What’s the Difference Between Fontina and Fontinella Cheese?

If you’re a cheese lover, you may have encountered the names Fontina and Fontinella during your culinary adventures. 

Both of these cheeses are known for their delightful flavors and versatile uses. 

But what exactly sets them apart? 

In this blog post, we’ll explore the differences between Fontina and Fontinella cheese to help you choose the right one for your next culinary creation.

A Quit Look at Key Differences Between Fontina Cheese and Fontinella

Fontina is an Italian cheese, yet Fontinella is an American cheese inspired by Italian styles.
Fontina is a classic Italian cheese. Fontinella is just a product name inspired by fontina.
Fontina is semi-soft, creamy, and slightly elastic. In contrast, Fontinella is semi-hard, crumbly, and granular.
Fontina has a mild, nutty, fruity flavor that becomes richer with age. Fontinella boasts a sharper, tangier taste with a more pronounced nuttiness.
Fontina is excellent for melting, making it ideal for pizzas, sandwiches, and fondues. Fontinella is often grated or shredded for use in pasta dishes and salads.
Fontina pairs well with a wide range of wines due to its mildness. Fontinella goes best with robust red wines and dishes with strong flavors.

Fontina Cheese

Fontina cheese is a semi-soft cow’s milk cheese that hails from the Aosta Valley in northwestern Italy. It has become popular worldwide for its rich and nutty flavor, making it a versatile ingredient in various dishes. 

Here are some key characteristics of Fontina cheese:

Origin and Production

Fontina cheese originates from the Aosta Valley in northwestern Italy. This picturesque region is nestled in the Italian Alps and is known for its rich dairy traditions. Fontina has been crafted in this area for centuries, benefiting from the fresh and pristine mountain milk. Today, it holds a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status, which means that authentic Fontina cheese must be produced in specific regions of Italy, primarily Val d’Aosta, to carry the name.


Fontina cheese is made with unpasteurized, whole cow milk. This is why it has a creamy and semi-soft texture. It’s smooth and easy to slice, perfect for melting in dishes like fondues and grilled cheese sandwiches. The cheese is pliable–it doesn’t crumble easily. This is why it’s wonderfully gooey when heated. Fontina’s texture makes it a versatile choice for both cooking and enjoying on its own.

Flavor Profile

Fontina cheese boasts a mild, milky, nutty, and slightly fruity flavor. It is not overly sharp or pungent, making it a crowd-pleaser and a versatile addition to various dishes. Fontina’s taste is often described as creamy and buttery with a touch of earthiness. This subtle yet pleasant flavor profile makes it a go-to choice for melting, as it can lend a rich and comforting taste to dishes like fondues, grilled cheese sandwiches, pizzas, and pasta recipes without overpowering other ingredients.


Fontina cheese typically features a thin and pale yellow natural rind. While it’s edible, many people choose to remove it before consuming the cheese.


Fontina is renowned for its versatility in the kitchen. It’s fantastic for melting, so you’ll often find it in dishes like quiches, pizzas, pasta, and grilled cheese sandwiches. It pairs well with fruits like apples and pears and complements wines such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Fontinella Cheese

Fontinella cheese, on the other hand, is a semi-hard cow’s milk cheese with its roots in America–made by the American company “Stella/Suputo Cheese” to imitate Italian and Greek cheese. They have only borrowed the name from Italian cheese, “fontina.” But as for taste and texture, it’s poles apart from fontina cheese.

Here’s what you need to know about Fontinella cheese:

Origin and Production

Fontinella cheese originated in the United States as a variation of Fontina cheese, which is originally from Italy. Fontinella cheese is made from pasteurized cow milk by Stell/Suputo Cheese Company in a quest to develop a unique cheese that is sweet and sharp at the same time.  


Fontinella cheese has a semi-hard and slightly crumbly texture. Unlike fontina, it doesn’t have a creamy smoothness. Instead, Fontinella is firmer and holds its shape when cut or grated. 

This texture makes it a great choice for grating over dishes like pasta or salads, where its crumbly nature can add a delightful texture and bold flavor. This is the reason that it’s not used in melted form–it can’t be melted.

Flavor Profile

Fontinella cheese has a robust and slightly tangy flavor. It’s known for its sharpness, which sets it apart from milder cheeses like Fontina. Fontinella’s taste is savory, nutty, and a bit salty. 

Some describe it as a cross between Parmesan and Cheddar, offering a bold and memorable flavor profile. This makes Fontinella a fantastic choice for adding a flavorful kick when grated over dishes like pasta or salads, enhancing their taste with its distinctive sharpness.


Fontinella can be grated and used in cooking, it’s not as well-suited for melting as Fontina. It shines when grated over pasta dishes, salads, or served on a cheese platter. It pairs nicely with bold red wines like Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon.


Fontina and Fontinella cheeses may share some similarities in name and appearance, but their distinct textures, flavors, and uses set them apart. Fontina is your go-to for creamy, melty goodness in dishes like fondue, while Fontinella adds a tangy kick when grated over your favorite pasta or salad. 

Whether you’re crafting a comforting Italian meal or assembling a cheese platter, knowing the difference between these two cheeses will elevate your culinary experience. So, go ahead, explore, and savor the delightful world of Fontina and Fontinella cheeses!

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Cashmere Muhammad
Cashmere Muhammad

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