Sardinian cheese you must try

Sardinian cheeses are big business on this Italian island. There are more than 3,500,000 sheep, goats and cows, equaling a rich and varied industry in Sardinia. The sheep population makes up 40% of the total amount in Italy. This is 2.5 times the amount of people living on the island! It’s not surprising then, that Sardinian cheeses are in abundance, and the varieties are plenty.

Sheep and goats provide high-quality milk to produce Sardinian cheese, the most popular exports being pecorino and ricotta. However, they’re not the only ones worth trying when it comes to the battle of the cheeses.

The tastiest Sardinian cheeses

—01

Pecorino

The most common variety of this Sardinian cheese is Fiore Sardo, also known as Pecorino Sardo. It’s a raw, hard cheese made from whole sheep’s milk that carries the title of DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta). This Sardinian cheese’s nutty and salty texture is widely used in pesto sauces, or freshly grated over pasta and salads.

Pecorino Sardo’s intensity can vary according to the length of maturation. The more mature pecorino is a perfect accompaniment with roast potatoes, sausages, fresh tomatoes and onions.

Cheesy rating *****

Sardinian cheeses - pecorino
Sardinian cheeses - ricotta

—02

Ricotta

Another classic, the Sardinian variety of ricotta is fresh sheep’s ricotta cheese, although the firmer version can also be grated.

The fresh variety’s typically white in colour, flaky and creamy. Therefore, it’s an ideal ingredient to use in savoury dishes like ravioli. It also works well in traditional Sardinian desserts.

Cheesy rating *****

If you’re thinking about visiting Sardinia, why not consider joining a local tour? It’s a fun, low cost way of exploring the island, and great for solo travelers, families and couples.

—03

Casizolu

Casizolu is one of Sardinia’s oldest dairy cheeses. Pear-shaped, white to pale yellow in colour, it’s made from whole cow’s milk,.

The cheese has been labelled as a Slow Food Presidium product, meaning it’s one of the world’s endangered heritage foods. Mature versions tend to be spicier in flavour. This Sardinian cheese is also widely used in a classic delicacy, sebadas.

Cheesy rating ***

Sardinian cheeses - casizolu

“There are more than 3,500,000 sheep, goats and cows, equaling a rich and varied industry in Sardinia.”

Sardinian cheeses - casu marzu

—04

Sardinian cheeses – Casu Marzu (maggot cheese)

‘Maggot cheese’ (Casu Marzu) is a Sardinian delicacy, and unsurprisingly, it won’t be to everyone’s taste! Live insect larvae ferments the cheese to an extreme degree, giving Casu Marzu a softer consistency as it develops flavour. 

The locals can’t get enough of this stuff, so be brave and give it a go. If all else fails, just fill up on the bread that is also typically served with the cheese.

Cheesy rating **

—05

Sardinian cheeses – Casu Axedu

Another soft cheese, without any live insect larvae, Casu Axedu is made from sheep or goats’ milk. Synonyms of the cheese’s name also differ depending on the region of the island. Variations include Fruhe, Frughe and Merca. 

Sour in taste, this Sardinian cheese is produced in small rectangular shapes and also is normally eaten fresh. Mature varieties tend to be salty and spicy in flavour, making them ideal ingredients for soups and pasta fillings.

Cheesy rating ****

Other noteworthy Sardinian cheeses to try also include Casu Friscu, Fresa and Gioddu.

Sardinian cheeses - casu axedu

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68 Comments

  1. Natalie

    Love the cheezy rating! We love trying new foods when we travel. The kids are always with us and they are not quite as open to things like…..maggot cheese 😉 but we would have fun trying the others!

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Don’t worry about the kids…I too wasn’t open to the maggot cheese. The locals love it, but I couldn’t stomach the sight, or smell, of it!

  2. Stacey

    #4 though… I don’t know if I’d want to try that one!!! I love your rating system though Haha! I think #1 is more my speed, I prefer a harder cheese.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Hehe thanks Stacey! Yes, the maggot cheese is probably a refined taste, and not for everyone!

  3. Zinara

    Yay to this cheezy rating! I love Ricotta although I don’t think what I tried was original and from Sardinia. I’m open to new cuisines but sometimes I cannot stomach many types of cheese. Some are too salty for me.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      I know what you mean, and I’m glad you like the cheesy rating! I love cheese tbh, it’s just so calorific!

  4. Juliette | Snorkels to Snow

    I was enjoying this and craving cheese until I read about the maggot cheese! That’s bizarre and I’m not sure if I would be brave enough to try it, and I usually love all cheese! Interesting they use a lot of sheep’s milk too. In NZ we have so many sheep but sheep milk products are not very common.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      I don’t think you’re alone on this! I couldn’t stomach it either and I love cheese! How interesting about NZ cheese; I never knew that!

  5. woody world packer

    Cheese! Yes please! I am originally from the Netherlands and called cheese heads and most Dutch love cheese in every single form, type and taste. Of course in combi with a good glass of wine 😉

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Hehe yes, I know the Dutch are very fond of their cheese too; I think many of my meals consisted of bread and cheese when I was there!

  6. Ava

    Goat cheese is my favorite! Your photos are amazing and I truly am hungry now for some cheese! I look forward to seeing more of your posts and photos soon!

    Reply
    • Lisa

      I love it too! Keep tuned, more Italy adventures coming, this time from Sicily 😀

  7. Riely

    Unfortunately with a dairy allergy all cheeses are off the table for me. I have found many local nut cheese options that are out of this world, some I am going to attempt to make myself. They do really live up to the hype of cheese. We will see if I can make as tempting of Ricotta cheese as the one shown above.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Oh no, such a shame! I’m sorry that you cannot share my love of the cheesy stuff! Thanks for commenting anyway!

  8. David Meldrum

    I have recently became a fan of cheese which I primarily eat with crackers! The pecorino cheese sounds like the best for me!

    Reply
    • Lisa

      The Pecorino is pretty fantastic, and a good choice. I too love cheese on crackers and with pretty much anything!

  9. Mariella

    Ah, nothing quite like a delightful piece of cheese that makes your taste buds sing! I am a true fan of cheeses – I love them all! When I visited Switzerland I was in my own kind of heaven Thank you for sharing! I’ll safe this post if I stumble upon an adventure in Sardinia haha – Mariella

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Great Mariella, I hope you get to try it for yourself. The cheese in Sardinia is too moreish 🙂

  10. Vicki Louise

    I want to try all of the cheeses! I know some people say that Cheese isn’t a food group but it seriously one of my favorite things to eat. I love your cheezy rating too!

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Cheese deserves its own food group, I’ll second that! Ha, thanks, I had to put my own special addition!

  11. Shibani

    Cheese is something that can add flavor to any dish and here I find myself with such different varieties of cheese 😀 I would love to try Pecorino and Ricotta, Ricotta looks like a home base cheese my mum makes at home so I all up for this one. I never knew there’s something called as endangered heritage food if that’s the case I am going to give Casizolu a try for sure!! Thanks for sharing such a wonderful piece of information I didn’t much about. Surely keeping this post in my reserves to try all these whenever I land in Italy 🙂

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks Shibani, I’m glad you enjoyed it! Sardinian cheeses are delicious, and yes, some, a little challenging!

  12. Suzanne

    I’ve only tried ricotta from your list. However, the rest of the Sardinian cheeses look tempting. What’s your favorite?

    Reply
    • Lisa

      I love Sardinian pecorino, it’s so moreish!

  13. Kate Storm

    Girl after my own heart! I’ve yet to meet a cheese I don’t like, though I try not to ask for any details about how they’re made or what they’re made from until after I try them–don’t want to freak myself out! Love your “cheesy rating” lol.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Ha, glad you like it! Italy is home to some amazing cheese in general, but the ones in Sardinia are just a tad bit special.

  14. Martha

    Cheese is my favorite food group so I love trying different cheeses when I travel the world. I even have a “bucket list” of cheeses to try.. LOL, I’ve added a few of these onto my list. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Ha, that’s a first I’m sure, a cheese bucket list, I think this is an idea for a blog!

  15. Sherrie

    I’ve had pecorino romano and of course ricotta, but I hadn’t heard of the other three. No way would I be able to stomach anything with maggot in the name — who would ever think to ferment cheese with live insect larvae?! Unique for sure!

    Reply
    • Lisa

      My thoughts exactly Sherrie, it’s a unique taste!

  16. Bhusha

    3.5 million sheep?? Whoa! That’s a lot… And being a lover of cheese, I’d love to taste them all. Casizolu looks very interesting. Endangered heritage food that’s spicy? That’s 2 more reasons to try it out.. I’m gonna steer clear of Casu Marzu though.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Lol you’re not the only one! I couldn’t bring myself to try it!

  17. James

    I love trying cheeses_ I had some delicious brie this morning. The Casu Marzu can’t actually have maggots in it? It’s probably a delicious cheese and best tasted without it being described to you. Live insect larvae is an off putting way to describe it!

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Haha, I’m sorry to tell you this, but it really does have maggots in it! The locals love it, but I couldn’t bring myself to eat it.

  18. Abigail Sinsona

    Ricotta cheese is one of my favorites, aside from mozarella and cheddar! I have to admit that I have yet to try the others; in fact, they are new to me. But since I am a cheese lover, I would love to try them out someday.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      You’ll be very brave to try Casu Marzu! Sardinian cheeses are delicious, and versatile for so many dishes too.

  19. Raghav

    Yum! Yum!! Yum!!!… and i could go on. I love food, but I love cheese even more (I know it’s food, but you know what i mean). Thanks for the information and the list as there are some cheeses I had no clue about and now I really want to taste them. Except for maybe Casu Marzu, which I am in two minds about, right now.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      You’re not alone Raghav! Casu Mazrzu is an acquired taste and even I couldn’t stomach it!

  20. Kim

    Yes! Cheese is like another food group for me, so I loved reading this post about the different Sardinian cheeses. I’ve never seen cheese like casizolu before, what an interesting way to present it. I wonder what the cheese really looks like inside the pouch.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      It looks exactly as the shape! It’s common all over Italy, but in Sardinia the taste is slightly different 😀

  21. Stacy

    This is interesting! We travel with 4 kids that are such picky eaters we rarely get to indulge and sample the local fare. I had only known about a couple of these prior to reading, thanks for the education!

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Aw that’s a shame! The cheeses are delicious and I would highly recommend to try them 🙂

  22. Anna

    You got me! I am a big fan of cheese – when we were testing a local hotel one of my favorite programs was the afternoon cheese platter & wine tasting, haha 😀

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Nice! The cheeses are all very good, but maybe not the maggot one!

  23. Rachelle

    Oh my gosh! I love cheese! Nothing is more delicious than ordering a cheese platter at restaurants, trying out a few new kinds every time. I’ve never heard of the Casizolu cheese before, and it makes me sad that it’s endangered! Definitely not about that maggot cheese, but you never know how you’ll like something or not unless you try it!

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Trust me Rachelle, I saw the maggot cheese, and it didn’t look good at all! The rest are delicious however, and very irresistible.

  24. Danik

    I am not into cheese’s but Claire sure is. We are hoping to be in Sardinia later this year so hope to check some of these out. Great post.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Great Danik! You’re going to love Sardinia, I’m so sure of that!

  25. amanda obrien

    Love my cheese – especially italian ricotta! I ate loads of this when i was in sicily – I didn’t know it was as big a thing in sardinia. I do like a stinky cheese but somehow when you mention the word maggot it is hard to get hungry….

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Ha, I know exactly how you feel! Everything else is very tasty however, and hard to say no to!

  26. Aleksandra

    ricotta!! my favorite cheese. tried in sicily and can’t stop eating it. wow, the ones with insects sound terrible. wouldn’t dare to try it

    Reply
    • Lisa

      I don’t blame you one bit! I love ricotta too 🙂

  27. Christina

    Cheese lover over here!!! We spent some time in Italy and were able to do a Parmesan cheese tour in Modena. It was fascinating to learn about all of the cheeses and how they age. We also had ricotta in Amalfi and they would put it on bread with honey which they considered a delicacy. I think we would try the cheese with the insects just to say we tried it. Great post!

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Nice! Parmesan in Modena must be extremely good. You’re a braver woman than me Christina; I left it to the locals!

  28. Sandy N Vyjay

    These are some amazing cheese varieties. Sardinia is, of course, an iconic place, but the amount and variety of cheese available here seems to be mind-boggling. I love the look of the Pecorino. The fact that it has a salty flavour makes it appealing to me. Would love to have this with roasted potatoes.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      That’s a great combination! And all the cheeses, maybe apart from the maggot one, are great choices!

  29. Beth Schoen

    I got really excited to discover that this post was about cheese. I’m super crazy for cheese after having a French roomate in Ireland for many years. We would even fly to France for her to bring some of her cheese back to Ireland. Loved reading about the maggot cheese. That was different!! Great post! You did an excellent job describing each cheese variety. Beth http://www.wisemommies.com

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Glad you enjoyed it Beth! And thank you for the kind comments 🙂

  30. Marky Ramone Go

    for someone like me who just love to eat cheese, i enjoy reading this article as it also taught me a lot of new knowledge about the vast world of cheese. I give you an A+ for effort 🙂

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Ha thank you! It was a hard job, but someone had to do it 😉

  31. PossesstheWorld

    Oh my goodness, another wonderful post about Sicily! I can almost taste, smell and feel the cheese in my mouth although I might not be so keen on the Casa Marzu. I think I shall have cheese for lunch, off to the deli right now

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Don’t worry, you’re not alone! I couldn’t stomach it either 🙂

  32. Paul

    Such a great list. So many cheeses I’d never even heard of, and sounds like, that’s for good reason! Casu Marzu….hmmm not sure about “maggot cheese” but I guess you’ve got to try it to know!

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Honestly, I just couldn’t! The locals love it, but it’s one acquired taste I just couldn’t get the thought out of my head!

  33. Lauren Pears

    Love this post! I’ve heard Sardinian cheese is well worth trying – not sure I could stomach the maggot cheese though… I think Pecorino would be my favourite!

    Reply
    • Lisa

      The maggot cheese isn’t an easy one to try, I couldn’t do it 😀

  34. Alexandra

    Well, this must have been a cool post for you to write. I love cheese! And I love Sardinia 🙂
    Thank you for sharing

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Lol me too! It’s a wonderful island, with incredible cheese too

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