Turkey sandwiches are a beloved classic. With tender turkey, crunchy vegetables, and a slathering of tangy mustard stacked between two slices of bread, they make for an easy, delicious meal any time of day.
But the true key to taking your turkey sandwich up a notch is choosing the perfect cheese to pair with the savory turkey. The right cheese can add a decadent creaminess and a delightful punch of flavor that complements the turkey beautifully.
So if you’re wondering what cheese goes best with turkey sandwiches, read on! In this article, we’ll explore 12 fantastic cheese options to consider for your next turkey sandwich creation.
The mild, nutty flavor of cheddar cheese makes it one of the most popular options for turkey sandwiches. Its creamy texture helps bind the other ingredients together into delicious mouthfuls. Sharp cheddar in particular, with its tangy bite, pairs wonderfully with sliced turkey.
Cheddar is also diverse enough to work in both cold and hot turkey sandwiches. Try it simply layered onto slices of turkey in a classic cold sandwich. Or use it melted over turkey in a hot, toasted sandwich for irresistible gooey goodness.
With its smooth, creamy texture and mild, slightly sweet flavor, Swiss cheese is another excellent choice for turkey sandwiches. Its subtle flavor profile allows the taste of the turkey to take center stage.
Swiss melts beautifully, so it’s a great option for hot turkey sandwiches and paninis. Its signature holey appearance also gives your sandwich some visual appeal.
Slightly tangy and salty, provolone cheese adds a burst of big flavor when paired with turkey sandwiches. Its semi-soft texture helps bind the ingredients together.
Provolone is an Italian cheese that comes in smoked and non-smoked varieties. Smoked provolone adds even more depth of flavor to complement turkey.
Fresh mozzarella adds a wonderful creaminess along with subtle milky notes that work beautifully with sliced turkey. Part-skim low moisture mozzarella melts especially well, so it’s perfect for hot turkey sandwiches or paninis.
For an extra flavor punch, try using smoked mozzarella. The smoky taste enhances the natural flavors of the turkey.
Gouda makes a fantastic pairing with turkey thanks to its creamy texture and deep, rich flavor nuances. Young gouda has a mild, sweet flavor that allows the turkey to shine.
Aged gouda has a sharper, more robust flavor that can stand up to bold sandwich additions like stoneground mustard or pickles. Try gouda melted over turkey breast for scrumptious hot sandwiches.
Creamy havarti is another mild cheese that complements turkey beautifully. It has a smooth, pliable texture and a tangy, buttery flavor. The creaminess of havarti helps balance out turkey’s lean texture.
Havarti also melts superbly, so it’s an especially good choice for grilled or panini-style turkey sandwiches. The melted havarti binds the ingredients together into rich, cohesive bites.
Fontina is an Italian cow’s milk cheese with a rich, nutty flavor. It has a smooth, creamy texture that’s similar to Havarti or young gouda cheese. When layered onto turkey sandwiches, it adds a lovely silkiness and sophisticated flavor.
Since fontina melts well, it also shines in hot turkey sandwiches, creating a decadent, cheese-coated bite when the sandwich is toasted.
Pepper Jack Cheese
For those who like a little kick of heat, pepper jack cheese is a smart choice for turkey sandwiches. It provides a pleasant punch of flavor that wonderfully complements the mild turkey meat.
The jalapeño peppers baked right into the cheese give it a fiery edge without being overpowering. Pepper jack also has an irresistibly gooey melted texture that’s perfect for hot turkey sandwiches.
Colby Jack Cheese
Colby jack is a marbled combo of colby and Monterey jack cheeses. Colby contributes a very mild flavor and creamy texture, while Monterey Jack offers a hint of tanginess. Together, they make a mellow, crowd-pleasing cheese pairing for turkey sandwiches.
Colby jack melts smoothly while retaining its shape when heated. So it’s a great option for grilled or panini-style turkey sandwiches. The two cheeses marry into an incredibly creamy, melty bite.
Muenster is known for its smooth, creamy texture and mild, nutty flavor that has just a touch of tanginess. With its supple texture, Muenster cheese perfectly complements sliced turkey’s texture.
When melted, Muenster delivers a positively decadent turkey sandwich experience. The velvety melted cheese takes the sandwich to new levels of taste and satisfaction.
For a more sophisticated sandwich, aromatic brie cheese makes an indulgent pairing with turkey. Brie has a soft, creamy texture and complex flavor with fruity, nutty notes.
The creamy brie beautifully balances the turkey’s lean protein. And its iconic edible rind provides texture contrast. Brie gives any turkey sandwich an upscale twist.
Bold blue cheese packs a serious flavor punch when added to turkey sandwiches. The tangy, salty blue cheese crumbles provide a nice counterpoint to mild sliced turkey meat. A little blue cheese goes a long way, so use it sparingly.
Try just a thin layer of blue cheese crumbles over turkey slices. Or mix some crumbles right into the sandwich spread for a kick of flavor in every bite.
In addition to cheese slices or crumbles, don’t forget about cheese spreads! Blending cheese into a spreadable consistency allows the flavor to infuse into every bite of the sandwich.
Whipped cream cheese, herb cream cheese, and chipotle cream cheese are all excellent options. You can also blend cheeses like cheddar or gouda with mayonnaise to make a quick and creamy cheese spread perfect for turkey sandwiches.
Key Tips for the Best Cheese and Turkey Pairing
Go for cheeses with mild to medium strength flavors so the cheese doesn’t overpower the turkey. Strong, aged cheeses like Parmesan can be too sharp.
Soft, creamy cheeses complement the turkey’s texture best. Hard cheeses don’t melt or spread as well.
Melty cheeses like cheddar, Swiss, provolone, and havarti are great for hot turkey sandwiches.
Smoked cheese varieties add extra depth of flavor that enhances turkey’s taste.
Cheese spreads infuse flavor throughout the entire sandwich, rather than just one layer.
Keep portion size in mind if using high-fat cheeses like brie or blue cheese.
Putting It All Together
Turkey and cheese are simply a match made in sandwich heaven. With so many fantastic cheese choices, there are endless tasty combinations to try in your turkey sandwiches.
To assemble the perfect turkey and cheese sandwich:
Select a bread type that will hold up well when stacked with fillings. Whole grain breads, ciabatta, and French bread are good choices.
Spread a flavored cream cheese, pesto, mustard, or mayo onto each bread slice to add an extra layer of moisture and flavor.
Layer sliced turkey meat over the spread, using about 2-4 oz for a 6-8” sandwich.
Top the turkey with cheese slices or crumbles. Havarti, cheddar, pepper jack, and Swiss are especially delicious options.
Add crisp vegetable toppings like lettuce, tomato, onion, spinach, or sprouts for crunch.
Brush the outsides with olive oil or butter and grill the sandwich until the bread is toasted and the cheese melts inside.
For hot sandwiches, watch carefully to melt the cheese without burning the bread. Use a lower heat setting if needed.
Let cool for a minute before slicing in half and serving your melty, amazing turkey and cheese creation!
With so many fantastic cheese varieties to explore, you could enjoy a different turkey sandwich every day and never get bored! So get creative with your favorite cheeses, vegetables, spreads and seasonings. Your taste buds will thank you.