Sbrinz is a very hard cheese produced in Central Switzerland. It is often used as grated cheese in Swiss cuisine, although it is also eaten in small pieces. The cheese is produced in only 42 dairies in Central Switzerland. Only local cow's milk is used when producing this cheese. It is kept in the region until ready for consumption. It is the hardest of Swiss cheeses together with Berner Hobelkäse.

Country of originSwitzerland
RegionCentral Switzerland
Texturehard and very hard
Fat content45%
Aging time24 to 30 months
CertificationAOC and AOP
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Sbrinz probably got its name from the town of Brienz in the Bernese Oberland. In the 16th and 17th centuries, there was a collecting point for both cheeses from the Oberland and Central Switzerland. Most of the cheese was then transported from there across the Alps. Customers in northern Italy soon named the cheese "Sbrinz" after this place. The term then also became common in Switzerland. A second explanation is based on the adoption of the Lombard dialect word "sbrinzo", a term for hard cheese.[1]


Sbrinz is an extra hard full fat cheese. It contains approximately 40% to 45% of fat when dry. The cheese must ripen for 16 months before it can be sold as Sbrinz, and the full flavour only develops after about 24–30 months in storage.[2]


Sbrinz is one of the oldest European cheeses. The Celtic ancestors of the Swiss were making cheese centuries before the birth of Christ.[3] This cheese may have been an ancestor to modern Sbrinz. In the first century AD, Roman writer Columella (or Pliny the Elder) mentions in his writings Caseus Helveticus, which is probably Sbrinz.[4][5] Other sources claim that the cheese is mentioned in contracts dated around 1200. It seems certain, however, that it is mentioned in documents dating from 1530, which are kept in the state archive in Bern.[6]

Starting in 2001, Sbrinz was granted an appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) certification. The AOC provides specifications for the origin of the milk and the processes that must be followed in order for the cheese to labeled as Sbrinz. In 2013, this was replaced by the appellation d'origine protégée (AOP) certification.

Muleteers on the Via Sbrinz, a former trade route between Central Switzerland and Italy.[7]


A 5-year-old Sbrinz

Sbrinz is commonly consumed in several ways; it can be used grated, such as on pasta. It can be eaten in small pieces, often to accompany wine. Traditionally, Sbrinz is never cut, but grated, broken with a special cutter or planed. It is also eaten in thin slices planed from the hard cheese. Sbrinz is often simply enjoyed with bread and butter.

See also


  1. "Sbrinz (AOP)". Culinary Heritage of Switzerland. Retrieved 30 January 2023.
  2. Sbrinz in the online Culinary Heritage of Switzerland database.
  3. Weinzweig, Art; Judy Ridgway (2004). The Cheese Companion: The Connoisseur's Guide. Running Press. p. 16. ISBN 0-7624-1956-3.
  4. Papademas, Photis; Bintsis, Thomas (2017). Global Cheesemaking Technology: Cheese Quality and Characteristics. John Wiley & Sons. p. 190. The production of [Swiss] cheese was mentionned for the first time in the first century by Roman historian Pliny the Elder, who called the cheese Caseus Helveticus, the 'cheese of the Helvetians', one of the tribes living in Switzerland at the time.
  5. Layton, Thomas Arthur (1973). The Cheese Handbook: Over 250 Varieties Described, with Recipes. Courier Dover Publications. p. 130. the caseus helveticus mentioned by Columella was probably a Sbrinz
  6. Roth, Alfred G. (1993). "Der Sbrinz" und die verwandten Bergkäse der Schweiz. Burgdorf: ED Emmentaller Druck. p. 2. OCLC 884417427. Archived from the original on 29 August 2010.
  7. "ViaSbrinz". Switzerland Mobility. Retrieved 30 January 2023. In the late Middle Ages, the «Sbrinz» hard cheese became a top Inner Switzerland export at the markets of Northern Italy. Not least because the mule track over the Grimsel and Gries Passes became a well- developed trade route.
  • Official page – in German, French, Italian and English.
  • Sbrinz in the online Culinary Heritage of Switzerland database.
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