Goat cheese can offer a nice break from your everyday cheddar and jack, but not everyone knows how to best serve this funky fromage. You may wonder if you should serve it straight from the fridge or at room temperature. No worries! We have done the painstaking, knife-licking research to make sure you get this cheesy choice right.
It is best to serve goat cheese at room temperature, between 68 and 72º Fahrenheit. Pull goat cheese from the refrigerator 30 minutes to an hour before serving to allow it to come up to temperature. Room-temperature goat cheese will have a clearer flavor and be easier to spread than when cold.
You can also serve goat cheese warm by baking it before serving or adding it to dishes like pizza, quiche, or more!
In this article, we'll take a closer look at the best temperature for serving goat cheese, how to get the temperature right, and how long you can keep your favorite chêvre at room temperature safely. We'll also look at some ways to serve your goat cheese hot for some culinary fun! Read on to learn all about it!
What Temperature Do You Serve Goat Cheese?
The rule of thumb when it comes to serving cheese is to do so at room temperature, and this includes goat cheese. According to the Academy of Cheese, all cheese should be served between 68 and 72º Fahrenheit.
This is the ideal range when serving cheese alongside other cheeses on a board or on its own with some crackers or slices of baguette.
How Should You Bring Goat Cheese to Room Temperature?
The easiest way to bring goat cheese (or any other cheese for that matter) up to temperature is to simply pull it from the refrigerator a while before serving.
The exact amount of time it will take the cheese to come up to the ideal temperature will depend on a few factors. US Dairy recommends taking cheese out of the refrigerator 20 to 30 minutes before serving, while the Academy of Cheese suggests a full hour.
We find that 30 minutes is usually long enough for a standard log of goat cheese to come to room temperature, but you can pull it up to an hour before serving to be safe. We don't recommend pulling out the cheese any more than an hour before serving, since soft cheeses, including goat cheese, spoil faster than harder cheeses.
How Long Can You Keep Goat Cheese at Room Temperature?
Like fine wines and good friends, many cheeses mature and improve with age. This, however, does not apply to cheese aged on your table. It takes little more than too much time spent at room temperature for good cheese to go bad.
Hard cheeses contain less moisture and, because of that, don't spoil as quickly as soft cheeses. However, most goat cheese you find in the US is soft. This means that it shouldn't be kept out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours, according to US Dairy. If your goat cheese has been out for longer than that, it's probably best to throw it out.
That being said, there are some delicious goat cheeses that are aged and, hence, dryer and safer than the soft logs of goat cheese you usually find. California-based cheese maker Cypress Grove produces some fantastic aged goat cheeses, including goat milk cheddar and the poetically named Midnight Moon, a gouda-style aged goat cheese.
These hard, aged cheeses can last longer at room temperature safely, but the exact time varies. Some cheeses that are made with pasteurized milk and sufficiently aged can be safely stored outside of the refrigerator for a long time.
However, to maintain their shelf life, don't keep them at room temperature any longer than necessary. If you find any mold, cut away a 1.5 to 2-inch area around the mold.
If you notice that the cheese is starting to "sweat" or show oily droplets on the outside, you may want to toss it. This doesn't necessarily mean that the cheese is unsafe to eat. However, you will find that the taste and texture start to go off once this happens.
Why Serve Goat Cheese at Room Temperature?
Now we know a little bit more about how to serve goat cheese and how to get it to room temperature, but you may wonder why even bother. Couldn't you just serve your goat cheese right out of the fridge?
The answer is that you can, of course, enjoy goat cheese, or really any other cheese, right out of the refrigerator. However, most find that room-temperature cheese has a nicer flavor and texture than fridge-cold cheese. Why is this?
The answer largely has to do with fat. Most cheese, goat cheese included, contains a lot of fat. While that may worry you when it comes to the calorie count, the fat is what delivers much of different cheeses' unique flavors.
When the fat in cheese is cold, it's more solid, but as it warms up, it becomes softer. This is why room-temperature goat cheese is creamier than the cold stuff, but it also affects the flavor.
More aromatic compounds are released from the fats in the cheese at room temperature. This means that you will smell the cheese more clearly. More aroma means more flavor as you take a taste.
Temperature and Taste
The effect isn't just with the cheese itself, though. The way our taste buds sense and communicate taste is also very temperature dependent. Research has shown that proteins involved in taste perception increase in activation as temperatures approach body heat. In fact, the right heat can even trick your tongue into tasting different flavors.
You have probably experienced this yourself. If you've ever taken a bite of fridge-cold leftovers, you may have noticed they taste bland compared to their former flavorful glory.
You can also test this yourself by leaving some cheese in the fridge and bringing the rest to room temperature. Then taste both cheeses side-by-side. Notice how much more flavorful the room-temperature cheese is?
This isn't just a gastronomic issue, either. Good goat cheese isn't cheap, so you can maximize your flavor per dollar by serving it at room temperature.
Serving Goat Cheese Hot
So far, we've talked about the merits of serving your goat cheese at room temperature instead of fridge-cold. But those aren't the only options. What if you want to serve your goat cheese hot?
Goat cheese is a great choice for many hot preparations! Most goat cheese doesn't melt as it gets hot, but it can get a lovely golden brown. This makes it a good choice for preparations where you want to maintain the form factor of your cheese when serving it.
Let's look at some great ways to enjoy your goat cheese hot.
Baked Goat Cheese Dip
A cheese board with a log of goat cheese is a fine thing, but if you want to mix it up a bit, why not try this baked goat cheese dip from Fool Proof Living?
Goat cheese is combined with parmesan, cream cheese, olive oil, and pepper, then baked till lightly browned and topped with chives. The result is a warm, flavorful dip that will be eaten up before you know it.
See how to whip up this simple recipe yourself in the video below:
Warm Goat Cheese Salad
You can crumble cold goat cheese into a salad, but if you want something really special, try this classic French salad from Recipe Tin Eats.
Goat cheese is breaded and pan-fried. It's then served with mixed greens, toasted nuts, bacon, tomato, and a lovely dijon-balsamic vinaigrette. Call it by its French name (salade de chêvre chaud) and feel yourself transported to a Parisian Bistrot.
Check out the video below to see how to make this restaurant-worthy salad at home:
Goat Cheese Pizza
There has been something of a renaissance of gourmet pizzas in recent years. Most top-tier pizzerias will have some kind of offering with goat cheese, and it's easy to see why. Salty, tangy goat cheese is an excellent pizza topping.
One thing to remember when making pizza with goat cheese is that it won't melt like mozzarella or provolone. That's why it's better to think of it as a topping than part of the cheese layer.
You can simply add some goat cheese to your favorite pizza, but you can go for some classic pairings as well. Carmelized onions, prosciutto, figs, balsamic glaze, and arugula are classic accompanists for goat cheese pizza. You can also experiment and find what combinations best set your taste buds ablaze.
Goat Cheese Quiche
A favorite among brunch-goers, quiche is a great option for any (and every) meal of the day. It's also a great way to feature goat cheese, slices of which turn into beautiful carmelized discs crowning the top of the quiche custard.
Just like with pizza, goat cheese pairs very nicely with carmelized onions in quiche for a classic French approach. You can also pair it with other great flavors, such as spinach and sun-dried tomatoes in this recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction.
Goat cheese is a funky, fresh way to mix up your favorite cheese spread as long as you know how to serve it. Because of chemistry and biology, room-temperature cheese will have a nicer texture and flavor than the same cheese when cold.
We also saw a number of excellent recipes that include hot goat cheese when you need a little variety to spice up your life.
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