Havarti is one of those cheeses that most people find not only enjoyable by itself but super helpful in the kitchen once they give it a go when cooking. And yet, it’s nowhere near as popular as it should be, often overshadowed by other melty cheeses like Gouda, Emmental, and Edam. And for no other reason that it’s simply not known as well as the rest of them, despite being just as (and, arguably, more, it all depends on your personal tastes) flavorful and versatile.
We’re here to rectify that! If you’re already familiar with just how delightful Havarti cheese can be, then hopefully, you’ll find inspiration for your next easy culinary project on the list.
And if not, well, we’d like to think these dishes are enough of a motivation to give Havarti cheese taste a try!
After all, can a cheese lover regret giving a new cheese a try in the end?
What is Havarti Cheese?
Havarti cheese is a staple Danish cheese that is often unfairly overshadowed by other Danish cheeses like Danbo, Esrom, or Danablu, which have acquired somewhat of a reputation among cheese connoisseurs due to being the only Danish cheeses granted Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status by the EU.
Havarti cheese, unlike these three, can be produced anywhere in the world. However, its connection to Danish cuisine is no less strong. On the contrary, it’s one of the most oft-consumed cheeses in Denmark, being their original take on sliceable breakfast cheese.
Havarti is a semi-soft cow milk cheese, similar to German Tilsiter (it was, in fact, previously called Danish Tilsiter and Tilsit Havarti). Havarti cheese color varies from creamy dark white to bright yellow, getting darker the more it ages. It has a smooth and rich, very buttery texture and is dotted with tiny holes called “eyes” throughout. It has a complex and layered but quite mellow flavor that even the pickiest of eaters tend to find palatable.
What Does Havarti Cheese Taste Like?
As is typical with many aged cheese varieties, the Havarti cheese taste depends on the maturation process: the longer the cheese ripens, the more complex and robust it's flavor. However, Havarti cheese is generally mild and well-balanced. The younger it is, the sweeter it is, with slight nuttiness and tartness. The more it ages, the more sweetness recedes, becoming an undertone instead of the lead flavor note, with tanginess and hazelnut notes taking over.
Havarti goes well with most foods, both sweet and savory, which makes it a versatile ingredient that can serve not only as a great snack by itself but as a great addition to loaded dishes that combine multiple ingredients, both as the main flavoring element or the one that highlights the rest.
10 Ways to Bring Out the Best in Havarti Cheese
The versatility of Havarti cheese allows for great freedom in the kitchen. It’s mellow enough to be innofensive by itself for even the most sensitive palates, but its’ rich enough to hold up in more complex dishes without being overpowered.
Havarti’s buttery texture is pleasant in and of itself, but it’s the ability to melt well that really ups the cheese’s usefulness factor in the kitchen. No matter where you put it, Havarti just works (unless you’re one of the few people who don’t find its taste enjoyable), as it manages to catch the balance between distinct but inoffensive that many rich and robust cheeses fail to achieve.
Here are eleven simple ways to enjoy the Havarti cheese, most of which can be assembled in less than 15 minutes, even if you’re a newbie chef!
Raw Havarti Cheese with Figs and Honey
First and foremost, it’d be a shame not to enjoy the Havarti cheese taste raw, especially if you’ve never tried it before. Havarti, be it young and sweet or aged and nutty, pairs well with fresh fruits like crispy apples, honey, and figs, as well as the preserves and honey.
The combo that deserves particular attention, though, is young Havarti with sweet figs with a bit of honey drizzled over. Add a few crushed walnuts if you want to cut through the sweetness with something a bit sharper for a more complex flavor.
Havarti Cheese Breakfast Burgers
I know each person has a different idea of what constitutes a breakfast burger, but it’s not a breakfast burger for me unless it has a thick layer of melted cheese and a runny egg yolk (fine, jammy can work as well, but that’s it!).
Here’s where the excellent melting quality of Havarti cheese comes in handy. When frying the burger patty, just put the Havarti slice right on top of it after flipping it, and it’ll melt as quickly as the ultra-processed stuff. And it’ll be twice as flavorful! Then stuff the burger bun (I go all in and choose sweeter breakfast rolls, but you do you!) with your favorite veggies, the cheese-covered burger patty, top it off with a fried egg, and smush down the top bun so that the egg yolk acts as a sauce. Uber-satisfying breakfast right there!
Havarti Cheese and Mushroom Pizzettas
You can knead the dough yourself, but using crispy focaccia bread as a base works just as well (and significantly cuts down on the cooking time). Fry up the mushrooms on a pan in a generous amount of olive oil. Slice the focaccia horizontally for a thin and crispy base, cover it with Havarti cheese, and pop it into the oven for 5 to 8 more minutes until the cheese melts and the mushrooms crisp up. Some fresh chopped basil to top it off (because fresh basil on pizza is always a good idea), and you’re all done. This dish works great for breakfasts, lunch, dinner, and a leftover! The return on time invested is one of the best I’ve had in the kitchen.
Havarti Cheese, Black Forest Ham, and Veggie Sandwich
While I get that taking advantage of Havarti’s melting quality is very tempting, its flavor properties, while raw, shouldn’t be discounted. For example, if you have no time or equipment to assemble a hot toastie and just want to through a 2-minute sandwich together, then you’re in luck. Havarti goes with hearty, loaded sandwiches perfectly well, without having its flavor overpowered. My personal favorite is black forest ham because I think the light but smoky flavor matches Havarti’s mellow but complex flavor particularly well. Still, any of your favorite cured meats will do! Add some tomatoes for freshness, pickles for texture, and savory elements, pour a cup of your favorite coffee, and enjoy!
Havarti Cheese and Pear Paninis
However, if you do have both the time (i.e., about 10 minutes at most) and the equipment to make yourself a hot panini, then you should definitely do it! As I mentioned above, Havarti cheese goes well with sweet fruit, and I feel like adding a sweet fruity element to a panini works exceptionally well. Just add some thinly sliced pear between the Havarti slices and grill until the cheese is melty and the panini a gleaming golden brown. You can add some crispy bacon to make the panini more hearty and add a bit of savory element for a more complex flavor. Honestly, I don’t think it’s necessary. But never yet has bacon made any dish taste worse, has it now?
Stuffed Havarti Crepes (with Leftovers)
Havarti crepes are my “leftover dumpster” recipe. They’re somewhat similar to the pizzettas. The only difference is that I spare even less energy on this one. First of all, I use ready-to-eat crepes as a base, which should tell you how invested I am in making things easy for myself right there. If you have a favorite crepe recipe, you’re free to use it, but ready-made ingredients make the whole thing much more effortless. Line the middle of the crepe with Havarti cheese, pile your chosen toppings on (for me, it’s usually some combination of leftover chicken, pulled pork, mushrooms, and vegetables), fold the crepes over, and plop it on a hot non-stick pan. Cover the pan and heat the thing through until the cheese gets melty. Enjoy!
Easy One-Pot Four Cheese Stovetop Mac and Cheese
Yes, this is one of those recipes that boils the pasta right in the milk and then adds the unholy amount of shredded cheese to it. I was skeptical as well but trying it made me a believer. Use a combo (at around a 2:1 ratio) of water and skimmed milk for the pasta.
Toss a mixture of shredded Havarti cheese, Provolone cheese, some Pecorino, and Parmesan in a large bowl with some corn starch (so we can skip making a roux).
When it gets al dente, add the cheese mixture and stir until it’s all melted. Top it off with roasted panko for extra crunch, and enjoy. Is it far too rich? Maybe. But we’re allowed to indulge every once in a while, don’t you think?
Potato and Havarti Cheese Frittata
Line the bottom of an oven-safe (preferably cast-iron) skillet with thinly sliced potatoes, add salt, black pepper, and paprika, and pop it into the oven to tenderize.
While that’s going, beat a generous amount of eggs with a splash of cream, a great amount of shredded Havarti cheese, and maybe some chopped parsley (or spinach or chives) so that it feels like we’re at least trying to be a little healthy here.
Pour the egg mixture over tenderized potatoes and bake for another 15 minutes, until the eggs are set and cooked through.
Havarti, Shrimp, and Lemon Pasta
Start by frying shrimps until they turn pink. It shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes from both sides. Get the pasta going, and start on the sauce.
Combine two tbsp of butter and a generous splash of olive oil in a pan. Once the butter is melted, add about half a cup of cream (or a half and half) and have it heat through. Add a cup of shredded Havarti cheese, half a cup of shredded Parmesan, the zest of one large lemon, salt, and black pepper. Stir until the cheese is fully melted.
Pro tip: the measurements are for about 4 sauce servings.
Your pasta should be ready at this point, so transfer it to the pan (if the sauce is too thick, use pasta water to thin it out) and toss well. Add the shrimp, toss everything together for about half a minute, and get the plates.
Havarti-Stuffed Ham Croquettes
Cut Havarti cheese into thick sticks. Wrap your favorite ham around them. Follow the standard pathway of tossing it first in all-purpose flour, then beaten egg, and finally panko. Deep-fry or fry on a pan in a generous amount of oil while constantly turning to cover all sides. Once the croquettes turn deep golden brown, they’re ready to be enjoyed.
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The great thing about these delicious cheesy recipes is their adaptability! You can easily enrich the flavor by mixing it with other cheeses that act as a foil to its creamy and buttery taste!
Want some extra nutty undertones to your dish while maintaining a smooth and melty texture? Mix the Havarti cheese with some provolone!
Want to achieve a more complex flavor profile by upping sharp and savory elements to the dish? Add a bit of shredded Spanish Manchego.
And, of course, no cheesy dish has suffered yet by having a bit of grated authentic Parmigiano Reggiano sprinkled on top!You’ll find all these cheeses and more among our carefully curated online cheese store assortment. Remember when it comes to cheesy recipes? Your only constraint is your fantasy. The best finds come from experimenting, so mix and match according to your heart’s desire!