19+ Best Cheese Curd Substitute For Poutine

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As a self-proclaimed foodie with a passion for trying new dishes, I’ve always been intrigued by the world of comfort foods. One particular dish that never fails to capture my taste buds is poutine—a delightful Canadian creation that combines crispy fries, savory gravy, and cheese curds. 

However, there’s one catch: finding authentic cheese curds outside of the USA can be a challenging task. So, my quest began to find the perfect cheese curd substitute for poutine. Join me on this culinary adventure as I explore some tasty alternatives.

Best Cheese Curd Substitute For Poutine – Here Are 19+ Options

Best Cheese Curd Substitute For Poutine

Fresh Mozzarella

Fresh mozzarella cheese, with its creamy texture and mild flavor, can be a good substitute for cheese curds in poutine. Tear it into small pieces or slices and place it over your hot fries and gravy to let it melt.

Cheddar Cheese

Sharp cheddar cheese, either grated or cubed, can provide a flavorful alternative to cheese curds. It melts well and adds a rich, savory taste to your poutine.

Gruyère Cheese

Gruyère cheese has a slightly nutty and creamy flavor profile that can work nicely in poutine. Grate or slice it thinly and melt it over your poutine for a delicious twist.

Monterey Jack Cheese

Monterey Jack cheese is known for its excellent melting properties. It’s a good choice if you want a milder, creamy cheese alternative for your poutine.

Provolone Cheese

Provolone cheese has a tangy and slightly smoky flavor, making it a unique choice for poutine. Slice it thinly and layer it over your poutine for a delightful taste experience.


Paneer, a fresh Indian cheese, is a suitable substitute for cheese curds in poutine. Cut it into small cubes and add it to your hot poutine to enjoy its mild, creamy texture.

Havarti Cheese

Havarti cheese is known for its creamy and buttery flavor. It melts well and can be a delicious option as a poutine cheese substitute, adding a rich and smooth texture.

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Swiss Cheese

Swiss cheese, with its nutty and slightly sweet taste, can be grated or sliced and used as a poutine topping. It melts smoothly and complements the savory gravy.

Camembert Cheese

Camembert cheese is creamy and has a mild, earthy flavor. When warmed, it becomes soft and gooey, making it an interesting choice for a unique twist on poutine.

Brie Cheese

Brie cheese is creamy and indulgent, and it melts beautifully. Spread a thin layer of Brie over your poutine, and it will add a luxurious and slightly tangy flavor.

Halloumi Cheese

Halloumi is a semi-hard cheese with a unique salty flavor and a high melting point. Pan-fry or grill slices of halloumi until they’re golden brown, then place them on top of your poutine for a salty and slightly crispy alternative.

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Queso Fresco

Queso fresco is a crumbly Mexican cheese with a mild and slightly tangy flavor. Crumble it over your poutine to add a fresh and slightly creamy texture.

Blue Cheese

If you enjoy bold flavors, crumbled blue cheese can be a tantalizing substitute for poutine. Its sharp and tangy taste pairs well with the richness of gravy and fries.

Smoked Gouda

Smoked Gouda cheese offers a smoky, savory flavor that can be a delightful addition to poutine. Grate or slice it and melt it over your dish for a unique smoky twist.

Feta Cheese

Feta cheese is a crumbly and salty cheese that can add a briny and tangy element to your poutine. Crumble it on top of your hot fries and gravy for a Mediterranean-inspired twist.

Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese, when drained of excess liquid, can provide a similar curd-like texture to traditional cheese curds. Simply drain it, and then you can use it as a topping for your poutine.

Muenster Cheese

Muenster cheese is semi-soft and has a mild, creamy taste. It melts beautifully and can provide a smooth and rich texture to your poutine.

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Colby Jack Cheese

A blend of Colby and Monterey Jack cheeses, Colby Jack offers a mild, slightly tangy flavor. Shredded Colby Jack cheese melts well and can be a tasty addition to your poutine.

Fontina Cheese

Fontina cheese is creamy and melts smoothly. It has a nutty and slightly sweet flavor that can complement the savory elements of poutine.

Ricotta Cheese

Ricotta cheese, when mixed with a bit of cream or milk to make it smoother, can be drizzled over poutine. It adds a creamy and mildly sweet contrast to the dish.

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How To Make Cheese Curd Substitute For Poutine At Home

Making a cheese curd substitute for poutine at home is relatively simple, and you can use common cheese varieties to achieve a similar texture and taste. 

Here’s a basic recipe for a homemade cheese curd substitute:


  • 1 cup of cheese (e.g., mozzarella, cheddar, or a combination)
  • 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup of milk


Choose Your Cheese: Select a cheese or a combination of cheeses that melt well and have a good flavor. Mozzarella and cheddar are popular choices, but you can also use others like Monterey Jack, Swiss, or Gruyère.

Grate or Cube the Cheese: Grate or cut the cheese into small pieces. Smaller pieces will melt more evenly.

Coat with Cornstarch: In a mixing bowl, toss the grated or cubed cheese with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. The cornstarch will help thicken the cheese as it melts and prevent it from becoming too stringy.

Heat the Milk: In a small saucepan over low heat, warm the milk. You don’t need to bring it to a boil; just heat it until it’s warm to the touch.

Gradually Add Cheese: Begin adding the cornstarch-coated cheese to the warm milk, a little at a time, while stirring constantly. Continue to stir until the cheese is fully melted and the mixture becomes smooth and creamy.

Adjust Consistency: If the cheese sauce is too thick, you can add a bit more milk to achieve the desired consistency. If it’s too thin, you can add more grated cheese to thicken it.

Season to Taste: Depending on the cheese you use, you might want to season the cheese sauce with a pinch of salt, pepper, or other spices to taste.

Serve Immediately: Once your homemade cheese curd substitute is smooth and creamy, remove it from the heat and pour it over your hot poutine. The heat from the fries and gravy will help keep it warm and gooey.

Now you have a homemade cheese curd substitute that you can use for your poutine. Enjoy your delicious homemade poutine with the cheese sauce!

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Can I use shredded mozzarella instead of cheese curds for poutine?

Yes, you can definitely use shredded mozzarella as a substitute for cheese curds in poutine. Shredded mozzarella cheese will melt well and add a creamy, cheesy texture to your poutine. 

While it may not have the exact same squeaky texture as cheese curds, it will still be delicious and satisfying. Simply sprinkle the shredded mozzarella over your hot fries and gravy, and it will melt into a gooey, flavorful topping for your poutine.

Are there any vegan alternatives to cheese curds for poutine?

Yes, there are several vegan alternatives to cheese curds that can be used in poutine. For those looking to enjoy the classic comfort of poutine while adhering to a vegan diet, there are a variety of plant-based cheese options available. 

Vegan cheese brands offer products made from ingredients like soy, almonds, cashews, or coconut. 

These vegan cheeses can be found in various flavors and textures, some of which closely mimic the taste and meltability of traditional dairy cheese. 

When selecting a vegan cheese for your poutine, look for one that melts well and has a flavor profile that complements the savory gravy and crispy fries. 

Additionally, nutritional yeast, a common ingredient in vegan cooking, can be sprinkled over poutine to provide a cheesy, nutty flavor. With these vegan alternatives, it’s possible to create a delicious and cruelty-free poutine that appeals to a wide range of tastes and dietary preferences.

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Can I use cream cheese as a replacement for cheese curds in poutine?

While cream cheese can be a tasty addition to many dishes, it may not be the ideal replacement for cheese curds in poutine. 

Cream cheese has a significantly different texture and flavor compared to cheese curds. Cheese curds are known for their unique squeaky texture and mild, slightly tangy flavor, whereas cream cheese is creamy, rich, and has a tanginess that can be more pronounced. 

When used as a topping for poutine, cream cheese may not provide the same textural contrast and traditional poutine experience.

That said, if you enjoy the taste of cream cheese and don’t mind the deviation from the classic poutine experience, you can certainly experiment with it as a topping. 

Melted cream cheese can add a creamy and tangy element to your poutine, but it will create a different flavor profile than the traditional cheese curds. 

If you decide to use cream cheese, consider blending it with a small amount of milk to make it more pourable and drizzle it over your poutine for a unique twist on the classic dish.

Are there any lactose-free cheese options that work well in poutine?

Yes, there are lactose-free cheese options that can work well in poutine, allowing individuals with lactose intolerance to enjoy this delicious dish. 

Lactose-free cheese is typically made from real dairy but processed to remove most or all of the lactose. 

Here are a few lactose-free cheese options to consider for your poutine:

Lactose-Free Cheddar Cheese: Lactose-free cheddar cheese is widely available and can be a great substitute for traditional cheddar cheese curds. It has a similar flavor and melts well.

Lactose-Free Mozzarella Cheese: Lactose-free mozzarella cheese is a versatile choice that melts beautifully. It can provide the classic stretchy cheese experience in your poutine.

Lactose-Free Swiss Cheese: Swiss cheese is known for its mild and nutty flavor. Lactose-free Swiss cheese can be sliced or shredded and added to your poutine for a unique taste.

Lactose-Free Gouda Cheese: Lactose-free Gouda cheese is creamy and slightly sweet, making it a good option for poutine. It melts nicely and adds a rich, smooth texture.

Vegan Cheese: Many lactose-free cheese alternatives are also vegan, which can be a great option for those who prefer plant-based choices. These cheeses are typically made from ingredients like soy, almonds, or cashews and come in various flavors and textures.

When using lactose-free or vegan cheese in your poutine, follow the same principles as using regular cheese. Grate, slice, or melt it over your hot fries and gravy, and enjoy a lactose-free version of this classic comfort food.

Can I use grated cheddar cheese instead of cheese curds in my homemade poutine?

Yes, you can use grated cheddar cheese as a substitute for cheese curds in your homemade poutine. 

Grated cheddar cheese is a popular and flavorful option that many people enjoy on their poutine. It offers a rich, tangy taste and melts well when sprinkled over the hot fries and gravy. 

While it won’t replicate the exact texture of squeaky cheese curds, it will provide a creamy, gooey, and savory topping that complements the other components of poutine. 

The choice to use grated cheddar cheese or cheese curds ultimately comes down to personal preference. 

Some poutine enthusiasts prefer the traditional cheese curds for their unique texture, while others appreciate the familiar and bold flavor of grated cheddar cheese. 

Either way, you can create a delicious and satisfying poutine experience with your preferred cheese choice.

How do I ensure my cheese substitute melts properly over my poutine fries?

Ensuring that your cheese substitute melts properly over your poutine fries is crucial to achieving that gooey, savory goodness that makes poutine so irresistible. 

Here are some tips to help you achieve the best melting results:

Use the Right Cheese: Choose a cheese substitute that is known for its good melting properties. Common options include mozzarella, cheddar, Monterey Jack, Swiss, and Gruyère. These cheeses have a high moisture content and melt smoothly.

Shred or Slice Thinly: Whether you’re using a dairy-based cheese or a vegan alternative, shred or slice it thinly. Smaller pieces of cheese will melt more evenly and quickly.

Add Cheese to Hot Fries: Ensure your fries are hot and fresh out of the oven or fryer. Immediately sprinkle the shredded or sliced cheese over the hot fries. The heat from the fries will help the cheese melt.

Gravy Temperature: If you’re using gravy, make sure it’s hot as well. Pouring hot gravy over the cheese and fries can help melt the cheese faster. If you prefer to melt the cheese before adding the gravy, you can place the poutine under a broiler briefly.

Cover and Wait: After adding the cheese to the hot fries, cover the dish with a lid or aluminum foil for a few minutes. This traps the heat and encourages the cheese to melt evenly.

Consider a Broiler: If the cheese is not melting as quickly as you’d like, you can place the poutine under a broiler for a minute or two. Keep a close eye on it to prevent burning, as the cheese can go from melted to overcooked quickly.

Use a Microwave (if needed): If the cheese isn’t melting to your satisfaction, you can also use a microwave for a short burst, about 10-15 seconds, to encourage melting. Be careful not to overheat, as the cheese can become rubbery.

Remember that the melting process can vary depending on the type and brand of cheese substitute you use, so some experimentation may be necessary to find the perfect melting technique for your poutine.

Is cheese curd same as paneer?

No, cheese curds and paneer are not the same, although they share some similarities. Both are fresh cheeses, but they originate from different culinary traditions and have distinct characteristics. 

Cheese curds are popular in North America, particularly in regions like Quebec, Canada, where they are a key component of poutine. 

They are small, unaged pieces of cheese, typically made from cow’s milk, and have a mild, slightly tangy flavor. 

One of their unique features is the audible “squeak” they make when bitten into, a trait cherished by many poutine enthusiasts.

On the other hand, paneer is a fresh cheese commonly found in Indian cuisine. It is made from cow’s milk and is known for its mild, creamy flavor and crumbly texture. 

Paneer does not possess the same squeaky quality as cheese curds and does not maintain its shape when exposed to heat; instead, it softens and crumbles, making it a versatile ingredient in Indian dishes like curries and snacks.

What kind of cheese is cheese curds for poutine?

Traditionally, cheese curds used for poutine are made from cheddar cheese. Specifically, they are often made from white cheddar or mild cheddar cheese. 

These cheese curds have a mild, slightly tangy flavor and a unique squeaky texture when bitten into, which is highly characteristic of poutine.

In regions like Quebec, Canada, where poutine originated, you’ll commonly find white cheddar cheese curds being used in this iconic dish. 

However, variations of poutine exist, and some people may use other types of cheese curds or cheese substitutes to create different flavor profiles or textures. 

Ultimately, the choice of cheese curds can vary based on personal preference and regional influences, but cheddar cheese curds remain the classic choice for traditional poutine.

Can I use milk instead of cheese curd for poutine?

Using milk as a substitute for cheese curds in poutine is not recommended if you want to maintain the traditional poutine texture and flavor. Cheese curds have a unique squeaky texture and a mild, slightly tangy taste that is distinctive to poutine. 

Milk, on the other hand, is a liquid and cannot replicate the texture or flavor of cheese curds.

If you are looking for a substitute due to dietary restrictions or preferences, it’s better to use a cheese alternative or a different type of cheese that can provide a similar meltability and flavor. 

Common cheese substitutes for poutine include shredded mozzarella, cheddar, Swiss, or even vegan cheese options.

While milk can be used as an ingredient in the preparation of the poutine gravy, it is not a suitable replacement for the cheese curds themselves. The cheese curds are a fundamental element of poutine’s texture and taste, and substituting them with milk would significantly alter the dish.


While nothing can truly replace the authenticity of fresh cheese curds in poutine, the journey to find the perfect substitute has been a delicious adventure. Whether it’s shredded mozzarella for creaminess, cheddar for boldness, or a vegan alternative for ethical reasons, there’s no shortage of options to create a delightful poutine experience. So, go ahead and embark on your own cheese curd substitute adventure, and remember, the joy is in the exploration and the taste of each delectable bite.

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