Discover the top 5 Armenian cheeses you must try

Discover the top 5 Armenian cheeses you must try




Say Cheese! 


Let’s make an Armenian cheese board to pair with delicious local wine. 


What would you find on the board? You’re not going to see your usual cheddar or gouda… Armenian cheeses are distinctive and reflect the environment, landscape and history of the country. From “chechil” to “horats” cheese, your taste buds are in for a ride.


The pride of Shirak region 


“Chechil” cheese is dry and stringy, and many people enjoy it best when it’s already green with edible mold! It certainly doesn’t sound very appetizing, but this delicious cheese has its set of loyal fans. Famous in the Shirak region and listed as an intangible cultural heritage of Armenia, chechil is traditionally crafted at home from July to September. The process involves making the cheese from filtered milk, adding sour whey, stretching it around a stick, salting, and maturing it for months. Don’t visit Gyumri without trying it straight, in a “brduj” (rolled up in lavash) or in its most popular form: “panrkhash,” a cheesy comfort food made from layers of chechil, dried lavash, and buttery sauteed onion softened with boiled water.


Buried cheese 


Few people have mastered the art of preparing “horats” panir, a 5,000 year old technique that is in danger of dying out. This goat’s milk cheese is crafted over the course of three months. After mixing the milk with rennet and preserving the cheese in brine, it is hand-crumbled, infused with herbs and stuffed into special terracotta pots. The last step is the most unexpected: the pots are placed over wood ash to remove excess moisture. That’s where the name comes from; “horats” means “buried” in Armenian. You’ll find this cheese in Armenia’s Vayots Dzor region. 


Homemade sheep’s milk cheese 


As a hiker, your day is made when you stumble across villagers or nomadic Yezedi farmers making motal in the mountains. This simple, creamy and delicious cheese is made from goat’s or sheep’s milk. Combine fresh warm milk (straight from the goat!) with calf rennet. 




You’ll frequently find salty chanakh gracing the breakfast, lunch or dinner table as an accompaniment to meals. This popular cheese is white in colour, mild-flavoured in taste and brittle in texture with little “eyes” or holes. Since it’s stored in brine, it’s salty, so you can soak it in fresh water if needed.




Lori is a light yellow, firm cheese with a cheddar-like texture, and small eyes or holes.  It melts well and is a delicious addition to sandwiches or pasta. Lori’s curd is heated twice, which makes it creamier than Chanakh. Legend has it that this cheese was named after Armenia’s Lori region, which is known for its lush pastures and grazing land for cows. 


Where to try a cheese board? 


There’s no better place to try a cheese board than the locally owned and family-run Mikayelyan farm! Just south of Lake Sevan in the town of Gavar, the Mikayelyans own a boutique, rural cheese-tasting room. Here, the cheeses are paired with local fruit jams, honeys, fruits and breads. Another great option to check out is Art Cheese in Yelpin, a village in Vayots Dzor, Armenia’s most famous wine-making region! There you can try delicious cheeses paired with local wines. 


Many wine-tasting rooms located on Yerevan’s Saryan Street and wineries in the Armenian countryside also serve delicious cheese platters with their local wines (which you can learn more about here - link to wine article). 


What other dairy products might you find on an Armenian table? 


  • Matsoun - The closest translation is “yogurt,” but matsoun is made with different lactic acid bacteria, so it’s not actually the same. Armenians usually eat matsoun with savoury dishes such as dolma or in a popular soup called “spas.” 
  • Tan - This is drinkable matsoun, thinned with water and sometimes mixed with chopped cucumber and herbs! It’s a popular and refreshing beverage in the hot summer months. 
  • Rezhan - Often served with herbs and lavash bread, rezhan is a type of cream. It’s on its way to becoming butter, but slightly under-churned, giving it a honey-like consistency.
  • Ttvaser - This is delicious, home-made sour cream. 
  • Tvorak - This cottage cheese sets itself apart from the curdled version you might be accustomed to. It boasts a drier texture, achieved by pouring fresh milk over soured milk through cheesecloth. This ingenious process not only salvages soured milk but also allows farmers to make the most of their resources without any waste.


Are your taste buds watering yet? 

Published on February 27, 2024