No great meal is complete without – you guessed it – cheese! From blue cheese to white cheddar, Iowa has it all. Here are some Iowa-based producers and shops where you can get your cheese fill. Taste your way across the state!
1. The Cheese Shop
Think cheese is just for appetizers? With menu items like a bacon and blue cheese toastie and gourmet mac & cheese, The Cheese Shop in Des Moines will have you thinking twice. This locally owned establishment specializes in artisanal cheeses and always carries a stock of Iowa goods.
2. Frisian Farms
From fresh, frothy milk being poured into large, shiny vats to oversized wheels of cheese ripening in the pleasantly cool aging room, visitors to Frisian Farms in Leighton will get to experience the entire artisanal cheese-making process. You’ll even get to do the best part – sample the farm’s mouthwatering cheeses, including their infamous Dutch gouda!
3. Honey Creek Creamery
This creamery's free-range goat cheese’s mild flavor is derived from the local Loess Hills vegetation and enhanced by fresh herbs. The creamery (located near its namesake town of Honey Creek) has three nationally award winning cheeses - Simply Pure Chevre, Little Italy and Cranberry Horseradish.
4. Milton Creamery
With deep Mennonite traditions and strong relationships with local Amish families, Milton Creamery mixes fresh ingredients, art and passion to create their signature cheeses. From their Prairie BreezeTM, which took home a gold award at the World Cheese Awards, to other sweet, crumbly and tangy cheeses, their unique flavors will take you by surprise.
5. Doe's & Diva's Dairy
Also located in Honey Creek, Doe's & Diva's creates smooth goat and sheep milk cheese, aged in their cheese cave or in Templeton Rye barrels. Delight in a round of hand-crafted cheese fresh from the farm or their natural soap, lotion or balm - also made from goat and sheep milk.
6. WW Homestead Dairy
Milk, cheese curds, block cheese, butter and more than 30 flavors of premium ice cream are produced by two local dairy farm families at WW Homestead Dairy near Waukon. They use all natural ingredients that are also locally processed.
7. Cinnamon Ridge Farms
Boasting award-winning Jersey cows and cheese, this working dairy farm near Donahue (north of the Quad Cities) takes cheese-making seriously. Visitors can tour the robotic dairy and get up close and personal with the animals. You can also visit their farm store to taste their cheese and beef products, freshly baked bread and their infamous cinnamon rolls.
8. Brix Cheese Shop
With a beautiful patio and fire-heated interior, this Iowa City staple is great stop year-round. Located in the Northside Marketplace, stop by to try one of their cheesy dishes and a pre-selected wine pairing chosen from a continually rotating selection or visit their shop to take a pairing on the go.
9. Dan & Debbie's Creamery
Sourced completely by their farm, Dan & Debbie's Creamery in Ely is committed to making farm fresh dairy products. Along with their squeaky cheese curds or aged cheddar, they also specialize in handcrafted ice cream and cream top milk, a local favorite.
10. Stensland Family Farms
Tour the 200-cow dairy farm and creamery in Larchwood while sampling their farm-fresh products. Then, take home a souvenir in the form of uniquely flavored cheese curds, freshly bottled milk or salted sweet cream.
11. Kalona Creamery
Since its opening in 2017, Kalona Creamery has had quite the impact on the cheese community. Along with producing some of the state's best cheese curds, they also boast award-winning hand-rolled butter, house-made spreads and sides, ice cream and fudge.
12. Hansen's Dairy Farm
This renowned Hudson dairy farm is not only home to seven generations of the Hansen family, but also to some "legendairy" experiences and farm to table products. Live the dairy farm life first-hand with their hands-on tours, hang out with their kangaroos on the animal petting tour or try one of their six flavors of cheese curds.
13. Hinterland Dairy
Sitting on 400 acres of rolling, grassy pastures outside of Donnellson, this dairy farm recently joined the cheese production industry. Hinterland, a European term for land that's off from what is typically visible, now offers interactive tours and top-quality cheeses. Munch on some fresh cheese curds while watching the cheese-making process in the farm's store.
14. Picket Fence Creamery
A family-owned farm that is dedicated to supporting the community and producing high-quality products, Woodward's Picket Fence Creamery is one of the best in the industry. Their shop features cheese curds, Neva's cheese balls, creamery butter, milk and cream along with local foods grown by nearly 100 Iowa families.