Is Pepper Jack Cheese Keto? [And BEST Alternatives!]

Oil and cheese go hand-in-hand with the word “keto”! But are all cheeses created equal? Is pepper jack cheese keto?

Pepper jack cheese is fairly keto-friendly since it has just 1g net carbs per serving. When comparing it with other types of cheese, pepper jack falls in the middle of the carb scale.

Cheese is an excellent source of protein, calcium, and high quality natural fats!

In this article, we’ll find out whether you should have pepper jack cheese keto, and also explore some possible alternatives.

is pepper jack cheese keto

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What is Pepper Jack Cheese Made of?

We humans have been making Cheese for more than seven thousand years!

It is a dairy product usually made with the milk of cows, buffalo, sheep, and goats. There is a huge variety of cheese in terms of their taste, texture, moisture, and appearance.

In the world of diet and nutrition, we classify cheeses as hard, semi-hard, and soft.

Monterey Jack cheese is a semi-hard cheese made using cow’s milk. It has a very mild flavor and a hint of sweetness.

Pepper Jack cheese is an enhancement over Monterey Jack cheese with more peppers and chilies.

You can also call it Monterey Jack 2.0 which is spicier yet buttery smooth to taste! It includes sweet peppers, rosemary, habañero chilies, garlic, and spicy jalapeños.

Monterey Jack has its origins in the 18th century where a guy named David Jacks produced and sold it in California.

Other than Pepper Jack, some common derivatives of this semi-hard cheese include:

  • Dry Jack (harder cheese with less moisture)
  • Cheddar-Jack (yellow in color)
  • Colby-Jack (marbled with Colby)

Coming back to our main topic, Pepper Jack melts really well in your mouth!

It greatly compliments the spices in most Mexican foods such as hot sandwiches and quesadillas.

pepper jack cheese and crackers

Pepper jack cheese and crackers is the ultimate delight for any cheese lover out there! Its buttery-smooth nature beautifully masks the spicy hotness before things get overwhelming!

If you have hoped onto the keto wagon, every gram of carbs is quintessential to you!

We have always heard that cheese is a man’s best friend on keto. But is there any truth to it?

Furthermore, are all cheeses created equal?

READ: Is Pesto Keto?

Is Pepper Jack Cheese Keto Friendly?

Keto diet is a very low carb diet where your daily carb allowance ranges from 20-25g.

Our main goal is to transition into “ketosis” where we burn fat for fuel, instead of the usual carbohydrates!

what is ketosis

Cheese is almost synonymous with the keto diet! It’s a staple that goes well with most other low-carb foods such as nuts, berries, veggies, meats, etc.

Pepper Jack cheese is a semi-hard cheese with 0.5-1g of net carbs per serving of 28g (or 1 oz.). It is fairly keto-friendly with a great fat-to-carb ratio.

Here’s the complete nutrition profile for 1 ounce of pepper jack cheese:

  • Calories: 107
  • Net Carbs: 0.5-1g
  • Protein: 6.1g
  • Fats: 9g

Pepper jack is a rich source of calcium since it’s made using cow’s milk. It’s also loaded with phosphorus, zinc, vitamin B12, and vitamin A.

It has a higher moisture content than dry jack and hence it’s more perishable. When grocery shopping, aim for a piece of cheese that is free from cracks or discolorations.

I love adding pepper jack to my burritos made using low-carb wraps. There are few cheeses that feel as gooey as this one!

PS: Some brands (like Cabot) offer lactose-free pepper jack which is a dream come true for keto-ers! Lactose is the major source of carbs in any cheese!

MORE: Is Carbquik Keto?

Which Cheese is Best on Keto Diet?

Cheese is highly keto-friendly but it still isn’t a completely carb-free food! Those tiny amounts of carbs can add up big time!

So I’ve compiled this guide to help you make smarter cheese choices on the low carb diet.

Your “normal” diet rules are thrown out of the window when it comes to keto! Here we aim for the highest fat content possible.

Hard cheeses have the least amount of lactose and hence they are more keto-friendly. On the other hand, soft ones like cottage cheese and Velveeta have more than 3g net carbs per serving!

Full-fat cheese made using grass-fed dairy is an ideal pick on keto. Avoid low-fat versions as they tend to have much higher carbs.

Here are the best cheeses for the keto diet:

CheeseNet Carbs (per oz.)
Babybel cheese0g net carbs per piece
Brie Cheese
0.1g net carbs
Blue Cheese0.7g net carbs
Brie Cheese0.1g net carbs
Camembert Cheese0.1g net carbs
Chèvre Cheese0g net carbs
Colby Jack Cheese0.3g net carbs
Edam Cheese0.4g net carbs
Fontina Cheese0.4g net carbs
Gruyere Cheese0.1g net carbs
Halloumi Cheese0g net carbs
Monterey Jack Cheese 0.2g net carbs
Muenster Cheese0.3g net carbs
Swiss Cheese0.4g net carbs
Keto-Friendly Cheeses

As a rule of thumb, look for high-fat, moderate protein and low-carb cheeses. Always maintain a healthy macro ratio when pairing cheese with other foods.

keto diet pyramid

Cheese made from 100% grass-fed milk is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids and CLA, along with other usual benefits.

Which Cheese to Avoid on Keto?

Always avoid highly processed cheeses and stick to the most natural ones. Manufacturers add all sorts of artificial flavoring, colors, preservatives, and sometimes even sugar.

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Keto Recipe

Watch out for these cheeses that are unfit for keto:

  1. Canned Cheese: It is highly processed and devoid of nutrition. Each ounce contains over 2g net carbs.
  2. Yellow Cheddar Cheese: Replace the colored cheddar with white ones to avoid consuming artificial coloring.
  3. Ricotta Cheese: It ranks quite high on the carbs scale with 1.5g net carbs per serving.
  4. Cottage Cheese: It has the highest amount of carbs ranging from 2-5g per ounce.
  5. American Cheese: This one is highly processed with the least amount of nutrition (2g carbs per serving).

Don’t go overboard the very first time you try a new cheese! Overconsumption may cause digestive issues if you are intolerant to lactose or casein.

Caution: Pre-shredded cheese contains starch that prevents them from sticking. That’s a few extra carbs right there!

Conclusion

Is pepper jack cheese keto?

With less than 1g net carbs per serving, pepper jack cheese is fairly keto-friendly. It is a spicier derivative of the Monterey Jack cheese.

Lactose is the major source of carbs which also makes the cheese softer. Hence you should stick to hard and semi-hard cheeses on the keto diet.