Juustoleipä: Grilled Cheese Without the Bread

Bread Cheese

This unique Scandinavian original is a new American comfort food, and may be the hottest thing from Finland since the sauna.

Bread Cheese

Companies have been coming up with some pretty funny combinations to please the legions of people who are going gluten-free or cutting carbohydrates out of their diet. (No doubt you’ve seen the sandwiches that use chicken fillets or burger patties instead of bread.) But can you imagine grilled cheese without bread? They can in Finland, and they’ve been doing it for more than 200 years. Introducing juustoleipä.

Pronounced hoo-stah-lee-pah, the name literally means “cheese bread” in Finnish, where it is also known as leipäjuusto (“bread cheese”). Neither choice is very friendly for the average tongue in America, where it is simply known as “bread cheese.” In its birthplace in northern Finland, juustoleipä is traditionally made with goat or reindeer milk, or the very rich milk (“beestings”) from a cow that has just calved. Today this increasingly popular comfort food is made from pasteurized cow’s milk by several cheesemakers in Wisconsin.

Fresh juustoleipä curds are similar in texture to feta cheese before they are pressed into blocks—each roughly the size and shape of a slice of bread—and baked. A lovely toasted crust is formed when the sugars on the outside of the cheese begin to caramelize, with the resulting cheese looking much like a slice of French toast. In fact, Finns eat the cheese warm for breakfast dunked in coffee or served with maple syrup or honey…much as one would eat French toast. It is even offered as dessert with a topping of jam.

You can serve juustoleipä cold—sliced or in chunks—in which case it will have that distinctive “squeak” when you bite into it, much as do fresh cheese curds. But the best way is to heat it up in a pan or sear it on a grill for a warm, creamy treat. Just be aware that the cheese won’t actually melt, but will instead soften into a pleasantly buttery and creamy slice of goodness.

Juustoleipä is often compared to a grilled cheese sandwich without the bread, so consider using the same toppings you prefer on your grilled cheese. It’s a gluten-free alternative that satisfies a comfort food craving.

Here in America, “bread cheese” comes in a few flavors, including jalapeño, which makes a tasty appetizer or tailgate snack.

If you’d like to try “Juusto” in a recipe, here are two preparations developed by food blogger Hip Foodie Mom for wisconsincheesetalk.com: Grilled Summer Vegetables and Juustoleipä and Pan-Fried Juustoleipä with Fresh Greens.

Hyvää ruokahalua! That’s Finnish for bon appétit…now check out WisconsinCheeseman.com for a selection of bread cheese!


15 Responses to Juustoleipä: Grilled Cheese Without the Bread

  1. Sharon January 19, 2017 at 12:46 pm #

    Well, I loved this, but where can a person find such a thing?

    • severson January 20, 2017 at 2:32 pm #

      Thanks! We’re happy to hook you up: https://www.wisconsincheeseman.com/artisanal-cheese/bread-cheese/index.cat

      • Megalodon August 24, 2018 at 10:58 pm #

        I’m in the Driftless Area of Wisconsin and while there aren’t as many cheese factories around as there used to be, there are plenty around, at least one per village. I’ve seen bread cheese around and I saw it the other day at the Shell station convenience store. So I looked it up. Can’t wait to try it. But I miss regular Harvarti. I really like brick and Havarti.

    • Daniel J Brundidge August 14, 2018 at 8:41 pm #

      Wisconsincheeseman.com has it available (and theirs is amazing) my favorite is the jalapeno bread chees grilled on a panini press, and topped with orange marmalade. You can also find it at specialty cheese stores, just beware of imitators, my grandma got some from a local chain store that was basically mozzarella, and just melted. If it doesn’t have the golden brown exterior it’s probably not bread cheese.

      • Jeff August 14, 2018 at 8:54 pm #

        Jalapeño bread cheese with orange marmalade sounds awesome – that is definitely on my short list to try! Thanks for the tip!

    • DLT February 6, 2019 at 12:51 am #

      Wegman’s sells it.

  2. Nouseforaname April 14, 2017 at 1:48 am #

    I have picked it up at HEB and it is very easy to make as well.

  3. mary May 26, 2017 at 10:58 pm #

    Whole Foods carries it.

  4. Ann Gray November 28, 2017 at 2:35 am #

    My granddaughter has been diagnosed with celiac disease. She loves seafood and also cheese spreads. Are any of these from your company have glutten?

    • severson November 29, 2017 at 7:57 pm #

      Thanks for writing! Information concerning food allergies and potential allergens in our food items is provided on the labels of all of our food products. If you wish to know this information before purchasing an item, please email Us or call Customer Service at 800-693-0834.

  5. Dr Phylis B Canion October 4, 2018 at 4:32 pm #

    I am interested in carry the Baked Cheese in my two Organic Emporium stores in Texas! Any chance I can set up a wholesale account and get some product in! My two suppliers, UNFI and Kehe do not carry the Brunkow’s Baked Cheese!

    Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you!

    Dr. Phylis B Canion, Owner
    361-564-8963 or 361-576-2100

    • Jeff October 4, 2018 at 5:54 pm #

      Very sorry, but we don’t sell wholesale. I’m sure one of the bread cheese manufacturers would be happy to hook you up either themselves or through a distributor. We’re strictly a retail catalog. Thanks for writing!

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