Monterey Jack Vs. Pepper Jack Cheese

There are so many types and varieties of cheese out there, with many sharing similar names, appearances, and more. So it can be confusing when trying to understand the differences. This article will explore the important things you should know when comparing Monterey Jack Vs. Pepper Jack Cheese.

What Is Monterey Jack Cheese?

Monterey Jack Cheese was first made by Mexican Franciscan friars (monks) of Monterey, California, in the 1700s.

It is a semi-hard cheese with a smooth buttery texture. It’s got a mild creamy flavor with a good melting ability, making this cheese perfect for grilled cheeses, topping over soups, and much more.

Monterey Jack is mostly a yellow cheese, sometimes appearing milky white like some of its variants. Of which there are both the Dry Jack (aged) and Pepper Jack (spiced) varieties. It’s popular in American and Mexican cuisine but also works well in English dishes as it is often compared to cheddar cheese.

It sometimes has a rind, but it’s less common nowadays than it used to be.

What Is Pepper Jack Cheese?

Pepper Jack Cheese

Pepper Jack Cheese was created as a variety of Monterey Jack Cheese. Pepper Jack contains several ingredients, including peppers such as jalapeños, garlic, rosemary, and sometimes other chili peppers.

With a semi-soft texture that becomes more crumbly and dry with age, pepper jack is known to taste sharper and more intense as it matures.

It’s milky white with visible chunks of peppers that can appear brown to red in color. Pepper Jack Cheese also melts easily, making it suitable for numerous dishes and recipes.

You can serve it with burgers, pizzas, subs, salads, and more.

What’s The Difference Between Monterey Jack and Pepper Jack Cheese?

Monterey JackPepper Jack
Made with pasteurized cow’s milk.Made with pasteurized cow’s milk.
Monterey Jack Cheese.Monterey Jack Cheese.
Best for toasted sandwiches, salads, soups, and similar.Best for toasted sandwiches, burgers, salads, cheese platters, and similar.
Tastes buttery and mild.Tastes sharp and spicy.
Creamy and supple.Creamy and smooth texture.
Pale yellow to creamy white.Looks creamy white with noticeable chunks of peppers.

You now know that Monterey Jack cheese is an American cheese that originated in California. You also know that Pepper Jack cheese is a variety of Monterey Jack.

Both kinds of cheese have a similar creamy texture and appearance, and both are made from cow’s milk, meaning they’re not vegan-friendly or lactose-free.

Monterey Jack has a higher moisture content, making it a moderately better melting cheese. Its mild flavor works great for dishes where you don’t want the taste to overwhelm the rest of the dish, which can happen with Pepper Jack because of the spiciness.

  • Type: Monterey Jack is a semi-hard cheese, while Pepper Jack is semi-soft.
  • Appearance: Monterey Jack is a pale yellow to cream white, but Pepper Jack cheese is cream-white with peppers adding texture and additional color.
  • Taste and texture: Both cheeses are creamy to buttery in texture, but Monterey Jack has a mild taste while Pepper Jack is sharp and spicy.
  • Culinary uses: You can use both of these cheeses for melting over cooked meats, in soups, and more. They both also work in salads, antipasto & cheese platters. However, Pepper Jack is spicy, so it isn’t as versatile as Monterey Jack which is similar to cheddar in how you can use it for almost any situation.


Monterey Jack is a popular American and Mexican cheese that you can use for various uses. It’s also a popular parent cheese that many other cheeses are made from, including Pepper Jack. So, while you’ve learned the important differences, you’ve also learned that Pepper Jack is actually a variety of Monterey Jack, which is all important when you love cheese!