An Introduction to Norwegian Cheese

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Norway's cheese tradition is as deep and varied as its stunning fjords and towering mountains. Read on to learn more about the most popular Norwegian cheeses.

While the iconic brown cheese (brunost) often steals the limelight with its unique caramel-like sweetness, the country's cheese repertoire extends far beyond this singular delicacy.

Brown cheese and Jarlsberg.
Brown cheese and Jarlsberg are two popular Norwegian cheeses.

On average, Norwegians consume an impressive 12 kilograms of cheese per capita annually, underscoring cheese's integral role in their daily diet.

This statistic alone hints at the nation's long-standing love affair with cheese, but what lies beneath the surface is a diverse cheese culture waiting to be explored.

From the ubiquitous presence of hvitost (white cheese) and gulost (yellow cheese) in Norwegian kitchens to the award-winning blues that have won global recognition, Norway's cheese landscape is both rich and intriguing.

Join us as we embark on a delicious voyage of discovery, sampling everything from the everyday staples that grace breakfast tables across the country to the rare specialties that evoke Norway's culinary heritage and innovation.

But it's not the only cheese that’s eaten here. After some tedious yet delicious research, here is a small taste of what Norway has to offer.

Everyday Cheese in Norway

As mentioned above, the most popular form of cheese in Norway that can be seen in every kitchen throughout the country.

A selection of everyday cheese available in Norway. Photo: SiljeAO / Shutterstock.com.
A selection of everyday cheese available in Norwegian supermarkets. Photo: SiljeAO / Shutterstock.com.

Both hvitost (white cheese) and gulost (yellow cheese) are very mild in flavour and designed to be used as ‘pålegg', a topping on a piece of bread.

There are several different brands, but the most popular two are certainly ‘Jarlsberg' and ‘Norvegia'. For the poor students out there the store brands are almost as good too!

For the most part it is eaten on bread or crackers, but it makes an appearance just about in any dish that craves some cheese in Norway.

Get yourself a Norwegian cheese slicer (argued as one of the greatest inventions in Norway), and shave off a few slices for breakfast, lunch, or ‘kveldsmat', a light meal taken before bed.

Norwegian Brown Cheese

You can’t have an article about Norwegian cheese without including this… invention.

Norwegian brown cheese is not technically cheese, and has a much different taste and texture than most other cheeses. It has sweet, caramel, almost chocolaty taste depending on which brand and colour you go with.

Norwegian brown cheese slicer
A block of brown cheese and a Norwegian cheese slicer.

Brown cheese can be a very decisive topic. Some love it; some hate it, but giving it a taste is more or less a requirement for those coming to Norway.

For first time tasters I recommend trying it on a Norwegian waffle with a dab of strawberry preserve. That’s where I first acclimated to the taste and now I eat it daily!

Bread and Waffles are the primary devices for mouth delivery of brown cheese, though it isn’t hard to find some more creative uses.

Cream Cheese in Norway

Creamy cheeses can be found in abundance at any grocery store. From the familiar, international brands like Philadelphia to Snøfrisk and other strictly Norwegian cheeses.

Flavours vary from a standard variant to slightly more exotic, like Horseradish and Chanterelle. There are also different types of cream cheese, mainly goat vs. cow’s milk.

A range of cheese in a Norwegian supermarket. Photo: SiljeAO / Shutterstock.com.
A range of cheese in a Norwegian supermarket. Photo: SiljeAO / Shutterstock.com.

While bagels are a little hard to come by in this neck of the woods, nothing beats a little cream cheese and salmon on good bread!

Blue Cheese in Norway

Norway probably isn't the first country that comes to mind when we think about great blue cheeses. But things have changed over the last decade.

Blue cheese, with its distinctive veins of blue or green mold, is a category that polarizes the palate yet entices with its complex flavors and creamy to crumbly textures.

In Norway, brands such as ‘Selbu Blå' are available nationwide. Such blue cheese can elevate a wide range of dishes, from salads to steaks, and pairs well with wines.

World Cheese Awards

In 2016, a cheese maker from Norway took home a number of prizes for their blue cheese, including the world champion title. Thus making Tingvollost’s ‘Kraftkar' the best cheese found on planet earth.

After more than 3,000 cheeses were judged, the cheese from the west coast of Norway was the cream of the crop. While Tingvollost produce several different types of cheese, their mouldy, crumbly, blue was judged as the best.

Nidelven Blå from Norwegian cheesemaker Gangstad Gårdsysteri. Photo: Gangstad Gårdsysteri.
Nidelven Blå from Norwegian cheesemaker Gangstad Gårdsysteri. Photo: Gangstad Gårdsysteri.

Tingvollost is a family-run affair. They even use their own cows to produce milk for their products.

The trick was repeated again in 2023, when the semi-solid blue mould cheese ‘Nidelven Blå’ from Gangstad Gårdsysteri took the title.

The cheese received high praise from judges, one noting its “short creaminess” and “dense fudginess,” while another called it “the perfect blue cheese.”


This is another cheese sometimes found in a Norwegian kitchen. Nøkkelost is sometimes called “cumin cheese” because of the added spices.

Eaten much the same as Hvitost (though less so in cooking), this cheese adds a little extra kick to sandwiches and crackers. Want to try it? It's recommended with some smokier flavoured meat. Or you can simply add a little spice to your morning bread!


Not for the faint of heart, this is one of the smellier cheeses on offer in Norway.

Very much a traditional cheese, Gamalost has its roots going back to the time of Vikings. Back then it was thought to enhance sexual prowess and has quite a funny nickname: Viking Viagra.

Slices of the old Norwegian cheese gamalost.
Slices of the old Norwegian cheese gamalost.

Because of its long history and tradition the cheese is now protected by Norwegian law to try and preserve the country’s food culture.

Gamalost is a sharp, slightly bitter hard cheese and is typically delivered via bread or crackers. Often a preserve, fruit, or berries are topped on to counteract the slightly bitter flavour and grainy texture.


Another cheese with a long history in Norway is Pultost – a loose, crumbly, sour milk cheese flavoured with caraway.

The translation for this cheese is difficult. Many believe the name came from the Danish word for lump: pult. Others cry out that is has Latin roots from the word pulta, meaning porridge.

Pultost has a few different recommended ways to try it. Rye or wheat bread are a go-to, but also baked potatoes with sour cream and some Norwegian flatbread on the side.

It can also be found alongside cured meats, and even occasionally dipped in aquavit!

What's your favourite Norwegian cheese? Let us know down in the comments. And if you liked this post, why not share it on Pinterest? There's a pin for that…

Norwegian cheeses: Everything you need to know about cheese in Norway, from brown cheese to gamalost and all flavours in between.

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24 thoughts on “An Introduction to Norwegian Cheese”

  1. Gjetost is the best, I think!!! But I live in USA and it’s hard to get. just this little ski queen at the regular grocery store, or can get it on line, but then it’s very expensive. oh well I love it when I can get it.

  2. brown goat cheese i.e. Gjetost. Great on toasted buttered rye bread. We always had this at home in the U.S.A. My mother was born in Kongsvinger as her father was the major of the fortress.

    • There are no large scale producers (and I beleve ‘feta’ is regionally protected, so it will be called something else). Try at food festivals, there’s usually a lot of smallscale producers there.
      As a somewhat near replacement you could try the different varieties of Chevre produced by Tine at Haukeli, which you will find in the more well stocked food shops like Meny.

  3. I purchase and enjoy very much Snofrisk which is a creamy, mild and smooth white cheese made in Norway, putting it on crisp crackers. I first had it in a hotel in Bergen and was able to find here in Colorado. Happy days!

  4. could someone please tell me the name of a cheese which was included on a cheese and fruit tray served as a dessert in a very nice restaurant in Bergen, Norway in 1967. i think the waiter called it fiskase or something similar. it was made from, i believe, rotted fish. after all these years, i can still recall the taste(not fondly). if anyone knows the name, i would appreciate knowing it so that i can be more accurate when telling this story to my friends. thanks, al moretz

  5. Brunost is good. The way I describe the taste to Scots that they will understand is A Caramac flavour. Sweet caramel but there are different types of Brunost with some stronger tastes too. Jarlsberg is good too. The soft cheeses that come in tubes I also like.

  6. I’m not surprised the cheese slicer is Norwegian. My partner is a cobbled together >50% Norwegian American and cannot live without one. I’m Swedish American and only rarely used my cheese slicer before he moved in. We have very different ways of consuming cheese; the concept of a cooking cheese was foreign to him.

  7. Tried to like gjetost all my life until at went to visit family in Norway in 2006 and saw they ate it on crackers with jam or some kind of fruit. Now I love it; best on Wasa a crackers with lingonberries. Delicious. Not too hard to find Ski Queen brand in Vermont .

  8. I fondly remember staying over a my grandparents and having thin slices of gjetost melted melting onto rye toast for breakfast.

  9. I am looking for information on a cheese made here in the US, bur it uses Norwegian cultures. It’s called Bergenost. It’s the best cheese I have ever eaten. Unfortunately you can only buy it online now and it is extremely expensive to ship! Does anyone have a source?

  10. Ekte Geitost og Gudbrandsdals ost have been favorites since I first tasted them in the 60’s. I tried every cheese I could find in the almost 3 years I lived there, and loved them all. I would love to try the Norwegian Blue if I could find it, but, alas, I live in Thailand, and import duties are sick from any country outside of ASEAN!

  11. I have trouble finding the cheeses I love.
    I love Gudbransdals ost, Gauda and Gammalost.
    The place I order my cheeses is always ‘out’.
    I hope that I will be able to order these delicacies soon.

  12. My daughter (American) and her fiancé (Norwegian) have asked me to bake a family favorite cheesecake for the reception. Is American sour cream and cream cheese hard to find in Oslo?
    Thank you for any information.


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