Brick cheese is a Wisconsin-born cheese that dates back to the 1800s. It is sometimes considered the best pizza cheese and it’s often mentioned in relation to the famous Detroit-style pizza, but other recipes may call for brick cheese as well.
Brick cheese might be hard to find outside of Wisconsin, so it’s necessary to know at least one brick cheese substitute to make some recipes work. The types of cheese that better replace brick cheese are those that melt well like mozzarella, cheddar, and Jack cheese.
The best substitutes for brick cheese
Wisconsin brick cheese was first made in the late 1800s and its name has a double meaning: on one side, this type of cheese is indeed shaped like a brick and on the other, the curd was originally pressed by cheesemakers using bricks.
Unlike many other types of cheese, including many brick cheese replacements, Wisconsin brick cheese is barely known internationally. In fact, even in the United States, it is not really popular and its distribution is mostly limited to the state of Wisconsin.
Brick cheese is a great melting cheese and when it’s young, its flavor is nutty and mild, but the longer it ages the more intense and tangy it becomes. This type of cheese is perfect for pizza and grilled recipes.
When you’re out of brick cheese or you can’t get your hands on it, you can try one of the following Wisconsin brick cheese substitutes.
1. Cheddar cheese
Cheddar is one of the most popular types of cheese in the U.S. and it’s also extremely affordable, so it’s no wonder that it made its way into many recipes, as it’s also very versatile.
Young cheddar has a mild taste, however, just like Wisconsin brick cheese, cheddar’s flavor becomes more intense the longer it’s left to age.
This cheese is a good substitute for brick cheese and also has similar fat content. Use it as you would use brick cheese in the recipe.
2. Tilsit cheese
Tilsit is one of the many types of cheese made from cow’s milk, which can be pasteurized or unpasteurized depending on where it is produced. Animal rennet is used to make this cheese, so it is not vegetarian-friendly.
The aging period of Tilsit can be 2-3 months or up to 5-6 months. However, in some countries, it is sold unaged, as a type of fresh cheese.
Tilsit has a long history, having first been made back in the 1700s. It is said it was made by mistake by Dutch immigrants in Prussia while they were trying to make Gouda cheese.
It has many versions, ranging from semisoft to hard cheese. It’s great for grilling and baking, so it can be a Wisconsin brick cheese alternative in cooking.
3. Havarti cheese
Havarti is a semisoft cheese from Denmark that has a creamy texture and a mild acidic/sweet taste. It’s a staple cheese in Danish cuisine, but its popularity has crossed the borders of Denmark and made it into international cuisine.
Havarti is another cheese that tastes milder when young, but the more it’s left to age the more intense, sharp, and salty its flavor becomes.
Havarti has many uses, but it’s especially good when eaten raw, with desserts, appetizers, and cocktails.
In the production of Havarti, vegetarian rennet is often used, so this is one of the few vegetarian-friendly kinds of cheese. However, do check the ingredients to make sure there is no animal rennet involved in the preparation.
4. Limburger cheese
Limburger is a European cheese that is mostly made in Germany today. In the United States, Limburger cheese is only made in the city of Monroe in Wisconsin, so we could call Limburger and Wisconsin brick cheese half-siblings.
The important thing to remember about Limburger cheese is that it smells way worse than it tastes, so you shouldn’t be scared off by its intense smell.
Fresh Limburger has a mild taste and somewhat of a yeast smell, which means that if you don’t fancy stronger scents you should eat it during this first phase. The more it ages, the more intense its taste becomes, and while this isn’t a problem, its strong smell may be discouraging to some.
Limburger is an overpowering cheese, so it is better not to use it in recipes. You can use it as sliceable cheese to replace brick cheese.
5. Mozzarella cheese
There is much to say about mozzarella cheese. After all, this Italian cheese is one of the most popular in the world and one of the sacred ingredients of pizza, although people would probably disagree in Wisconsin.
In fact, Wisconsin brick cheese is used on the famous Detroit-style pizza, which is a pizza with a rectangular shape and thick crust that has several toppings one over the other, including tomato sauce and brick cheese, precisely.
Mozzarella is the perfect substitute for brick cheese on pizza, but it works in every recipe that requires melting cheese. Mozzarella has a mild flavor, so it won’t overwhelm your dish while at the same time adding that signature je ne sais quoi.
Mozzarella cheese sold in the U.S. is usually buffalo milk mozzarella, which has a tastier and richer flavor than fior di latte mozzarella. However, fior di latte is also a great mozzarella which is extremely versatile, and usually cheaper than buffalo milk mozzarella.
6. Muenster cheese
Muenster cheese is made from whole milk and it has the signature orange/red crust, which is bland but edible. The American Muenster is born originally from the French cheese Munster, which takes its name from the homonym town in France.
Not all American Muenster has the crust, which is actually just a marketing move as it’s added to make it more similar to the French original.
Muenster is a wonderful melting cheese, so it makes a good brick cheese substitute. Its specialty is grilled cheese sandwiches, but don’t be afraid to experiment on pizza, hamburgers, and more.
This type of cheese can be a great addition to your mac & cheese, however, it’s even better when mixed with a stronger cheese. Muenster lends itself well to being mixed with a different cheese, for example, a mix of mozzarella and muenster can be a good substitute for provolone.
7. Provolone cheese
Provolone is an Italian cheese from northern Italy whose popularity has turned it into a worldwide produced cheese. As such, there are different varieties depending on where it was made, but the only DOP product is the one produced in Italy.
The original provolone can be either dolce (sweet) or piccante (spicy) depending on how long it was left to age. The piccante variety is not actually spicy, but its flavor is definitely stronger than the dolce variety because it has aged for several months.
The provolone found in U.S. stores is usually provolone dolce, which is milder and has a creamy texture. It’s close to brick cheese in terms of flavor and melting ability, although it is better eaten raw.
8. Tuma cheese
Tuma cheese is a delicate and soft type of cheese that is similar to mozzarella and can be substituted for mozzarella in almost every recipe, including pizza. It is originally a cheese from Sicily, made from processed sheep’s milk.
Despite being a soft cheese, its texture is actually firm but melts really well. Its flavor is stronger than mozzarella, without being overwhelming.
If you wish to add a different flavor to your pizza but you’re out of brick cheese, you can use tuma as you would use brick cheese or mozzarella cheese.
9. Jack cheese
Monterey Jack cheese originates in California in the 1700s, where Spanish Franciscan missionaries were making this mild cheese in their monasteries in the city of Monterey until an entrepreneur named David Jack started selling it with his name on it. The rest is history.
Jack cheese is one of the most popular types of cheese in the U.S., commonly used in Spanish and Mexican recipes, but its mild flavor and its melting ability make it the ideal cheese for a large variety of recipes, appetizers, and snacks.
This cheese is a great substitute for brick cheese and is especially good for grilled cheese sandwiches because its flavor doesn’t overpower the other ingredients.
If you wish to enhance the taste of Jack cheese, let it age and it will acquire similar properties as cheddar.
10. Weisslacker cheese
Weisslacker is a cheese similar to Limburger cheese which is originally from Germany but is today produced worldwide and in the U.S. is mostly produced in Wisconsin.
This cow’s milk cheese is also called “beer cheese” and it has a strong and pungent taste that might overpower other ingredients, so it is best served in slices or grated over other dishes. It can be also added to soups, bread, and dips.
The smell of Weisslacker is really intense and it’s a cheese that cannot be served with wine because its flavor will overshadow most wines. Since it’s smeared in salt during the ripening period, it also has a strong salty taste.
How to choose a brick cheese substitute.
Wisconsin brick cheese isn’t well-known so there aren’t many recipes that specifically call for this kind of cheese. As a result, it can be substituted with any cheese of your taste that makes for a good melting cheese, which is the main characteristic of brick cheese.
There isn’t really a closer or farther substitute for brick cheese in terms of flavor or texture, because it’s a fairly unique cheese that at the same time shares many similarities with most types of cheese.
You can substitute brick cheese with any of the alternatives we mentioned, however, when making pizza, you can make a safe choice and go for mozzarella, which is usually considered the “pizza cheese” par excellence.