra da Estrela, in the central region of Portugal;
  • How to eat Serra da Estrela cheese: It depends on who you ask. In the north of the country, people make a hole in the top of the shell and take some of it with a spoon. It is a spreadable cheese. Serra da Estrela locals simply slice it and eat it (rind and all);
  • Vegetarian: Yes;
  • Curiosities: In 2014, the Serra da Estrela cheese was added to the Ark of Taste, a living catalog of delicious and distinctive foods facing extinction. This catalog is maintained by the global Slow Food movement.

2. Azeitão cheese

Azeitão cheese is also on the list of portuguese creamy cheeses, produced from pure raw sheep’s milk in Azeitão, a village less than one hour from Lisbon.

Azeitão Cheese
Photo: www.visitlisboa.com
  • Portuguese cheese name: Queijo de Azeitão;
  • Cheese type: Sheep’s milk cheese (creamy as Serra da Estrela cheese, but milder in flavor);
  • Region: Azeitão, located in the south-west of Portugal;
  • How to eat Azeitão cheese: Make a hole in the top of the shell, grab a spoon and enjoy. Goes hand-in-hand with toast;
  • Vegetarian: Yes;
  • Curiosities: Azeitão cheese is a good option for vegetarians because it uses thistle flower instead of rennet.

3. Transmontano Goat Cheese

Transmontano Goat cheese comes from the northern region of the country (Trás-os-Montes) – hence the name. It is a hard white cheese made from goat milk and it’s so delicious that we’re drooling already.

Transmontano Goat Cheese
  • Portuguese cheese name: Queijo de Cabra Transmontano;
  • Cheese type: Goat’s milk cheese (hard with a light peppery touch);
  • Region: Northeastern corner of the country;
  • How to eat Transmontano Goat Cheese: Cut it into thin slices; it goes very well with berry jam;
  • Vegetarian: No;
  • Curiosities: The longer it ages, the spicier it gets.

4. Évora Cheese

Merino is a type of sheep breed that graze freely in the pastures of the Évora region. Its milk originates the amazing Évore cheese. It comes as no surprise: happy sheep offer, in turn, amazing cheeses. It’s often used to flavor a salad, because of its high salt content.

Évora Cheese
Photo: www.visitalentejo.pt
  • Portuguese cheese name: Queijo de Évora;
  • Cheese type: Sheep’s milk cheese (semi-hard cheese, slightly sour and salty);
  • Region: Southern Portuguese region of Alentejo;
  • How to eat Évora cheese: It’s a staple in the couvert served in restaurants in the area, as a little amuse bouche alongside some tangy olives and typical sourdough bread;
  • Vegetarian: No;
  • Curiosities: You can eat the whole cheese, including the rind.

5. Nisa cheese

Nisa cheese is made in the northern part of the Alentejo region. It’s a semi-hard cheese made from raw sheep’s milk, often used in the preparation of quiches.

Nisa Cheese
Photo: www.visitalentejo.pt
  • Portuguese cheese name: Queijo de Nisa;
  • Cheese type: Sheep’s milk cheese (semi-hard cheese wih a sweet taste and a slight hint of walnuts);
  • Region: Alentejo;
  • How to eat Nisa cheese: We are no doctors but we know that adding this cheese to anything makes it an anti-depressant;
  • Vegetarian: Yes (it uses thistle flower instead of rennet);
  • Curiosities: Back in 2008, the Wine Spectator magazine listed Nisa cheese as one of the 100 best cheeses in the world.

6. S. Jorge cheese

It’s the Portuguese Parmeggiano. Also known as Island cheese (Queijo da Ilha), S. Jorge cheese comes from the beautiful island of São Jorge in the Azores – hence the name. This portuguese cheese is made (exclusively) of unpasteurized cow’s milk.

S. Jorge Cheese
Photo: www.visitazores.com
  • Portuguese cheese name: Queijo S. Jorge;
  • Cheese type: Cow’s milk cheese (semi-hard and slightly spicy);
  • Region: Azores islands;
  • How to eat S. Jorge cheese: Best flavor enhancer! We love to shred it over pasta;
  • Vegetarian: No;
  • Curiosities: S. Jorge cheese production began around 500 years ago (in the factory above).

7. Pico cheese

Round, flat, with a very intense aroma, Pico cheese has been produced exclusively on the island of Pico in the portuguese Azores. Pico cheese is made of cow’s milk with the addition of goat’s milk.

Pico Cheese
Photo: www.visitazores.com
  • Portuguese cheese name: Queijo do Pico;
  • Cheese type: A blend of cow and goat’s milk cheese (salty, with a strong smell, but softer than São Jorge cheese);
  • Region: Azores islands;
  • How to eat Pico cheese: As a starter or for dessert, you can’t go wrong with Pico cheese;
  • Vegetarian: No;
  • Curiosities: This recipe has been passed down from generation to generation since the end of the 18th century.

8. Serpa cheese

Another award-winning cheese from Alentejo. Serpa cheese is produced in the district of Beja, in eastern Portugal. Serpa cheesemakers brush the rind of Serpa cheese with olive oil and paprika which gives it a spicy flavor.

Serpa Cheese
Photo: www.visitalentejo.pt
  • Portuguese cheese name: Queijo Serpa;
  • Cheese type: Sheep’s milk cheese (smelly, with a hint of Portuguese paprika);
  • Region: Alentejo;
  • How to eat Serpa cheese: Serve it with some Alentejo bread;
  • Vegetarian: No;
  • Curiosities: This cheese can range from creamy (amanteigado) to hard (duro) depending on the age.

9. Rabaçal cheese

Rabaçal combines sheep and goat’s milk (two-thirds sheep milk to one-third goat milk). The original recipe comes from a small village located near Coimbra.

Rabaçal Cheese
Photo: www.centerofportugal.com
  • Portuguese cheese name: Queijo Rabaçal;
  • Cheese type: A blend of goat and sheep’s milk cheese (semi-hard texture and a smooth flavor);
  • Region: Rabaçal, center of Portugal;
  • How to eat Rabaçal cheese: drizzled with some honey;
  • Vegetarian: No;
  • Curiosities: The texture can vary from semi-hard to hard, depending on the curation process.

10. Terrincho cheese

If mild is how you like it, then you have to try Terrincho Cheese. This semi-hard cheese uses the milk of Churra da Terra Quente breed of sheep, which graze on the grasslands of Terra Quente in the municipalities of Bragança.

Terrincho cheese
  • Portuguese cheese name: Queijo Terrincho;
  • Cheese type: Sheep’s milk cheese (mild flavor and creamy consistency);
  • Region: Northeastern corner of the country;
  • How to eat Terrincho cheese: Delicious whether eaten alone or paired;
  • Vegetarian: No;
  • Curiosities: For a more intense flavour, look for Terrincho Velho.

11. Tolosa cheese

Everyone should have a block of Tolosa cheese somewhere in the fridge. It’s a mature cheese that combines milk from goat and sheep in the proportions of 20 to 80%, 40 to 60%, and 60 to 40%. That’s why is called “mestiço”. The flavor is reasonably strong, clean, and spicy. The aroma is pleasant and very distinctive.

  • Portuguese cheese name: Queijo mestiço de Tolosa;
  • Cheese type: A blend of goat and sheep’s milk cheese (strong and spicy);
  • Region: Alentejo;
  • How to eat Tolosa cheese: Cut it in slices and enjoy;
  • Vegetarian: No;
  • Curiosities: This cheese-making process began between 1901 and 1905.

Where can I buy Portuguese cheeses

Many Portuguese cheeses are not pasteurized and, for this reason, are hardly found outside of Portugal. That’s why cheese lovers should add Porto and Portugal to their must-visit destinations list. However, you can test your luck at one of these Portuguese food markets around the world.

Portuguese cheeses

PS: Here are a few Portuguese words that will come in handy when picking the Portuguese cheese that suits you best.

  • Cheese – Queijo
  • Sheep – Ovelha
  • Goat – Cabra
  • Cow – Vaca
  • Fresh – Fresco
  • Cured/Aged – Curado
  • Smooth flavor – Sabor Suave
  • Strong flavor – Sabor Forte

If you reached this part of the blog post, we just want to thank you and inform you of what you already now: Yes, you were probably a mouse in your previous life.

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Warm Foodie Regards,
Taste Porto Foodie Team

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