Types of Sheep Milk Cheese

While cheese made with sheep or ewe’s milk may seem rare, some of the most famous and common cheeses fall into the category of sheep milk cheese, including feta, ricotta, and pecorino. They come in various degrees of firmness and sharp yet pleasant flavors, making them a general favorite to be served on cheese boards or with fruits and salads.

Sheep Milk Cheese

What’s Unique About Sheep Milk Cheese

Sheep’s milk contains considerably higher amounts of calcium and butterfat than cow and goat milk, providing more solid material for curdling and cheese production. In fact, it has almost twice as much butterfat as other milk sources, resulting in the characteristic creamy or buttery mouthfeel of sheep milk cheeses. It makes them a favorite to pair with bolder red wines like Bordeaux or Cabernet Sauvignon.

These high fat levels are also the reason behind the most distinctive feature of sheep milk cheese – they ‘sweat’ when brought to room temperature. It is because of the fat melting and precipitating as liquid globules.

The higher calcium content makes the milk less prone to contamination during the cheesemaking process. Find out about all the different cheeses made with sheep’s milk.

Most Recognized Types of Cheese Made With Sheep’s Milk

NameTexture & TasteCountry of OriginCalories/oz.How to Eat
PecorinoHard, crumbly, sharp, and saltyItaly~110 kcalWith figs and pears, grated over pasta and salads
ManchegoSemi-hard, buttery, nutty flavor with a tangy finishSpain~120 kcalWith membrillo (quince paste), almonds, grapes, and served on tapas and cheese boards
Pecorino RomanoHard; sharp, salty flavor; distinctive tanginessItaly~110 kcalGrated over pasta, soups, or salads
RoquefortSemi-soft blue cheese with a crumbly, creamy texture and robust, tangy flavorFrance100 kcalWith pears, walnuts, and honey or in salads and cheese platters
Pecorino ToscanoHard, sweet, nutty flavor with a hint of sharpnessItaly~110 kcalWith honey, grapes, and cured meats or grated over pasta and risotto
OscypekHard, smoky flavor with a hint of saltiness and nuttinessPoland~120 kcalServed grilled or pan-fried, it also pairs well with cranberries, cured meats, and dark bread
Pecorino SardoHard, slightly sweet, and nutty flavor with a sharp finishItaly~110 kcalWith honey, grapes, and cured meats or grated over pasta and risotto
Idiazabal CheeseSemi-hard, smoky, buttery flavor with a nutty undertoneSpain~120 kcalWith membrillo, nuts, and grapes, also added to cheese plates and sandwiches
BryndzaSoft, creamy with a tangy, slightly salty flavorSlovakia~100 kcalTraditionally spread on bread or used in Slovakian dishes (like bryndzové halušky)
P’tit BasqueSemi-hard, nutty, earthy flavor with hints of butterinessFrance~120 kcalWith apricots, nuts, crusty bread, and in cheese boards
PepatoHard, sharp, spicy flavor with added peppercornsItaly~110 kcalWith fruits like apples or pears, crackers, cured meats
Ossau-IratySemi-hard, smooth, creamy texture with a nutty, slightly sweet flavorFrance~120 kcalWith cherries, almonds, baguettes, and in cheese plates, and fondue
Torta del CasarSoft, creamy texture with a rich, earthy flavorSpain~100 kcalEnjoyed with crusty bread, membrillo, and grapes
Serra da Estrela CheeseSoft, creamy, buttery texture with a mild, slightly tangy flavorPortugal~110 kcalWith crusty bread, membrillo, and fruit jams
Zamorano CheeseHard, nutty, slightly sweet flavor with a sharp finishSpain~120 kcalWith honey, almonds, and olives, or in salads and pasta
Roncal CheeseHard, robust, nutty flavor with hints of fruitinessSpain~120 kcalWith membrillo, walnuts, and grapes or grated over various dishes
Pag CheeseSemi-hard, sweet, slightly tangy flavor with a hint of nuttinessCroatia120 kcalWith figs, olives, and almonds
EtorkiSemi-soft, smooth, buttery texture with a mild, slightly nutty flavorFrance~120 kcalWith dried fruits, nuts, and crusty bread, or in cheese boards
Lighvan CheeseHard; sharp, tangy flavor with a crumbly textureAzerbaijan~110 kcalWith lavash bread, honey, or dried fruits
BundzSemi-soft, creamy texture with a tangy, slightly salty flavorSlovakia~100 kcalTraditionally used in Slovakian dishes or spread on bread
Pecorino SicilianoHard, sharp, tangy flavor with a slightly sweet undertoneItaly~110 kcalWith honey, grapes, and cured meats, or in pasta or risotto
Abbaye de BellocSemi-hard, nutty, earthy flavor with a hint of sweetnessFrance~120 kcalWith apricots, walnuts, and crusty breads or in cheese boards
Abertam CheeseSemi-hard, creamy texture with a mild, slightly tangy flavorCzech Republic~120 kcalWith crackers, grapes, and dried fruits
Casu Marzu (Maggot Cheese)Soft, intense, pungent flavor with a hint of sweetness; contains live maggotsItalyN/A (banned in many countries, including the US)Traditionally consumed with Sardinian bread

List of Names of Some Other Sheep Cheese

Primarily Made With Sheep’s Milk

  • Bryndza Podhalańska
  • Šar Cheese
  • Casciotta D’urbino
  • Serpa Cheese
  • Cherni Vit
  • Kadchgall
  • Croglin
  • Crozier Blue
  • Beenleigh Blue Cheese
  • Fine Fettle Yorkshire
  • Kars Gravyer Cheese
  • La Serena Cheese
  • Lanark Blue
  • Pecorino Di Carmasciano
  • Brânză De Burduf
  • Duddleswell Cheese
  • Sussex Slipcote
  • Testouri
  • Wigmore Cheese
  • Xynotyro
  • Ġbejna
  • Cazelle De Saint Affrique
  • Parlick Fell Cheese
  • Pata De Mulo Cheese
  • Dolaz Cheese
  • Paddraccio
  • Wensleydale Cheese (Originally a sheep cheese, but nowadays made only with cow’s milk)

Made With a Combination of Sheep, Cow, and Goat Milk

The cheeses mentioned in the following list contain small to moderate amounts of sheep’s milk along with cow and/or goat’s milk.

  • Ricotta
  • Robiola
  • Manouri
  • Feta
  • Beyaz Peynir
  • Vlašić Cheese
  • Caciocavallo
  • Caciotta
  • Halloumi
  • Kashkaval
  • Sirene
  • Jibneh Arabieh
  • Cabrales Cheese
  • Corleggy Cheese
  • Picón Bejes-Tresviso
  • Van Herbed Cheese
  • Oštiepok
  • Telemea
  • Anari Cheese
  • Anthotyros
  • Brocciu
  • Caș
  • Castelo Branco Cheese
  • Graviera
  • Kasseri
  • Kefalograviera
  • Kefalotyri
  • Lavaş Cheese
  • Mihaliç Peyniri
  • Mizithra
  • Nabulsi Cheese
  • Saloio
  • Tzfat Cheese
  • Xynomizithra


Is there lactose in sheep milk cheese?

As a dairy product, sheep milk cheese contains lactose, but the levels are much lower than regular cow milk. The levels become even lower in ripened cheese types as aging gives the bacteria to break down more lactose molecules. People with allergies and lactose intolerance can enjoy small portions of aged sheep milk cheese.