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Does rosemary go with cheddar cheese?

Rosemary and cheddar cheese can make a delicious combination when paired properly. The herbal, woodsy notes of rosemary balance out the sharp, nutty flavor of aged cheddar. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when putting these two ingredients together. In this article, we’ll explore how rosemary complements cheddar cheese and provide tips for combining them successfully.

The flavor profile of rosemary

Rosemary is an herb in the mint family that grows wild in many parts of the world. It has a distinctive piney, woody aroma and taste that comes from essential oils like cineole, camphor, and alpha-pinene. These oils give rosemary its robust herbal flavor that stands up well to bold foods like lamb, steak, and potatoes.

When used in the right amounts, rosemary provides a nice counterbalance to rich, salty flavors. It has a warming quality that enhances savory flavors. The herb also has a slight citrus undertone from limonene oil that brightens up hearty dishes.

The flavor profile of cheddar cheese

Cheddar cheese has a complex, nutty taste that develops as the cheese ages. When young, the flavor is mild, creamy, and tangy. Aged cheddar becomes increasingly sharp and crumbly in texture with bold, earthy notes. The compounds that give aged cheddar its signature bite are organic acids like propionic acid.

Cheddar also contains savory glutamates that give it a rich, umami taste. The buttery, slightly sweet notes balance out the acidity. This makes cheddar a versatile cheese for cooking. It can add bold flavor or act as a supporting player, depending on the age and application.

Why rosemary works well with cheddar

The key flavors in rosemary and cheddar cheese complement each other. Here are some of the reasons they make a good pairing:

  • The lemony, pine notes in rosemary offset the earthy, nutty flavor of aged cheddar.
  • Rosemary’s light bitterness tones down the sharper notes in extra sharp cheddar.
  • The warming quality of rosemary accents cheddar’s rich, savory flavor.
  • Rosemary’s woodsy aroma balances out the buttery sweetness in mild cheddar.

When these elements come together, they create an herbaceous, complex flavor profile. The rosemary sharpens up the softer edges of the cheese while the cheese smooths out the intensity of the herb.

Tips for pairing rosemary with cheddar

Here are some tips to keep in mind when incorporating rosemary into dishes with cheddar cheese:

  • Use fresh rosemary rather than dried. The flavor will be more vibrant.
  • Add rosemary early on during cooking so the flavors have time to develop.
  • Mince or finely chop the rosemary leaves to distribute the flavor evenly.
  • Start with 1 teaspoon of chopped rosemary per 1 pound of cheddar as a guideline.
  • Add a bit of lemon juice to boost the citrusy notes of rosemary.
  • Stick to mild or medium cheddar if using a strong rosemary variety like Tuscan blue.

Is aged cheddar or mild cheddar best with rosemary?

Both aged and mild cheddar pair well with rosemary depending on the application. Here are some guidelines:

Aged cheddar

  • Choose an aged cheddar between 1-3 years for the best balance of sharpness and complexity.
  • Aged cheddar stands up to bolder rosemary varieties like Tuscan blue.
  • The nuttiness in aged cheddar contrasts nicely with rosemary’s piney quality.
  • Pair extra sharp cheddar with rosemary for salads, roasted vegetables or pasta.

Mild cheddar

  • Mild cheddar lets the rosemary flavor come through since it doesn’t compete as much.
  • Use mild cheddar for sandwiches, cheese trays, soups or biscuits with rosemary.
  • The buttery notes in mild cheddar accentuate the lemon/pine notes of rosemary.
  • Mild cheddar melts smoothly, which is great for sauces, dips or grilled cheese with rosemary.

Dishes that pair rosemary and cheddar

Here are some delicious ways to use rosemary and cheddar cheese together:

Baked brie with rosemary and cheddar

Surround a wheel of brie with pieces of aged cheddar. Add fresh rosemary sprigs on top and bake until the cheese is melted and gooey. Serve with crackers or crusty bread for dipping. The contrast of creamy brie and crumbly cheddar with woodsy rosemary makes a gourmet appetizer.

Rosemary cheddar scones

Incorporate grated sharp cheddar and minced fresh rosemary into a scone dough. The flavors pair nicely with scone staples like lemon zest, dried cranberries or caramelized onions. Bake the scones and top with a pat of butter while warm.

Rosemary cheddar biscuits

Make fluffy biscuits with grated mild cheddar, chopped fresh rosemary, baking powder and buttermilk. Brush the tops with melted butter and garlic powder before baking for extra flavor. These herby biscuits pair well with soups and stews.

Rosemary mac and cheese

Elevate boxed or homemade macaroni and cheese by adding fresh rosemary to the cheese sauce. Use half aged extra sharp and half mild cheddar for a balanced, complex flavor. Breadcrumb and bake the mac and cheese with rosemary sprinkled on top.

Rosemary cheddar cornbread

Stir chopped rosemary and shredded mild cheddar cheese into cornbread batter. The rosemary’s woodsy notes contrast with the sweetness of the cornbread. Enjoy wedges of this cornbread with chili or barbecue.

Rosemary cheddar crackers

Make homemade crackers with flour, butter, cheddar cheese, rosemary and sea salt. Roll out the dough and cut into crackers. Bake until lightly browned and crispy. These savory crackers make a delicious snack on their own or paired with wine and charcuterie.

Rosemary cheddar soufflé

Whip egg whites into a fluffy soufflé base, then fold in grated sharp cheddar and minced rosemary. Pour into ramekins and bake until puffed and golden brown. Serve immediately, garnished with extra rosemary. The airy, cheesy interior contrasts beautifully with the herby crust.

Rosemary cheddar potato skins

Make crispy baked potato skins stuffed with a rosemary cheddar filling. Mix shredded cheese with cream cheese, rosemary, garlic powder and chives. Spoon into hollowed out potato skins and bake until melted and bubbling. Top with crispy bacon bits for extra savory flavor.

Rosemary cheddar popovers

For a delightfully retro appetizer, fill eggy popover batter with grated aged cheddar and rosemary. Bake in muffin tins until puffed high over the edges. Serve warm from the oven as the cheese filling stays molten hot inside the crispy shell.

Rosemary cheddar cauliflower soup

For a hearty soup, simmer cauliflower florets in broth with potatoes and garlic. Blend with milk and stir in rosemary and grated extra sharp cheddar until smooth and creamy. Garnish bowls with crispy bacon and rosemary sprigs.

Rosemary cheddar pull apart bread

Take refrigerated bread or pizza dough and layer it with pieces of mild cheddar and fresh rosemary leaves. Roll it up, cut into segments and bake in a loaf pan until golden brown. Pull apart the cheesy rosemary bread for a crowd-pleasing appetizer.

Rosemary cheddar fondue

Fondue is a fun, interactive way to enjoy rosemary and cheddar cheese together. Here is a recipe for rosemary cheddar fondue:

Ingredient Amount
Grated extra sharp cheddar 3 cups
Minced fresh rosemary 2 Tbsp
Dry white wine 1 cup
Fresh lemon juice 1 Tbsp
Cornstarch 2 Tbsp
Freshly ground pepper 1/4 tsp


  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the white wine, lemon juice, and cornstarch. Whisk until smooth.
  2. Add the cheddar cheese and rosemary. Cook, stirring frequently, until the cheese is completely melted and the fondue is smooth and thickened.
  3. Remove from heat and season with freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Transfer to a fondue pot and keep warm over a low flame.
  5. Serve immediately with bites of bread, apples, vegetables, deli meat or pretzels for dipping.

The tanginess of the lemon and bite of the pepper contrasts nicely with the smooth, herby cheese. It makes for an easy yet elegant appetizer when entertaining. Try garnishing the fondue pot with extra rosemary sprigs.


Rosemary and cheddar cheese complement each other wonderfully when incorporated thoughtfully. The key is balancing the woody herbaceousness of rosemary with the different varieties of cheddar, from mild to extra sharp. Aged cheddar tends to stand up well to stronger rosemary while mild pairs better with delicate varieties.

Use fresh rosemary rather than dried for the best flavor. Add it early in cooking so the oils can infuse into the dish. Mince or chop it finely to distribute the piney taste. Slice softer aged cheddar and crumble sharper varieties for an interesting texture contrast with the rosemary.

From baked brie to rosemary cheddar crackers, biscuits, cornbread and beyond, there are endless possibilities for combining these two ingredients. Their flavors marry together into comforting, hearty dishes perfect for any season. With the right culinary creativity, rosemary and cheddar cheese can take your cooking to new herby, savory heights.