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Hard Cheeses are Naturally Lactose Free

Hard cheeses are naturally lactose free and good for FODMAP free eating!


These aged cheeses  are crumbly and dry, but not shriveled up. They also have strong flavors, pungency and character. These not mild cheeses! They have a long shelf life and will continue to develop their flavor as they age.


Here’s a list of hard cheeses:


Cheese Name Flavor Color Texture Description & Uses
Asiago Sharp Light yellow Firm to very firm Italian-style cheese with sharp, rich flavor. Used for eating and cooking. Harder, more aged versions used for grating in ways similar to Dry Jack or Parmesan.
Carmody Medium sharp Light yellow Firm A firm, flavorful, smooth-textured table cheese that also melts well. Typically aged four to six months.
Cheddar Ranges from mild to extra sharp Light yellow to orange; may also be white Firm Cheddar describes a family of cheeses — very popular and versatile cheeses available in a range of flavors from mild to very sharp. Good as is and in sandwiches. Melts well and is very good in cooked foods or shredded and sprinkled on top. Also available in an organic version.
Cheddar (raw milk) Sharp, aged White Firm Unpasteurized (raw) milk plus aging gives Cheddar a delicious sharpness. Eaten as is, with crackers, bread or fruit.
Colby/Jack Mild to medium sharp White and yellow/orange Firm A blend of Colby and Jack used for eating, especially snacks and sandwiches. Also called CoJack and Calico.
Cotija Salty, pungent White Semi-firm to firm, crumbly Hispanic-style cheese similar to Feta. Crumble and sprinkle over cooked dishes, soups, beans and salads. Also called Queso Anejo (aged cheese). Some types may be very dry and hard (see Very Hard Cheeses section).
Edam Mild Yellow with wax coating Firm Similar to Gouda, Edam is very tasty as is, with crackers or other snacks.
Enchilado Aged, slightly spicy coating Red spice coating, white interior Firm, dry, crumbly Slightly aged Hispanic-style cheese with mild red chili or paprika coating. When aged longer (Anejo-style) may be quite hard. Heated, it softens but does not melt. Crumble onto Mexican foods, soups and salads.
Fontina Mild, nutty Light yellow Firm Mild, pleasant cheese for snacking and sandwiches, similar to Gouda and Edam. (A variation, Fontinella, is firmer and drier.)
Frying Cheese Mild, slightly salty White Firm A Middle Eastern-style cheese typically cut into slices and fried. Holds shape when hot. Top with sauces or salsa. Used for saganaki.
Gouda Mild, nutty Yellow with wax coating Firm A popular mild cheese, eaten as is for snacks, also in cooked foods, salads and sandwiches. Similar to Edam.
Gouda (raw milk) Sharp Light yellow Firm A Dutch-style cheese also called Boere Kaas. Has a sharper, more complex flavor than most Goudas due to use of raw milk and aging. Used for eating and cooking.
Havarti Mild, slightly tangy Pale yellow Semi-firm Mild cheese similar to Edam and Gouda. Used both for snacks and in cooked foods and salads.
Longhorn Mild to sharp Light yellow to orange Firm A form of Cheddar. Used as is and in cooked foods.
Port Salut (also Port du Salut or St. Paulin) Mild Light yellow Firm A French-style cheese similar to Gouda or Edam in taste and appearance. Eaten as is, but also good for cooking.
St. George Medium sharp Light yellow Firm Portuguese-style table cheese with a rich, medium sharp flavor.
Syrian (Armenian String) Mild White Firm A Syrian-style String cheese, similar to regular String cheese. Also for snacks and in cooked foods.




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  1. Sue

    Add these FODMAP friendly cheeses to the list:


  2. Lynette

    I just recently discovered that I have a problem with lactose. I tried but couldn’t give up cheese. Now I don’t have to. My favorite is extra sharp cheddar. I thought it was lost to me forever….thank you so much for this list!


      Glad to help! :-)

  3. Marina

    I have become aware that I am and possibly have always been lactose intolorent for years!

    After doing a lot of research on the net, there just doesn’t seem to be much research in this country compared to the rest of Europe. My aunty has just visited from Germany and she too is lactose intolorent. She, very kindly has brought a medication for me. (Lacto Stop) which was bought over the counter in Colone.
    It appears it contains lactase which helps your body break down lactose making your digestion tolerate eating dairy!

    What amazes me is the lack of products in our supermarkets to accommodate people with dairy/lactose intolerances! Why can’t all these companies, use lactose free ingredients in their products when the this condition is on the rise!


      Lactaid ( has a range of lactose free dairy products as well as Lactaid as an enzyme to help to prevent IBS symptoms by breaking down milk sugar (lactose) and making dairy foods easier to digest. In the USA, their products are readily available in supermarkets. Also, many of the large grocery store chains have their own version of lactose free dairy (e.g. Lucerne at Safeway) and the enzyme. Lactaid, the enzyme, is available online in the UK and the EU (

  4. Alyson Johnson

    My husband has had IBS for years and has just decided to try being Lactose Free, but we are confused as we thought you had to buy a specific lactose free cheese? He loves cheeses and this list covers all of the ones he would eat at Christmas! Why do they market a lactose free cheese when you can apparently have all of these anyway? I am worried that my cheese buying could make him suffer. Please can you help clarify? Thank you.


      It is true, most aged hard cheeses are naturally lactose free! Lactose is a sugar in cheese. When concerned about what to buy, look at the package ingredients of the cheese and get only those with zero sugar. Hope this helps!

      1. Jodie

        When I look at the label most cheese say no sugar. So I really don’t know what I can buy. Dairy really kills me

        1. LIVING FODMAP Free

          It is the lactose in the dairy products that is the most common FODMAP trigger. Lactaid makes lactose free milk and cottage cheese. Also, hard cheeses are naturally lactose free.

  5. Chris

    This is so amazing – I’ve been unable to eat cows milk cheese all my life but have found I could managed hard sheeps milk cheese. Our village makes Stilton – would that be lactose free?


      According to, white Stilton is a hard cheese, thus making it lactose free. You might want to try a small amount initially to see if it triggers a reaction. Good luck!

  6. Jacqueline

    Well I cannot believe this. Love this site and you for putting this info out there! I love to cook and this is a very good piece of info for all us Lactose intolerant people. I can now make my so many recipes with cheese in it. Thank you VERY much. Swiss is also naturally lactose free and Parmesan.

  7. R

    I am severely lactose intolerant. This site states that hard cheeses are naturally lactose free, well when I eat cheddar, Parmesan, Romano for example, it is not a pretty picture. I can eat mozzarella and provolone which are soft cheeses and have no reaction. Not say that is true of all soft cheeses, just those two.

    So I don’t understand reacting to hard cheese that is supposedly lactose free? An insight?

    I am also pork intolerant, edamame and quinoa intolerant.


      It may be something else in the hard cheese that you are reacting to, such as the Casein. So glad you can eat mozzarella and provolone!

      If you can not tolerate quinoa, brown rice should be OK.

  1. 7 Foods That May Help Ease Your Lactose Intolerance | Linda Gardner's Blog

    […] aged cheeses are lactose-free, or contain only trace amounts of lactose and can easily be tolerated by those […]

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