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The best Norwegian cheeses you need to try

Robin-Ivan Capar
Robin-Ivan Capar - [email protected]
The best Norwegian cheeses you need to try
Join us as we explore the creamy, the tangy, and the sweet in the pursuit of savouring Norway's great cheeses. Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash

Norway is often celebrated for its beautiful landscapes, pristine fjords, and Northern Lights. More recently, its been celebrated for winning the "Cheese World Cup". These are some of the best cheeses the country produces.


In a world where cheese connoisseurs often turn to France, Holland  and Britain for their dairy delights, Norway's exceptional cheeses have demonstrated – time and time again – that they deserve a place among the world's best.

In the picturesque setting of Trondheim, the renowned annual World Cheese Awards recently unveiled the world's best cheese, and it was a Norwegian cheese that stole the spotlight.

Norway's Nidelven blå, a pasteurised cow's milk blue cheese crafted on a small farm just a few hours away from Trondheim, emerged as the champion at the 2023 World Cheese Awards, surpassing more than 4,500 other cheese entries from across the globe.

"Norway is a world-class cheese nation," Norwegian Agriculture and Food Minister Geir Pollestad said after the Nidelven blå cheese secured the trophy.

And rightly so - from traditional classics that have stood the test of time to innovative creations that push the boundaries of flavour, Norway's cheese scene is a magnet for cheese enthusiasts.

READ MORE: Does Norwegian food deserve to be ranked the worst in the world?

Brunost (brown cheese)

While Nidelven blå currently takes centre stage as the world's best cheese, as the victor of the 2023 World Cheese Awards, Norway's cheese heritage is rich and diverse.

One iconic Norwegian cheese is the brown cheese, brunost, a whey cheese known for its unique caramelised flavour and brown colour.

The production of brunost involves a slow cooking process of whey, a byproduct of cheese production. During this process, the natural sugars in the whey caramelise, giving the cheese its characteristic brown colour and sweetish taste.

This caramelisation also contributes to the cheese's unique texture, which is typically soft and sliceable.

Norwegians often enjoyed it on waffles, and brunost is a beloved staple in Norwegian cuisine.


Fana cheese

Another Norwegian cheese that made a significant mark on the global stage is Fana cheese.

In 2018, Fana cheese outshone over 3,500 competitors from around the world to claim the title of the world's best cheese.

This achievement showcased the excellence of Norwegian cheesemakers and their dedication to producing top-quality products. Fana cheese draws from centuries-old techniques and recipes passed down through generations.

It offers a very complex flavour profile with a blend of sweet, tangy, and creamy notes. The cheese's depth of flavour is the result of careful maturation.

Gamalost (old cheese)

Gamalost is a traditional Norwegian cheese with a pungent aroma (to say the least) and a very intense flavour.

Its name translates to "old cheese," and it has been a cherished part of Norwegian cuisine for centuries, making it one of the oldest cheese varieties in Norway.

Crafting gamalost is a labour-intensive process that requires careful attention to detail. It begins with skimmed cow's milk, which is thickened using rennet.

The curds are then heated and pressed before being crumbled into small pieces. These pieces are then fermented with specific bacterial cultures. After fermentation, the cheese is pressed into forms, aged, and dried.

Gamalost is renowned for its bold flavours, and its aroma is often described as strong and earthy. The taste has tangy and savoury notes that linger on the palate, setting it apart from mild Norwegian cheeses.


Norwegian cheeses have won a number of awards in recent years. Photo by Rebecca Orlov | Epic Playdate on Unsplash


Kraftkar cheese

If gamalost and brunost are icons of Norway's cheesemaking heritage, kraftkar represents one of the country's cheesemaking innovations.

This well-balanced blue cheese is crafted on the northwestern edge of Norway and took artisan cheesemakers Tingvollost 13 years to perfect.

In 2016, at the 29th annual World Cheese Awards, Kraftkar reigned supreme, besting over 3,000 cheeses from around the world to become the world champion.

"I’m totally speechless; this is absolutely fantastic for a small family business like Tingvollost," the company’s chairman Gunnar Waagen said upon receiving the award at the time.

Kraftkar's flavour profile is a blend of creamy and tangy notes with an earthy richness of blue cheese.

The cheese's texture is smooth, and it is said to strike a balance between the typical strong character of blue cheese and some subtler nuances.

Jarlsberg cheese

Jarlsberg, perhaps the most recognisable of Norway's cheeses, is a mild, nutty, and slightly sweet cheese made from cow's milk.

The story of Jarlsberg cheese dates back to the early 19th century when it was first developed in Norway.

Named after the Jarlsberg estate, its creation resulted from experimentation and innovation in cheesemaking.

Aged for varying durations, Jarlsberg's smooth texture makes it versatile enough for use in various dishes.

Its distinctive holes are formed by milk-borne bacteria, which are intentionally introduced during the production process.


(Dis)honourable mention: BaconOst, cheese and bacon in a tube

Finally, a playful nod to the unconventional – BaconOst, soft cheese and bacon in a tube.

While not a contender for any cheese prize, this peculiar creation combines the flavours of cheese, broth, and bacon in a convenient, squeezable format.

It may not reach the charts at international competitions, but it adds a uniquely Norwegian twist to the world of cheesy delights, solidifying the Norwegian belief that everything is better with bacon.


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