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Cheeses from Cow’s Milk vs. Goat’s Milk vs. Sheep’s Milk: Why the Difference in Taste and Texture?

Last Updated on May 12, 2022

Why does milk from cows, goats, and sheep taste different, and what do they taste like at first?

It depends on numerous factors. Diet, breed of the animal, age, and the production process all impact the differences. Here’s everything you need to know about fresh cheeses and milk:


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Cow’s Milk

Cow's milk is often the most common source of cheese products in the US. The milk may have a slightly earthier flavor, which is due to the soil that cows pick up when eating ground cover grasses. This is their most typical meal. The earthy flavor doesn't always taste the same as the soil's nature has an impact on it. 

The digestion of cows also differs from that of goats and sheep. Cow’s milk contains larger fat molecules, making the milk tougher to digest than goat and sheep cheese. Hence, you might want to try avoiding cow’s milk and cheese if you’re lactose intolerant – it’s high in lactic acid and amino acids. 

Did you know that cow’s and goat’s milk have approximately the same fat and protein levels? Well, they do. However, the fat is structured differently, making cheese from a cow feel heavier in your mouth than goat cheese. 

Additionally, cow's milk is probably the most versatile out of the three, as it can be made into various products and types of cow cheese. It can produce both soft and hard kinds of cheese. You can view it as a magical ingredient because the true flavor of the milk is often disguised depending on what you're eating or drinking. 

The most commonly consumed cow milk cheese are cheddar, swiss, and gouda.

Goat’s Milk

Goats are known for their strong stomachs. This means they often eat plants, such as thorny grass and brambles, that cows try to avoid. Hence, these bitter flavors are often transferred to goat milk. 

Another element that plays a crucial role in impacting the taste of goat's milk is the hormone levels of the nanny goat. Her hormone levels often rise when she is kept near male bucks, giving the milk a grassier taste. 

When it comes to goat’s milk, age is essential – the fresher the milk, the better the taste. This is because when goat’s milk is stored and frozen, the membrane that protects the milk from the lipase enzyme gets damaged and releases three fatty acids: caproic, capric, and caprylic. The release of these fatty acids results in an overwhelming tangy taste.  

Goat’s milk has smaller fat molecules, meaning that it produces soft cheeses and smaller curds than cow and sheep milk. This makes goat milk the easiest to digest out of the three options. 

Moreover, these cheeses are often associated with a signature tang and a ‘bright but acidic’ goat cheese taste. When it comes to goat’s milk cheese, much more earthy and creamy flavors are produced from the tanginess as the cheese ages. 

Lastly, goat cheeses are less sweet and lighter in the mouth than cow's milk. These products are often greatly paired with fresh herbs. 

Goat milk can be used to produce gouda, cheddar, and brie. Some of our favorite goat milk cheese are chevre, blue, and halloumi (which, it should be noted, is a mixture of goat and sheep’s milk),

Sheep’s Milk

Believe it or not, sheep's milk has significantly more protein and fat than cow's or goat's milk. These higher levels of protein and fat result in sheep's milk cheese having the highest solid content, meaning it takes less milk to produce sheep cheese or other products than cow or goat milk. According to statistics, sheep milk is 7.4% butterfat on average, whereas cow milk is 3.7% and goat milk is 3.6%. This high butterfat content translates to a richer and more buttery taste. 

The typical flavors you can expect from sheep’s milk are creamy and nutty. This might seem contradictory; however, even though sheep’s milk contains the highest milk fat content, it is not the most difficult milk to digest. Keep in mind that the size of the fat molecules affects this, not the content levels. 

In fact, sheep’s milk is known for having quite a clean flavor and no aftertaste – this might come as a shock to you, but many people prefer the taste of sheep’s milk over cow’s milk. You can also expect semi-soft cheese from sheep’s milk.

Popular sheep milk cheeses include Greek feta, French roquefort, and Spanish manchego.

Which Milk Tastes the Best: Cow, Goat, or Sheep?

You might want to give all of these kinds of milk a try before trying to figure out which is the best. Taste and health benefits are two vital factors to consider. We are all about finding the most delicious and highly nutritious option. 

Sheep's milk is a favorite. It has a creamy, rich, and slightly sweet taste. You could say it's similar to cow's milk but creamier. When it comes to taste, goat's milk is probably at the bottom of the list. Goat's milk is often associated with a strong, tangy aroma and a gamey or salty flavor – it's an acquired taste.

The Bottom Line

Each different milk has its own pros and cons; therefore, you can’t outright determine which one is better than the other. At the end of the day, it comes down to personal preference and what works best for your digestive system. All three kinds of milk taste nothing alike, and the content is extremely different. 

The diet, age, breed, and production process affect the milk. Cow's milk has an earthy flavor and consists of large fat molecules, which make it difficult to digest. Goat's milk is bitter and has the smallest fat molecules, making it the easiest to digest. Lastly, sheep's milk is creamy and sweet, and it has the highest fat and milk protein content out of all the options.

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Hi, I'm Paul. Welcome to my website! I, along with my cronies, are leveraging our years of working in the food industry to review meal and drink delivery services. We review. You eat happily ever after.

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