what cheese is lactose free

What Cheese Is Lactose-Free? 18 Cheeses That Are Safe to Eat

Are you lactose intolerant, or find yourself struggling with dairy but aren’t ready to give up cheese? Don’t worry, there are options available out there for you to eat. Thanks to the movement from dairy produced from animals, there are a lot of cheeses that are made from things like coconut, nut, hemp, and oat milk. However, there are also some cheeses that are very low in lactose or completely lactose-free.

If you want to know what cheese is lactose-free and safe for you to eat, this article can help with 18 options.

What Is Lactose?


Lactose is a type of sugar. It is often called milk sugar because it is naturally found in milk. It can be found in any kind of milk that comes from mammals, including goats, cows, and even people. Naturally, lactose is found in every product that contains milk from a mammal.

These are usually called dairy products. There are also non-dairy products that are made from other types of milk, such as coconut, almond, cashew, hemp, and oat. However, the amount of lactose found in milk and dairy products differs greatly. So if you can have a little bit of lactose, then you may be able to eat certain products and not others.

For most people, lactose is broken down in the body thanks to the help of an enzyme that is called lactase. This lactase helps to turn lactose into glucose, which is easily absorbed by the body.

Babies often start with the highest amount of lactase in the body. For some people and races, that lactase production drops dramatically as they age. This means that though many people start with the ability to ingest milk and dairy products, sometimes that ability goes away with age.

Often, the symptoms start appearing first with those that are between the ages of 20 and 40, though it can occur at any age. Additionally, those that are descended from Asian, African, or Caribbean ancestors tend to be the most affected. Surprisingly, it is thought that over 65 percent of the world’s population has some form of lactose intolerance.

In the United States, due to our historically high amount of milk consumption, that number is closer to 36%. So while it isn’t as common, over a third of the US population still has some form of lactose intolerance.

Most of the time, if someone eats lactose when they shouldn’t the results aren’t super serious. However, they can be painful and uncomfortable. Some common symptoms are:

• Excess gas
• Stomach cramps
• Stomach rumbling
• Nausea
• Diarrhea
• Bloating

Unfortunately, there is no hard amount of lactose that is safe for those that are intolerant. It depends on the amount of lactase in the body as to how much you can consume without an issue.

However, finding cheeses with lower amounts of lactase is a good start. A good guideline is that you want to find cheeses that have about five grams per serving of sugar per serving. However, some people have been shown to handle no lactose at all, while others can ingest up to 12 grams a day, which is equivalent to about one cup of milk.

What 9 Cheeses Are Low in Lactose?

1. Swiss (0 to 3.4 percent)


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Swiss is a cheese with lots of air holes that come from the aging process. The bigger and more holes, often the more aged it is.

2. Munster (0 to 1.1 percent)


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Munster cheese is a semi-soft cheese that has a washed rind and is very mild in flavor.

3. Blue (0 to 2.5 percent)


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Not everyone likes blue cheese, but if you do, don’t worry, you don’t have to give it up. It has a higher lactose percentage than some others but is still pretty low as it is soft yet still aged.

4. Brie (0 to 2 percent)


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Brie is a French cheese that is soft-ripened cheese that is fruity and buttery. It can be aged to have less lactose and often gets a richer taste with aging.

5. Gouda (0 to 2.2 percent)


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Gouda is considered a curd cheese that is semi-firm. It has a caramel flavor and is made in the Netherlands.

6. Parmesan (0 to 3.2 percent)


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Parmesan is usually very hard and can be thrown over almost any dish, including pasta and salads.

7. Cheddar (0 to 2.1 percent)


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This cheese is sharp and is aged for quite a while, so it is actually considered one of the most friendly cheeses for those that struggle with lactose. Get longer-aged products for even lower lactose levels.

8. Provolone (0 to 2.1 percent)


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Provolone originates from Italy and is a curd that is mixed with whey to make it soft. However, it is often aged, which brings the lactose down and makes it edible for those that struggle with dairy.

9. Camembert (0 to 1.8 percent)


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Camembert is a cow cheese that also originates from France. It is similar to brie but is sweeter and milkier.

A good guideline for finding cheeses lower in lactose is that you want to stick with harder cheeses. While there are some out there like brie or camembert that are lower in lactose and are soft, harder cheeses are often a lot safer because they are aged longer and the bacteria present eats more of the lactose.

Generally, as well, the higher the fat content in the cheese, the less lactose there usually is. Additionally, sheep still have lactose, but a lower amount, so you can usually get cheeses made from sheep and they will have to have less lactose. Processed cheeses like American cheese and cheese spreads should always be avoided as they add back in a lot of the whey and milk products and are often the highest in lactose.

Most soft cheeses have a higher lactose percentage, especially fresh cheese like mozzarella and cottage cheese. However, in general, cheese tends to have less lactose than other cheese products, since most of the whey is removed, which is where a majority of the lactose protein is located.

What 9 Cheeses Are Lactose-Free?

If you absolutely cannot have lactose, then you will want to be careful what you look up online. Many kinds of cheese are listed as virtually lactose-free, but still contain a small amount of lactose. So always double-check before you decide to give it a try.

The best way to check is to do your research. Look around online to see if lactose is in the product. Another quick check is to look at the sugar content on the nutrition label. If there is no sugar, there is likely very little or no lactose at all present.

Instead of looking at types of cheeses, you will likely need to look at certain brands.

1. Gruyere


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Gruyere is naturally lactose-free. It is produced in Switzerland and has a fruity and nutty taste to it.

2. Cabot Cheddar

Cabot Cheddar

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This is a type of cheddar made in a very specific way that renders it lactose-free.

3. Borden Cheese Slices


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While not all of Borden’s cheeses are lactose-free, they do offer some options that don’t contain any of the protein.

4. Violife Just Like Parmesan


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This is a vegan option to parmesan, which means it is dairy-free and doesn’t contain any lactose. However, it tastes a lot like regular parmesan so you aren’t missing much.

5. Miyoko’s Creamery


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Miyoko’s Creamery specializes in vegan cheeses as well. These cheeses are made from cashew milk so you don’t have to worry about any lactose.

6. Lactaid


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The same brand that specializes in medicine to help reduce the symptoms of lactose intolerance also offers lactose-free cheeses, or cheeses with additional lactase to help you break it down. They have cottage cheese and many other kinds of cheese as well.

7. Green Valley Organics

Green Valley

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This brand offers a variety of lactose-free dairy options, including cream cheese.

8. Liddells


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Liddells offers many different lactose-free cheese options including shredded and block cheeses so you don’t have to put in extra work shredding your own cheese.

9. Arla Lactofree


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As the name suggests, this brand offers a variety of softer cheeses that are lactose-free, so you don’t only have to stick with hard and aged cheeses.

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