Why Is Provolone Cheese So Expensive? (Explained!)

  • Provolone cheese is costly primarily due to its exclusive production in Italy, holding a Protected Designation of Origin certificate since 1996, which adds to the export and transportation costs
  • Its artisanal nature requires skilled handcrafting and stretching of the curd, contributing to higher labor costs.
  • The cheese is aged for at least four months, necessitating storage that further increases its price.
  • Provolone’s milk is sourced exclusively from Friesian cows in the Po Valley, where the animals’ care adds to the overall cost
  • Despite its price, alternatives like mozzarella or Monterey Jack offer similar culinary uses at a lower cost, though they may not replicate Provolone’s unique taste and quality

What Makes Provolone Cheese So Expensive?

Provolone cheese is undoubtedly delicious and perfect for baked ziti, roulades, or quesadillas.

But unfortunately, the price might put you off from using it, as it is quite expensive.

What makes provolone cheese so special to justify the high cost?

The number one reason is that it can only be made in Italy. 

Provolone holds a protected Designation of Origin Certificate, and this was awarded in 1996.

These certificates are issued in the European Union and show that a product has been produced in a specific place using local people and local ingredients.

To be more precise, Provolone is only made in Northern Italy because it is produced from milk that comes from a herd of Friesian cows that can only be found in the Po Valley.

So, you can immediately see that provolone does have a certain air of exclusivity about it that would be difficult to replicate!

Being made only in Italy immediately adds an extra cost to shipping the cheese when you factor in the transportation costs. 

Provolone is also an aged cheese and is not ready for at least four months, meaning it has to be stored somewhere, and that is where another expense comes into the equation. 

The final additional costs are from the salaries of the cheesemakers.

Making provolone is a very skilled process, and everything is done by hand. 

As such, it is known as artisan cheese, and obviously, the cheesemakers expect to be paid more.

The provolone curds have to be stretched and then shaped, which takes time.

Are There Less Expensive Alternatives to Provolone Cheese?   

If you can’t justify purchasing provolone, it is possible to find less expensive alternative options.

Provolone is known for its melting ability and is popular in pasta dishes, so the closest alternative would be mozzarella, which is considerably cheaper.

Fontina is also an Italian cheese made from unpasteurized milk and is typically used for fondues, cheese sauces, or cheese dips in place of provolone.

A less obvious replacement is scamorza, which again is an Italian cheese shaped in a similar way to provolone.  

Unlike provolone, it can be served on its own as baked scamorza, and a little goes a long way, making it more economical. 

A surprising alternative is Monterey Jack cheese, which some people prefer for its much milder flavor.

If you would normally use provolone as a burger topping, then Monterey Jack is a great, and cheaper, option.

Other suggestions include cheddar, gouda, or parmesan if you plan on grating cheese.

How Provolone Cheese is Made

My Final Thoughts

Provolone cheese is expensive as it can only be made in Italy.

The high costs of export, transportation, and storage add to its price.

This traditional cheese is made by skilled artisans who command a higher salary.

Cheaper alternatives include mozzarella, Monterey Jack, and scamorza.

However, nothing can beat the true taste of provolone, so why not treat yourself occasionally? 

On a similar subject, here’s my article on whether Parmesan has to be made in Italy.

How do you weigh the importance of authenticity and craftsmanship against cost when choosing cheeses for your meals?

Let us know in the comments below!

Leave a Comment