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What is Tilsit Cheese?

Morgan H.
Morgan H.

Tilsit cheese, also called tilsiter cheese, is a versatile, semi-hard cheese that originated from in the mid-19th century from Danish settlers in Prussia. It is now commonly produced in Switzerland under the name tilsiter cheese. Tilsit may range from ivory to light yellow in color, and is cultured from cow's milk. It is noted for having a stronger odor and flavor than other Danish cheeses.

Modern tilsit cheese is a medium-firm cheese that has a variety of cooking applications, both in dishes as an ingredient and as a stand-alone item. When produced commercially, it originates from cow's milk, and ranges up to a 60% milk fat. Additional flavorings in the cheese include peppercorns and caraway seeds. Produced correctly, the cheese is aged for about 180 days.

Tilsit cheese is commonly produced in Switzerland as tilsiter cheese.
Tilsit cheese is commonly produced in Switzerland as tilsiter cheese.

Tilsit cheese is commonly described as rich, and sometimes slightly salty. It tends to have a more pronounced aroma than cheeses many consumers will be used to, and is best paired with starches. Common culinary applications of this cheese are melting in sauces or over potatoes, as a table cheese, or served with a rich, dark beer or a brown bread.

The creation of tilsit cheese occurred in what is now Sovetsk, Russia. In the 1800s, Danish settlers attempting to produce the cheeses of their homeland found that the correct ingredients were not available to them. What resulted from the different bacterial and yeast cultures and ingredients was a more full-flavored cheese than their methods usually produced. The settlers named the cheese after what was then the village of Tilsit, Prussia.

Peppercorns are often used to flavor tilsit cheese.
Peppercorns are often used to flavor tilsit cheese.

The tilsit cheese recipe was imported to Switzerland in the late 1800s, and since then, Switzerland has become a major producer of the cheese. It is commonly marketed with three different label types, each distinguishing the type of milk used to produce the cheese. Tilsit cheese with a red label is made with a fresh, unpasteurized cow's milk, and tends toward a stronger flavor than the green or yellow labeled cheeses. The green labeled cheese is produced using pasteurized milk, and a yellow labeled cheese has extra cream added to the blend.

Discussion Comments


Some people try to claim that Tilsit is similar to Havarti. If your Tilsit tastes like Havarti, then you don't have a proper Tilsit. I consider myself an avid food fan, and will try exotic and strange things, but Tilsit is only for people who like cheeses that punch them in the face.


Danish Tilsit: It's not for faint hearted children.


If this cheese has an overwhelming odor and piercing taste, it has probably gone bad. When I tried this cheese, it was stinky but not off-putting (I think Limburger is much worse). The taste was mild--actually somewhat boring. This is a cheese that is best eaten with other things: I tried it with whole wheat crackers and a dark beer and eventually found myself enjoying the cheese. It's great with a German-themed meal, but honestly, there are so many better cheeses out there.


This is a table cheese to serve if you hate your relatives and want them to leave as quickly as possible.

I'm a lover of cheeses and I've never smelled something like this in my entire life. It's triple bagged in my refrigerator and you can still smell it. The taste was OK, even rich, once I'd forced myself to take a bite (warning your fingers/hands will stink after touching it) but my eyes were watering and my nose is still hurting and I can't taste anything, 10 minutes later.

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    • Tilsit cheese is commonly produced in Switzerland as tilsiter cheese.
      By: pavalena
      Tilsit cheese is commonly produced in Switzerland as tilsiter cheese.
    • Peppercorns are often used to flavor tilsit cheese.
      By: valery121283
      Peppercorns are often used to flavor tilsit cheese.
    • Tilsit is a cow's milk cheese.
      By: Andrey Kuzmin
      Tilsit is a cow's milk cheese.