10 Goat Cheeses to Know

Everyone knows “goat cheese,” aka “fresh goat cheese” or “chèvre.” It’s white, it’s crumbly and northern California cooks made it famous in the ‘80s, atop beet salad. Good unaged goat cheese is a special and important thing. It should be moist and crumbly, without a hint of granularity. Its flavor should be clean and fresh, acidic (it makes your mouth water pleasantly) without being astringent, lemony while remaining milky and balanced. An unaged cheese gives you nothing to hide behind. Unfortunately there’s a lot of gluey, extruded goat cheese out there, metallic and sour, without any nuance. It’s what turns people off from goat cheese entirely, though the milk can be made into any style of cheese. Here, then, is a list of 10 goat cheeses to try, especially (if you’re feeling adventurous) if you’re a professed goat cheese hater.

Tangy, unaged goat cheese is actually pretty intense in flavor. The flavor arc of goat cheeses starts on the buttery, mellow end of the spectrum, with hints of lemon. From there firm, aged, rinded goat cheeses offer flavors of nutskin and cooked milk, much subtler and more complex than the freshies. The characteristic “tangy” flavor comes next, followed by blues and smoked cheeses, often greatly impacted by aging treatments.

In general, goats’ milk cheeses follow the inverse pattern of cows’ milk cheeses: the more aged cheeses tend to be softer and more approachable in flavor, the younger styles more piquant and “goaty.”

Goat Brie




French Brie-like cheeses made of goat milk never hail from true Brie country (Ile-de-France) but tend to be made in the Rhône-Alpes and Poitou-Charentes regions. I have no proof, but my gut is that the French seized on the opportunity to create a buttery, rich cheese made with goat milk for an American audience which, still today, shies away from the piquant, animally flavors associated with traditional French goat cheeses from the Loire and Poitou. Ironically, what you wind up with goat Brie are cheeses that are even milder than their cow milk inspiration. The rinds are remarkably thin, the paste spun cream, and the flavors sweet and delicate with only the barest undercurrent of citrusy tang one might associate with goat milk.

Aroma: Little to none, tart dough

Texture: Sticky to runny

Flavor: Sweet, cream, hint of lemon

Character: Easy

Bonne Bouche from Vermont Creamery




This diminutive, ashed round closely resembles one of the classic goat cheeses of France's Loire Valley: Selles-sur-Cher, a pasteurized version of which is available in the States. Unlike its French inspiration, Bonne Bouche (which, BTW, means "good mouthful") has a rind produced exclusively with the yeast geotrichum candidum, known for its sweet, mellow flavor. Unlike Vermont Creamery's other aged goat cheeses it also uses ash, hence its foggy grey color. While the geo rind has a typical brainy appearance, the ratio of rind to interior cheese means the paste breaks down more quickly, resulting in an oozing, spreadable texture within several weeks. The French Loire Valley cheeses are often found unaged, sprinkled in ash but essentially fresh goat cheese beneath. With Bonne Bouche, you’re guaranteed a developed rind. The cheese can age as long eight weeks out in the market, developing piquant black walnutty flavors, but for the most part it's drippily spreadable with a bare background of lemony tang.

Aroma: Yeasty, wet hay

Texture: Creamy to runny

Flavor: Milk, lemon, bread dough

Character: Gentle





As is the case with many of the best farmhouse cheeses in Britain, Ticklemore’s continued existence may be credited to the collaboration and transparency within the maker community. Robin Congden is the inventor of this exquisite flying saucer of a cheese. After several years of assistance from Debbie Mumford, maker at Devon’s Sharpham Creamery, Robin suggested she take over full time so he could focus on his goat and sheep milk blue cheeses. Buying goat milk from the same supplier Robin worked with for more than a decade, Debbie gets the continued benefit of goats on the browse—allowed free reign to munch at pastures and their preferred scraggly brush—in this case, hedgerows. Ticklemore bears the impressions of the plastic molds in which the curd is formed and drained, two halves that meet in a thick seam that creates the distinctive saucer shape. It’s a spectacularly delicate and nuanced flavor—moistly floral, with a cool, herbaceous finish. Aged goat cheeses often have a quality that reminds me of baby powder; Ticklemore is the first cheese that really drove this association home.

Aroma: Powdery, delicate

Texture: Moist crumble

Flavor: Floral and green herby

Character: Ladylike





Like its better-known and more traditional Lombardian brother Taleggio, Nababbo is a marvelous gateway to the World of Stink, primarily because it’s just not that stinky. I actually consider it to be a double gateway, because it also lacks the citric acidity many unhappily associate with goat milk. Here, then, is a friendly, doughy taste of pungency’s beginning, and the barest whisper of tanginess. Nababbo is all about salt and yeast with a little linger of fruit acid. On the finish you get the soft minerality of many aged goat cheeses; it’s a quality that reminds me of baby powder. Nababbo is a new innovation, taking traditional cow milk Taleggio and turning it into a goat milk block.

Aroma: Bread dough, no hint of goat

Texture: Floppy (almost processed) smooth and slippery

Flavor: Yeast, stone fruit, chalky finish

Character: The Non-Stinky Stinky Cheese





Garrotxa has always impressed me because it wins over professed haters of goat cheese. Dense and aged, the expected lemony tang softens, leaving impressions of nutskin and toasted hazelnuts. The typical moleskin rind is plush and soft, like kitten fur. The interior holds together but is moist and pliable, with the deep aromatics of scrub brush and grasses growing in the foothills of the Pyrénées. There is the barest essence of tang, more delicate than cows’ milk cheese, always balanced and remarkably delicious. Garrotxa is not yet a protected cheese but I’m told this process is underway. It should always hail from the Catalonia, and is always made of pasteurized milk.

Aroma: Slight mustiness, velvetine rind

Texture: Moist chew that softens in the mouth

Flavor: Hazelnut skin, dry summer grass

Character: The Converter

Queso de Murcia al Vino PDO

Recommended Brand: Drunken Goat®




I’d be lying if I said this was one of my favorite cheeses. I don’t tend to go for flavored cheeses in the first place, and wine-washed choices often have a disturbingly grapey quality. Still, I appreciate Queso de Murcia al Vino’s ability to coax cheese newbies over to the goat side. More specifically, the most common brand found on the American market, the charming Drunken Goat®. It’s got a great name, and people pay attention. Barely firm aged goat cheese, with a smushable, pliant texture, is made friendlier and fruitier with a washing in one of the red wine appellations of Murcia (Jumilla, Yecla and Bullas). Most importantly, the cheese retains the soft, powdery flavor of goat milk, rather than swamping it entirely with a wine hosedown.

Aroma: Somewhere between grape juice and red wine

Texture: Violet rind and pliant snowy interior

Flavor: Smooth, sweet, winey

Character: Fruity

Humboldt Fog from Cypress Grove Chèvre




Many a cheese counter suggests that this cheese takes its name from the superior weed grown in Humboldt County, California. That's not actually the case, but its origins are trippy and wonderful enough that the idea is apt. Cypress Grove founder Mary Keehn dreamt of Humboldt Fog on a 1980s plane ride home from France, imagining it in painstaking detail, from its tall, cakey shape to the wavering line of blue-grey vegetable ash, included as an homage to the French mountain cheese Morbier. Folks new to the cheese think it's blue mold, as in "blue cheese" but it's merely decorative, and a daily acknowledgement of the history of French cheesemaking that so moved one American woman. Humboldt Fog isn't sticky and silky like Brie, but you look at it and are reminded of an Alice in Wonderland Brie that was hit with a growth potion. Unlike fresh goat cheese, Humboldt Fog is dusted in vegetable ash and inoculated with P.candidum to develop that edible white skin. Its flavor is saltier and less acidic, without the animal notes. Instead, you get a flaky cheesecake texture and buttermilk tang with pronounced citrus fruit. The brightness of lemon, shining through all that fog.

Aroma: Yogurt, whiff of mold

Texture: Crumbly cake

Flavor: Sour cream, citrus

Character: Bright





From Lombardian Taleggio producer Ca De Ambros® comes this gelatinous wobble of a “blue.” Heavy, wet curd collapses instantly when pierced, meaning you may find traces of lines but little if any actual blue or green mold. If otherwise uninstructed you’d be likely to guess this cheese a piece of Gorgonzola PDO, made in the dolce style. The substitution of goat milk for traditional cow can be seen in the fine, snowy white paste, and tasted in the amped-up fermented fruity notes a Gorgonzola might not otherwise display. Otherwise, you’d struggle to tell the difference. This is first and foremost a textural marvel, silken and squishy in a way that makes you want to grab it by the handful.

Aroma: Buttermilk

Texture: Panna cotta

Flavor: Piquant, mouth watery, fermented fruit

Character: Slatherable