With its rich and buttery flavor, it is unsurprising that brie was a favorite of royalty, had poetry written about it and was once crowned the ‘King of Cheeses’! A slice of brie served with fresh fruit makes an ideal afternoon snack or a whole brie round will add style to any cheeseboard.In this article we take a look at the role of brie cheese in French history and how it became known as the ‘King of Cheeses’. We also take an in-depth look at brie and the difference between a traditional French brie cheese, an imported French brie and a domestic brie cheese. We also consider its nutritional content and we review a selection of the best brie cheese so you can choose the right brie for you – whether for your indulgence or for entertaining.
The Eiffel Tower French brie is our creamy and buttery French style best pick of brie cheese.
The Dairy Food brie wheel cheese wedges are our budget friendly brie-flavored spread made with natural cheese, cream and milk.
Quick Comparison: Top 9 Best Brie Cheese for Crackers
1. Eiffel Tower French Brie
Made with pasteurized milk, the Eiffel Tower French brie is shipped as a 2.2 lb. round complete with rind. This creamy and buttery tasting brie cheese is shipped insulated to maintain its freshness. This is actually a French style brie imported from Canada, rather than from France - which not all buyers have been aware of.As a whole round, it may not leave long for you to eat it before it ripens too much for some tastes. This is shipped insulated and expedited to minimize spoilage risk which also adds to its cost.
2. Dairy Food Brie Wheel Cheese Wedges
The Dairy Food brie wheel cheese wedges are six individually wrapped 4.3 oz wedges of brie flavored cheese spread. Some buyers have been disappointed on receiving this to find it is a brie flavor spread rather than brie as unfortunately, the labelling may not be the clearest.However, as a budget brie alternative, this shelf stable spread is made with natural cheese as well as with cream, whey, milk and salt. It also contains gums and lacks the outer rind which a true brie cheese has.
3. Eiffel Tower Canadian Baby Brie
The Eiffel Tower baby brie is a classic pasteurized French brie made in Canada. This is a whole 7 oz round certified kosher and best eaten within seven days of delivery. A small number of buyers have found that fullness of flavor can be lacking and as it is shipped insulated to keep it at its best, this does add to the overall cost.
4. Notre Dame French Baby Brie
The 7 oz round of Notre Dame French baby brie has been imported from the Normandy region of France. This pasteurized and creamy brie cheese is shipped insulated to keep it at its best and it is recommended that it be enjoyed within seven days of delivery. Some buyers consider that this brie lacks flavor and as a European imported brie, it costs considerably more than a domestic brie cheese.
5. La Bonne Vie Brie
The 2 lb. round of La Bonne Vie brie has been made in the US to a traditional French recipe from cow’s milk. This pasteurized brie cheese has a creamy and buttery taste and is best enjoyed within two weeks of delivery.Shipped insulated, this does add to the overall cost and a small number of buyers found it lacked flavor.
6. Woolwich Triple Creme Goat Brie
The Triple Crème goat brie cheese has more of a grassy flavor and sweetness to it than a traditional cow’s milk brie and as a triple-crème has a richer texture. This goat brie is also suitable for vegetarians as well as those unable to digest cow’s milk. Coming as a 6.5 oz round, this brie is shipped on insulation to keep it fresh. As a goat’s cheese this will be more pungent than a traditional brie cheese and its flavor will not be liked by all. As a triple cream cheese, it is also higher in fat than a typical double cream brie.
7. Isigny French Cheese Brie 'Mon Sire'
Imported from France, the Mon Sire French Brie comes as a whole 2.2 lb. round. Shipped expedited and overnight, this creamy brie cheese has been made by a small cooperative located near the Jura Mountains in eastern France. This is a supple, creamy and flavorful brie with a traditional moldy rind. It costs more than domestic brie cheese and it is imported and there are extra shipping costs as it is shipped overnight and on ice.
8. President Precious Plain Brie Soft Ripened Cheese
The six case pack of 8 oz. rounds of Président brie is kosher and made with just pasteurized cow’s milk, cheese cultures, salt and enzymes. This brie cheese is made in the US in the French tradition and has a soft, creamy and mild taste. Some buyers consider the brie and its rind is a little on the hard side, so you may want to allow it to ripen a little more before eating and as more of an ‘everyday’ brie cheese it may not be as suitable for cheeseboards or more formal requirements.
9. Belletoile Triple Cream French Brie Cheese
The Belletoile triple cream French brie has been made in France from pasteurized cow’s milk and hormone-free cream. As a triple cream cheese, this is a richer and higher butterfat content brie and it is free from any preservatives, colors and artificial flavors.Coming as a larger 4.4 lb. round, this brie will be better suited for entertaining as like any brie it is best enjoyed within two weeks or so of delivery. Shipping will also cost extra as this is shipped expedited and insulated. This brie cheese may also arrive on the firmer side so may need ripening before consuming.
Things to Consider Before Buying Brie Cheese
Brie can be made in many countries and our domestic and imported brie can be made with whole or skim pasteurized milk. Brie, like camembert is a soft-ripened cheese with an off-white color. Its center can be chalky and white when the cheese is still quite young. This farmhouse cheese is creamy and mellow with an edible rind which is covered with a scant white down which can also be dotted with reddish spots if the brie has been matured for a long time.
A traditional French brie cheese is also known as a fromages au lait cru or raw milk cheese.
Best served at room temperature, brie cheese is often eaten with baguette or crackers and can be served on a cheeseboard and accompanied by fruits such as fresh figs, strawberries, pears, cherries, apricots, blueberries and apples. It also goes well with meats such as beef, ham and sausage as well as nuts and champagne. A brie can also be baked in the oven as is, or as a Brie en croute; wrapped in pastry.
Unlike a number of European regional cheeses, brie is not a protected name, but a Brie de Meaux, considered the finest brie, is made where it originated - Seine-et-Marne, near Paris. Today’s Brie de Meaux is still artisan-produced made in area along the eastern Paris Basin. In 1980, Brie de Meaux was given the Appellation of Origin which specifies the geographical area in which Brie de Meaux can be produced as well as the traditional standards of making, maturing and presenting the brie. Brie de Meaux also received a Protected Designation of Origin (AOP) in 1996 and the Interprofessional Union of Brie de Meaux continues to develop standards and skills in the production of Brie de Meaux.
Other types of French brie cheese include Brie de Melun and Brie de Montereau. There are also more modern brie cheeses such as those coated with peppers, nuts or herbs and blue brie - a cross of bleu cheese and brie. Bleu brie has a lighter flavor than a traditional blue cheese and is becoming popular with those who are not as keen on the full flavor of a traditional blue.
To make brie cheese, enzymes and rennet is added to milk to help it coagulate and curdle, A culture is also added to develop the rind. Once the curd is formed, it can be cut and placed into molds and excess whey drained. The brie is then brined to regulate acidity and prevent excess mold growth. It takes around four to five weeks for it to be fully ripe. The flavor of the brie will depend on what ingredients have been added when it has been made.
A pasteurized brie is inoculated to grow the mold and the pasteurized brie will take between one and three months to ripen. When a brie is ripened, the center of the cheese will be soft and oozing.
The brie rind is sometimes considered a delicacy as it is sweet and soft although it is actually a mold (Penicillium candidum) growth. Because the rind is live, it is able to break down the protein and the fat of the brie changing its consistency to a runnier texture as it ages.
A brie is a type of double cream cheese. This means it has a butterfat content of between 60 and 75%. A triple-crème or triple cream cheese is one which includes the amount of milk that you would use in a double cream cheese plus an extra portion of cream. This increases the butterfat content to 75% or more. A triple cream cheese is not only richer in flavor, but its buttery flavor will also shine through. Both double and triple cream cheeses are bloomy-rind cheeses; as are other cheeses such as camembert and certain goat’s and sheep’s milk cheeses.
The Difference Between French and Domestic Brie
A traditional French brie cheese is made from unpasteurized cow’s milk which is why it cannot be imported into the US. If a brie was allowed to age for the 60 days necessary for an aged cheese to be imported, this would make the brie over-ripe for consumption. Imported French brie available in the US has been stabilized which means it has a longer shelf life and it is not susceptible to infection by bacteria. There are also a small number of artisan manufacturers in the US who are now producing soft cheeses such as brie from unpasteurized milk.
Royalty, Revolution and ‘Le Roj de Fromages’!
First made by the monks of the Priory of Rueil en Brie in the Middle Ages, Brie de Meaux came to the attention of Emperor Charlemagne when he stopped at the Priory in 774. Upon tasting the Brie de Meaux, Charlemagne was that impressed with its rich and creamy flavor, he asked for it to be regularly delivered to his castle in Aachen.
King Phillipe-Auguste was also a fan of brie, so much so that in 1217, he sent 200 rounds of Brie de Meaux to all of his court members as New Year gifts.
The French satirical poet Eustache Deschamps, who was also a diplomatic messenger travelling through Europe on behalf of Charles V, once said that ‘Brie de Meaux is the only good thing to come out of this country.’
It was not just French royalty who enjoyed Brie de Meaux; King Henry IV discovered Brie when served it by Queen Margot at the old castle of Meaux in 1594. It was said that after this Henry IV would always enjoy brie with his wife rather than his favored mistress of the time!
After Duke D’Enghien led French troops to victory against the Spanish army at the Battle of Rocroi in 1643 – one of the later battles of the Thirty Years War (1618 to 1648) - he celebrated the victory by bringing brie to the after-battle banquet.
Louis XVI was said to have been executed because of brie! During the French Revolution he was captured at Varennes where he had lost precious time stopping to eat a Brie de Meaux pancake with red wine while fleeing Paris on his way to Austria. Legend also has it that Louis XVI’s last and dying wish before he was executed in January 1792 was for a final taste of Brie de Meaux.
Brie cheese was also popular during the Revolution, one revolutionary at the time commented that ‘the Brie loved by the rich and the poor, preached equality before anyone dreamed it possible’.
In 1815, when Ambassadors from over 30 nations met at the Congress of Vienna to divide up countries after the Napoleonic Wars, the French diplomat Talleyrand called for a break from the business of the Congress to stage a cheese contest! Over 60 illustrious cheeses such as Strachino from Italy, Stilton from England and Gruyere from Switzerland were brought to the contest. The Brie de Meaux was left until last and afterwards the members praised French gastronomy, voted for the Brie de Meaux and declared it ‘Le Roj de Fromages’ or ‘King of Cheeses’.
The poet Verfele even wrote a poem about Brie de Meaux in 1825, celebrating brie and how it is best eaten with Epernay wine!
Storing Brie Cheese
Brie is best kept in its original packaging in the refrigerator until ready to eat. It can then be left out on the countertop for an hour or so as this will allow it to develop its best flavor and texture as it warms up to room temperature. If you need to ‘ripen’ a brie cheese more before consuming; then it can be left out on the countertop for longer as this will speed up ripening.
Once you have cut into a brie round, you should usually use it within five days or as advised by the producer as its quality begins to decline once cut.
A brie which has a pinkish or ammonia color should not be consumed and if brie develops a mold spot on it, it should be disposed of as unlike hard cheeses where we can just slice it away, mold growth on a soft cheese will affect the whole piece.
Nutrition in A Potion of Brie Cheese
A one ounce portion of brie cheese will provide 7.9 grams of fat and over half of this is saturated. As well as it being high in saturated fat, it is also higher in sodium, containing around 8% of our recommended sodium intake. The piece will also provide 94.9 calories and as a protein source contains 5.9 grams of protein.
Brie cheese is source of vitamin B12, containing just under 9% of our daily requirement of B12 and contains just under 8% of vitamin B2 (riboflavin). It is also a source of calcium, phosphorous and selenium; giving us 5% of our daily requirements.
In this article we have looked at how brie cheese is made and the differences between French produced and domestic brie cheeses. We have also explored the role that brie has played in French history and have offered some ideas for some of the many ways to enjoy brie cheese and how to store it so that it keeps at its best.Whether you are looking for brie cheese for your cheeseboard, to add some flavor to your sandwich or for the central spot on a cheeseboard, we trust that our reviews of the best brie cheese have helped you to choose the right buttery brie for you.