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THE NORWEGIAN
CHEESE REVOLUTION

Brimi sæter in Jotunheimen .
Photo: Cathrine Dokken / HANEN.NO
Brimi sæter in Jotunheimen .
Photo: Cathrine Dokken / HANEN.NO

Do you wonder why some of the world's best cheeses are Norwegian?

Cheese from Tingvollost .
Photo: Hanne Stensvold / HANEN
Cheese from Tingvollost .
Photo: Hanne Stensvold / HANEN

The answer is grazing here …

Cow at Renndølsetra in Innerdalen .
Photo: Thomas Rasmus Skaug / VisitNorway.com
Cow at Renndølsetra in Innerdalen .
Photo: Thomas Rasmus Skaug / VisitNorway.com

… and it is processed here.

Dairy work at Renndølsetra, Northwest .
Photo: Thomas Rasmus Skaug / VisitNorway.com
Dairy work at Renndølsetra, Northwest .
Photo: Thomas Rasmus Skaug / VisitNorway.com

And the winner is ... Tingvollost!

Almost out of nowhere, “Kraftkar” from Tingvollost became the first Norwegian cheese to win the World Cheese Awards 2016. Who would have thought that a small Nordic country would achieve such a remark?

"The answer has three parts: The changes in the Norwegian farming traditions, the changes in the Norwegian taste palette and, last but not least, the fantastic raw materials", says Bernt Bucher-Johannessen.

He is a Norwegian author and cheese connoisseur who works as the general manager of HANEN, an organisation promoting the best of the Norwegian countryside. In his book "Osteglad", which roughly translates to "the love of cheese", Bucher-Johannessen and his co-authors take you through the national cheese adventure.

"Around the year 2000, Norwegian farmers were allowed by law to produce more products than the milk they delivered to the national dairy, including cheese from unpasteurised milk. For almost a century, this had not been common practice due to the fear of using unpasteurised milk", Bucher-Johannessen says.

"People were influenced by Europe and inspired to revive local cheesemaking traditions. This, combined with the pioneer spirit among Norwegian farmers, became the start of a cheese revolution", he explains.

“Kraftkar” cheese from Tingvollost, figs, walnuts, jam and crispbread. Near Kristiansund in Fjord Norway.
“Kraftkar” cheese from Tingvollost.
Photo: Hanne Stensvold

The cheese rookie

But why now? Before this shift, the Norwegians thought of cheese as something to use as topping on a slice of bread. This was reflected in the grocery stores, as they only had a rather dull selection of cheeses. But the national taste palette changed in line with the growing popularity of Central European cuisine.

"The different characteristics of taste were recognised as something extraordinary. Local food production also had a boost, which set the stage for local cheesemakers. Today, they are among the world's best."

From Finnmark in Northern Norway to Rogaland in Fjord Norway: More than 110 local cheesemakers produce both white and brown cheese in different shapes and sizes. Some deliver their cheese across the nation through grocery stores, while others have local shops and take part in regional farmers markets.

"If you step into a Norwegian supermarket today, the situation is entirely different. You'll find a large selection of Norwegian cheeses in the counters", Bucher-Johannessen says.

The great breakthrough

After the blue cheese “Kraftkar” won the World Cheese Award (WCA) in 2016, people really got a taste for Norwegian cheese. Since then, several of our cheesemakers have achieved top placements during the international competition. The Gouda-style "Fanaost" won WCA in 2018, while the brown cheese from Stordalen Gardsbruk won silver the same year.

You can try all of the award-winning creations in Norway – and many more! Some are soft and mild. Others really pack a punch. You can even find a broad selection of cheese spread.

The raw materials from Norwegian farms are some of the best. With the regional variations in taste, you can experience the different parts of the country by your taste buds.

World champions

In 2016, the Norwegian blue cheese “Kraftkar” from Tingvollost was the first Norwegian cheese to win the World Cheese Awards.

Two years later, the Gouda-style cheese “Fanaost” from the Ostegården farm won first place when the World Cheese Award was arranged in Bergen.

Tasty adventures with HANEN

HANEN is a Norwegian organization that promotes local food, activities in nature, and a good night’s sleep in peaceful surroundings. Several of HANEN’s members offer a varied selection of fruit and berry experiences. Many of them also have farm shops where you can see, taste, and buy local food and drinks to bring home.

Find more information about HANEN.

"Norwegian milk is unique, especially milk from cows that spend their summer holiday in the mountains and eat nutritious wild-growing grass. This milk is probably the most typical Norwegian there is", Bucher-Johannessen says.

A cow at Brimi Sæter .
Photo: Christian Roth Christensen / VisitNorway.com
A cow at Brimi Sæter .
Photo: Christian Roth Christensen / VisitNorway.com

In his opinion, cheese made with this milk is a must-try when you come to Norway.

"This milk is called 'stølsmelk', and it is more tasteful. It's also more yellow thanks to the content of beta carotene. That's the reason why Norwegian cheeses sometimes are referred to as 'yellow cheese'", he explains.

Visit a Norwegian cheese farm

To discover your favourite cheese, visit a local cheese producer, or ysteri as we say. You can, for example, pop by Hol Ysteri in Hallingdal, where they sell several award-winning cheeses from the region. Other ysteri with internationally acclaimed cheeses are Gangstad gårdsysteri and Tingvollost in Trøndelag. Last but not least, Avdemsbue in Lesja is well worth a visit – a part of the building even has the shape of a cheese!

A man standing behind the counter inside the cheese factory Hol Ysteri in Hallingdal, Eastern Norway
Hol ysteri in Hallingdal.
Photo: Christine Baglo

Norway also has several urban cheese producers. Check out Winther at Aker Brygge in Oslo or Stavanger Ysteri in the Stavanger region.

Several local farms also welcome visitors, so you can see, taste and learn about Norwegian cheese heritage. You can also enjoy fun farm activities and pet animals. If you fall in love with the cosy atmosphere, book a farm stay! Or at least bring home some treats from a farm shop.

If you come to Norway in summer, check out the mountain farms where you might be able to taste our beloved brown cheese.

Hot tip: check out Norsk Gardsost's interactive map, which shows local cheese farms and creameries in Norway.

What should you drink with cheese?

With the cheese revolution came the need for appropriate drinks to get the perfect taste. In Norway, there are long traditions for craft beer production. New microbreweries continue to enter the scene, and they are collecting international awards. Still, it's not only beer that goes well with cheese. The popular Norwegian cider is a great alternative.

Five glasses of cider in different colours at Ciderhuset Balholm in Sognefjord, Fjord Norway
Ciderhuset Balholm, Sognefjord.
Photo: David Zadig

“Sweetness is essential, regardless of what drink you choose. But when it comes to Norwegian beer or cider, it is just as good as white wine,” Bernt Bucher-Johannessen says.

He does have one warning though.

“Stay away from drinks containing a lot of acids when eating blue cheese. If not, it might turn into a bad experience”, he concludes.


Go on a culinary journey through Norway with Vy express! Stay in some of Norway’s homely farms or in one of the luxurious manor houses.

World champions

In 2016, the Norwegian blue cheese “Kraftkar” from Tingvollost was the first Norwegian cheese to win the World Cheese Awards.

Two years later, the Gouda-style cheese “Fanaost” from the Ostegården farm won first place when the World Cheese Award was arranged in Bergen.

Tasty adventures with HANEN

HANEN is a Norwegian organization that promotes local food, activities in nature, and a good night’s sleep in peaceful surroundings. Several of HANEN’s members offer a varied selection of fruit and berry experiences. Many of them also have farm shops where you can see, taste, and buy local food and drinks to bring home.

Find more information about HANEN.

Did you know …

… that the original colour of white cheese was yellow because of the beta carotene in the milk?

… that Norway has two national cheese competitions?

… that the cheese slicer was invented by the Norwegian carpenter Thor Bjørklund in 1925?

Try Norwegian cheese

Farms that produce and sell cheese
Scroll to see all the farms.
Programme about local traditions, pasture farming and goat cheese production. Music, guiding, demonstrations. PROGRAM: 20 min. In words and music… Read more
Eldhuset - House og cheese
In the mountain village of Heidal, at the gates of Jotunheimen, Heidal Ysteri makes the traditional Heidal cheese and good oldfashioned «rømmegraut»,… Read more
Heidal Ysteri
At Brimi seter we offer unique experiences by serving self produced food at the barn loft. You will get to know the farmyard and its history, and see… Read more
Welcome to Brimi seter mountain farm
Visit a diary factory that makes tasty cheese at a local farm. Read more
Rueslåtten Ysteri - Local cheese maker
The beautiful Herdalssetra summer farm lies 520 metres above sea level up from the village of Norddal and is within the UNESCO World Heritage… Read more
Herdalssetra
Prestholt Geitost is located at Prestholt 1242 msl, one of the mountain farms in Norway with the highest latitude. Prestholt Geitost makes… Read more
Hol Cheese Factory / Prestholt Goat Cheese
Bergstaul Seter is a mountain farm, situated by road 37, approx. 12 km west from Rjukan centre. The farm is mostly known for having the second best… Read more
Bergstaulen Seter
Open summer farm 2020:  Wednesdays in July from 12 am–5 pm. Important! Visits on appointment only. Message or telephone to… Read more
Olestølen Mikroysteri
Skjerdal Stølsysteri and Cafè Skjerdal Stølsysteri and Cafè is a modern summerfarm where we keep our goats in… Read more
Skjerdal Stølsysteri and Cafè
Local quality cheese produced in Flendalen in Trysil since 2003. Dairy with small farm shop. Read more
Bryn Gardsmeieri
Explore the farm at Tingvollost, meet the animals, visit the farmshop and listen to the story behind Kraftkar, Saghaug gard… Read more
Explore Tingvollost
-Award-winning cheese and ice cream! Gangstad Gårdsysteri is ideally located in beutiful surroundings in Sandvollan in Inderøy and is one… Read more
Gangstad Gårdsysteri - farm cheese dairy
Avdemsbue is an old grocery shop, originally from 1878. They offer locally produced food as well as products from all over Norway. Read more
Avdemsbue
Brimi sæter is a dairy and mountain farm that offers a unique experience with self-produced food by the lake Tesse. Read more
Brimi Seter | Farm Shop
The Rueslåtten family have their own cheese factory and produce cheese, which tastes like heaven. Their cows are outside the whole summer in… Read more
Rueslåtten Ysteri
Gammel Erik cheese factory started as a trial project in Carlos Helguera’s kitchen in 2000 with 12 cheese moulds and a homemade cheese press. It… Read more
Gammel Erik Cheesemaker
Welcome to a pleasant trade and chat in our farm shop. Read more
Farm shop and cafe on Aalan Gård
The local cheese dairy of Hemsedal Read more
Himmelspannet
In the Bergsjø area you can visit the summer farm Geitevass and the family Rueslåtten. Here you can meet the animals and buy local products produced… Read more
Geitevasstølen
Welcome to Setra goatfarm in Haugsjåsund, Telemark. Read more
Setane gardsysteri
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