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.(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.
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.
Both cheeses are relatively similar in that they are bloomy-rind cheeses 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.
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.
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.