At one point in the US I had some Monterey Jack cheese which was tangy and yummy and delicious.

Here in the UK they also sell cheese labelled "Monterey Jack" but it is bland and tasteless and horrid. Are there any other similar cheeses that I could use (for eg melting onto nachos, grating into burritos etc.) that would have that same tang and flavour?

Or any UK-based suppliers of Monterey Jack that is not bland and tasteless? (I tried Sainsburys and Tescos and they are both the same).

  • 1
    What kind of Monterey Jack did you have? Do you remember the brand? MJ's are cheddars with peppers and onions added by melting the cheese and adding the spices into the mix. Like below, they can vary widely... if your MJ was tangy and smooth it was probably a soft, full fat cheddar base. The savory flavor comes form the pepper mix themselves.
    – endowdly
    Apr 24, 2013 at 14:06
  • @endowdly, I've no idea what brand it was I had - it was a) in a restaurant so I didn't see the packaging and b) about 15 years ago :-)
    – Vicky
    Apr 24, 2013 at 14:43
  • Ah! A lot of restaurants here use velveeta and other oil based cheeses to 'enhance' a block of real cheese. It's a cost saving measure.
    – endowdly
    Apr 24, 2013 at 15:37
  • @endowdly, Monterey Jack is not cheddar with peppers added -- it's simply a different kind of cheese. You can often find MJ with peppers added in (called "pepper jack"), but it's MJ whether you add peppers or not.
    – Joe
    Nov 23, 2015 at 21:34
  • @endowdly Not all Monterey Jack has peppers and onion (I don't know of any that has onions but maybe I haven't really looked into the ingredients much?). If it has pepper in it, it is usually called pepper jack or sometimes jalapeno/habanero jack. I like both plain Monterey cheese and pepper jack, though pepper jack is my favorite. I don't think your accusation that they often add Velveeta is accurate either.
    – user49955
    Aug 22, 2016 at 14:21

6 Answers 6


Monterey Jack is in no way cheddar. The advice to use Gouda was about as good as you can get. (make sure it is neither smoked nor aged). Sainsbury has a four cheese pre-shred mix with MJ, Aged Cheddar, Edam and mozz that will approximate those four cheese mixes found in most US grocery stores and the finer 7-Elevens but MJ itself is near impossible find.


Try Gouda (the pre-grated kind). Melts well and is a decent approximation.

  • 1
    Anyone who cares about quality will want to avoid pre-grated cheese. Dec 24, 2015 at 12:36
  • @DavidRicherby Perhaps in this case, the pre-grated recommendation was a way of making sure that it was a meltable kind of gouda, instead of something too firm/aged? In any case, I certainly agree that there's no need to avoid grating it yourself, but at least in the US, basic types of cheese are often sold pre-grated directly alongside the exact same cheese in whole blocks for the same price per pound, so there's no reason to avoid it.
    – Cascabel
    Dec 24, 2015 at 14:18
  • 1
    @Jefromi No reason except that the pre-grated stuff is busily going stale and is covered in some sort of anti-all-the-bits-sticking-back-together agent. Dec 24, 2015 at 15:12

Monterey Jack, like most cheeses, can be consumed young or aged. The aged will have the strong flavors while the youngest will be very bland. It sounds like you had aged Jack in the restaurant, while you found young Jack in the store.

Its not much like Cheddar. The closest cheeses are Muenster (the American cheese, not the French Munster or anything from around the German city of Muenster), Halvarti, or Gouda.

I'm not an expert but you could try buying some more young Jack locally and seeing what happens to it after several months... it might get more flavorful...


Many cheeses in the US have that melty-gooy property due to some amount of processing that keeps the oils and proteins together in a uniform way after heat has been applied. This may be why you're having trouble finding cheese in the UK that has that same kind of 'melty'-ness, most go through little to no processing. I tend to stick to some kind of cheddar placed under the broiler to get it good and melted. You may have some oil separation, and the texture many not be what you'd expect of, say, nacho cheese, but I find the knowledge that I'm not eating processed food enough of a consolation to forgive it.


Davidstow cheddar (made in Cornwall) is really tasty, tangy cheddar and melts really well when added to/used in hot dishes - great 'meltability' :)


Semi-hard, made from cow's milk, aged for a few months -- it's essentially cheddar.

There are a wide variety of cheddars in British shops, varying in sharpness, tanginess, nuttiness and creaminess. Try a few and see which one is most like the Monterey Jack in your mind.

Cheddar has the same melting properties as Monterey Jack, so is a good fit for Tex-Mex dishes of the kind you describe.

  • Oh, that's a bit disappointing - I should have said, it's cheddar I'm using at the moment. It doesn't have the same melty gooeyness as Monterey Jack, though. Maybe a mixture of cheddar and mozzarella would be better?
    – Vicky
    Apr 24, 2013 at 12:02
  • 1
    Try different cheddars. They vary hugely.
    – slim
    Apr 24, 2013 at 12:03
  • Oh, I have tried lots of different ones (I love cheddar!). Some are definitely better than others but none of them are the same as the Monterey Jack I had in the US.
    – Vicky
    Apr 24, 2013 at 12:04
  • @Vicky You'd probably want to find a higher fat, less aged one. But cheddar cheese is, well, cheddared, so it'll probably always be a bit different.
    – Cascabel
    Apr 24, 2013 at 15:30
  • No, cheddar does NOT have the same melting properties. Monetery melts faster and completely melts really well. It can be much harder to do the same with cheddar.
    – user49955
    Aug 22, 2016 at 14:24

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.