10 Best Worst Cheese in the World

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Man Cutting Casu Marzu Cheese

Have you ever had some cheese that disgusted you when you first encountered it, but when you tasted it, you realized just how great it is? That is the exact definition of a “best worst cheese”! Some of these cheeses crawl with maggots.

There’s a distinct rotten foot odor to them. Some, on the other hand, have a putrid sock stench. Even if your stomach turns at the prospect of tasting it, they all have flavor profiles that make your tongue smile with pleasure… even if you don’t want to eat it.

Is it gross cheese that’s been sitting in its filth for a year? Or are they something extraordinary?

The Best Worst Cheese in the World

1) Casu Marzu

Casu Marzu Cheese Wheel

Of course, the first cheese on this list must be Casu Marzu, a Sardinian cheese that translates the Sardinian language as “rotten cheese.”

It is made from sheep’s milk and goes beyond the fermentation stage to the decomposition stage when consumed. It gets to this decomposition stage thanks to the purposeful introduction of insect larvae, namely the cheese fly.

The larvae eat the rotten cheese and break down the dairy product’s fats, increasing the cheese’s overall fermentation. The cheese is eaten when the maggots from the introduced insect eggs are actively crawling.

This is the only cheese of this kind. The flavor of the cheese is extremely sharp and can linger in your mouth for several hours.

Don’t worry – eating the cheese is generally considered unsafe if the maggots have died. However, if you’ve refrigerated the cheese, you can ingest it!

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2) Limburger

Limburger Cheese and Bread Slices

The only way to describe walking into a closet storing Limburger cheese is that it smells like you just stuck your nose into some liquid armpit sweat. This worst cheese originated in the Limburg area of Europe [hence the name of the cheese], now portions of the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium.

It isn’t the most popular cheese you’ll find in the United States – most of it comes from one cheese plant in Monroe, Wisconsin. Limburger ferments by having bacteria smeared on top of it. It’s the same bacteria you’ll find on your body, so this kind of cheese smells like a shower.

It looked and tasted like feta cheese when it was first made. After three months, however, the cheese becomes creamy and smelly. Mosquitoes are just as attracted to the cheese as they are to human feet! Enjoy!

3) Pule

Pule is a hard cheese to get your hands on. It’s so tricky that you’ll have to buy the milk to make it yourself! For some, that’s enough to throw in the cheesecloth [see what I did there?], but for avid home cooks, the challenge is on!

The real difficulty in Pule is the price – $1,700 per pound. Why? Because it’s made from donkey milk.

The cheese doesn’t taste bad if you ignore how much money you consume with each bite. It takes about 25 liters of donkey milk to make just two pounds of cheese, and then, just for added flavor, it is smoked.

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4) Epoisses de Bourgogne

Slice of Epoisses de Bourgogne

Said to be Napoleon’s favorite cheese, the stench of Epoisses de Bourgogne is so pungent that it has been banned from being transported publicly in private vehicles in France. It, too, is a smear-ripened cheese with a similar bacteria that you’ll find with Limburger.

The only difference? The cheese is also routinely washed in water and marc, a liquor that’s a side effect of winemaking and a bit like brandy.

In 6 weeks, you get a stunningly powerful cheese that reminds you of Uncle Fred’s contest with his co-worker about who could wear the same shirt to work the longest.

Over time, the cheese will even begin to smell like ammonia. That’s your signal to throw it away. It’s generally served with wine and crackers because it can get runny. I recommend grabbing a clothespin for your nose on this one!

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5) Milbenkäse

Milbenkäse Cheese Wheel
image by Benutzer: Dundak is marked under CC BY-SA 3.0

If you don’t mind body bacteria on your cheese and larvae are also acceptable, why not enjoy some food flavored with mite excrement? That’s what you’ll get with Milbenkäse, fermented by cheese mites. Even the start of the Milbenkäse making process sounds bad – it’s made from quark, essentially warmed-up milk that has already gone sour.

Mind you, not the sour cream kind of evil, but the “my toddler left a sippy cup full of milk under my bed for three days” kind of evil.

It is made exclusively in Germany in the village of Würchwitz, and at one point, four decades ago, only one person knew how to put the mites into the cheese so that they would ferment it by eating it and pooping it out.

To help you get around that “poopy” flavor component, caraway, salt, and rye are added to the quark during the making process. If there are still mites in the cheese, don’t worry – eating them, too, is traditional!

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6) Vieux Lille

Block of Vieux Lille Cheese

Last but not least, maybe the one cheese that requires the most discipline to eat. It’s a salty cheese that pairs very well with several dishes.

French food tradition has it that the French miners ate this cheese heartily every day at the bottom of the mine. Perhaps they ate it there because the mine could cover up the smell of the cheese!

Not many kinds of cheese qualify as “putrid,” but this one is the winner. Best of all [or worst of all], the smell gets stronger with age.

Pairing this cheese with either black coffee or some good beer makes for a good snack. And, if you happen to be a doomsday prepper, you might also want to keep one of your stored gas masks nearby just in case you get an older bit of cheese.

Do you have a “best worst” kind of cheese you love that didn’t make this list? Share your love with us below and explain why it is your favorite!

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7) Roquefort

Slice of Roquefort Cheese

Roquefort is a type of blue cheese that is made from raw sheep milk. It is produced in the south of France and is considered a very prestigious cheese for the French. Roquefort has been banned in Australia and New Zealand but is becoming more popular.

Roquefort is excellent but can also have a pungent smell to it. The reason it’s been banned is that the Sheep’s milk hasn’t been pasteurized. This means that there is a risk of contracting listeria, which can be fatal for some people. However, many people believe that the taste of Roquefort is worth the risk.

8) Cream cheese

Cream Cheese in a Bowl

Cream cheese is one of the strangest cheeses in the world. Americans can take cream cheese for granted because it’s a staple here, but like all dairy products, the quality and taste will vary depending on where you live.

The Philadelphia brand comes straight from Pennsylvania, which has some of the best pastures in America.

This cheese is strange and gross because it has many dairy additives and preservatives. It also doesn’t have a robust taste, so it’s often mixed with other ingredients to give it some flavor. This can make it quite unhealthy, but for some, it tastes great.

The worst cream cheese can be found in Eastern Europe, where cow’s milk is combined with sheep’s or goat’s milk to create a runny, sour mess.

9) Äppelmöcka

Äppelmöcka is a Swedish cheese that is known for its intense flavor. It is made from a mixture of cow’s milk and apple cider and has a crumbly texture. Although it is not the most popular cheese in the world, Äppelmöcka has a solid following among cheese lovers—those who like it like it and those who don’t usually find it too strong.

Here are ways that Äppelmöcka is typically served:

  • Serve it with fruit or crackers
  • Pair it with a fruity white wine
  • Shave it over a salad
  • Use it in place of Parmesan cheese in pasta dishes

10) American cheese

Wrapped American Cheese Slices
image by Steve Spring, aka Lazarus-long at en.Wikipedia

American cheese is disgusting because it has many dairy additives and preservatives. It also doesn’t have a robust taste, so it’s often mixed with other ingredients to give it some flavor. It’s quite harmful to some people, yet it may taste wonderful.

An example of this cheese is Kraft Singles, one of the most famous American cheeses. It’s made with dairy additives and preservatives, which gives it a bad reputation among health-conscious people. Also, it’s hardly even cheese after the point of production.

But, many people believe that it has excellent taste. The cheese has a plastic feel and is soft but not smooth like a spreadable creamy milk cheese.

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Final Thoughts

Different types of cheese
Alice Donovan Rouse / Unsplash

If you’re new to the world of cheese, then be sure to try some of the best and worst kinds of cheese out there. They may not be the most popular or prestigious, but they will give you a good idea of what different types of cheese taste like. And, who knows, you may even find a new favorite among them. Or open your eyes to new cultural norms.

These cheeses have something in common: they are all disgusting because they are made with many dairy additives and preservatives or use alternative aging methods.

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FAQ

What is the grossest cheese?

The most repulsive cheese of all time is Casu Marzu, literally translated as “maggot cheese.” This Sardinian specialty is made from pecorino cheese, a perfect maggot breeding ground.

What is the weirdest type of cheese?

Some types of cheese can be considered strange or unusual due to their texture, flavor, or appearance. The two most bizarre kinds of cheese are Äppelmöcka and Casu Marzu.

Äppelmöcka is a Swedish cheese that gets its name (which means “apple fly”) from its small flies that lay eggs in the curds. The larvae add a slightly sour taste to the cheese.

Meanwhile, Casu Marzu is a cheese in Sardinia that translates into maggot cheese, where the maggots are used to help fermentation and add a more intense flavor to the cheese. This cheese is so strange that it is illegal in the United States.

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Kyle Kroeger
WRITTEN BY

Kyle Kroeger

Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He's a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he'd heard.

Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he's learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.

He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time. Read more about his portfolio of work.

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