Known as America’s Dairyland, Wisconsin, is the largest cheese-producing state in the U.S. Producers of award-winning, world-class cheese consistently top lists and win awards at the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest. In fact, the state takes such pride in its status that residents are endearingly referred to as “Cheddarheads.”
There are several ways to eat cheese like a local in Wisconsin. The state’s favorite, cheddar, is a good place to start. Then open your palate to indulge in flavors such as morel mushroom and leek, Wisconsin beer cheese, or blueberry white cheddar. Most restaurants serve their own take on classics like fried cheese curds and beer cheese soup—and nothing tastes (or sounds) quite like a squeaky, freshly-made cheese curd.
From Milwaukee to La Crosse, here are eight creameries, factories, and shops where you can satisfy your craving for cheese.
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1. The Village Cheese Shop
The Village Cheese Shop sells cut-to-order cheese produced in the Midwest (including Wisconsin) and Europe, and cheesemongers guide visitors in selecting from seasonal choices in the hand-curated cheese case. The wine section is a good place to find the perfect vintage to pair with your cheese selections. Order cheese to go, or stay and sample an item from the cheese bar menu that includes sandwiches and salads.
2. Clock Shadow Creamery
Located in the historic Walker’s Point neighborhood, Clock Shadow Creamery offers visitors a chance to watch cheesemakers at work through glass windows. Under the direction of Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker Steve Hurd, the factory is renowned for its fresh cheese curds produced several mornings per week. The creamery’s popular signature cheese, Double Cream Colby, is produced in cooperation with a local artist; other varieties include goat cheese, quark, and a wide range of aged and flavored cheddars.
3. Carr Valley Cheese Company
You’ll find the Carr Valley Cheese Company store located among the many touristy fudge, ice cream, and souvenir shops in the Wisconsin Dells. Owned and operated by the Cook family for more than 100 years, the award-winning company’s specialty is bread cheese—an oven-baked cheese with a brown crusty top that’s meant to be served warm and with dipping sauce.
Related: From Grandpa with love: A delicious detour to an Ohio cheese emporium
4. Old Country Cheese
Deep in the heart of the Amish community of Southwestern Wisconsin is Old Country Cheese. Utilizing 120,000 pounds of milk produced by 230 Amish milk producers, Old Country Cheese makes more than 20 varieties of cheese, in addition to crafts, candy, jams, and maple syrup. Try the 12-year-old cheddar, or buffalo wing and dill cheeses for a unique twist on classic cheese.
5. Pasture Pride Cheese
Pasture Pride Cheese makes popular favorites such as Monterey Jack, pepper Jack, cheddar, and Colby, as well as “Juusto,” a Finnish-baked cheese recognized as “Best of Show” in numerous cheese competitions with milk sourced from local Amish dairies. Pasture Pride also sells a wide variety of organic and gourmet cheeses and gift baskets.
6. Westby Cooperative Creamery
Located in the heart of dairy country, the farmer-owned Westby Cooperative Creamery is known for its award-winning cultured dairy foods, including cottage cheese, sour cream, dips, yogurts, cream cheese, and organic products made from milk sourced from 130 small, local family farms. This creamery is the only cottage cheese manufacturer in Wisconsin, and the Westby 4-percent cottage cheese has won several awards, including first place in the 2020 World Championship Cheese Contest.
7. Nordic Creamery
This fourth-generation creamery offers a variety of handcrafted cheese and butter made from some of the freshest goat and cow milk in the region. Nordic Creamery offers its award-winning cheeses, butter, ice cream, beef, and pork, plus a wide variety of regionally-produced foods and gifts for sale at its Westby location.
8. TJ’s Cheddarheads
The cheese section at TJ’s Cheddarheads is devoted to Wisconsin-produced cheese and features products such as Meister Wild Morel and Leek Jack, Henning Bacon Fest Cheddar Cheese, Maple Leaf Horseradish Cheddar Cheese, and Vern Tomato and Basil Cheddar Cheese. It’s also a great place to load up on non-cheese Wisconsin souvenirs.