Definition: Gruyère is a type of Swiss cheese made from whole cow's milk which is generally cured for six months or longer.
Named for the town of Gruyères in Switzerland where it was originally made, Gruyère cheese is a firm cheese with a pale yellow color and a rich, creamy, slightly nutty taste.
Gruyère features a few small holes or "eyes," but they are fewer, and smaller, than Emmental, which is another variety of Swiss cheese. The holes are formed by gas bubbles released by the bacteria that are used in making the cheese.
Gruyère is a great table cheese and also an excellent melting cheese. Gruyère is one of the two main cheeses in the traditional fondue recipe.
Gruyère Substitute: Gruyère is widely available, but if you need a substitute for Gruyère cheese, you could try Emmental, Jarlsberg, Beaufort, Comté or Raclette. Ordinary Swiss cheese would be a decent Gruyère cheese alternative as well.