What are Cheese Curds & What Do They Taste Like?

  • Video
  • August 23, 2021

If you’ve ever attended a Midwestern state fair, you’ve likely seen cheese curds. The fair version was probably an ooey-gooey, golden-brown deep-fried delight. Before curds are fried, they are soft and springy bits of cheese with an ardent following there and in Quebec—two areas of North America known for dairy farming.

 

Cheese curds are fresh and young, giving them their defining bouncy texture. Their flavor is simple, yet robust, and comes from cultures added to the fresh milk in the cheddar-making process. Rennet, an enzyme that helps the milk proteins stick together, is added to form the solid curds and liquid whey. The curds are removed from the whey and lightly pressed to remove more moisture. Then they are cut or chopped back into the typical “curd” shape and salt is added—voila, this delicacy is ready to be eaten!

What do cheese curds taste like? 

Curds typically have a mild, fresh milk and salty flavor. Their mild flavor makes them perfect for seasoning, including added dill, garlic and other seasonings. Like cheddar, they can be both orange or white.

And it’s not just about flavor and texture— truly fresh cheese curds squeak! You may be able to hear a fresh cheese curd when you bit into it. That’s because tightly wound protein mesh in new curds rebound against our teeth when we bite into them.

They’re squeakiest within a couple days of being created. The fresher the better, right out of the vat is optimal, but most of us have to settle for a day or two old. Over time, the protein mesh loosens, making the curd structure softer and therefore silent. Noisy or not, they’re delicious!

Canadians likely agree—especially when served as poutine, a dish of French fries and cheese curds topped with gravy that’s been a Québécois specialty since the mid-20th century. But you don’t have to travel to enjoy them.

At home, add a crispy layer to cheese curds with this air fryer recipe. Or use them as a vehicle for spice in this Fried Buffalo Cheese Curd and Blue Cheese Dressing recipe.

Toss them onto pizzas, into pastas or on a cheeseboard with walnuts, apple slices and celery. Whether straight from the bag or paired with other favorite foods, cheese curds are quirky and fun.