Gruyère (pronounced “groo-YAIR”) is a smooth-melting type of Swiss cheese that’s made from whole cow’s milk and generally cured for six months or longer. Gruyère is a great table cheese, a term that refers to any cheese that can be eaten in slices, like on a sandwich or as part of a cheese platter. It also happens to be an excellent melting cheese, which is why Gruyère is one of the two main cheeses (Emmental is the other one) used in preparing the traditional fondue recipe. It’s also (again, sometimes combined with Emmental, sometimes not) the cheese used to make the croque monsieur, that classic French grilled cheese sandwich that is a staple of Parisian bistros everywhere.
Named for the town of Gruyères in Switzerland where it was originally made, Gruyère cheese is a firm cheese with a pale yellow color and a rich, creamy, slightly nutty taste. It features a few small holes, or “eyes”, characteristic of Swiss cheese, which are formed by gas bubbles released by the bacteria that are used in making the cheese. Gruyère has fewer eyes, and smaller ones, compared with other varieties of Swiss cheese.