Brie: What you need to know

What is Brie? It is a French, soft, white, bloomy-rind cheese made from cow’s milk. The combination of the mushroomy rind and the soft cheese middle is really amazing. It goes very well with all kinds of breads but is traditionally eaten with baguette. You can in a pinch eat it with crackers, but it will be very difficult to follow the general rules of etiquette if you use crackers, at least in my opinion.

Quick lesson in Brie etiquette

  • Never cut the tip or corners off of the Brie; this act of “pointing the Brie” is a huge faux pas and will never go over well.
  • Definitely eat the rind; many people consider it the tastier part of Brie.
  • Never cut a piece of Brie from a block in public detaching the soft cheese from the rind. The rind should always be attached when leaving the cheese plate.
  • If you are really not interested in eating the rind, then you may remove it on your own plate or into a napkin.
  • It is a general rule that you should always cut a block of cheese as to not misshapen it; that being said, it is advisable to cut Brie, as if cutting pieces of a cake, in slices.
  • Always slice from one end, never start in the middle.
  • You want to make sure that you cut the Brie such that everyone with you can enjoy a similarly sized portion.
  • It is traditional to eat Brie with bread, namely baguette; when doing this, you should rip a piece of baguette with your hand as opposed to cutting it with a knife.

Are you curious about brie's ammonia smell?

baked Brie Brie fondant aux pommes et sirop d’√©rable by Pier-Luc Bergeron

Looking for a tasty cheese recipe? If you want to get fancy you can wrap the Brie in aluminum foil and then bake it at around 350 degrees in the oven until it starts oozing. Oddly enough, they call this “baked Brie,” (see the picture above) and doing this makes spreading the Brie onto bread much easier and, well—melty cheese is just more fun now, isn’t it?

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  • Louise

    Who cares if we cut the end off the Brie?

    • I mean, it’s really just serving etiquette. Some people take it more seriously than others, but the idea is to make sure that everyone eating the cheese gets to have the same experience–that means a bit of the rind and the creamy center. Best way to do that is cut radiating from the center to the outer edge, like a pie.

      some wheels can be big and more difficult to make reasonably sized pieces. In that case I’ve cut the wheel crossways–it’s really not a big deal.

  • Joltin Jo

    Thanks John we wondered why the Brie baker always makes it taste more ammonia-y versus the BBQ.

    • The ammonia needs to dissipate before you eat / cook with brie; the best way to do this is to let it sit out uncovered for a 30 minutes to an hour– you’ll want to do this particularly after unwrapping if you buy a wedge from the grocery store in plastic wrap.

      there may be a couple reasons why you’re noticing the difference in taste between the bbq and brie baker: 1) what I said above about airing out the cheese; 2) the container you used on the bbq might have breathed better; and finally, 3) bbq has it’s own smells that might be hiding the ammonia.

      I hope that helps. I actually wrote an article on the brie ammonia smell if you want to learn more:

  • Dionysius John

    This article is waaaaayyy vague…. for instance, if one has purchased a nice wedge of brie, how does one eat it without cutting the tip, or a corner off of it? Hmm?
    It’s a good thing that I just really like the cheese and don’t much give a rat’s fat patoot about the etiquette… ha ha ha!

    • Yeah, I’m not much for the rules either; but it’s more about how you would share a brie wedge at a party. It’s just considered rude to take the best part, which would be the tip. I wrote another post on the best ways to cut cheese; you can take a look, there is a diagram on how to cut wedges like brie. See the soft wedges section for the recommendation for cutting cheeses like brie

      But like I said, I’m not much for the rules; and, if you’re eating by yourself you shouldn’t think twice about cutting off the tip.