Monterey jack cheese is a creamy, American semi-hard cow’s milk cheese with a mild flavor. It is available in block or shredded form. The best way to use Monterey jack cheese is to pair it with strong flavors like spicy Mexican dishes, casseroles, or recipes that use hot peppers, like jalapenos or chipotles. Its mild flavor and semi-hard texture make it a great snacking cheese when paired with crackers, sausage, or other sharper cheese.
As Monterey jack cheese melts well and has such a mild flavor, it is commonly used in recipes like quesadillas, fajitas, and enchiladas. It also makes great burritos and Mexican pizza. The cheese works well in recipes that require a creamy cheese texture, and it mixes well with other mild- to medium-flavor cheeses.
Its mildness does not compete with other strong flavors, like spices commonly used in Mexican recipes. Monterey jack cheese also complements spicy sausage and chorizo. One of the tastiest ways to use jack cheese is in a recipe that combines jack cheese with spicy sausage and a touch of sweetness, like fruity raspberry sauce or sweet carmelized onions.
Monterey jack’s superior melting makes it a good addition to creamy casseroles, especially macaroni and cheese or egg-based casseroles. Other dishes that benefit from this creamy melting cheese include soups, sauces, and fondues. Jack cheese makes a delicious omelet or melted cheese sandwich, especially when paired with lettuce, tomato, and bacon slices or other vegetables.
Manufacturers have recognized the benefits of Monterey jack cheese and have responded by making it available in a variety of different forms. Shredded jack cheese makes a convenient addition to tacos or nachos. It is frequently sold in shredded Mexican-style blends along with cheddar and Colby cheeses.
Combined with jalapeno peppers, Monterey jack cheese is sold as pepper jack cheese. It may also be combined with colby as colby jack or co-jack cheese. Dry jack is aged longer and has sharper flavor. It can be grated and used as a substitute for Parmesan cheese. It has a longer shelf life than Monterey jack but can be difficult to find.
The best way to store jack cheese is in the warmest part of the refrigerator, typically the door. This cheese does not have a very long shelf life, with the exception of dry jack, and is best used within two weeks of purchase. Shredded varieties may not have as long a shelf life as block varieties.