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If you’re a cheese lover, the best way to find cheese you’ll love is to head down to your local, independently owned cheese shop and talk to the cheesemongers about what’s in stock and what's tasting great. Like any agricultural product, cheese varies based on the season, what the animals are eating, and choices made by the cheesemaker. That's why it’s best to taste before you buy.
That said, maybe there aren’t any cheese shops near you. Maybe you’re looking for a specific type or are hoping to send a cheesy gift. Luckily, there are some fantastic places to order cheese online, ranging from crowd-pleasing and inexpensive retailers to tiny producers crafting one-of-a-kind treasures.
A huge selection of domestic and international cheeses
Both small producers and big names are available
What We Don't Like
If you don’t know what you’re looking for, the selection may be overwhelming
If you’re easily overwhelmed, iGourmet’s cheese selection could be a bit much. On the contrary, if you’re seeking something special and just can’t find it, iGourmet is the place to look. For instance, most shops have one water buffalo cheese—creamy, fresh mozzarella di bufala. iGourmet has nine water buffalo milk options, including buffalo milk butter, buffalo milk Gouda, and buffalo milk Gorgonzola.
iGourmet has deli cuts, all the international greatest hits, cheese in bulk, a solid sale selection, and accompaniments galore. There are also well thought-out sets and boxes, including sets of cheeses to pair with your favorite wines, from cabernet sauvignon to riesling to pinot noir.
Choose from crowd-pleasing favorites or artisanal selections
What We Don't Like
Can’t customize gifts
A curated basket from Harry & David feels like the pinnacle of thoughtful gift-giving, and the cheese selection is no exception. The company goes beyond the average curation with fun creations, like the Football Sausage and Cheese gift box, featuring an all-beef football-shaped sausage.
Browse boxes by sought-after American cheesemakers, like Rogue Creamery, Beehive Cheese, and Sartori Cheese. There’s a California creameries collection, an organic cheese box, and even cheese and wine pairing boxes. While there are certainly deluxe options, there are also plenty of affordable boxes, too.
Need some prosciutto, too? How about a whole prosciutto leg? Once New York City’s quirkiest cheese shop, Murray’s Cheese is now owned by Kroger, America’s largest supermarket chain by revenue. You may know Murray's for its cheese, but the brand shines in offering a charcuterie selection, too, featuring some of the greatest hits from around the world.
Whether you’re looking for venison pâté, small-batch pepperoni, or whole legs of prosciutto, this one-stop-shop has got you covered. It also stocks smoked fish and sausages, like andouille and breakfast links. If you’re extra fancy, there are even truffle-infused options.
Many assortments to choose from (including some with holiday themes)
What We Don't Like
Not many options for the foodie or those who prefer to buy from small producers
Next time you’re shopping for a range of ages, consider Hickory Farms. The site has a range of crowd-pleasing cheese options, from a classic orange cheddar to a smoked cheese flight, plus simple, but thoughtful gift boards and baskets (many of which ship for free).
You won’t find Brie, manchego, or other international options here, but you will find a sausage and cheese gift basket, fruit and cheese baskets, cheese spread flights, and other delightful surprises. Cheese lovers of all ages will appreciate fun flavored options, such as the bacon and smoked cheddar blend, which, by the way, would be amazing on a grilled cheese sandwich.
Caputo’s Market in Salt Lake City is one of the best under-the-radar spots to shop for cheese, period. It stocks American originals and European favorites, and it even has an affinage (or “cheese aging”) program, in which it teams up with small producers to perfect its cheeses.
Not only is there a range of delicious, affordable cheese options, but Caputo's also offers affordable shipping prices—there’s no need to pay $30 or more for shipping unless you’re overnighting your order. If you’re only trying one cheese, go for the house-aged cheddar. After being aged for 12 months, it’s buttery and potato-y with the faintest note of sweet horseradish.
It’s hard not to love Zingerman’s of Ann Arbor, Michigan. It’s quirky, genuine, and a place that values its employees. That same sort of thoughtfulness goes into the online cheese buying experience. Looking for cheese made with vegetarian rennet or cheese from a specific state? Maybe you’re just looking for brunch cheese.
The site's search function is tailored to the customer—you can even search by the required shipping method (soft cheeses, for example, are more perishable and should be delivered with more haste). Each cheese’s landing page tells its story, complete with tasting notes for the current batch. The gift options are also solid, too, with options by the origin and desired pairings.
Best for Artisanal American:
Tiny-production gems, many of which you won’t find elsewhere
Great gift boxes
What We Don't Like
Pricey shipping, depending on your location
Anne Saxelby opened Saxelby Cheesemongers in 2006 in Manhattan’s historic Essex Street Market after cutting her teeth in cheese at New York City’s famous cheese shops. Now, it’s one of the best-known shops in the country, especially when it comes to small-production American cheese.
Online, you can choose from some of the best cheeses made in America or just go for the cheese of the month (or cheese and chocolate of the month!) club. The gift selection is extensive and creative, with selections by producer and state. There's also a beer lover’s box, a dessert-pairing box, a woman-made box, and more. If you only want the best of what America has to offer, opt for the American Cheese Society Winners quintet or trio.
You won’t find some of these cheeses anywhere else in the U.S.
What We Don't Like
The selection may be a bit esoteric for the average cheese lover
Boston-based Formaggio Kitchen carries the finest artisan foods from around the world. Though it stocks some American favorites, the cheese selection is decidedly old world and, frankly, unrivaled when it comes to European cheeses. Take nutty, mild Comté, the most popular cheese in France. Most shops stock one version, usually aged between eight and 12 months. They might bring in a two-year version around the holidays. Formaggio Kitchen, on the other hand, stocks four to six Comtés on any given day, each with a different age and flavor profile.
For the cheese explorer, the “taste of” collections are also exceptional, featuring Italy, France, the British Isles, and more. Oh, and if you love charcuterie, many of the products are house-made.
If you’re a cheese lover, you’ve likely already heard about Cowgirl Creamery’s incredible cheese. Mount Tam, its triple cream Brie-style cheese, is mushroomy, creamy, and a total dreamboat. Perhaps you’re more of a Red Hawk fan, with its distinctive orange rind and characteristic meaty funk.
What you may not know is that all of Cowgirl Creamery's cheeses are made with organic milk. Whereas certified organic produce isn’t all that hard to find, certified organic cheese is. Even if a cheesemaker follows organic practices, the certification is expensive and very strict, but Cowgirl values sustainability and thinks cheese tastes better when it’s made with organic milk.
The store doesn’t sell its cheese piecemeal on the website (you can usually find it online at Zingerman’s or Murray’s), but its collections feature its flagship cheeses, plus wonderful small-batch meat, jam, crackers, and other accouterments.
States like Vermont and Wisconsin get most of the credit for cheesemaking, but there’s a burgeoning scene of small American cheesemakers making award-winning cheese in other parts of the country. Georgia-based Sweet Grass Dairy is a perfect example of small-batch American cheese done right.
Using a system called “rotational grazing,” Sweet Grass Dairy ensures happy, pasture-fed cows. When you take a bite of the cheese, that grass-fed flavor speaks for itself. It offers a wide variety of cheese in the online shop, including decadent Camembert-style Green Hill and a crowd-pleasing pimento cheese. Smear either on your favorite baguette or pick up some southern-made charcuterie, jam, crackers, or pecans to pair.
For everything you could ever imagine on your next charcuterie board, browse the wide selection of meats, cheeses, and more at iGourmet. If you're in the market for something special to give a loved one, opt for a beautiful basket from longtime gifting favorite Harry & David's.
What do you look for when buying cheese online?
In general, cheesemongers will advise you to order less cheese more often, rather than stocking up, but sometimes we go overboard. Should you be buying in bulk, make sure to eat softer cheeses, like Brie and burrata, first. The harder cheeses, like parmesan and cheddar, can last months in your fridge as opposed to a few weeks for the softer stuff.
Your cheese will likely come packaged in butcher paper—and that’s where it should remain. Plastic wrap will suffocate cheese and impart unpleasant flavors.
Many shops offer assortment boxes that make a lovely cheese plate. Should you be curating your own cheese board selection, stick to a range of milk types and textures. An old cheesemonger saying is “something old (harder, aged cheese), something new (soft, young cheese), something stinky, something blue.”
Is it safe to eat cheese bought online?
Yes! The shipping cost will likely be higher for your cheese order than it might be for other food items, and that’s because cheese does better with less transit time. It requires lots of pampering, too, like ice packs and insulation.
When your cheese arrives, there may be a strong aroma. That’s normal. Cheese is a living thing and does best when it’s able to breathe, which is why it should be stored in breathable packaging once it’s made its way to you. Just let it air out on your counter for 30 minutes to an hour before putting it in your fridge.
There may also be some moisture buildup or even mold. That’s normal, too. If there’s moisture buildup on your piece of cheese, simply rewrap the cheese in butcher paper (or tin foil for blue cheese) before putting it in the fridge. Mold on fresh cheese, like burrata, chevre, ricotta, or mozzarella is a no-no, but otherwise, if the mold is green, blue, white, or grey, it can be cut off. If the mold is black or red, hold off and send a photo to the cheese shop for further examination.
How should you store cheese once it arrives?
Cheese loves humidity and will do best if it’s in your crisper drawer. If your cheese arrived in plastic wrap, it’s best to repackage it in butcher paper.
Unless you plan to cook with it, never freeze cheese. Freezing will compromise its texture and flavor. It’s not a huge deal if you freeze a bag of shredded mozzarella for pizza, but freezing a beautiful round of Camembert is a tragedy that cheesemongers will weep over.
How should you serve cheese?
Cheese should be served at room temperature for optimal flavor and texture. Let your cheese sit out for at least an hour before serving.
How long does cheese last?
Harder cheeses, in general, are less perishable than soft cheeses. Fresh cheeses, like mozzarella or chevre, should be eaten within a week of purchase. Most soft cheeses will last seven to 14 days in your fridge. Hard cheeses will last at least 14 days and sometimes longer—something like Parmigiano Reggiano will last just about forever.
Writer and professional cheese eater Christine Clark teaches cheese and pairing classes throughout the United States and knows how and where to get her cheese fix no matter where she is. Her cheese adoration is so strong that she has a whole podcast dedicated to it. She is a Certified Cheese Professional through the American Cheese Society.