Provolone is an all-purpose Italian cheese that is prepared using the stretched-curd method with cow milk.
Traditionally, you’ll find it in the original gourd or pear shapes but smaller packages can also be found.
The thing that makes provolone so good is its complex but excellently balanced taste.
Provolone provides the perfect fusion of a strong aroma, rich with buttery undertones and hints of a nutty, peppery finish.
However, you may run out of provolone. What will you do then?
If you are looking for Provolone cheese substitute Mozzarella cheese are best substitute.
Fontina, Scarmoza, White American, Monterey Jack, Muenster, Parmesan, Provola are the closest alternative for Provolone.
You can also use Gruyère, Gouda, Edam, Emmental, Provola, Cheddar, Asiago, Manchego cheese as a Provolone replacement if these are available to you.
Read further to find out everything that you need to know about provolone cheese. You can also find here about some essential facts about Provolone cheese and the most common questions while using this cheese.
What is Provolone Cheese?
Provolone is a full-fat Italian cheese made from cow’s milk. It’s a semi-hard, pasta filata cheese, which is usually aged for at least 3 to 4 months.
The taste of the cheese depends on either of the two types of provolone cheese: provolone dolce, which is sweet in taste, and Provolone Picante, which has a sharp taste.
Provolone cheese comes out in varying shapes and sizes.
It may be in the shape of a very large sausage with length from 30 cm up to 90 cm. Otherwise; its shape resembles that of a truncated bottle or a large pear.
What is Provolone Cheese Used For?
Provolone is a very versatile type of cheese but its most common application is that as a table cheese and sandwich cheese.
In these meals, it’s eaten uncooked with the food instead of being a part of the recipe of the meals themselves.
However, cheese connoisseurs believe that provolone enriches the taste of pizzas and pastas more when melted.
Apart from this, provolone can be used with red grapes, tomatoes, paired with olives, red roasted peppers and they can also be grated to sprinkle over pizzas and salads, with or without mozzarella.
You can even use provolone as a snack if the quality is good enough.
How Long is Provolone Cheese Good For?
Provolone cheese can stay good for varying durations depending upon a few factors that affect its freshness. The most important of them is the condition in which you store it.
If you store it in a damp, warm place, it will probably develop a hard texture, a darker color, and a pungent smell.
Most of the provolone brands usually do mention an expiration or best by date on the package, which mostly ranges anywhere between 3 to 4 months but it can usually stay fresh for a longer time in many cases.
Opened blocks usually last less than a month, while unopened ones can stay fresh in the refrigerator for a couple of months.
Unopened slices of provolone will last for about 1 month in the refrigerator and a package of opened slices will stay good for about 2 weeks.
You can also store provolone in the freezer as it enhances the shelf life of the cheese.
Can You Freeze Provolone Cheese?
Yes, you can freeze provolone cheese and allow it to stay fresh for a few months.
A block of provolone usually lasts for just a few weeks but if you wrap and store it properly, it can keep fresh at least 2 or 3 weeks more than the mentioned expiration date.
You can keep the original packaging of the cheese on it and then wrap it properly in a kitchen aluminum foil or a plastic wrap.
Wax or a parchment paper is a better wrap for cheese. After this, you can put the cheese in a freezer/zip bag and store it in your freezer.
Substitute for Provolone Cheese
There could be times when you can just run out of your own provolone cheese stock in the refrigerator or it may not be available in the market during rush periods like the Holidays etc.
If you don’t already know, the good news is that there are a few other cheese types that can stand in for provolone quite easily.
If you’re unable to find provolone, specially the stronger flavor, you can even use the regular, sweeter form but that won’t just give you the original taste.
Therefore, it’s better to look for substitutes. There are many substitutes for provolone that can stand in for it just as fine if not better than it with similar textures and flavors.
Here are a few of the best choices:
Fontina cheese originates from northern Italy and like provolone; it is made using cow’s milk too.
Fontina has the same fat content as provolone. It is a table cheese excellent for cooking with its creamy, nutty, and smooth taste.
Its traits in flavor, finishing and uses are quite similar to those of mild provolone. It has a mild taste with a nutty, butter-like finishing, and offers a firm texture.
Like provolone, Fontina is also excellent for melting and has a dense, sharp aroma.
Mozzarella and Provolone are so similar that it can be quite difficult to tell the difference in cooked meals.
Many people widely use both of the cheeses interchangeably in their dishes without altering the overall finishing.
Both of them originate from Italy and are made from cow-milk. Furthermore, the method used to make them is the same and is known as pasta filata, meaning, “stretched curd.”
The flavor of Mozzarella is quite mild and it is served with warmer, cooked dishes, salads.
Mozzarella is one of the most widely consumed dairy products in the world because of its use in pizzas and pastas. Due to this reason, it’s available almost anywhere, at any time of the year.
It’s quite possible that you already have it stored in your fridge somewhere. This means that whenever you run out of provolone, you can grab a packet of mozzarella from practically anywhere.
It is most similar in taste to fresh provolone. That said, the preservation period for both of them are very different because provolone is harder and can stay fresh for a longer period of time than mozzarella.
Scarmoza is another cow-milk cheese and like Mozzarella, it also originates from southern Italy.
Like all other cheeses mentioned above, it is also produced with the stretched-curd technique, therefore most of its traits are similar to them.
It is most similar in taste and finishing to Mozzarella. Its semi-soft, creamy texture is akin to that of Mozzarella while it’s pear-like shape is very similar to Provolone.
It’s the similarity to Mozzarella in flavor and texture means that it can stand as a trusted substitute for Provolone too.
The only drawback is that it’s a little harder to find in the market.
An American version of the traditional French cheese Known as ‘Munster Cheese’.
This cheese takes its name from the town of Muenster in France.
The French version of Muenster is a soft cheese whereas the American version is a more semi-soft cheese.
If you are looking for substitute cheese especially for Provolone then the American version is the right choice.
You need to add low moisture mozzarella to the muenster cheese to achieve a perfect balance of the flavors and the texture for substituting Provolone.
By blending these two you will get the right flavor and fats with Mozzarella and perfect texture with muenster.
Monterey Jack Cheese
Monterey Jack cheese is named after the city Monterey in California.
Monterey Jack Cheese is an American cheese made from cow’s milk. The cow’s milk used for this cheese may be skimmed or whole.
The Monterey Jack cheese can be aged for long periods, which makes their properties like cheddar.
As it ages, the color becomes more yellow and the flavor gets sharper.
It comes with a smooth texture and a very mild flavor. The cheese has got a slightly sweet flavor too.
It melts very easily and is used in many appetizers and snack foods.
This cheese can be used as a substitute for provolone cheese.
The smooth and semi-hard texture of the cheese makes it a good substitute for provolone.
White American cheese
White American cheese is a good alternative to Provolone as it is similar in texture and taste.
White American is a mild-tasting cheese with just enough flavor to enhance the dish.
Provolone is also a mild cheese so they are similar in flavor too.
As you know Provolone cheese has a soft texture and has a decent fat content, which makes it perfect for melting.
White American also melts well which makes the perfect option for Provolone.
Parmesan cheese is a hard Italian cheese that can be used as a substitute for Provolone.
Parmesan cheese is not the perfect substitute for provolone as it has a hard texture and salty and nutty flavor that makes it different from provolone cheese.
But if you are looking for a Provolone substitute just for grating or seasoning a dish, the Parmesan cheese is a good choice.
Parmesan can be mixed with a milder cheese or you can just add at the end to a finished dish.
Pecorino cheese is a sheep cheese version of Parmesan.
It is aged for a shorter period of time that makes it a little sweeter and milder in taste if you find the Parmesan is a bit too strong in flavor for you.
Gouda cheese is originally coming from the Netherlands.
You can find different types of Gouda cheese but at its core, it remains the same. It is made from cow’s milk. This semisoft cheese has a creamy texture.
This cheese is easily available in the supermarket than Provolone.
This semisoft cheese is the same in taste as Provolone but it is a little denser. As its ages, it becomes sweeter, unlike Provolone.
The Gouda cheese is mild in flavor and pale in color like Provolone.
So, you can use it as a direct substitute for Provolone in any dish. It can be melted, cooked, or simply added to your dish.
Edam cheese is a semi-soft cheese that has origin in the Netherlands. Traditionally it was eaten at the end of the meal in the Netherlands.
It comes in a round cylinder shape with a sealed in red wax coating that resembles a small fruit.
The Edam cheese melts well and it is easy to slice which makes it a good alternative to Provolone cheese. It also has a mild flavor like Provolone.
So, you can use it in place of Provolone in cheese-based dishes.
Emmental Cheese is a medium-hard Swiss cheese. It is also known as ‘Swiss Cheese’ in America.
This cheese recognized by small holes formed during its maturing process. It is a slicing cheese having a mild and appetizing taste. Traditionally it is used in sandwiches or eaten with cold meats. So, it is a good alternative for Provolone in sandwiches and cold meats.
The Emmental cheese is really good for melting and slicing. As it is a good melting cheese, it is used in Fondue or grilled cheese blended with Gruyere. But it doesn’t expand much like Mozzarella.
The origin of Gruyère cheese in the town of Gruyeres.
Gruyère Cheese is a hard Swiss cheese that melts really well.
This cheese comes with a nutty flavor. It tastes delicious when it is grilled.
This cheese is perfect for replacing provolone cheese as it is aged for more than 6 months or even longer.
It doesn’t have a crumbly texture but it is creamy like Provolone.
Gruyère Cheese works well when it is cooked, so it is good to use as a Provolone substitute in cooked recipes.
Few famous recipes are made with the gruyere- Fondue and the classic French sandwich Croque monsieur.
Little Provolone cheese is known as Provola cheese.
Many folks are confused with these two types of cheese-Provolone and Provola. Provola cheese has origin in Southern Italy and provolone is from the northern region.
There is an identical process of making Provola like Mozzarella. The only variation in the aging process.
Provola cheese is aged for longer than Mozzarella as mozzarella is sold fresh.
As comparing to Provolone, Provola cheese is milder and less strong than the provolone.
But it works fine when you cooked it perfectly.
Provola is a good substitute for Provolone if you are looking for new flavors.
I know you are wondering, can you use Cheddar as a substitute for Provolone?
Cheddar is hard and not elastic whereas Provolone is a semi hard cheese and elastic.
But I would say, yes, definitely you can use Cheddar cheese instead of provolone.
Cheddar cheese is widely available as you can easily find it in the supermarket or store.
Cheddar cheese is also a good substitute for provolone cheese. But the Cheddar cheese is hard cheese.
If you use a softer and semi-solid version of the Cheddar cheese, then it would work perfectly for replacing provolone cheese.
Aged provolone is very sharp and dry, so you can use a quite mature and dry cheddar as a replacement.
Cheddar cheese is a good substitute for Picante provolone.
Asiago cheese is an Italian cheese made from cow’s milk.
The good thing about this cheese is that this cheese can be made with different textures without losing or changing the taste.
The texture of the Asiago depends on the aging process of the cheese.
The texture differs from very smooth, to crumbly and hard, as per its aging.
To emulate younger provolone, you need to use less of the aged cheese.
So, if you are looking for a Provolone substitute, the young Asiago is the best choice.
Manchego cheese is a Spanish cheese that has origin in the La Mancha region.
It is also known as ‘queso manchego’.
It is made with sheep’s milk. It typically needs at least 60 days to age.
Broadly speaking, it can age from 60 days to 2 years.
As it matures, the gets heavier and more complex.
So, you need to use young Manchego cheese for substituting Provolone.
What cheese is the most similar to Provolone?
Low-moisture Mozzarella is the most similar cheese to the young 2-month-old Provolone.
You can use Low Moisture Mozzarella as a direct substitute in many dishes.
Some other cheeses that you can use are semi-solid cheddar, fontina, Scamorza, and Monterey jack cheese.
The pungent cheeses like Gruyere and Gouda can infuse more flavor to your cheese dishes.
However, you should use the substitutes as per the requirements of the recipe.
What does provolone cheese taste like?
Italian style Provolone taste like Italian style Mozzarella cheese. But it is a little stronger flavor than Mozzarella.
It has a smooth but little rubbery texture. It has a slight old nutty and buttery taste.
Actually, what we smell is denote the taste. It has a slight milkiness aroma and little flavor like traditional feta cheese.
As it is mild Italian cheese goes well with Italian meats.
Is provolone a good melting cheese?
Yes, Provolone is a good melting cheese. As you know provolone is made using the pulled curd technique. The provolone cheese is softening into ropy chew.
Provolone comes in various flavor intensities. If you are looking for the best varieties for melting, you need a medium or sharp aged provolone as they offer gooey texture and delicious taste. Most of the sliced provolone cheese is ideal for melting.
The Aurrichio Provolone is a spicy and dense variety of provolone cheese that offers an intense flavor when it is melted.
Is Provolone cheese aged?
Yes, Provolone is aged cheese. The provolone cheese is aged for at least two months and they are ready to use.
Provolone is a pasteurized and gluten-free cheese with a rich taste. It doesn’t contain any preservatives and fillers.
Is Provolone a hard cheese?
Provolone is a semi-hard cheese. It has different tastes, changes from mild to sharp that totally depends on its age.
Is Provolone cheese vegetarian?
No, Provolone is not vegetarian cheese. As this cheese contains calf rennet, it is not a vegetarian cheese.
How to tell if Provolone cheese is bad?
The best way is to smell and then look at the cheese or its appearance.
If cheese develops an off odor, flavor, or appearance, if mold appears, it should be discarded.