From Dutch Gouda to Oregon Cheddar, you can easily find great cheeses from all around the world without having to book a plane ticket or go out of your way to a fancy shop. To create the perfect plate (on a budget, even), all you have to do is head on over to Trader Joe’s.
TJ’s cheese section is full of mouthwatering options—and that means it can be hard to know which of the many enticing choices are actually worth your time. So we asked Anne Saxelby, founder and co-owner of Saxelby Cheesemongers and frequent Trader Joe’s shopper, what you absolutely shouldn’t skip on your next shopping trip. From varieties that are sweet enough to eat for dessert to something you can use in everything, there’s a cheese that will satisfy any kind of craving. Here, she shares her five favorites, plus which food and drinks you should pair with each for the ultimate snack.
1. Old Amsterdam
“This cow’s milk cheese from the Netherlands is a delicious, reliable, and trustworthy addition to any cheese board,” says Saxelby. But it’s not just great on charcuterie platters—thanks to its rich caramel flavor and creamy texture, she says that it also makes an excellent dessert, especially when paired with a nightcap. “Try it with an old-fashioned or your favorite bourbon on the rocks,” she notes. Who doesn’t love a bit of nighttime cheese?
2. Tillamook Cheddar
Tillamook Creamery is known for making some of the best cheese in Oregon, and its Cheddar is no exception, says Saxelby. “This creamery dates back to the mid-1800s and has been churning out quality Cheddar ever since,” she explains. Now that it’s fall, she recommends pairing this cheese with a slice of freshly baked apple pie. If you’d prefer something more savory, though, you can also enjoy it with tart and tangy apple chutney.
3. Mini Basque
“Mini Basque is a semi-firm sheep’s milk cheese from the Pyrenees region in France,” explains Saxelby. “The cheeses from this area are subtle and creamy.” Consider having this one for breakfast—the cheesemonger says its creamy texture and nutty flavor taste especially great when smeared on a toasted baguette and topped with a dollop of tart cherry preserves.
4. Blue Stilton
“Trader Joe’s Stilton-style blue cheese is rich, fudge-y, and dense,” says Saxelby. It’s also extremely versatile—it’s just as good crumbled over a salad with walnuts and dried cranberries as it is eaten by itself. If you are going to enjoy it on its own, she suggests pairing it with an equally rich drink, like sweet port.
“This bright, citrusy goat’s milk cheese is a blank canvas that will marry readily with a whole host of other flavors,” says Saxelby. It’s so fresh and easy to use in just about anything that it’s worth having in your fridge all the time (and it only costs $2.99 per log!). Turn it into a sweet treat by drizzling it with a bit of local honey. Or keep it savory by topping it off with a healthy pour of your favorite olive oil and a bit of fresh cracked pepper.
Anyone up for a cheese plate?