If you are looking for an alternative to provolone for your recipe, you have come to the right place. In this blog post, we will compare a few cheeses that are similar to provolone, where we based on similar properties – pasta filata family, aged semi-hard, fair meltability, availability, and flavor profile.
Let’s start with the basics of provolone.
Similar Characteristics as Provolone
Provolone is a pasta filata cheese, meaning it is made from stretched curd. You can read how provolone is made in this article. This type of cheese is usually aged for around 2-6 months – not too long – giving it a semi-hard texture and a nice mellow creamy flavor. It’s been brined, so you can taste a little saltiness too. For older provolone, the sharp flavor increased.
Provolone also melts quite easily but not too much, making it great for dishes like Philly cheesesteaks, sandwiches, or pizzas. It also has pretty good availability in the United States – not as widely available as mozzarella but it’s definitely more common than some of the other cheeses on this list.
Now let’s move on to some similar alternatives to provolone.
The Best 3 Substitutes to Provolone
Top of the list, we have mozzarella. The most obvious alternative to provolone – mozzarella is also a pasta filata cheese as well and it’s one of the most popular cheeses in the United States. It has a mild flavor and creamy texture, making it perfect for dishes like pizza, lasagna, or even just by itself.
The even better substitute is actually the low-moisture mozzarella. It is lightly aged for 2-4 weeks, and the moisture and acidity are lower. The texture is also firmer with superb melting ability. You can get it anywhere in the US.
I have a comparison page for provolone vs mozzarella.
Next up, caciocavallo. This Italian cheese is almost identical to provolone. In fact, most of the provolone cheesemakers make caciocavallo too, watch production.
It is also made from stretched curd, but it’s a little harder and drier than provolone. Caciocavallo has a sharper flavor that some people might enjoy more than provolone. It is aged for around the same period as provolone (or longer) and can be found in some specialty cheese stores or online.
Caciocavallo does melt but is a bit less dramatic. The reason this cheese ranked under the mozzarella is because of the availability in the US. But still, I actually found caciocavallo on Amazon – there you go.
Pallone di Gravina
Pallone di Gravina is a little less popular, perhaps you have never heard of it. It’s another Italian cheese produced similarly to caciocavallo (1) but in balloon shape.
It is aged typically longer – for around 9 months – and has a slightly sharper flavor than provolone. In addition to that, Pallone di Gravina also has a nutty taste that some might prefer over the saltiness of provolone.
It is a harder cheese than provolone and mozzarella, but it does melt okay-ish. The availability is the deal-breaker here – it’s not easy to find and is not as common as the other two.
For the bonus, we have scamorza – another pasta filata cheese that is similar to provolone (and caciocavallo). Like Pallone di Gravina, you probably won’t find it at your local grocery store or rarely hear of it.
Scamorza is a cow milk cheese but often mixed sheep milk. It is more commonly known as a smoked cheese with a slightly sweet flavor and creamier texture than provolone. It’s also aged for around the same amount of time as provolone.
As far as melting goes, scamorza does pretty well – not as good as mozzarella but better than caciocavallo.
Other Popular Cheeses to Consider
If you’re looking for a cheese that is more widely available in the United States, cheddar would be your best option. It’s not as creamy as mozzarella or provolone, but it does have that nice sharp cheddar flavor and melts well. You can find it pretty much anywhere – at your local grocery store, gas station, or convenience store.
Asiago is another semi-hard cheese that is a good alternative to provolone. It has a nutty and fruity flavor with a slightly sweet aftertaste. It’s also one of the more affordable cheeses on this list.
Lastly, parmesan is a hard cheese that has a strong flavor and melts pretty well. It’s one of the more expensive cheeses on this list, but it can be found at most grocery stores (usually in the deli section). If you’re looking for an alternative to provolone with a more intense flavor, parmesan would be a good option.