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Iberico Vs. Manchego Cheese

When it comes to Spanish cheese, Manchego cheese, a pressed cheese from the La Mancha region, is perhaps the most popular variety.  

This region is also known to produce other commercial varieties of cheese, including Iberico cheese.  

Manchego and Iberico are often packaged similarly, featuring a characteristic zig-zag pattern on their rinds.  

Although Iberico closely resembles Manchego cheese, there are important differences that define each of these cheeses.  

In this post, we’ll delve into the distinctions between these two varieties of Spanish cheese, exploring the types of milks they are made from, their flavors, and their textures.

What is Iberico cheese? 

Also known as queso Iberico, this traditional Spanish cheese is made from the pasteurized or unpasteurized milks of cow, sheep, and goat.  

It is a white cheese with a natural rind, and it can be semi-cured or aged for months up to years.  

Iberico is a hard cheese, characterized by its firm and oily texture.  

The flavor is strong and complex, with notes of butteriness, fruitiness, and nuttiness.  

This cheese is versatile, suitable for use as a table cheese or grated over pasta dishes. 

What is Manchego cheese?

Manchego cheese is a variety of cheese from La Mancha made strictly from the milk of the Manchega breed of sheep.  

Authentic Manchego is crafted from raw sheep’s milk, though it can also be made with pasteurized milk, known as artesano.  

The cheese is white to yellow in color, with a nutty, tangy flavor and a robust aroma reminiscent of the sheep’s diet.  

The production involves heating milk with rennet, curdling, pressing, and brining. 

 Traditionally, the curds are pressed in a basket made from esparto grass, leaving an imprint on the rind in a characteristic pattern. 

A distinct feature of Manchego cheese is the head of wheat designs found on both surfaces. During aging, the exterior is brushed with olive oil, and the rind is often covered in wax which is not edible.  

The flavor of Manchego cheese intensifies with age, developing a peppery bite.  

With a high fat content of about 57 percent, it is suitable for grating over pasta, grilling, and baking.  

The texture and flavor vary based on the aging duration, ranging from the milder Fresco (2 weeks) to the peppery Viejo (up to 2 years). 

Difference between Manchego and Iberico Cheese

While Manchego and Iberico cheeses share similarities in packaging and the region of origin, their distinctions are in the types of milk used, flavors, and textures.  

Milk composition

Manchego cheese is exclusively made from the milk of the Manchega breed of sheep, while Iberico cheese boasts a more diverse milk composition, being a blend of pasteurized or unpasteurized cow, sheep, and goat milks.  

This distinction in milk composition contributes significantly to the unique flavors and characteristics of each cheese. 


The texture of Manchego cheese varies based on its aging duration.  

Younger varieties have a milder and crumbly texture, while aged versions become progressively firmer and crumblier.  

On the other hand, Iberico cheese is known for its consistently firm and oily texture.  


The two cheeses can be distinguished by their flavors 

Manchego cheese is characterized by a nutty and tangy flavor, with a robust aroma that reflects the sheep’s diet. The flavor profile also intensifies in pepperiness as the cheese ages.  

On the other hand, Iberico cheese offers a strong and complex flavor, featuring buttery, fruity, and nutty notes.