Bread and cheese are two of the world’s most beloved foods. They’re staples in most households and can be eaten in a myriad of ways. However, pairing bread with cheese can elevate your snack or meal to new heights. Whether you’re a fan of a simple grilled cheese sandwich, a platter of assorted cheeses, or something in between, here are some of the best bread and cheese combinations to try.
When it comes to bread and cheese, the rule of thumb is there is no rule of thumb. Take any bread and pair it with any cheese, and you’re sure to enjoy it. The thing with bread and cheese, though, is that there are some definite tried and true pairings, that take this great combination and make it amazing.
In this post, we’ll explore some of the best bread and cheese combinations out there to take your next bread and cheese board or grilled cheese sandwich to the next level.
But First, A Little History
Bread and cheese have a long and intertwined history that dates back to ancient times. The earliest known evidence of bread-making dates back to around 14,000 BCE in the Middle East, while the origins of cheese-making are believed to date back to around 5000 BCE, possibly in the Middle East or Central Asia.
As bread and cheese became staples in their respective cultures, they eventually began to be consumed together. In Ancient Rome, for example, people would eat a simple meal of bread and cheese, and it was also common in Greece and Egypt.
Over time, cheese-making techniques and bread-making methods evolved and spread across different regions, resulting in a wide variety of bread and cheese types. In Europe, bread and cheese became a staple food for peasants, as they were cheap and filling, while also being enjoyed by the wealthy as well.
In modern times, bread and cheese remain a popular food combination worldwide, with the versatility of both ingredients allowing for endless variations and new pairings. In fact, some cultures have even created their own signature bread and cheese combinations, such as Italy’s mozzarella and tomato on fresh bread, and France’s brie on a baguette
Top Bread & Cheese Pairings You Should Try
When it comes to pairing bread and cheese, there is more to consider than just grabbing a loaf of bread at random and whatever cheese you may have on hand. Don’t get me wrong, this will certainly make you a meal, and there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy it, but why not take it up a notch? Take the most basic of basic peasant meals, and elevate them to a whole new gastronomic level taking into consideration things like texture, complimentary flavors, as well as fresh and aged cheeses.
Let’s dig in.
Sourdough and Cheddar
A classic pairing, sourdough bread, and aged cheddar cheese go together like peanut butter and jelly. Sourdough bread has a tangy flavor that complements the sharpness of the cheddar cheese. For the ultimate sandwich, grill the bread with butter until it’s crispy on the outside and the cheese is melted to perfection.
|TIP: If you find that the butter burns too quickly, but you still want that crispy, greasy crunch to your grilled cheese, swap the butter for mayonnaise. Not only will it not burn as quickly, but it’ll also crisp up just as nicely as if you’d used butter, and you won’t even taste (or miss) the difference.
Baguette and Brie
Nothing says “French cuisine” like a baguette and brie cheese. The crunchy exterior of the bread contrasts beautifully with the soft, creamy texture of the cheese. This combination is perfect for a cheese board or as an appetizer for a dinner party. Plus, it’s easy to prepare – simply slice the baguette, add a few pieces of brie, and you’re good to go.
Ciabatta and Parmesan
Ciabatta bread is soft and chewy, making it the perfect vehicle for the intense flavor of Parmesan cheese. The nutty flavor of the cheese pairs perfectly with the bread’s rustic texture. Top it with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and you’ve got yourself a simple yet delicious sandwich.
Rye and Swiss
Rye bread has a bold flavor that can stand up to the strong taste of Swiss cheese. The combination of the two creates a savory and slightly nutty taste that’s perfect for a cold winter day. If you’re feeling adventurous, add some sauerkraut and corned beef to make a classic Reuben sandwich.
Focaccia and Goat Cheese
Focaccia bread is a flavorful and rustic Italian bread that’s perfect for sandwiches. The light texture and herb-infused flavor pair perfectly with the tanginess of goat cheese. Add some roasted red peppers and arugula for a fresh and satisfying sandwich.
Whole Wheat and Gouda
Whole wheat bread has a nutty flavor that complements the smokiness of gouda cheese. This combination is perfect for a hearty grilled cheese sandwich.
Sourdough and Camembert
Camembert cheese is a soft and creamy French cheese that pairs perfectly with sourdough bread. The tangy flavor of the bread balances out the richness of the cheese. Top it with some sliced granny smith apples for a sweet and savory sandwich.
Pita and Labane
Labane is a sour, white yogurt cheese that is made by straining as much moisture out of the yogurt as possible. It is best served drizzled with olive oil, grated tomatoes, and a sprinkle of za’atar with a side of warmed pitas. The combination of the sour cheese with the soft pita is out of this world, and definitely worth adding to your breakfast, lunch, or even dinner rotation as it’s both easy and incredibly delicious.
Cinnamon Raisin Bread and Goat Cheese
The light and fluffy texture, along with the sweetness of the cinnamon and raisins in this bread partners well with the earthy flavors of fresh goat cheese. Don’t knock it, until you’ve tried it. Seriously, a combination worth exploring.
Seeded Nutty Bread and Sharp Cheese
Sharp cheese is usually an aged cheese, like parmesan, asiago, or Canadian cheddar. Any one of the sharp cheeses mentioned, when put together with a dense, seeded, and nutty bread like Steinalderbrød, makes an excellent and beautifully simple meal.
Classic Grilled Cheese
While I mentioned the combination of sourdough and cheddar and grilling it as the best option, that is the next level to the classic that is the original grilled cheese. Your classic grilled cheese uses regular white sandwich bread and is paired with a variety of cheese combinations including medium cheddar, Havarti, gouda, Monterey Jack, and even old faithful American cheese. There’s something very comforting about biting into a classic grilled cheese. Oh, and don’t forget a side of pickle and plenty of ketchup to dip into.
Bagel and Creamed Cheese
This classic flavor pairing combines a dense, chewy bagel and smooth, creamy cream cheese that creates a delicious contrast in textures and flavors. The mild tanginess of the cream cheese complements the slightly sweet and savory taste of the bagel, resulting in a satisfying balance. Bagels with cream cheese have become an iconic part of American and Jewish cuisine and can be a great option for breakfast or brunch.
A Brief Guide to Bread and Cheese Pairing
While the above list is very clearly not exhaustive, they’re an excellent jump-off for anyone looking to explore the vast array of options in pairing different types of bread with complimentary types of cheese.
If you’re looking to do some experimenting of your own, here are a few notes for you to keep in mind when pairing bread with cheese:
|Soft, flowery cheeses such as camembert and brie
|Best paired with a cooked pressed cheese such as Comté, Parmesan, Gruyère, Beaufort, and Emmental.
|Pairs well with a washed rind soft cheeses like Munster, Limburger, or Maroilles.
|Goes well with both cooked (i.e., Swiss Cheese) and uncooked pressed cheese like Cheddar and Spanish Manchego.
|A sweet bread, like challa for example, will pair nicely with blue cheese.
|Great with strong cheese, like an aged Cornish Gouda oro Maroilles.
|Matches beautifully with a cooked pressed cheese like a Comté.
This is a short and sweet guide to expanding on your bread and cheese pairings. There are so many more to consider, and depending on where you live the possibilities can be, quite literally, endless.
Bread and cheese are more than just ingredients – they’re a food pairing that has been enjoyed for centuries. From classic grilled cheese to elaborate cheese boards, there’s a bread and cheese combination for every palate. So next time you’re unsure what to make for lunch or dinner, reach for some bread and cheese and start experimenting. You never know what delicious combination you might discover.