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What Is Brick Cheese? From Origin to Usage

Here in the United States, we have a love affair with cheese of all types, but what is brick cheese, specifically Wisconsin brick cheese? Turns out, Brick cheese doesn’t just refer to its building-block rectangular shape, but is a specific flavor and type of cheese. 

We know Monterey jack cheese is found on the grocery store cold shelf in every neighborhood. 

Havarti cheese is available year round now and not just during the holiday season.

White cheddar cheese is a great cheese offered in snack size slices and displayed on cheese boards more often than not.

But famous Wisconsin original cheese is not that easy to find (unless you live in Wisconsin). Cheese-lovers are always looking for good substitutes for Wisconsin brick cheese.

Aged brick cheese is something we just stumbled on, and so we decided to find out more about it. Is it just the brick shape that makes it special?

Apparently there is a tangy, ripened type and a soft, sweeter type. So is brick cheese mild and soft or tangy and hard?

Is it a strong ripe cheese or a cow’s milk cheese with a sweet flavor?

It’s both.

From an Amazon reviewer commenting on how brick cheese is the best pizza cheese and is necessary to make authentic Detroit-style pizza:

“If you want true Detroit style pizza, you cannot skip on the Wisconsin brick cheese. That ingredient is what separates it from Sicilian pizza. This is because the butter content in the brick cheese melts and gets underneath the dough. That is what gives the crust its unique crispness…”

Huh. I didn’t know that. So I guess there is no brick cheese substitute when it comes to Detroit pizza.

So read on to learn more about the origins of brick cheese, how it’s made, and how it’s used.

What is brick cheese?

Brick cheese is an American cheese made by a Swiss-born, American cheese maker, John Jossi in the state of Wisconsin beginning around the 1870s. 

Jossi came up with an idea to make his own version of cheese that’s drier and milder than the traditional Limburger cheese and form them into real bricks. 

The process of making the brick cheese is derived from white American cheddar, but it’s cultured at a higher temperature, giving it higher fat content and different protein structure. 

According to cheese.com, the traditional Wisconsin brick cheese is ripened with Corynebacterium and Arthrobacter bacteria to develop a full and earthy flavor. 

Young brick cheese tends to have a sweet and mild flavor, which evenly changes to pungent and tangy when matured. 

Its medium-soft and crumbly texture is suitable for cheese sandwiches, mac and cheese, potatoes au gratin, and toasted Italian bread. 

The cheese is made in a brick-shaped form with color ranges from pale yellow to white. 

Today the grandson of Jossi keeps the family tradition and makes his own brick cheese using the original weighted bricks used by his grandfather.

What does brick cheese taste like

The flavor profile of brick cheese depends on the length of aging. The cheese becomes pungent and tangy with a hint of nuttiness. 

Meanwhile, newly-made or young cheese features a sweet and mild flavor with a medium-soft and crumbly texture.

How is brick cheese made?

As mentioned, brick cheese is derived from white American cheese curds, but it’s cultured at a higher temperature, giving it more fat content and a different protein structure. 

The traditional brick cheese is also smear-ripened with Corynebacterium and Arthrobacter bacteria to develop a full and earthy flavor profile.

What is brick cheese similar to

Brick cheese is considered a great melting cheese suitable for Detroit style pizza and grilled cheese

In case you’re wondering what types of cheese are similar to brick cheese, you can try cheddar, Havarti, Limburger, mozzarella cheese, muenster, provolone cheese, jack, and Weisslacker (beer cheese) as substitutes. 

Cheddar cheese features a mild taste just like brick cheese and has similar fat content. 

Experts advise using the same amount of cheddar as the amount of brick cheese called for in your recipe. 

Tilsit cheese also has a mild flavor suitable for grilling and baking. 

Meanwhile, the other varieties like mozzarella, Limburger, Havarti, and jack cheese also offer a mild mouthfeel ideal for pizzas, snacks, and savory dishes.

What is brick cheese used for?

Brick cheese as a semisoft cheese is highly praised for its mild flavor, medium-soft texture, and capacity to melt, which makes it a good choice for hot sandwiches. 

Other common recipes that work wonderfully with brick cheese are burgers, corn polenta, pizza, potatoes au gratin, and toasted Italian bread.

The bottom line

So have you heard of brick cheese?

It’s new to us, but as Official Cheese-Eating Representatives, we figured it’s our job to find out about the distinctive flavor of original Wisconsin brick cheese. 

We thought we had seen and tried all the cheese (okay, not really, but we’ve eaten some CHEESE, if you know what I mean).


I have my choice of what I’d call the best cheese (cough, manchego) but to each his or her own. 

Tell us your favorite kind of cheese.

Brick Cheese Dip

Brick Cheese Dip

Yield: 2 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

This is a cheese dip that is made with goat cheese, ricotta cheese and brick cheese.

Ingredients

  • 6 oz goat cheese
  • 3 oz ricotta cheese
  • 3 oz freshly grated brick cheese
  • 3 T fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 strips thick-cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 oz parmesan hard cheese, freshly grated
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Cook the bacon. Allow the bacon to cool and then crumble it into small pieces.
  2. Preheat the oven to broil. 
  3. Remove the fresh thyme leaves from the stem and set the leaves aside.
  4. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients. 
  5. Transfer the ingredients to a small baking dish.
  6. Top the dish with the parmesan cheese. 
  7. Place into preheated oven for 5 minutes or until cheese turns brown and bubbly.
  8. Remove from the oven and serve hot.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 673Total Fat: 51gSaturated Fat: 30gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 142mgSodium: 1570mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 46g

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