Pepper jack cheese is a delightfully tasty cheese with just the right amount of spiciness. It is perfect as an accompaniment to sandwiches, tacos, and burgers.
However, what do you do when you run out of pepper jack cheese, or worse, it is just not available in your local area?
In such cases, you need to improvise and find the best substitute for pepper jack cheese.
Fortunately, we have researched and tested 19 of the ideal pepper jack cheese substitutes and included their measurements.
So, whether you would like to make a sandwich or a cheese dip, these substitutions will work seamlessly.
Let us get right into it.
In short, " What can I use instead of pepper jack cheese?" Monterrey Jack Cheese and Jalapenos, Cheddar Cheese and Red Pepper Flakes, Colby Jack Cheese and Green Chilies, Pepperoni and Mozzarella Cheese, Feta Cheese and Red Pepper Flakes, Peppered Havarti Cheese and many more.
What type of cheese is pepper jack cheese, and what does pepper jack cheese taste like?
Pepper jack cheese is a kind of cheese that is a combination of Monterey Jack cheese and spicy peppers. It has a unique flavor that is both creamy and mildly spicy.
While the spiciness can vary based on brand, pepper jack cheese generally has jalapeno peppers or habanero peppers added to give it its signature kick.
The cheese itself has a mild, buttery taste which complements the subtle heat of the peppers. It can range from mild to quite hot, depending on the amount of pepper used.
Pepper jack cheese also offers a slight smokiness which brings out its flavor even more.
Uses of pepper jack cheese
Pepper jack cheese is a kind of cheese that is known for its spicy kick. This variety of cheese is created by blending Monterey Jack cheese with spicy peppers, such as jalapenos and habaneros.
The end result is a flavorful combination of creamy Monterey Jack and robust chile peppers that offer a unique taste to dishes.
It has become popular in many recipes due to its smoky flavor, which takes any dish up a notch.
Pepper jack cheese can be used in some classic dishes such as quesadillas, grilled cheeses, and nachos.
It also works well in tacos, burritos, and enchiladas.
In addition to Mexican-style recipes, this spicy variety of cheese can be used on burgers or atop pizza for an extra kick of flavor.
Pepper jack cheese also melts well, allowing it to be used for fondue or added to sauces like macaroni and cheese.
Some other creative uses of pepper jack cheese include salads, where it offers a nice contrast against the greens.
Eggs, where it adds flavor without overpowering the dish; and omelets, where it provides an interesting twist on the classic breakfast favorite.
Those looking for something truly unique can add the spice to macaroni salad or coleslaw for a zesty addition to their meal.
Pepper jack cheese can even be incorporated into desserts like brownies or pound cake as a way to add depth of flavor to sweets without compromising the texture difference between savory and sweet dishes.
Where to buy pepper jack cheese?
If you are looking for where to buy pepper jack cheese, there are a few different places you can go. Many specialty food stores carry it, as do some international grocery stores.
You can also order online from many retailers that provide a variety of diverse flavors and types of pepper jack cheese.
Best pepper jack cheese substitutes
1. Monterrey Jack Cheese and Jalapenos – a good pepper jack cheese substitute
This is a simple substitute where you can add sliced jalapenos alongside Monterrey Jack cheese.
Ratio or measurement: The ratio is 1:1, but you'll want to use fewer jalapenos if you're not a fan of too much heat.
This is a great option for burgers, quesadillas, or grilled cheese sandwiches.
2. Cheddar Cheese and Red Pepper Flakes
Another simple substitute is to use cheddar cheese with red pepper flakes.
Ratio or measurement: For every cup of pepper jack cheese, use 1 cup of cheddar cheese and add 1 to 2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes.
This is a great option for chili or mac and cheese.
3. Try Colby Jack Cheese and Green Chilies to replace pepper jack cheese
Colby jack cheese can be a great substitute for pepper jack when paired with green chilies.
Ratio or measurement: For every cup of pepper jack cheese, use 1 cup of Colby jack cheese and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of diced green chilies.
This is a great option for omelets or nachos.
4. Pepperoni and Mozzarella Cheese
If you’re looking for a non-spicy alternative, try using pepperoni and mozzarella cheese instead.
Ratio or measurement: For every cup of pepper jack cheese, use 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese and add 1/2 cup of chopped pepperoni.
This is a great option for pizzas.
5. Feta Cheese and Red Pepper Flakes – a tasty pepper jack cheese alternative
For a tangy substitute, try using feta cheese with red pepper flakes.
Ratio or measurement: For every cup of pepper jack cheese, use 1/2 cup of crumbled feta cheese and add 1 to 2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes.
This is a great option for salads or dips.
6. Peppered Havarti Cheese
If you’re looking for a cheese to use on its own, peppered havarti cheese can be a great alternative to pepper jack.
Ratio or measurement: Use it in the same amount as you would pepper jack cheese.
This is a great option for sandwiches or cheese platters.
7. You can use Queso Blanco and Jalapenos instead of pepper jack cheese
Queso Blanco, also known as white American cheese, can be a great alternative to pepper jack when paired with sliced jalapenos.
Ratio or measurement: Use it in the same amount as you would pepper jack cheese.
This is a great option for Mexican dishes like enchiladas or tacos.
8. Smoked Gouda Cheese and Chipotle Peppers
Smoked gouda cheese can add a smoky flavor to your dishes, and when paired with chipotle peppers, it can be a great substitute for pepper jack cheese.
Ratio or measurement: For every cup of pepper jack cheese, use 1 cup of smoked gouda cheese and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of diced chipotle peppers.
This is a great option for grilled sandwiches or dips.
9. Swiss Cheese and Jalapenos – an ideal pepper jack cheese replacement
Swiss cheese paired with sliced jalapenos can be a great substitute for pepper jack cheese.
Ratio or measurement: For every cup of pepper jack cheese, use 1 cup of Swiss cheese and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of sliced jalapenos.
This is a great option for fondue or cheese fries.
10. Cream Cheese and Serrano Peppers
Cream cheese combined with diced serrano peppers can give your dishes a creamy and spicy flavor.
Ratio or measurement: For every cup of pepper jack cheese, use 1/2 cup of cream cheese and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of chopped serrano peppers.
This is a great option for dips or stuffed mushrooms.
11. Colby Jack Cheese – similar taste to pepper jack cheese
This alternative has the same texture and flavor profile as pepper jack cheese, making it the perfect substitute.
Ratio or measurement: The ratio is 1 cup of Colby Jack cheese to replace 1 cup of pepper jack cheese.
12. Monterey Jack Cheese
Given that pepper jack cheese comes from Monterey Jack cheese, replacing it with Monterey Jack cheese works perfectly.
Ratio or measurement: The ratio is 1 cup of Monterey Jack cheese to replace 1 cup of pepper jack cheese.
13. Provolone Cheese – a great pepper jack cheese substitute
This cheese has a soft flavor and a creamy texture, similar to pepper jack cheese.
Ratio or measurement: The ratio is 1 cup of provolone cheese to replace 1 cup of pepper jack cheese.
14. Gouda Cheese
This cheese has a nutty taste and a creamy texture and works best in recipes that require melted pepper jack cheese.
Ratio or measurement: The ratio is 1 cup of Gouda cheese to replace 1 cup of pepper jack cheese.
15. Cheddar Cheese – similar taste to pepper jack cheese
Cheddar cheese is one of the most famous cheeses globally, and it is an excellent substitute for pepper jack cheese.
Ratio or measurement: The ratio is 1 cup of cheddar cheese to replace 1 cup of pepper jack cheese.
16. Muenster Cheese
Muenster cheese has a soft texture similar to pepper jack cheese and works best in grilled cheese sandwiches.
Ratio or measurement: The ratio is 1 cup of Muenster cheese to replace 1 cup of pepper jack cheese.
17. Queso Fresco Cheese – an ideal pepper jack cheese replacement
With a crumbly and salty texture, this cheese is an excellent substitute for pepper jack cheese in recipes such as tacos and enchiladas.
Ratio or measurement: The ratio is 1 cup of queso fresco cheese to replace 1 cup of pepper jack cheese.
18. Asiago Cheese
Although flavorful, Asiago cheese works as a substitute for pepper jack cheese.
Ratio or measurement: The ratio is 1 cup of Asiago cheese to replace 1 cup of pepper jack cheese.
19. Cream Cheese – similar taste to pepper jack cheese
When making dips that require pepper jack cheese, cream cheese works as an excellent substitute.
It blends well with other ingredients to produce a creamy and delicious dip.
Ratio or measurement: The ratio is 1 cup of cream cheese to replace 1 cup of pepper jack cheese.
Tips on How to Choose the Most Suitable Substitution Option for pepper jack cheese
When choosing a suitable substitution option for pepper jack cheese, consider the following tips:
1. Flavor profile: Pepper jack cheese has a distinct flavor with a mild to moderate level of spiciness.
Look for substitutes that offer a similar flavor profile, such as other types of spicy or flavored cheeses.
2. Spiciness level: Adjust the spiciness level of the substitute based on your preference. If you enjoy the mild heat of pepper jack cheese, opt for substitutes with a similar or slightly lower spiciness level.
3. Melting properties: Pepper jack cheese melts well, making it suitable for various recipes like sandwiches, quesadillas, and nachos.
Choose a substitute that also has good melting properties to ensure the desired texture and consistency in your dishes.
4. Texture: Consider the texture of pepper jack cheese, which is semi-soft and creamy. Look for substitutes with a similar texture, as it will affect the mouthfeel and overall experience of the dish.
5. Compatibility with recipes: Ensure that the substitute cheese works well in the specific recipes you plan to use it in.
Some suitable alternatives for pepper jack cheese include Monterey Jack cheese with added spices or flavors, Colby-Jack cheese, or a combination of cheddar cheese and jalapeno peppers.
6. Personal preferences and dietary needs: Take into account any dietary restrictions or preferences you may have, such as lactose intolerance or vegan choices.
Explore non-dairy options like vegan pepper jack cheese made from plant-based ingredients.
how to make pepper jack cheese
Making pepper jack cheese at home requires specialized equipment and ingredients, as well as a good understanding of the cheese-making process.
Here is a general outline of the steps involved:
1. Gather ingredients: You will need fresh cow’s milk, mesophilic starter culture, calcium chloride (if using store-bought milk), liquid rennet, cheese salt, and hot peppers (such as jalapenos) for the spicy flavor.
2. Pasteurize the milk: Heat the milk to around 145°F (63°C) and hold it at that temperature for about 30 minutes to kill any harmful bacteria. Stir occasionally to prevent scorching.
3. Cool the milk: Rapidly cool the milk to the desired cheese-making temperature, usually around 86°F (30°C), using an ice bath or cold water bath.
4. Add starter culture: Sprinkle the mesophilic starter culture over the milk’s surface and let it rehydrate for a few minutes. Stir the culture into the milk utilizing an up-and-down motion.
5. Add calcium chloride (if necessary): If you’re using store-bought milk, which may have been pasteurized at high temperatures, add calcium chloride to help with curd formation.
Observe the manufacturer’s instructions for the correct amount.
6. Add rennet: Dilute liquid rennet in cool, non-chlorinated water according to the package instructions. Stir the rennet solution into the milk using a gentle up-and-down motion.
7. Allow curds to form: Let the milk sit undisturbed for about 45 minutes to allow the curds to form. They should have a custard-like consistency and pull away from the sides of the pot.
8. Cut and cook the curds: Cut the curds into small cubes, around 1/4 inch (6 mm) in size. Heat the curds slowly while stirring gently to increase the temperature to 105°F (41°C) over the course of about 30 minutes.
9. Drain and press the curds: Drain the whey from the curds and transfer them to a cheese mold. Apply gentle pressure to compact the curds and help them knit together.
10. Add hot peppers: If desired, finely chop jalapeno peppers or other hot peppers and distribute them evenly throughout the curds. Press them down gently to incorporate them.
11. Press the cheese: Place the cheese mold under a cheese press and apply light to medium pressure. Press for several hours, periodically increasing the pressure, until the cheese forms a solid block.
12. Salt and age the cheese: Remove the cheese from the mold, sprinkle it with cheese salt, and allow it to air dry.
Then, transfer it to a cheese cave or refrigerator and age it for several weeks to develop flavor and texture. Turn the cheese regularly to ensure even aging.
Conclusion on pepper jack cheese substitute
In conclusion, there are several ideal pepper jack cheese substitutes that can still give your recipes that extra kick of flavor.
Whether you’re lactose intolerant or simply can’t find pepper jack cheese at the store, there are plenty of alternatives out there that can work just as well.
We hope this blog post has given you some inspiration for your next dish and that you feel more confident in your ability to make substitutions in your recipes.
FAQs on pepper jack cheese substitute
Q1. What is similar to pepper jack cheese?
Similar cheeses to pepper jack include Monterey pepper jack, jalapeño cheese, and queso blanco. All these types of cheeses feature peppers or spices for added flavor and taste.
They also all have a mild creamy texture which makes them perfect for melting in sandwiches or on top of toast.
Additionally, they can be used as toppings for tacos, burritos, or nachos.
Q2. What cheese is similar to jack cheese?
Jack cheese, also known as Monterey Jack, is a semi-firm American cheese named after David Jacks, who created it in the late 19th century.
It has a soft flavor and creamy texture that make it an ideal all-purpose cheese. It’s a good melting cheese that pairs well with Mexican dishes like tacos and quesadillas.
Similar cheeses include Monterey Pepper Jack, Colby Jack (which is a mixture of Colby and Monterey Jack), and Queso Blanco (white Mexican-style cheese).
These cheeses are all semi-firm in texture and have mild to medium flavors with slight variations.
For example, Colby Jack includes both the smoothness of Colby cheese with the tangy flavor of Monterey Jack, while Queso Blanco tends to be slightly creamier than traditional jack cheese with a light salty taste.
All these cheeses are great melting options for use in various recipes.
Q3. Can you substitute mozzarella for jack cheese?
Yes, mozzarella can be substituted for jack cheese in many recipes. Mozzarella is a mild and creamy cheese with a slightly elastic texture, while jack cheese is a semi-firm variety with an intense flavor.
Mozzarella melts well and is used often in cheesy dishes, while jack cheese can create a more complex flavor profile when melted into dishes.
Additionally, mozzarella has a slightly higher fat content than jack cheese, which can give some dishes a creamier texture.