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Nerdy Science in the Kitchen

What Cheese Goes With Turkey?



From Thanksgiving dinners to Christmas celebrations and down to consumption in regular everyday life, turkey is a very lovely, healthy, and affordable type of meat. And it sure is a top choice for meat lovers around the world.

According to The Economist, turkey contains on average fewer calories than the same amount of beef, pork, and chicken. It is also cheaper. This makes turkey a more cost-efficient source of animal protein and a better choice for weight loss.

An article posted on We Are Chefs states that turkey is the most popular deli meat in use in the United States. Millions of turkeys are consumed each year at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, in descending order of consumption rate.

On the other hand, cheese is a dairy product: a food item that contains lactose and is produced from the milk of mammals. It is mostly made from the milk of buffalo, cows, goats, and sheep, containing lots of protein and fat.

Produced in different textures, forms, and flavors, cheese is another lovely protein source popular because it is portable, has a longer shelf life than most other dairy products, and is a source of food nutrients (calcium, fat, phosphorus, protein).

Whether fresh, aged, soft, semi-soft, hard, blue or with added flavor, cheese is a popular, widely consumed food item. It is paired with turkey in many delicious food combos. We will explore fifteen (15) of these in this article.

The information below serves to answer some of the most asked questions on the internet about pairing cheese and several turkey dishes. From burgers to sandwiches to some combos that include other food items, find out what cheeses go with turkey below.

Cheese and Turkey Pairings

1. What cheese goes best with turkey and avocado?

Turkey, avocado, and cheese sandwich
Turkey, avocado, and cheese sandwich.

If you intend to make a turkey and avocado sandwich, make use of cream cheese for the best results. Making this type of sandwich is pretty easy (like with any other kind of sandwich) and sometimes, bacon is used.

There is another way to make a sandwich with turkey and avocado, which is also quick and easy. It is called a grilled turkey avocado sandwich and is best made using Provolone cheese. These cheeses are explained below.

Cream cheese is a mild, soft type of cheese made from milk and cream. Thickened using some stabilizers in the process of production, it is typically used as a spread. It is meant to be consumed fresh because it does not mature naturally.

Provolone cheese is of Italian origin, from the region of Campania. It is an aged, stretched-curd cheese made from cattle milk. Aged for at least four months, it is a semi-hard cheese that may be produced in different shapes.

To make a turkey and avocado sandwich, you simply have to spread your bread (toasted or fried), with cream cheese, add diced chives for flavor, add fried bacon if available, add your turkey, place the avocado next and finish by seasoning.

Cream cheese is used because it pairs well with both turkey and avocado, and will also prevent the sandwich from drying out. Provolone also pairs well with turkey and avocado because it is a mild cheese.

Making a grilled turkey avocado sandwich may be made with constant heat. While preheating your pan, spread butter on one side of your bread slice and hummus or mayonnaise on the other. The side with the butter will be fried in the pan.

Before frying, add your turkey, avocado, other veggies for flavor (like tomatoes and onions), and a slice of Provolone cheese between the two sides spread with hummus. Place the sandwich in the pan heated to medium heat.

When the bottom buttered side is done, flip the sandwich over and let the other side cook as well. You can also fry the slices beforehand and then fill them. Cream and Provolone cheeses go best with turkey and avocado.

2. What cheese goes best with turkey sub?

Turkey sub sandwich on a wooden surface
Turkey sub sandwich on a wooden surface.

“Turkey sub” is another way of saying “turkey sandwich”. In addition to Provolone and cream cheese explained above, other cheeses that go very well with turkey sub are cheddar, Colby-Jack, Gouda, mozzarella, and Monterey Jack cheeses.

When making a turkey sub, you do not want a type of cheese that overpowers the flavor and taste of your other ingredients. There are several ways and ingredients to make turkey sub but you can hardly go wrong using the cheeses listed above.

Cheddar cheese is a relatively hard, mellow but relatively sharp cheese of English origins. It is a natural cheese made from cow milk and left to age for at least three months. It is originally off-white but is orange when coloring is added.

This type of cheese is stronger and saltier than many other kinds of cheese. It pairs very well with smoked turkey and is packed with flavor. Cheddar cheese adds a fairly dry texture to the moistness of turkey.

Colby-Jack, Co-jack or Cojack cheese is an American kind of cheese made from cow milk. Because it is aged for 14 days, the cheese is semi-hard in texture and mild to mellow in taste or flavor. It is made from Colby and Monterey Jack cheeses.

Although Colby-Jack cheese is predominantly used in the USA in foods like burgers, casseroles, and macaroni & cheese, it also serves as a good pairing for smoked turkey, especially in a turkey sub.

Gouda cheese is sweet, creamy, yellow, and made from cow’s milk. It is a semi-hard to hard cheese originally from the Netherlands. Gouda cheese is ideal for turkey sub because this type of cheese has a subtle flavor and is very creamy.

Mozzarella cheese is Italian and made from buffalo milk in the south where it is originally from. In some other regions of Italy, it is made from the milk of goats and sheep, but in all Italian regions, the milk of cattle is also used.

This semi-soft cheese is excellent for turkey sub because of its texture. Mozzarella cheese adds flavor to your sandwich while also adding character to it but does not overshadow the other ingredients used.

Lastly, Monterey Jack is an American cheese made from cow milk. It is semi-hard in texture and mild in flavor. The buttery and creamy savor of this cheese makes it an excellent accompaniment for turkey even in your sandwich.

3. What cheese goes well with leftover turkey?

Leftover turkey dinner sandwich
Leftover turkey dinner sandwich.

If you’re looking for suggestions to try with some leftover turkey, try mild cheeses when they are young (fresh). Some mild cheeses that you can try include Bel Paese, Doux de Montaine, cream Havarti, Emmental, and fresh Mozzarella cheese.

Bel Paese cheese has its origins in Italy. It is a semi-soft, mild, and delicate type of cheese from the Italian region of Lombardy. It is a pale yellow cheese made in small discs with cow’s milk and frequently used as a substitute for Mozzarella.

Doux de Montagne is a French cheese with a light, creamy texture. It is a semi-soft cheese made using the milk of cows. With origins in Auvergne, France, it has a soft, creamy, mild, and fruity flavor which makes it perfect with turkey.

Also simply known as Havarti, cream Havarti is another semi-soft cheese from Denmark. It is made with cow’s milk and aged for about three months. The saltiness and creamy texture of Havarti cheese add flavor to the turkey.

Emmental cheese is also called Emmentaler or Emmenthal cheese. It is made from the milk of cows and originates from Emmental, Switzerland. This medium-hard or semi-hard cheese is sweet, aromatic, and great with your turkey.

4. What cheese goes with Cajun turkey?

Cajun-style turkey sliced lunch meat
Cajun-style turkey sliced lunch meat.

Cajun turkey is a spicy, sweet, and tender kind of turkey made by slow roasting and slash-frying after being marinated in a blend of Cajun spices. It is typically made with cheese and vegetables to add some flavor to the turkey.

Preferred cheeses for Cajun turkey are Brie, cheddar, Colby Jack, cream, Muenster, and Provolone. While the other cheeses are suitable for making roasted Cajun turkey, cream cheese is used to make a dip for it.

Brie cheese is a soft-ripened style of cheese from France. It is usually aged for about 5 to 6 weeks after being sourced from the milk of cows. The flavor of the product depends a lot on the ingredients used and the environment.

Muenster cheese, or Munster cheese, is soft in texture and the milk used for its production is sourced from cows. Though it is from the United States, this cheese was introduced by immigrants from Germany. It is pale, smooth, mild, and soft.

5. What cheese goes with honey maple turkey?

Barbecued honey maple turkey sliced pieces
Barbecued honey maple turkey sliced pieces.

Honey maple turkey is turkey glazed over with maple syrup and honey glaze and then slow-roasted. Cheddar, Muenster, and Provolone cheeses are mostly used with honey maple turkey because they go so well with it.

Cheddar cheese is saltier and more potent in taste than some other kinds of cheese. It is great with honey maple turkey, especially in sandwiches, because of the sweet and sharp undertones that it adds to the meal.

Muenster cheese melts very easily and almost perfectly. It is buttery and mild, sometimes even mixed with other stronger varieties. Provolone is also ideal because it has a subtle flavor that pairs well with the turkey, maple syrup, and honey.

6. What cheese goes with jerk turkey?

Turkey jerky on a dark plate and surface
Turkey jerky on a dark plate and surface.

Jamaican or Caribbean jerk turkey sandwiches are usually made with Monterey Jack, Gouda, or Colby-Jack cheeses. These cheeses are semi-hard in texture, balancing moisture and dryness almost perfectly.

Colby-Jack, Gouda, and Monterey Jack cheese go with jerk turkey because they are mild, sweet, and buttery. Although they have their individual differences and tastes, these three cheeses make a statement but do not overpower the taste of your turkey. They instead complement it.

7. What cheese goes with smoked turkey?

Smoked whole turkey on a white plate on a grill
Smoked whole turkey on a white plate on a grill.

With smoked turkey, you likely want a kind of cheese that does not hide the taste and flavor of other ingredients used in the making of the dish. Examples of such ideal mild cheeses are Edam, Emmental, Gouda, Havarti, Muenster, and Swiss.

Edam cheese comes from the Netherlands, named after the town from which it originates. It is semi-hard in texture, made from the milk of cows, and aged for at least 4 weeks. It ages well and ends up only hardening but not spoiling.

Swiss cheese is a medium-hard or semi-hard type of cheese with holes referred to as “eyes”. It resembles Emmental cheese and has its origins in the areas surrounding the Swiss area Emmental. It is made from cow’s milk.

8. What cheese goes with Thanksgiving turkey?

Whole Thanksgiving turkey and dinner
Whole Thanksgiving turkey and dinner.

There are several types of cheese you could pair with your turkey on Thanksgiving. Although it is not part of the tradition on Thanksgiving, cheese is a very good addition to snack on alongside the traditional turkey.

The most commonly used cheeses with Thanksgiving turkey are cheddar, Gouda, Provolone, Edam, Havarti, Colby, Monterey Jack, Muenster, and Swiss cheese. Try any of the above for an added subtle creaminess to your meal.

9. What cheese goes with turkey and egg?

Turkey deli meat and egg sandwich
Turkey deli meat and egg sandwich.

Turkey, egg, and cheese sandwiches are, of course, made with cheese as one important ingredient. They are very easy to make, usually using fried over-easy eggs, eggs fried sunny-side-up eggs, or poached eggs.

Cheddar, Colby-Jack, and Swiss cheese go well with turkey and egg sandwiches. After toasting your bread slices, use mayonnaise (or hummus if you’re looking for a healthier, less fatty alternative) on one side of each slice.

Lay one slice flat on the side without mayo and add your turkey, fried or poached egg and cheddar, Colby-Jack, or Swiss cheese. Place the other slice on top. Get creative with it and add seasonings or more ingredients for extra flavor.

10. What cheese goes with turkey breast?

Stuffed turkey breast with spinach and cheese
Stuffed turkey breast with spinach and cheese.

Types of cheese that go with turkey breast include cheddar, Colby-Jack, Gouda, Havarti, Monterey Jack, Mozzarella, and Provolone cheese. Their different textures and properties add different characters to the taste of your turkey.

11. What cheese goes with turkey burgers?

Turkey burger with avocado and cheese
Turkey burger with avocado and cheese.

In making turkey burgers, soft cheeses that melt easily are preferred over hard varieties. They are stuffed between the burger buns with the other ingredients. As indicated above, melting cheeses are ideal.

Some melting cheeses that go well with turkey burgers are Colby, Fontina, Gouda, Havarti, Monterey Jack, Mozzarella, Muenster, Provolone, and Swiss cheese. Most of these varieties have been explained above.

Fontina is an Italian cheese made from cow’s milk. While it is now produced in different European and North American countries, it was first produced in Italy. Fontina cheese is semi-soft in texture and is a good melting cheese.

12. What cheese goes with turkey pastrami?

Pastrami of turkey breast
Pastrami of turkey breast.

Turkey pastrami is made by brining (treating it with brine or coarse salt to preserve and season it) raw turkey, partially drying it, seasoning, smoking and finally steaming it. The pastrami is then used to make sandwiches or cheeseburgers.

To make pastrami cheeseburgers or pastrami sandwiches, the preferred cheese varieties are cheddar, cream, Havarti, Mozzarella, and Swiss cheese. You can also use some other hard cheeses for added delicate to strong aromatic flavor.

Out of these five cheese varieties listed above, Swiss cheese goes best with turkey pastrami. Swiss cheese serves as a perfect complement to turkey pastrami without completely overwhelming the taste and flavor of the meat dish.

13. What cheese goes with turkey sandwiches?

Turkey Sandwich with cheese and veggies
Turkey Sandwich with cheese and veggies.

Turkey sandwiches are also known as turkey subs. Just like we have explained above, the most common cheeses used to make turkey sandwiches (because they pair really well) are cheddar, Colby-Jack, Gouda, mozzarella, and Monterey Jack cheese.

14. What kind of cheese goes with a turkey salad?

Turkey salad mixed on a white plate and dark wooden surface
Turkey salad mixed on a white plate and dark wooden surface.

Turkey salads are made using turkey meat, vegetables, and seasonings of one’s choice. Some of such vegetables and seasonings used frequently are celery, dill, onions, scallions, pepper, mustard, mayonnaise, lemon juice, honey, rosemary, apple cider vinegar, and cranberries.

Cheese is also used to add flavor to the dish. Some kinds of cheese that go well with turkey salad are cheddar, Colby, Colby-Jack, Monterey, and Swiss cheese. Goat cheese (ones made from goat’s milk) may also be used.

15. What string cheese goes best with turkey?

String cheese on a wooden cutting board
String cheese on a wooden cutting board.

String cheese is any type of cheese manufactured in such a way that the proteins in the cheese are aligned, causing it to be stringy. The same types of cheese pair well with turkey even when they are produced to be stringy in appearance.

Kinds of string cheese that go best with turkey include Brie, cheddar, Colby-Jack, Gouda, Monterey Jack, Mozzarella, Parmesan, and Provolone cheeses. Seven of these are briefly explained above.

Parmesan cheese is another Italian cheese variety made from the milk of cows. It is a hard cheese aged for at least 1 year; some varieties of Parmesan cheese are aged up to 2 or 3 years. It adds a fruity and nutty taste to your turkey.

Other FAQs

Does Swiss cheese taste good with turkey?

Yes, Swiss cheese tastes good with turkey; it is one of the best cheese varieties for turkey dishes. It has a sweet, nutty, mild taste and does not overpower the taste of the meat.

What can you put on a turkey sandwich besides mayo?

If you’re looking for other alternatives to mayonnaise to use as spreads on a turkey sandwich, try hummus, butter, honey mustard, fruit jam, or avocado.

Does Havarti cheese go with turkey?

Yes, Havarti cheese goes great with turkey dishes. It is a creamy semi-soft cheese with a mild, buttery taste. It is also slightly acidic and adds sweetness to your meat.

Does Muenster cheese taste good with turkey?

Muenster cheese tastes good with turkey. Its mild, soft sweetness makes it a top choice for Cajun turkey.


Both turkey and cheese are very tasty, widely consumed food items. Turkey is a healthier, more affordable alternative to popular meat sources like beef, chicken, and pork. Cheese is a source of protein produced from the milk of animals like buffaloes, cows, goats, and sheep.

Dishes combining turkey and cheese are usually healthy sources of protein. The type of cheese to be used, whether mild and young, complex and mature, or washed-rind and robust, is usually determined by the quality of the turkey.

Mild cheeses are typically used, especially when young, in strongly flavored or smoky turkey dishes. This helps to strike a balance and avoid loading the taste buds with too much flavor. Havarti and Monterey Jack are some mild cheeses to try with turkey.

Complex and mature varieties are used mostly when the taste of the turkey is less savory and more subtle. Provolone and Asiago are some very good kinds of mature cheese that pair well with turkey.

Washed-rind or smear-ripened cheeses are those treated with brine or other mold release or mold-bearing agents at intervals to encourage the growth of bacteria on their surface and change their flavor.

The term “smear-ripened” typically refers to softer cheeses treated in this manner and “washed-rind” to the harder ones. Because they have heavier flavor and are more aromatic than untreated cheeses, these ones are balanced by being paired with milder-tasting turkey.

Kitchen Professor author
About the Author: Rose Reinhard

Rose Reinhard is a Thai-American foodie from Chiang Mai, Thailand. She's been a creative writer since she could speak and enjoys making vegetarian/vegan dishes and reading about food science. She claims her air-fryer is the best purchase she’s ever made to date.

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