Imagine, traveling around Spain and sampling the local cheeses as you go. It’s totally doable. Spain has many varieties of cheese, 26 of them are classified as protected designation of origin by Spain and the European Union.
But, when you think about cheeses of Spain, manchego is probably the first thing that pops in your head. Don’t worry, it’s not just you. There is a reason for that, of course, manchego is by far the most sold and marketed outside of Spain. But there are so many more varieties of Spanish cheese than simply manchego. You can discover several of these while traveling around Spain.
Next time you find yourself traveling around Spain, or even at your city’s fancy grocery store, keep an eye out for some of these varieties of Spanish cheese to try. Or perhaps you want to plan a Spanish cheese tour (I can help! Contact me through the form on this page to get started). However you look at it, Spain is a cheese lovers’ paradise.
Let’s start with my favorite Spanish cheese, and arguably my favorite cheese in the world, San Simón from the Galicia region in the far northwestern corner of Spain. San Simón is a variety of tetilla cheese, named for its breast-like shape, which is a feature of many Galician cheeses. This smokey, buttery cheese is made from cow’s milk and is aged from two to five weeks. It goes great with Albariño, a Galician white wine.
As long as we are in the north of Spain, let’s hop over from Galicia to bordering Asturias. The region’s most famous cheese is an aged blue cheese blending unpasteurized cow milk with sheep or goat milk. If you are a fan of sharp, smelly cheese you must try Cabrales. Many Asturian specialties are made using Cabrales cheese including my favorite patatas cabrales, like patatas bravas but with the flavorful cheese. A fun thing to do in the area is to go on a cheese tour, in the Cabrales region in the Asturian mountains. This is also a beautiful part of Spain.
Next onto Cataluña, which is popular with travelers in Spain as it is home to Barcelona. My favorite Catalan cheese is Puigpedrós, another raw cow milk cheese. It is produced in the mountainous area of Cataluña Its rind is usually a pale pinkish orange, and the flavor is nutty and earthy. It’s aged for two months and pairs well with white wines as well as certain beers (pale ales). Look for this cheese in Barcelona’s markets as well as better cheese shops throughout Spain.
Unknown to most outside of Spain, the Canary Islands have their own cheese specialties too. If you are venturing off to the islands, be sure to sample the local specialty, Majorero. Originally from the island of Fuerteventura (but now produced and available on most of the islands), this is a goat milk cheese. Known for its rine rubbed in pimiento (pepper) this cheese is buttery and versatile. You won’t find it produced outside of the Canaries as this cheese has a protected designation of origin (PDO). In my opinion, no travel to the Canaries is complete without giving this tasty cheese a try.
The next cheese comes from Spain’s least traveled region, Extremadura, near the border with Portugal. Torta del Casar, from the Cáceres area, is a creamy, ripe sheep’s milk cheese. Because of its protected designation of origin status, it can only be made with the milk from Merino and Entrefina sheep. To eat it, slice out the top and scoop the cheese out (it’s creamy enough). This cheese can also be spread onto bread and goes well with a strong glass of red wine.
From Extremadura, we head south to Andalucía, another region incredibly popular with travelers to Spain. From the Sierra de Cádiz area comes one of my favorite Spanish cheeses, Payoyo. This is another protected designation of origin cheese and is made from goat and sheep milk. Payoyo has won many worldwide awards and is known as being one of the best cheeses on earth. It is fresh and easy to eat. Not surprisingly, this cheese pairs well with sherry wine from nearby Jerez. The beautiful town of Grazalema is a great place to try Payoyo.
The final cheese that I feature comes from the Madrid region, more specifically from Chinchón, one of my favorite day trips from Madrid. Queso la Rosa Amarilla is an intense and strong cheese made with raw sheep’s milk. It is a bit spicy with a texture similar to parmesan Reggiano. Known as one of the best cheeses from the capital city’s region (Madrid has several), this cheese can be sampled both in the City as well as in charming Chinchón.
Now you know that while delicious, Manchego is not Spain’s only cheese variety. And there are so many more to discover. Hungry yet? Fancy traveling around Spain, eating cheese all the way? Ready to start planning your Spain trip? I can help! Based in Madrid and with nearly 20 years experience in the professional travel industry, handcrafting unique Spain itineraries is my specialty. Simply fill out the form on this page to contact me, and I will be back in touch. From food tours to cheese routes, Spain has something for every cheese lover.
My name is Karen & travel is not only my passion but also my profession.