Brie vs Camembert

If you are like most people I know, you probably have a hard time distinguishing between Brie and Camembert. And why shouldn’t you? They do look and taste about the same. Of course, the easiest way to tell the difference between the two would be to look at the packaging, but hopefully by the end of this blog you will have some facts to help you distinguish between Brie and Camembert.

Brie vs. Camembert (left) Camembert by Steven Lilley

The reason why most people confuse Brie and Camembert is that Brie is just so much more well known--and, it probably doesn’t help that it’s one syllable and easier to pronounce than Camembert.

Recipe

The recipes are basically the same, except Brie typically has a higher fat content. There are also triple-crème Bries, which are cheeses that contain more than 75% butterfat--making them extremely rich and creamy.

Appearance

Both cheeses are relatively similar in that they are with creamy centers. The main difference in appearance between Brie and Camembert is in size. Brie wheels tend to be larger--being made in 9“ to 17” diameter wheels. Wheels of Camembert, on the other hand, are typically never bigger than 4.5” in diameter. In grocery stores, you might find 4.5” wheels of Brie, called Baby Brie--but it’s not authentic.

Packaging

Typically in the grocery store or cheese shop, you’ll buy a Brie in wedges or half wheels. It’s not very common to purchase a full 17” brie in either of those places. Because of the rising popularity of baking brie, wedges and Baby Brie’s may be sold in a wooden box. On the other hand, Camembert is always sold in 4.5" wheels; and, although not always, it is typically found sold in its own wooden box.

Not so obvious

Camembert and Brie have protected origin designation. In French, this is called Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC). This means that Brie can only be called Brie if it is made in Île-de-France, which consists of mostly the metropolitan Paris; and, Camembert, in the same fashion, can only be made in Normandy. Of course both cheeses can be made outside of their area of protected origin, but they are referred to as Camembert-style or Brie-style cheese.

Wrapping up

So, in summary here are the differences between Brie and Camembert:

  • Recipe is about the same, except Brie may contain more fat.
  • Brie is traditionally much larger than Camembert.
  • Brie is typically sold in wedges or half moons.
  • Camembert is always sold in 4.5" wheels.
  • Brie is from the the metro-Paris area (Île-de-France); Camembert is from Normandy.

Now that you know the difference, you can really impress your friends and family at your next gathering when you declare that cheese wheel you’re eating is, in fact, a Camembert and not a Brie.

What’s your favorite Camembert or Brie recipe? Let me know in the comments.

  • Christian Eric Faure

    As a french, if they are different cheeze the taste is slightly different… Between the brie and camembert. It’s also the process and the firm that are producing the cheeze, and not only the receipe.

    I feel it when the cheeze is becoming old… Difficult to talk about it.

    For the brie : you have 2 sorts : the brie of Meaux (the most commun, or know) and the brie of Melun (really strong, maybe not very famous). But i prefer the second.

    For the camembert, it so famous that you have a range of cheeze that make difficult to find a good cheeze.

    • http://blog.johneatscheese.com/ John Proestakes

      good point about the manufacturers! also, taste is very hard to measure~ france is famous for having so many varieties of cheese; it doesn’t surprise me that there are so many camemberts.

  • June Molloy Vladička

    The size of the wheel is actually really important as it impacts the flavour of the cheese. The lower the cheese-to-rind ratio the stronger cheese. Because Camembert has more rind-to-cheese than the larger-wheeled Brie it has a much stronger taste.

  • benoit

    Well, the ferments in the brie and the camemberts are different. They are stronger in the camembert which has for consequence a stronger flavor as it ages.
    Also, you have different types of Brie. You are here talking about lactic Brie and indeed the production process is close to the AOP brie. However, other Brie are half lactic half stabilized, or stabilized. Which means they will not ages like a camembert and they will ripene equaly.
    Not forget to mention that traditional AOP camembert is ladle-formed in 5 times, whereas for brie the fermented milk is moulded in once.

    So, still plenty of differences

    :)