Is Manchego cheese high in calories?

Manchego cheese is a popular variety of cheese originating from the La Mancha region of Spain. It is made from sheep’s milk and has a creamy, tangy flavor and firm texture. With its rise in popularity around the world in recent years, many people wonder about its calorie and fat content compared to other cheeses. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take an in-depth look at Manchego cheese nutrition facts, calories, and how its calories stack up against other cheese varieties. We’ll also provide tips for enjoying Manchego cheese as part of a healthy diet.

What is Manchego cheese?

Manchego cheese is a Spanish cheese made from the whole milk of Manchega sheep in the La Mancha region of Spain. It has a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), meaning that to be called Manchego, the cheese must be produced in that specific area from the milk of that particular sheep breed.

Some key characteristics of Manchego cheese include:

– Firm, compact consistency with a granular texture
– Buttery, tangy, rich flavor
– Aged between 60 days to 2 years
– Natural rind that can range from thin and ivory-colored to dark brown and rugged
– Can be smoked or flavored with herbs and spices
– Used for grating, slicing, melting, and as a table cheese for tapas

Traditionally, Manchego cheese wheels have a zig-zag pattern stamped on the rind from the basket molds used during production. Young Manchego is milder and softer, while aged Manchego is sharper, more crumbly and complex in flavor.

Nutrition Facts: How many calories are in Manchego cheese?

The number of calories in Manchego cheese ultimately depends on the exact type and age. In general, a 1 ounce (28g) serving of semi-cured Manchego contains:

– Calories: 110
– Fat: 9g
– Saturated fat: 6g
– Protein: 7g
– Carbohydrates: 0g
– Cholesterol: 27mg
– Sodium: 180mg

Manchego is considered a high-fat cheese, with about 70-75% of its calories coming from fat. However, the majority is saturated fat and Manchego also provides a good amount of protein.

The calorie content increases slightly with age, as more moisture evaporates. For example, cured Manchego contains about 120 calories per ounce.

Compared to other popular cheeses:

– Cheddar: 113 calories per ounce
– Swiss: 111 calories per ounce
– Parmesan: 111 calories per ounce
– Mozzarella: 85 calories per ounce
– Feta: 75 calories per ounce
– Goat: 75 calories per ounce

So in terms of calories per serving, Manchego is fairly similar to many other semi-hard and hard cheeses like cheddar, Swiss and Parmesan. It’s higher in calories compared to soft fresh cheeses like mozzarella and goat cheese.

Fat Content of Manchego Cheese

The moderate to high fat content of Manchego cheese comes from the high fat content of sheep’s milk, which contains up to twice as much fat as cow’s milk.

About 72% of the calories in Manchego come from fat. A 1 ounce serving contains 9 grams of total fat, of which about 6 grams is saturated fat.

While this may seem high compared to some lower fat cheeses, research shows that the saturated fat from dairy products does not raise LDL (bad) cholesterol levels the way that saturated fat from other sources does.

Still, it’s smart to enjoy Manchego cheese in moderation as part of an overall healthy diet, and balance it with lower fat foods.

Protein in Manchego Cheese

One of the benefits of Manchego cheese is that it provides a good amount of protein – about 7 grams per ounce.

Protein helps support a healthy metabolism, helps maintain and repair muscles and tissues, keeps you feeling full and satisfied, and is vital for energy production.

The protein in cheese comes primarily from casein and whey, the two proteins found in milk. During cheesemaking, enzymes cause the casein to coagulate into curds, which are then drained and pressed into cheese.

Manchego cheese provides an excellent source of protein for vegetarians and can be enjoyed as part of a high protein snack or meal.

Carbohydrates in Manchego Cheese

Manchego contains no carbohydrates, since cheese is made by removing the milk sugars (lactose) along with the whey during the cheesemaking process.

This makes it suitable for low carb and ketogenic diets. Be aware that some flavored versions may contain small amounts of added carbs from ingredients like herbs, spices, or peppercorns.

Vitamins and Minerals in Manchego Cheese

While not exceptionally high in vitamins and minerals compared to some other cheeses, Manchego still provides a range of important micronutrients:

– Calcium: 18% DV per ounce – helps strengthen bones and teeth
– Phosphorus: 15% DV per ounce – supports bone health and energy production
– Vitamin A: 7% DV per ounce – important for immune function and eye health
– Riboflavin: 15% DV per ounce – an essential B vitamin that helps convert food into energy
– Vitamin B12: 15% DV per ounce – necessary for red blood cell formation and brain function
– Zinc: 5% DV per ounce – boosts immunity and wound healing
– Selenium: 14% DV per ounce – a powerful antioxidant that protects cells

As a fermented food, Manchego cheese also provides beneficial probiotics that support digestive and immune system health.

Health Benefits of Manchego Cheese

When enjoyed as part of a healthy, balanced diet, Manchego cheese provides several health benefits:

– High in protein to support muscle growth, satiety and stable energy levels
– Source of bone-strengthening calcium and phosphorus
– Probiotics help boost gut and immune health
– Contains antioxidants like selenium and zinc
– Good source of B vitamins for converting food into energy
– The conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in sheep’s cheese may provide anti-inflammatory effects

Some research suggests the nutrients in cheese may play protective roles against heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension, although more studies are needed.

Downsides and Health Risks of Manchego Cheese

There are some potential downsides to keep in mind:

– High in saturated fat – can negatively impact cholesterol levels when eaten in excess
– High in sodium – can exacerbate hypertension
– One of the most common food allergens, especially in children
– Sheep’s milk cheese is not suitable for those allergic to cow’s milk protein
– Raw or unpasteurized Manchego may contain harmful bacteria if improperly aged

Those with lactose intolerance can likely tolerate small servings, as the lactose content in Manchego is relatively low. However, sheep’s milk has higher protein and fat than cow’s milk, which may exacerbate symptoms in some individuals.

Manchego Cheese and Weight Loss

Can you eat Manchego cheese on a diet? While cheese tends to get a bad rap for weight loss, there’s nothing particularly “fattening” about Manchego or hard cheeses in general.

The high protein and fat content provide satiety, which may help reduce overeating and hunger between meals. As mentioned earlier, cheeses like Manchego don’t negatively impact cholesterol compared to saturated fats from red meat or butter.

That being said, portion control is key. The calories can quickly add up if you mindlessly snack on Manchego cubes throughout the day. Stick to recommended 1-2 ounce portions along with other nutrient-dense foods as part of a calorie-conscious diet.

Some tips for enjoying Manchego cheese while trying to lose weight:

– Measure 1-2 ounce portions using a food scale
– Pair with fiber-rich fruits, veggies, or whole grains to increase satiety
– Use it to top salads instead of higher calorie ingredients like bacon, croutons, or creamy dressings
– Choose lower sodium varieties to minimize bloating
– Substitute for higher fat meats in recipes like vegetarian casseroles
– Opt for parsley, thyme, or oregano-studded Manchego for more flavor with fewer calories
– Have with wine or Sherry instead of beer or cocktails

How To Pick the Best Quality Manchego Cheese

To enjoy the best tasting and highest quality Manchego cheese, follow these buying tips:

– Check for the PDO seal, which verifies authentic Manchego from La Mancha, Spain
– Select wheels with an even, natural rind – mold indicates improper storage
– Choose a cheese shop with high turnover to ensure freshness
– The cheese should feel firm and compact, not dried out
– Look for a glossy, waxy texture with small, scattered eyes or holes
– Smell should be mildly sheepy and grassy, not ammonia-rich or off-putting
-Flavor should be buttery and mildly tangy, not bland or acidic

The flavor profile can range from mild, sweet and nutty in young Manchego to rich, crumbly and intensely savory in aged varieties. Consider when and how you’ll use it – younger Manchego is better for snacking, while aged is ideal for grating.

How To Store Manchego Cheese

Properly storing Manchego cheese helps maintain quality and freshness for longer:

– Leave Manchego in its original packaging until ready to use
– Once opened, tightly rewrap in waxed or parchment paper
– Place in a resealable plastic bag and squeeze out excess air
– Store in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks
– If mold develops on the rind, cut off at least 1 inch around the moldy areas
– Don’t freeze Manchego for long periods, as this damages the texture
– Let refrigerated Manchego come to room temperature before serving for the best flavor

Well stored, uncut Manchego will keep for 2-4 months past the printed date. However, it’s best consumed within a month or two of opening for peak taste and texture.

Un-aged Manchego has a shorter shelf life of about 1 month once opened. Signs that Manchego has gone bad include mold, sour or off smells, dry crumbly texture, and bitter or unpleasant taste.

How To Use Manchego Cheese

There are endless ways to enjoy velvety, full-flavored Manchego cheese:

– On charcuterie or cheese boards
– Melted on toasted bread or sandwiches
– In omelets, frittatas, or baked eggs
– Crumbled on salads or pasta
– Baked into soufflés or casseroles
– As a stuffing for piquillo peppers
– Sliced with membrillo (quince paste)
– Grated over soup or grilled vegetables
– Baked into savory tarts or pastries
– Added to mashed potatoes or cauliflower
– Whipped into dips or compound butters
– Paired with cured meats like Spanish chorizo
– Served alongside fresh figs, grapes, and nuts

For a Spanish-inspired tapas platter, try pairing Manchego with Serrano ham, marcona almonds, olives, roasted red peppers, and crusty bread. Its versatility also shines through in pasta bakes, cheese platters, salads, and charcuterie boards.

Manchego Cheese Recipes

Try these delicious recipes featuring nutty, Manchego cheese:

Classic Manchego Toast
An easy yet elegant appetizer

– 4 slices crusty bread
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 2 ounces Manchego cheese, thinly sliced
– 2 roma tomatoes, sliced
– Fresh basil or oregano, chopped

1. Brush bread slices with olive oil and toast until golden brown.
2. Top with sliced Manchego and tomatoes.
3. Broil 2-3 minutes until cheese is melted.
4. Top with fresh herbs and enjoy!

Spanish Tortilla with Manchego
Hearty egg and potato cake

– 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
– 1 lb russet potatoes, peeled and sliced
– 1 onion, diced
– 6 eggs
– 1/4 cup Manchego, grated
– Salt and pepper

1. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Cook potatoes and onions until browned, about 10 minutes.
2. Whisk eggs in bowl and season with salt and pepper. Stir in cheese and potato mixture.
3. In same skillet, heat remaining oil. Pour in egg mixture and cook 3-4 minutes.
4. Flip tortilla over and cook 3 more minutes until set.
5. Let cool slightly, cut into wedges and serve warm.

Manchego Cheese Ball
Creamy appetizer for crackers and veggies

– 8 ounces Manchego cheese, grated
– 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 3 tablespoons pine nuts
– 1 garlic clove, minced
– Fresh herbs like thyme or rosemary
– Crackers and fresh vegetables, for serving

1. In a food processor, blend together Manchego, cream cheese, olive oil and pine nuts until smooth.
2. Fold in minced garlic and fresh herbs.
3. Form mixture into a ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
4. Serve with crackers and vegetables.

Where To Buy Manchego Cheese

Genuine Manchego cheese with the PDO seal can be found at:

– Specialty cheese shops or Spanish grocers
– Farmer’s markets that carry artisanal cheeses
– Well-stocked supermarkets like Whole Foods
– Online stores like, or

For the best price, selection and freshness, visit a local cheese purveyor or shop at the deli counter versus the pre-packaged section. Storage time can affect the flavor and texture of Manchego.

It may be difficult find younger Manchego aged under 3 months outside of Spain. Most Manchego available is aged at least 6 months to develop more complex nutty and fruity flavors.

Is Manchego Cheese Keto?

Manchego cheese is a keto-friendly food. The high fat, moderate protein and zero carbs make it an excellent addition to a ketogenic diet.

A 1-ounce serving of Manchego cheese contains about:

– 110 calories
– 9g fat
– 0g net carbs
– 7g protein

This macros ratio is perfect for keto, providing around 82% of calories from fat, 16% from protein and just 2% net carbs.

In addition to being low-carb, Manchego cheese is a good source of healthy fats like conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA may help burn abdominal fat.

Some tips for adding Manchego to your high fat, low carb keto meal plan:

– Sprinkle grated Manchego over cauliflower rice
– Stuff poblano peppers with Manchego and meat
– Make crispy Manchego cheese chips
– Add to an omelet or frittata
– Serve melted over keto-friendly vegetables
– Pair with cured meats, olives and nuts

Just be sure to keep track of portion sizes, as the calories can quickly add up. Around 1-2 ounces per serving is a good target on keto.

Manchego Cheese FAQ

Is Manchego cheese healthy?

Manchego can be part of a healthy diet when enjoyed in moderation, thanks to its high protein, calcium and other nutrients. But it’s high in saturated fat and sodium, so portion size is key.

Is Manchego better than Parmesan?

It depends on your preferences. Parmesan is lower in fat and calories than Manchego, but Manchego has a richer, more buttery taste. Manchego melts better than harder cheeses like Parmesan too.

Is Manchego cheese vegetarian?

Yes, Manchego cheese is completely vegetarian and made from sheep’s milk. It contains no meat products.

Can you eat Manchego cheese when pregnant?

Pregnant women are advised to avoid soft cheeses to prevent possible listeriosis. However, Manchego is a firm cheese so it’s safer. But stick to pasteurized varieties just to be safe.

Is Manchego easy to digest?

Manchego is relatively low in lactose, so it tends to be easier to digest than cheeses like mozzarella for those sensitive to dairy. However, some still find sheep’s milk difficult to digest. Start with small amounts.

The Bottom Line

Manchego cheese provides a good amount of protein, calcium, and other nutrients. An ounce contains about 110 calories and 9g of fat, primarily saturated. Compared to other cheeses, its calorie content is moderate. While high in sodium and fat, the flavor and versatility of Manchego cheese make it a delicious addition to a well-rounded diet when eaten in recommended portions. To lighten up your recipes, use part-skim Manchego, watch your portions and enjoy alongside low calorie fruits and veggies.

Leave a Comment