What is Havarti Cheese?

by Cheese411

Want to learn more about this Danish cheese variety? Havarti is an excellent and versatile cheese that works well in most cheese recipes with its mild, buttery flavor.

Havarti cheese is incredibly versatile and is the centerpiece of many cheese recipes for it's fine melting properties and somewhat sweet, buttery taste. This Danish cheese, made from cow's milk, is actually relatively new, as it wasn't introduced into the country until around 1920. It has definitely grown in popularity and is now available worldwide.

Here's a look at how Havarti is made, what it tastes like and some ideas for best uses.

What is Havarti?

Havarti is produced by adding rennet to milk, which causes it to curdle. Next, the curds are pressed into a mold and drained, and the cheese is aged for around 3 months. Because the curds are washed, Havarti has a very subtle flavor although it can be aged longer to produce a salty flavor with hazelnut undertones.

Havarti, or creamy Havarti, has a fat content of 38% and is considered a semi-soft cheese. It melts very well so it can be used in most cheese recipes, including fondue and soups. It's often used as an appetizer as well or added to sandwiches. It's also commonly paired with wine in cheese platters.

The History of Havarti Cheese

Havarti hasn't been around as long as most varieties of cheese. It was first made by Hanne Nielsen, a farmer's wife in Denmark, who traveled around the world and discovered new ways to make cheese. When she returned to Denmark, she experimented with cheese making and eventually produced Havarti, which is named after Havarthigaard, the farm where it was created. While Nielsen developed her cheese making techniques in the latter part of the 19th century, Havarti was not introduced to the country until around 1920.

The Flavor of Havarti

Most Havarti cheese has a very buttery smell and taste that can range from slightly sweet to very sweet, or mildly acidic. If the cheese is allowed to age longer than three months, it may also get a salty, hazelnut taste. There are also many types of flavored Havarti on the market, including many Dofino Havarti brands. Flavors include cranberry, garlic, dill, jalapeno, garlic, basil and even coconut.

Havarti is often used to replace stronger cheeses like Gouda or Swiss cheese and can also be used in place of Cheddar and other varieties in classic recipes like mac and cheese. It's also available in low-fat versions, such as Dofino Light Havarti.

Example of a Havarti Cheese Recipe

Baked Chicken with Havarti Cheese Sauce

If you'd like to try Havarti cheese for the first time, give this recipe a try. It's the perfect showcase of the delicate, buttery flavor of the cheese and doesn't require many ingredients.

5 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 sweet onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1-1/2 c milk
Salt and pepper to taste
1 c Dofino Creamy Havarti cheese, diced

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a baking dish or use cooking spray.
2. Wash chicken, dry and place in dish.
3. Combine garlic, onion and oil. Top each chicken breast with oil mixture and bake for 20 minutes.
4. In a large saucepan, melt butter and stir in flour. Add milk, salt and pepper and stir until mixture thickens. Stir in havarti cheese cubes until melted. Spoon over chicken and cook until fully cooked, about 20 minutes.

Updated: 11/04/2012, Cheese411
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cazort on 10/27/2013

This is a very good overview of this cheese. I'm a bit of a foodie, and I think you do an excellent job of describing the flavor and texture characteristics of this cheese.

I used to love Havarti as a kid; since then I've developed a taste for stronger cheeses like sharp cheddar, feta, and various blue cheeses. Trader Joe's sells a very nice and inexpensive dill havarti that my girlfriend is rather fond of; that's usually the form I eat it in these days. I do think it pairs extremely well with herbs.

Mira on 11/05/2012

Nice article! i enjoyed learning about Havarti cheese.

dustytoes on 11/05/2012

I love Havarti cheese, and the dill is my favorite. Nice recipe too - sounds good.

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