It’s a dilemma that plagues cheese lovers: Asiago or Fontina? For those uninitiated to the world of Italian cheeses, it may be hard to decide.
Both are delicious and creamy; both melt well; and they’re not too dissimilar in terms of taste.
It can be tough to compare two things that are very similar – but with some digging into these two cheeses and their differences you’ll have a much easier time making your decision.
Are they the same?
Asiago and Fontina are similar but not the same. While both are Italian cheeses made from unpasteurized cow milk and considered swiss-style alpine cheese, they’re quite different.
Fontina is a slightly tangier cheese with a semi-soft texture and pungent smell. It also tastes a bit more complex with an earthy and mushroomy taste.
Asiago, on the other hand, is a semi-hard milder cheese with a nutty taste. It’s more subtle than Fontina with an almost sweet finish.
Both cheeses are great melted but fontina is slightly better, which is why they’re often used for grilled cheese sandwiches, table cheese, and fondue.
Texture and Characteristics
Both Asiago and Fontina have the swiss cheese’s signature small eyes or holes. The original Aostan Fontina’s texture is softer, more elastic, and almost spreadable, while asiago is grainier, firmer, and more crumbly.
The production for Fontina and Asiago are very similar too. Compared to asiago however, fontina is much closer to Gruyere. It’s also a surface-ripened cheese (also known as smear-ripened) with a strong smell, but asiago is not surface-ripened. Read Asiago vs Gruyere.
The two cheeses also have different colors. Fontina is straw color cheese usually with orange or dark brown rind, some varieties are waxed red. While Asiago is a pale beige with almost no rind.
Asiago and Fontina are both alpine Italian cheeses, but they have different origins. Asiago is a semi-hard cheese that originated in the Veneto region of northern Italy. Fontina, on the other hand, is a softer cheese that originated in the Aosta Valley of northwestern Italy.
The Serve and Use
While you can substitute them in many recipes, Asiago cheese is mainly used for grating on pasta dishes and in soups. It’s also great on bread, sandwiches, or even alone with some fruit. Fontina is best served as a table cheese with wine or chocolate tasting paired with prosciutto and figs.
Both cheeses are a great source of protein and calcium. One ounce slice of Fontina provides about 7 grams of protein and about 15% daily needs of calcium. A similar has been discussed in the asiago nutrition benefits article.
Asiago and Fontina are both delicious, but they do have some price differences.
Fontina tends to be a bit more expensive, as it’s considered a gourmet cheese. It has a complex flavor that makes it a good choice for wine and chocolate tastings, or as a table cheese.
Asiago, on the other hand, is a more affordable cheese that’s great for topping pasta dishes or grated into soup.
Both Asiago and Fontina are great choices for your next cheese plate, but if you’re looking for something with a bit more complexity, go with Fontina. If you’re looking for an affordable versatile cooking cheese that will still pack a lot of flavors, Asiago is your best bet.