Not only is Portugal a country with plenty to see and do, but it is also well known for its delicious gastronomic scene, with local produce taking centre stage. This includes wonderful Portuguese cheese, and with the arrival of autumn and the cooler days, foodie plans are more and more desired. And if all of this includes cheese, one of the best products to come from the Portuguese kitchen, then even better.
We have prepared a guide taking you on tour of Portugal from the comfort of your own home or to inspire your next trip, where you will discover the best cheese produced in Portugal. All of these Portuguese cheeses have the PDO protected status. This tasty tour is sure to make your mouth water, so without further ado, it's time to discover the best Portuguese cheeses that you have to try.
Azeitão Cheese PDO
With its creamy texture and strong flavour, this Portuguese cheese isn't for everyone and may only appeal to certain palates. As its name suggests, it is produced in Azeitão in the municipality of Setúbal and is made from sheep's milk. This Portuguese cheese makes the perfect accompaniment for your favourite bread or toast, and you can generally find it on sale in the main supermarkets in Portugal. However, if you want to visit the origin of this delicacy, then you can plan a trip to Azeitão which is just 30 minutes from Lisbon.
And don't worry if you're a vegetarian, as this cheese is produced with thistle flower instead of animal rennet and is therefore suitable for vegetarians.
Serra da Estrela Cheese PDO
This cheese from Portugal is famous for its pungent aroma. With a very strong smell (definitely not for everyone) and a buttery texture, Serra da Estrela sheep's cheese is perfect for spreading on toast and is widely known as the "King" of Portuguese cheeses.
This particular cheese is so creamy that it is unthinkable to cut it with a knife. Instead, a circular shape is cut from the top of the cheese, and its melted centre is enjoyed in spoonfuls or by dipping your favourite crusty bread inside.
Serra da Estrela Curd PDO
If you're a fan of Italian ricotta, then Serra da Estrela PDO curd may be the perfect choice for you. This particular Portuguese cheese is produced by precipitation or coagulation, where heat is used and the final product is ideal for spreading on bread due to its soft and delicate texture. This creamy white dough-like cheese is slightly granulated, but also smooth and uniform and is another typical product of the famous Serra da Estrela. Enjoy it by itself to fully taste its flavour, or combined with honey, pumpkin jam, pieces of walnut, hazelnut or almond...the list goes on!
Transmontano Goat's Cheese PDO
In the northwest of Portugal, we recommend trying Transmontano goat's cheese PDO, a very hard, cured, salted cheese which is prepared with goat's milk. Despite its deep yellow color, you will also often find red transmontano cheeses, painted with chili to intensify their flavour.
Typical of the Trás-os-Montes region, this delicacy can also be tasted all over the country. Where can you buy this Portuguese cheese? Almost everywhere, as there are both local shops, delicatessens and even supermarkets) that sell this Portuguese cheese. Try it with bread, in a salad or as a starter: this cheese is perfect in any way!
Évora Cheese PDO
Less dense than Trás-os-Montes goats cheese and typical of the capital of Alentejo, this cheese is a semi-hard, yellowish-coloured product that is produced with raw sheep's milk which is from the regional Merina Branca breed.
If you visit the Alentejo region of Portugal and are a fan of salty and slightly spicy cheeses, make sure to order a good mature Évora cheese. However, if you prefer milder flavours, opt for the fresh or less mature version and enjoy its delicate but intense flavour.
Nisa Cheese PDO
In Portugal's Alentejo region, another famous cheese can be found: Nisa Cheese. Once again produced with Merina Branca sheep's milk, this cheese can also be enjoyed by vegetarians in some cases as varieties prepared with vegetable rennet are widely available.
Nisa is a semi-hard cheese with a characteristic yellow colour and is produced in local dairies that maintain traditional production methods.
This traditional Portuguese cheese is best enjoyed with toast, crackers or you can even branch out and make a sandwich and let yourself be carried away by its irresistible citrus flavour.
Rabaçal Cheese PDO
Rabaçal cheese is another one of Portugal's most famous cheeses, produced in a village near Coimbra, Rabaçal. This white cheese is a hard, mature cheese and is hand produced from a mixture of sheep's milk and goat's milk. If you try it, look out for its characteristic taste due to the "Santa Maria" grass, a variety of natural thyme that is abundant in the local area and is used to feed the sheep and goats that supply the milk for the production of this cheese.
São Jorge Cheese PDO
São Jorge PDO cheese is made from cow's milk and is a mature cheese which is generally hard and has a yellowish colour. This is obtained after a period of about 60 days during which the cheese is left to mature.
Its production began around 500 years ago on the island of São Jorge in the Azores and, until today, the production process has hardly changed. The quality of the island's vegetation makes a big difference, something which is reflected in the quality of the milk and in the cheese with its unique, slightly spicy taste. If you visit the Azores, this is the perfect souvenir and can be bought in local delis across the island.