provolone dolce(left) versus piccante(right)

Provolone is a cheese that traces its origins back to Southern Italy. Known for its smooth texture, this semi-soft cheese is a favorite at any Italian deli and is savored around the world. Made traditionally from cow’s milk, Provolone is a pasta filata cheese, a term used to denote the specific family of Italian stretched curd cheeses, which also includes Mozzarella.

Provolone comes in two distinct varieties: Provolone Dolce and Provolone Picante, each with their unique characteristics. Both are round-shaped and fall under the “semi-hard cheese” category, but they differ significantly in their flavor profiles, the aging process, and their use in the culinary world.

Provolone Dolce: The Gentle Delight

Provolone Dolce cheese

Provolone Dolce is the younger, milder type of Provolone. Its name “Dolce” translates to sweet in Italian, which perfectly describes its mild and sweet taste. This cheese is typically aged for two to three months, and its short maturation period allows it to retain a smooth, supple texture, a characteristic that sets it apart from other types of Provolone. Provolone Dolce offers a mild and buttery flavor, making it a versatile cheese suitable for a variety of dishes, ranging from grilled cheese sandwiches to salads.

Provolone Piccante: The Robust Marvel

Provolone Piccante cheese

On the other hand, aged provolone, or Piccante Provolone as it’s also known, is the sharper, more mature sibling. Its name ‘Picante’ means ‘spicy‘ or ‘sharp‘ in Italian, hinting at its distinctive flavor profile. This cheese is aged for over four months, and some variants are even aged for more than a year, which results in a more robust version of Provolone. During the maturation process, the use of goat lipase and sometimes kid or lamb rennet results in a more crumbly texture and a spicy, savory flavor. Despite its sharper taste, Provolone Picante melts well, making it an excellent choice for cooking, particularly as a topping for pizzas or baked pasta dishes.

The Provolone Common Ground

Despite their differences, both Provolone Dolce and Picante share a firm texture due to the pasta filata process, which involves stretching the curd while it’s still hot and kneading it until it achieves its characteristically smooth texture. Both cheeses are also traditionally made from cow’s milk, although buffalo milk variants are also available. This shared origin imparts a similar underlying flavor profile, a delightful savoury and nutty flavor undertone that makes Provolone cheese a staple in many households.

When comparing nutritional values, both Provolone Dolce and Picante are rich in protein and calcium, contributing to a substantial part of our daily value of these essential nutrients. This nutritious profile, combined with their versatility in the kitchen, makes them a fantastic choice for cheese lovers seeking to balance flavor and health.

Nutritional Values of Provolone and Picante Provolone: A Healthy Indulgence

Often hailed for their delightful flavor profiles, Provolone and Picante Provolone cheeses are also an excellent source of nutritional values, making them a perfect blend of taste and health.

Provolone and Picante Provolone cheeses, originally from Southern Italy, share a common base of cow’s milk. This commonality leads to similar fundamental nutritional components in these two distinct varieties of Provolone.

Protein Powerhouse

Provolone and Picante Provolone are a great source of high-quality protein. Protein is a vital nutrient necessary for building, maintaining, and repairing tissues, including muscles and organs, in our body. Moreover, protein plays a crucial role in producing antibodies that help the body to fight off infections and illnesses. Both types of Provolone cheese contain about 25 grams of protein per 100-gram serving, contributing approximately 50% of the daily value of protein.

Calcium Rich

Like most dairy products, Provolone and Picante Provolone are rich in calcium. This mineral is essential for strong bones and teeth, blood clotting, wound healing, and maintaining normal blood pressure. A 100-gram serving of Provolone cheese can deliver about 770 milligrams of calcium, which fulfills more than half of the daily recommended intake of this essential mineral.

Source of Fats

Provolone and Picante Provolone are high in fat, but it’s important to note that not all fats are harmful. These cheeses contain a good amount of healthy monounsaturated fats, which have been linked to reduced levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and a lower risk of heart disease. Provolone cheese typically contains around 26 grams of total fats per 100-gram serving, of which approximately 17 grams are healthier unsaturated fats.

Other Essential Nutrients

Apart from protein, calcium, and healthy fats, Provolone and Picante Provolone also offer several other vitamins and minerals. These cheeses are a good source of vitamin A, a nutrient that supports healthy vision, skin, and immune function. They also provide a substantial amount of B vitamins, especially vitamin B12, which is crucial for brain function and the formation of red blood cells.

Phosphorus is another nutrient present in Provolone cheeses. This mineral works in tandem with calcium to strengthen bones and teeth. Also, it aids in the filtering of waste in the kidneys. A 100-gram serving of Provolone can supply about 50% of the daily value of phosphorus.

Over All

While Provolone and Picante Provolone are indeed high in saturated fats and calories, when consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet, they contribute significantly to our nutritional intake. It’s always worth remembering that while cheese can be high in calories, it’s also rich in essential nutrients. Therefore, instead of eliminating it from the diet entirely, it’s best to enjoy it responsibly while reaping its health benefits.

Perfect Pairs: Best Foods for Provolone Dolce and Picante

Beyond just enjoying Provolone Dolce and Picante on their own, pairing them with the right food can turn a simple cheese tasting into a memorable culinary experience. Each type has unique characteristics that lend themselves well to certain foods. Let’s take a look at some food items that can beautifully complement these two varieties of Provolone cheese, highlighting their distinct flavors and textures.

Best Foods for Provolone Dolce:

(from left to right) grilled cheese sandwich, shrimp provolone pasta, chicken alfredo pasta, salad, Fruit and Cheese Boards.
  1. Grilled Cheese Sandwiches: The creamy texture and mild flavor of Provolone Dolce melt beautifully into grilled sandwiches, providing a pleasant, mild cheese flavor.
  2. Pasta Dishes: The mildness of Provolone Dolce is a perfect match for creamy pasta dishes, such as Alfredo or macaroni and cheese.
  3. Salads: Thin slices or shavings of Provolone Dolce can provide a creamy, slightly sweet element in a fresh salad.
  4. Fruit and Cheese Boards: Provolone Dolce pairs well with fresh fruits such as apples and pears, making it an excellent choice for cheese boards.
  5. Seafood Dishes: The mild, sweet nature of Provolone Dolce complements seafood dishes, such as shrimp pasta or crab stuffed mushrooms, without overpowering the taste of the seafood.

Best Foods for Provolone Piccante:

(from left to right) chicken pizza with provolone, lasagna, Charcuterie Boards, steak, sandwich
  1. Pizza: The robust, spicy flavor of Provolone Picante adds depth to traditional pizza toppings.
  2. Charcuterie Boards: The bold taste of Provolone Picante stands up well to other strong flavors typically found on charcuterie boards, like cured meats and olives.
  3. Italian Casseroles: In dishes like lasagna or baked ziti, the full-bodied flavor of Provolone Picante adds a complex layer of flavor.
  4. Spicy Grilled Cheese Sandwiches: Provolone Picante can give a spicy kick to a classic grilled cheese sandwich.
  5. Meat Dishes: The robust flavor of Provolone Picante can enhance the flavor of various meats, making it perfect for stuffing chicken breasts or topping a juicy steak.

Provolone on the Global Stage: A Cheese Without Borders

The allure of Provolone cheese, an unassuming culinary delight that traces its origins back to Southern Italy, extends beyond its homeland, adorning the palates and plates of people worldwide. Its unique blend of textures and tastes have successfully transversed oceans, demonstrating its universal appeal and adaptability.

The American Version

 Philadelphia cheesesteak sandwich

The United States, for one, has embraced this semi-soft cheese with open arms. Known for its food diversity, it’s no surprise that Provolone has found a niche in the American cheese market. American Provolone, a variant of the original Italian cheese, presents a milder flavor profile and a smoother texture, making it a highly versatile ingredient. It often resembles American Cheese or mild Swiss cheese in terms of its texture and taste. From adding a creamy element to grilled cheese sandwiches to being a quintessential ingredient in the traditional Philadelphia cheesesteak, American Provolone has truly woven itself into the fabric of American food culture.

South American Traditions


As we journey south, we witness Provolone’s unique adaptation in South America’s culinary landscape. In Argentina, a popular delicacy called Provoleta has garnered much attention and appreciation. Provoleta, a round shape Provolone, is often grilled until it achieves a golden brown crust, then topped with a touch of chimichurri sauce and served as a mouth-watering appetizer. This South American rendition of Provolone is a testament to the cheese’s versatility and the creativity of the region’s cuisine.

Provolone in Europe and Beyond

s Provolone Valpadana and Provolone del Monaco

In Europe, Provolone continues to be a cherished favorite, holding its own amidst a vast array of local cheeses. The European Union recognizes Provolone Valpadana and Provolone del Monaco as products with a Protected Designation of Origin, thus highlighting its cultural and economic value within the European food scene.

Further east, even in regions not typically associated with cheese consumption, Provolone is gaining recognition. In countries like Japan and South Korea, where Western cuisine has become increasingly popular, Provolone is a welcome addition to pizzas, pastas, and sandwiches, adding a novel flavor profile for the local palate to explore.

The story of Provolone on the global stage is a narrative of adaptation and appreciation. Its ability to mold to various culinary needs and preferences speaks volumes of its versatile nature. This well-traveled cheese, whether in its milder form in the United States, as a grilled delight in South America, or maintaining its traditional roots in Europe, exemplifies how food can bridge cultures and borders. Provolone cheese’s journey from the Italian deli to the global culinary arena is indeed a testament to the universal language of good food.


Despite their contrasting flavor profiles, Provolone Dolce and Provolone Picante share core values of culinary versatility, nutritional benefits, cultural significance, and economic impact. Their unique qualities ensure that they cater to a wide array of palates and preferences, contributing to their continued popularity and relevance in the cheese world. Whether you’re a fan of milder cheese or prefer a spicy kick, the Provolone family has a delicious option for everyone.

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