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What is jalapeno cheddar?

Jalapeno cheddar is a spicy and flavorful cheese made with cheddar cheese and fresh jalapeno peppers. It can add a kick of heat and a creamy, salty taste to dishes like nachos, burgers, tacos, sandwiches, cheese dips, and more.

Jalapeno cheddar gets its name from its two main ingredients – aged cheddar cheese and fresh jalapeno chili peppers. Cheddar is a hard, off-white cheese known for its rich, tangy flavor. Jalapeno peppers are medium-heat chili peppers with a crisp texture and bright, grassy flavor.

When combined, the aged sharpness of cheddar balances beautifully with the fresh bite of jalapeno. The cheese provides a creamy base while the jalapeno brings the heat. This winning flavor combination makes jalapeno cheddar an ideal choice for spicing up Tex-Mex favorites, appetizers, snacks, and cheese boards.

How is jalapeno cheddar made?

Jalapeno cheddar is made similarly to traditional cheddar, with a few added steps. Here is an overview of the jalapeno cheddar cheesemaking process:

1. Make the cheddar base

Like regular cheddar, jalapeno cheddar starts with fresh cow’s milk. The milk is pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria. Then, starter cultures are added to acidify the milk and begin the cheesemaking process. Rennet is added next to coagulate the milk into soft curds and whey.

The curds are cut, cooked, and pressed together to expel more whey. Once the desired moisture content is reached, the cheddar curds are milled, salted, and packed into blocks or wheels for aging.

2. Age the cheddar

For jalapeno cheddar, the cheddar blocks are aged for 1-3 months to develop a sharper, tangier flavor. Longer aging gives more pronounced cheddar notes. The aging takes place in climate-controlled storage rooms.

3. Prepare the jalapenos

Fresh jalapeno chili peppers are rinsed, stemmed, and seeded. Removing the seeds and membranes reduces some heat. The peppers may be sliced or diced depending on the cheesemaker’s preference.

4. Combine the ingredients

The aged cheddar and fresh jalapeno peppers are shredded and mixed together in the ideal ratio. Common jalapeno cheddar ratios are:

  • 85% aged cheddar, 15% jalapenos
  • 80% aged cheddar, 20% jalapenos
  • 75% aged cheddar, 25% jalapenos

The jalapenos are gently folded into the shredded cheddar until well incorporated. More jalapenos means more heat.

5. Shape and package the cheese

The spicy cheddar mix can be left loose or shaped into blocks, slices, shreds, or crumbles. Jalapeno cheddar is packaged directly for sale or aged for 1-2 weeks to allow flavors to mingle. Then it’s ready to eat and enjoy!

Types of jalapeno cheddar

There are a few basic styles of jalapeno cheddar:

Mild Jalapeno Cheddar

Uses fewer jalapenos and often strips out some or all of the seeds and membranes for a lower level of spice. The jalapeno flavor comes through but without too much heat.

Medium Jalapeno Cheddar

Contains a moderate amount of jalapenos with some seeds and membranes left intact. Delivers a noticeable kick but not an overwhelming burn. One of the most popular heat levels.

Hot Jalapeno Cheddar

Packs plenty of spicy jalapenos with the seeds and membranes. This amped up version offers an intense, lip-smacking heat that chile heads crave.

Smoked Jalapeno Cheddar

Starts with naturally smoked cheddar for deeper, smokier flavor before mixing in the jalapenos. Great for cheese plates, burgers, and Tex-Mex dishes.

Aged Jalapeno Cheddar

Uses extra sharp cheddar aged over 6 months for bolder cheddar flavor. The longer aging gives a sharpness that contrasts the fresh jalapeno taste.

Flavor profile

When you bite into jalapeno cheddar, you’ll experience an exciting flavor profile:


Smooth and creamy cheddar with crunchy flecks of jalapeno throughout. The cheddar provides a supple, velvety base.


Cheddar lends a rich, nutty taste. Jalapenos bring bright, vegetal notes plus heat that builds slowly. The combination is well-balanced and complex.


You’ll detect the pungent smell of cheddar plus fresh jalapeno aromas like green pepper, grassy spice, and chile heat.


Depending on the amount of jalapenos and seeds, jalapeno cheddar ranges from mildly spicy to mouth-burning hot. The jalapeno heat is immediate and concentrated in the finish.

How to use jalapeno cheddar

Thanks to its crowd-pleasing flavor, jalapeno cheddar shines in a wide variety of dishes:


Melted over tortilla chips, it makes the ultimate nacho cheese sauce. Sprinkle over chips before baking or dipping.


Oozes perfectly between toasted tortillas with chicken, steak, or veggies.


Slices or shreds are perfect burger toppers. The cheese provides creamy contrast to the charred meat.

Mac and Cheese

Mix in shreds to spike up the heat in cheesy baked macaroni dishes.


Load up baked potatoes, potato skins, or french fries for a spicy twist.


Gives pizza extra flava and kick as a shredded topping or in the sauce.

Grilled Cheese

Makes an awesome gooey grilled cheese with rye or sourdough bread.


Stir in cubed jalapeno cheddar at the end for a creamy, spicy finish.


Shred it into egg omelets with veggies for a breakfast wake-up call.


Jalapeno cheddar is a good source of:

  • Protein – essential for building muscle and bone
  • Calcium – important for bone health
  • Vitamin A – key for immune function and eye health
  • Phosphorus – aids mineral balance and energy production
  • Vitamin B12 – helps make DNA and red blood cells

The table below shows the nutrition data for a 1 oz. serving of jalapeno cheddar made with whole milk (Source: USDA FoodData Central):

Nutrient Amount % Daily Value
Calories 110 6%
Total Fat 9g 14%
Saturated Fat 6g 30%
Cholesterol 30mg 10%
Sodium 180mg 8%
Total Carbohydrate 1g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Protein 7g 14%
Calcium 200mg 15%
Vitamin A 170 IU 4%

As a cheese, jalapeno cheddar is high in calories, fat (especially saturated fat), and sodium. Moderation is key, but the flavor makes it worth the occasional indulgence!

Where to buy jalapeno cheddar

Here are some places to buy fresh and high-quality jalapeno cheddar:

Grocery stores

Look in the specialty cheese section at well-stocked grocers like Whole Foods, Kroger, Publix, etc. Many carry their own fresh store-made jalapeno cheddar. Imported and domestic brands are options too.

Cheese shops

Specialized cheese shops will have knowledgeable staff to help you pick the perfect jalapeno cheddar. They may allow you to taste before buying as well.

Farmers markets

Markets are a great spot to find small, local creameries selling their handcrafted jalapeno cheddars. You can meet the cheesemaker and learn more about their process.


Order from cheese websites like, Murray’s Cheese, and Artisanal Cheese for quick delivery if stores near you have limited selection.

Wholesale food distributors

Restaurants, delis, and food service businesses can buy from restaurant supply companies for bulk cases of jalapeno cheddar.

Direct from the creamery

To go straight to the source, check out creamery websites to see if they ship or offer pickup at their facility.

How to store jalapeno cheddar

Follow these tips to keep jalapeno cheddar fresh:

Fridge storage

For best quality and food safety, refrigerate jalapeno cheddar sealed in its original packaging. The fridge prevents spoilage and drying out.

Optimal temperature

Store jalapeno cheddar at 35°F to 40°F in the refrigerator. Avoid temperature fluctuations which can affect texture.

Use by date

Consume jalapeno cheddar by the “best by” or “use by” date printed on the packaging. This ensures freshness and flavor.

No freezer storage

Do not freeze blocks of jalapeno cheddar, as freezing causes texture issues. However, shredded jalapeno cheddar can be frozen for later use.

Proper packaging

Keep jalapeno cheddar well wrapped in its original packaging or an airtight container. This prevents drying out, mold growth, and absorption of fridge odors.

Ideal humidity

Cheese needs higher humidity. Store jalapeno cheddar in the high-humidity crisper drawer if possible. You can also wrap it in parchment paper.

Following these guidelines, properly stored jalapeno cheddar keeps 2 months refrigerated past its use by date. Discard if mold grows or if the cheese smells or tastes off.

Common FAQs

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about jalapeno cheddar:

Is jalapeno cheddar spicy?

Yes, jalapeno cheddar has a spicy kick from the fresh jalapeno peppers used. However, the level of heat can range from mild to extra hot depending on the amount and type of jalapenos added.

What kind of cheddar is used?

Jalapeno cheddar is most commonly made with aged sharp cheddar for a stronger, tangier flavor that balances the jalapenos. Milder medium cheddar is sometimes used for a more subtle cheese taste.

Can I make my own?

Absolutely! You can easily make DIY jalapeno cheddar at home with just shredded cheddar and minced jalapenos. Simply mix together at your preferred ratio, shape into a log or block, and refrigerate to meld the flavors.

Does jalapeno cheddar melt well?

Thanks to its creamy cheddar base, jalapeno cheddar melts smoothly when heated. This makes it perfect for nachos, quesadillas, burgers, grilled cheese, and other melted cheese applications.

What drinks pair well with it?

Cool, refreshing beverages help balance the spiciness. Pair jalapeno cheddar with Mexican lager, pale ale, margaritas, sangria, iced tea, or a glass of cold milk.


With its winning combination of aged cheddar and lively jalapeno peppers, it’s easy to see why jalapeno cheddar has become a beloved cheese option. Its versatile flavor profile with just the right amount of heat makes it a go-to choice for enhancing Tex-Mex favorites, grilled cheeses, burgers, nachos, and more. Whether you opt for mild or extra hot, jalapeno cheddar’s creamy, spicy goodness amps up the flavor of any dish or cheese board. Just be sure to follow proper storage methods to keep this tasty cheese fresh. So next time you’re looking to add some zest to meals or snacks, reach for the zip of jalapeno cheddar!