Skip to Content

Saint-Marcellin: Everything About this French Cheese

Saint-Marcellin: Everything About this French Cheese

Name: Saint-Marcellin

Location in France: Isère, Drôme, Savoie counties (Region Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes)

Synonym: Nicknamed Louis XI cheese

Appellations: Indication Géographique Protégée (IGP) in 2013 / Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) in English

Milk used: Whole cow’s milk, raw or thermized

Type of cheese rind: Washed, slightly creased

Type of cheese paste: Soft or dry

Texture: Melt-in-the-mouth for soft Saint-Marcellin, firm for dry cheese

Fat content: 23 %

Color: Cream (paste), beige to blue-grey (crust)


Saint-Marcellin @French Iceberg

Origins of Saint-Marcellin

An emblematic French cheese rich in taste and history, Saint-Marcellin takes its name from a town in the Isère region. Its origins date back to the reign of Louis XI (1423-1483), but it enjoyed great success in 1863 under the influence of Auguste Casimir-Perrier, minister under Louis-Philippe. After tasting it, he declared: “It’s delicious! You can send me some every week to the château“. This memorable praise left its mark on the history of Saint-Marcellin, contributing to the current renown of this atypical cheese from Isère.

Cylindrical in shape with rounded edges, Saint-Marcellin weighs at least 80 g. It has a generous thickness of 20 to 25 mm, with a diameter of 65 to 80 mm. It’s a soft cheese made from raw or thermized whole cow’s milk. It is easily recognized by its slightly wrinkled, very thin rind, covered with beige, white to blue-gray flora.

Read also: Food Specialties from Lyon: What Should You Eat?

How is Saint-Marcellin Cheese Made?

Initially, goat’s milk was the basic ingredient used to make Saint-Marcellin. But after the region was reforested in 1730, farmers had to turn to cow’s milk to produce this famous Isère cheese (Isère is a French county).

To obtain a creamy cheese with a delicate melt-in-the-mouth taste, you need 0.7 liters of milk from two breeds of cow:

  • Montbéliarde: 66 % ;
  • Holstein: 25 %.

The Saint-Marcellin cheese-making process is based on traditional farm techniques. This small cheese is made from a lightly salted lactic curd, neither kneaded nor pressed. The curd is dried before maturing, and heat treatment of the milk is kept to a minimum to preserve the traditional character of the product.

Cheese production involves a number of stages:

  1. Collection: Farm production or on the territory of Saint-Marcellin IGP ;
  2. Ripening: Development of bacteria and acidification of milk (temperature between 18 and 25°C);
  3. Renneting and curdling: A small amount of rennet is added to transform the liquid milk into curds (solid milk) for 12 to 24 hours;
  4. Molding: In block molds or individual molds;
  5. Draining and salting: Add dry salt on both sides;
  6. Refining: draining, drying, drying room.

The product can be marketed at least 10 days after renneting.

Taste Description

Saint-Marcellin is distinguished by its frank, generous taste. It leaves aromatic notes of fruit and honey. Its unctuous, medium-salted paste offers a delicate flavor with a touch of strength.

How to Enjoy it?

Dry or soft, plain or cooked, there’s a Saint-Marcellin for everyone. Do you like toast? This little cheese with character can be enjoyed on farmhouse bread, topped with the subtle flavors of thyme and honey, all baked in the oven.

For gourmets, Saint-Marcellin pairs perfectly with an aromatic white wine such as a Chardonnay from the Pays d’Oc or a Viognier from the Rhône Valley. This type of wine enhances the taste of the cheese and reveals all its aromas.

Recipes with Saint-Marcellin

Saint-Marcellin can be used to prepare a starter or an authentic dish. Whether in a pie, a fondue or as an accompaniment to a salad, this exceptional cheese offers a panoply of culinary possibilities that will delight young and old alike.

You can also enjoy it in macaroni gratins, in raclette, or with local products such as free-range chicken. It can also be served on a cheese platter with sweet fruits such as cherries, red grapes, figs, etc.

Similar Cheeses to Saint-Marcellin

Saint-Marcellin is a unique cheese but is sometimes confused with Saint-Félicien because of its striking resemblance. The latter, however, is larger, with a white paste and a pleated, ivory-white rind.

Originally from Ardèche, Saint-Félicien is produced in the same region as Saint-Marcellin, in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. Made from raw or pasteurized cow’s milk, this Dauphiné cheese has a light hazelnut flavor with a salty taste.