Become an Expert on Cheese for Pizza with this Mouthwatering Guide

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Do you want to become an expert on cheese for pizza?

Everyone adores stringy cheese on pizza. Cheese is the one thing that can elevate your pizza’s taste and presentation, which is why many recipes call for mozzarella. 

But, should you only use mozzarella? What other types of cheese can you use? 

Can you use any aged cheese to replace the mozzarella? 

Check out this guide to find the answers to these and other cheesy questions. 

Let’s get started!

Categories of Cheese for Pizza

Let us first learn more about the cheese categories. Usually, cheese is categorized depending on how it is made.  

This guide will talk about the different types according to the length of fermentation, moisture content, and how firm they are. These categories include:

Hard Cheese: This category contains less moisture than semi-hard and semi-soft cheese. It is also the firmest, takes longer to ripen, and has the most extended shelf life.  

Since hard cheeses are firm, they are suitable for grating. They generally have a crystalline texture, and some even crumble, depending on how long they have aged.  

Hard cheese ferments for not less than 6-12 months, with some going for years, making it lose moisture. Many people love these types of cheese because of their strong taste.

Semi-Hard Cheese: The cheese in this category ages longer than semi-soft cheese but less than hard cheese. The cheese has more moisture content than hard cheese but less than soft and semi-soft cheese.  

The fermentation period makes it partially firm, which is also suitable for grating.

Semi-Soft Cheese: The cheese in this category has more moisture with a mild taste. That is because they mature for a shorter period, about a month. 

The cheese is softer and more difficult to grate. However, it is suitable for melting in your everyday cooking.

How to Buy Cheese for Pizza?

It is always better to purchase block cheese than pre-shredded cheese. First of all, block, rounded, and wedge cheese taste better. Pre-shredded cheese comes with additives that change the taste of the original cheese.  

Many manufacturing companies add potato starch to reduce cheese and other products clumping. They also combine powdered cellulose with potato starch to offer the same service, but most importantly, to add color.  

They also spray Natamycin on the cheese to preserve it and prevent mold from forming. In the end, the shredded cheese will taste different and also melt with a different texture.

How to Cut Cheese?

Now that we have agreed that it is better to buy a block, round, or wedge of cheese, how can you cut it? There are three different ways you can cut the cheese before adding it to your pizza:

  • Shredded cheese
  • Finely grated cheese
  • Shaved into thin strips

Shredding, grating, and cutting your cheese into smaller pieces allows your toppings to mix well with the cheese. Also, the cheese can melt evenly without some of the pieces burning while others are still in blocks.

How to Shred Cheese

Using a Grater

To shred cheese, you can use a box grater or a hand grater, shredding the cheese against the larger grater holes. 

It is best to shred cheese just before using it. If you shred the cheese hours before using it will lose too much moisture and turn dry. The cheese will start to lose moisture after 30 minutes of being shredded. 

If you want to be accurate, purchase a large piece of cheese and weigh it to see when you’ve shredded the appropriate quantity. To shred it, place a small bowl on the scale, set the weighing mechanism to zero out with the bowl in place (this is known as the “tare” on most scales), then shred the cheese into the bowl. 

Alternatively, figure out how much the block of cheese weighs upfront (8 ounces, for example), then shred some cheese, weighing the block intermittently until you’ve gotten as much shaved off as you need, then remove the total.  

For example, if you need 3 ounces, there should be a 5-ounce chunk of the 8-ounce block remaining once you’re through.  

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Using a Food Processor

To shred cheese, you can use the shredding blade of a food processor. You’ll need to weigh the cheese first and then feed as much as you need into the tube.  

Cheese is not like flour, yeast percentage, or hydration percentage, where you need to be more precise. For cheese purposes, it can’t hurt to a bit additional cheese. You can estimate the cheese amount and still make the best pizza!

How to Finely Grate Cheese

Grated hard cheeses, such as Parmigiano-Reggiano or aged Asiago, can be grated into considerably more delicate threads. To finely grate cheese, you can use a box grater with tiny holes or a small-holed Microplane. 

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When finely grating cheese, try not to leave small balls and lumps. If the final piece slips over the grates, it’s easier to purchase more cheese than you’ll need and shred just a section of the block. 

If you want to be sure you’ve grated the appropriate quantity, use a kitchen scale.

How to Cut Cheese in Long Strips (Cheese Shavings)

To cut cheese in paper-thing strips, you can use a vegetable peeler or a cheese plane, a specialized instrument that runs over the block and shaves a tiny strip via a large slit in the plane.

You may also use a mandoline, a specialty kitchen instrument with a razor­sharp blade. However, the difficulty of dealing with a mandoline and/or cleaning it may negate the benefit. 

If you don’t have a cheese plane, use the shaving blade on the side of a box grater or the 1mm slicing blade of a food processor.

Types of Cheese for Pizza

Pizza is not just a layer of mozzarella cheese under various toppings. The best pizzas are made with a combination of various cheeses.  

Here are the 30 different kinds of cheese you can use for pizza. You can also check our Recommended Pizza Ingredients for more.

  1. Asiago

The Italian Asiago Pressato is a cow’s milk, semi-soft Italian cheese with a fresh nutty flavor. The cheese is mild and creamier than parmesan cheese. It can be a great substitute for Pecorino or other hard cheeses.  

For pizza, look for drier versions of the Asiago as it’s best for grating. Wetter versions of the asiago cheese can melt very quickly and fall off the crust. The cheese is best or pizza with vegetable toppings. On the other hand, we have the mature Asiago D’allevo with a more firm, dry and sharp taste.

  1. Blue Cheese

 Blue cheese is like a general category of some cheeses, stilton, and gorgonzola, made in the presence of penicillin. These chee can either be hard or soft, depending on how they are manufactured. They vary in color and have blue or green veins. The assertive flavor, which is spicy and slightly salty, makes making quality pizza at home and in the restaurant convenient. You can dilute it with cream when making pizza if you’re new to cheese.

  1. Brie

Brie is a semi-soft cow’s milk cheese from France that has a mild flavor. This creamy cheese is encased in an edible white rind. However, for making pizza, the rind should be removed. The cheese is creamy and buttery, which makes the best caramelized-onion pizza, vegetable, apple, or pear-based pizza. 

When using brie for pizza, slice off the top rind with a knife, then set it aside until it comes to room temperature. Using a rubber spatula, you can spread the cheese across the pizza crust.

  1. Burrata

Italians made burrata cheese from buffalo’s milk in the past, but now they make it from cow’s milk. The semi-soft chee is rich and creamy. You can choose to place mozzarella with this cheese because it is softer and more flavorful. Remember to put the cheese on the pizza after you have cooked it. People mainly use the Burrata cheese to prepare Margherita-style pizza, tomato-based pizza, and many more recipes.

  1. Cheddar (White and Yellow)

Cheddar is a complicated cheese type with a sharp taste and a strong smell. Cheddar cheese mostly comes from England, although is super popular in the US. 

Cheddar cheese is classified as mild, medium, sharp, and extra-sharp. You can pair it with other cheeses to create a deeper flavor.  

Also, there is not much taste difference between the white and yellow cheddars. They both don’t react well to high temperatures and have low elasticity.  

However, the yellow cheddar gives a great color to your pizza. We find that medium cheddar works best for pizza. You can grate it into smaller pieces on your pizza toppings like chicken, savory meat, and sweet pineapple pizza.  

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  1.  Edam

You can use Edam cheese on your pizza if you want a mild, smooth, and nutty flavor. This cheese has a firm texture because it is semi-hard and made from skimmed milk. It is a great substitute for Emmental, Cheddar, Gouda, or even Gruyere. It is also softer than these other cheeses, primarily due to its lower fat content.

The good thing about this cheese from the Netherlands is that it has no smell compared to other cheeses in this category. 

However, Edam has low elasticity and can be stodgy. That means it can not bubble or turn brown. Therefore, you should pair it with mozzarella when making pizza.

  1. Emmental

This is a Swiss-looking, medium-hard cow’s milk cheese that has a mild savory taste. Use this cheese on pizza, but only when paired with softer cheese. 

The cheese alone has more oil, which will make it stodgy. 

The cheese will not brown. As a result, we often use it as part of the topping with another cheese like mozzarella.

  1. Feta

Feta cheese is made from goats, sheep, and/or cow’s milk. This Greek cheese is a form of cheese curd. It is crumbly, white, and salty. It’s best stored in brine because it dries very quickly.

Feta Cheese is most popular for Greek pizza.

  1. Fontina

Like the US, Sweden, Denmark, Argentina, France, and Quebec, many countries produce fontina cheese. This is cow’s milk, semi-soft, smooth, creamy, and slightly savory in taste and smell. 

You cannot replace this one with mozzarella because of the nutty aftertaste. 

On the other hand, the semi-hard has a firmer texture and a distinctive nutty taste and smell. When making pizza, you can grate it like Parmiggiano-Reggiano, or you can pair both the semi-hard and semi-soft with different cheeses.

  1.  Goat Cheese

Goat cheese is a soft cheese that gives the pizza a savory taste. It’s often called chevre, French for “goat.” It is mostly sold in small, cylinder-shaped pieces. There are hundreds of varieties on the market, including aged, hard, and some fresh and soft.

The cheese is also creamy but doesn’t melt as well as the mozzarella. 

Goat cheese comes in different flavors, like herbed or peppered, but for pizza, choose the plain version.  

You can place it in the oven to soften smoothly. The cheese is excellent for making Mediterranean, focaccia, and flatbread pizzas.

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  1. Gorgonzola

The blue-marble gorgonzola is typically a semi-hard cow’s milk cheese from Italy. But, you can also find other varieties: soft, aged and sweet.

Unlike many other hard kinds of cheese, the crumbly gorgonzola quickly melts. 

For pizza, choose the soft version. This cheese also has a sharp, distinctive taste, perfect for caramelized-onion pizza or charred con with rosemary pizza.

  1. Gouda

Gouda is a cow’s milk, semi-hard cheese from the Netherlands. People love the cheese because it comes in smokey or buttery flavors and adds color to your cheese. 

The cheese doesn’t melt quickly or stretch into strands. However, you can pair it with other cheeses to give it that elastic pool. 

The smoky gouda is excellent for meaty pizzas, while the buttery flavor is excellent for thin crusts and flatbreads to balance savory flavors.

  1.  Grana Padano

Grana Padano is a hard Italian cheese rich in salty and savory flavors. Italians make the cheese using unpasteurized milk. 

You can often use this cheese in place of Parmesan because it is crumbly and it melts well. Compared to Parmiggiano-Reggiano, Grana Padano is lightly sweeter and milder.

To make a tasty pizza, you can pair this cheese with mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, honey, apple, nuts, or olives.

  1.  Gruyere

Gruyere is a type of mild, salty, Swiss hard cheese from Sweden with a savory flavor. Unlike other hard cheeses, this cheese melts well to color your pizza slightly. 

Gruyere has a sweet, earthy, and nutty taste that pairs well with white and red pizza sauces. 

The cheese doesn’t blister easily, making it versatile for any pizza.

  1. Havarti

The Danish Havarti is a semi-soft cheese that is very buttery and creamy. 

The cheese also has a mild savory flavor that combines well with the sweet diced tomatoes. 

You can also use garlic, basil, or other herbs. People mainly use this cheese to prepare gluten-free or low-carb pizzas.

  1. Jarlsberg

Jarlsberg is a cows’ milk, hard cheese from Norway with a nutty and sour taste. 

Jarlsberg has an inedible rind and characteristic waxy sheen, but it’s buttery, more pliable, and sweeter than Emmental.

When making pizza, you can pair this cheese with provolone or mozzarella. 

You can also use it as a substitute for Gruyere and Emmental cheese.

  1.  Manchego

Manchego is a sheep’s milk, semi-hard cheese from Spain that has a rich, savory flavor. It can be both shredded and grated.

It has an inedible rind, so it has to be removed before consumption.

To add a nutty and earthy taste, you can shred or crumble this cheese on your pizza.

  1. Monterey Jack

This is a semi-hard American cheese that is slightly sweet and has a mild flavor. 

People compare the taste with cheddar. You can replace the Monterey with mozzarella since it melts well. 

However, for pizza, try to avoid the Pepper Jack version or any other flavored version.

  1. Montrachet

This semi-soft goat cheese is available worldwide. It is white, fresh, and has a tangy flavor. 

To add a mild flavor, you can crumble the Montrachet cheese on your pizza toppings.

  1. Mozzarella (Low-Moisture)

The king of classic pizza, Low moisture mozzarella is what we commonly use for any pizza. 

We can categorize the cheese as semi-hard cheese because it has a moisture content lower than 52%, making it easy to melt. 

Low-moisture mozzarella is from Italy, but some European countries, like Belgium, still make the cheese. Mozzarella has a milder taste than others, with a creamy feel on the tongue. 

You can mix mozzarella with other tastier cheeses since it is excellent for making cheese blends for pizza.

  • Mozzarella (Fior de Latte)

This type of cheese comes from cow’s whole milk. 

It has a fresh, creamy taste, and you can see the strands when stretching. 

The flavor is more delicate and sweeter than mozzarella. 

Besides, it has a lower fat content. Since the cheese has a higher moisture content, you can make Greek or Neapolitan pizza.

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Mozzarella Di Buffala

You'll love this Italian Mozzarella Di Buffala cheese for its slightly elastic consistency, with a thin and shiny rind that is porcelain white. The aroma of this mozzarella is enhanced at cutting, with the appearance of a slight whey draining with a scent of milk enzymes.

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Fresh Mozzarella Ovolini

Fresh Mozzarella Ovolini is a smooth, porcelain-white cheese with a mild, fresh taste and spongey texture. Packed in water for freshness, each egg-shaped cheese has a moist consistency and supple elasticity, making it pleasing to eat. Enjoy these fresh Mozzarella balls by themselves or as a refreshing topping on your favorite Caprese salad recipe. 

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Fresh Mozzarella - Fior Di Latte

Fior Di Latte is an Italian-style cow's milk cheese made to order and delivered fresh as can be. With a name meaning "milk's flower," each ball-shaped cheese has an elastic texture and fresh, tangy taste thanks to the use of fresh cow's milk (as opposed to the buffalo's milk used in Mozzarella di Bufala). While fresh Mozzarella cheese can be enjoyed by itself, it works wonders spread over pizza or accompanied by salad.

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Fresh Smoked Mozzarella

Fresh Smoked Mozzarella is a soft, silky, and ultra-fresh Italian style cheese that's been smoked to enhance its natural milky flavor. Each piece is made in an Italian cafe in Miami Beach, Florida, where their in-house Italian cheesemonger creates mozzarella the traditional way, by kneading fresh curd in water to impart it with a spongy, elastic texture. The cheese is also smoked to impart a woodsy flavor and golden hue. This makes it a unique substitute for regular mozzarella. Delicious when sliced and eaten by itself, it can also be added to Mediterranean-style salads and paninis or melted onto pizzas or grilled meats.

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Fresh Burrata Cheese

Fresh Burrata Cheese is a delicious Italian-style cheese, traditionally made into small pouches, each boasting a signature brioche-like top knot. Each sack encases a thick center of creamy cheese that oozes out when you slice into it. The outside is made from mozzarella, still yielding, it’s just dense enough to hold in the silky interior, which is composed of stracciatella and cream. Most commonly made from cow's milk, you’ll sometimes find buffalo milk variants as well.

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Fresh Stracciatella

Fresh Stracciatella is the stuff dreams are made of. With a name meaning "little rags", this soft-textured cheese is made from cow's milk cheese churned into curds. Following Italian style methods, the curds are stretched and shredded into ivory-hued strands that are soaked in heavy cream, providing a soft, milky and delicious cheese with hints of saltiness. Most famously, stracciatella is used as a luscious filling for burrata, but it can also be enjoyed by itself, alongside juicy tomatoes and veggies, on top of salads, or spread onto bread and topped with a sweet jam or spread. In this way, what was once a simple peasant dish has now become a beloved gourmet cheese in its own right.

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Italian Mozzarella Treccione

Fresh Mozzarella Treccione is a silky, porcelain-white cheese carefully hand-tied into a unique braid-like shape. This gives it a unique texture distinct from regular balls of mozzarella, along with mild, fresh taste and spongy consistency. Stored in water for freshness, it's delivered fresh to your door, ready for slicing and eating by itself, or adding to complex dishes, Mediterranean-style salads and hearty sandwiches.

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  1. Mozzarella DiBuffala

Buffalo mozzarella is a type of mozzarella cheese made from buffalo milk. 

The cheese is traditional and only comes from certain parts of Italy. The cheese is creamy, smooth, and springy. 

For your pizza toppings, you can pair the cheese with basil, tomato, red pepper, and salami.

  1. Muenster

The semi-soft muenster cheese is from the US. The cheese is smooth, sweet, and has a nutty flavor. 

The rind is also orange, unlike the rest of the cheese. 

You can use the cheese on pizza on its own since it has a creamy texture and a richer taste.  

If muenster cheese is too soft to grate, place it in the freezer for up to 3 hours so it will firm up just slightly.

  1. Parmegiano-Reggiano

The Parmegiano-Reggiano, commonly called Parmesan, is a hard Italian cheese. 

The cheese has a nutty, sweet, and umami taste that changes when heated. 

For this reason, you should not bake it in the oven. 

We often use it as a garnish on pizzas and pair it with provolone or mozzarella cheese. The cheese is excellent for making Margherita and Hawaiian pizza.

  1. Pecorino

Italians make the hard pecorino cheese from sheep’s milk. The cheese has salt crystals that improve the texture and flavor. 

As a result, Pecorino has a sharp toasted hazelnut flavor and a spicy aftertaste. 

You can replace Parmesan with this cheese because it is saltier and tastier. Therefore, people use it to make red pizza sauce or bake pizza with leeks, lamb, or tomato toppings.

  1. Provolone

Provolone cheese is an Italian cow’s milk cheese that falls under the semi-hard category. 

The taste is different depending on the age of the cheese. Usually, the more mature one has a dry texture and a sharper taste. 

On the other hand, less mature is sweeter and creamier. You can blend this cheese with different types of cheese. 

You can use it alone and make a Greek or any other pizza if you like. Some of the toppings you can include are sausages, chicken, onions, red peppers, pesto, basil, and broccoli, among other toppings.

  1. Queso Blanco

The semi-soft Queso Blanco cheese softens instead of melting, making it great for reshaping the pizza. 

Therefore, you can pair this elastic with other cheeses like mozzarella but not replace it. 

To prepare the Mexican pizza, you can add dark chocolate, jalapeno pepper, and avocado. You can also make a German pizza by using mustard instead of sauce.

  1.  Raclette

If you want a soft, buttery cheese with a milky and nutty taste, you can get the Raclette semi-hard cheese. 

This somewhat aromatic cheese is from Switzerland and France, but it doesn’t separate when it melts. 

You can use raclette cheese interchangeably with Gruyere. Remember to remove the rind before consumption.

  1. Ricotta (Saletta)

Ricotta Salata is a semi-soft cheese from Italy that comes from the whey leftovers of cow, goat, and buffalo milk. 

The cheese gives your pizza a pale to light brown color and a mild, slightly sweet flavor. 

The Ricotta Saletta is creamy, making it suitable for making white sauce pizzas like the grilled flatbread pizzas and Pizza Bianca. 

To create a cheesier pizza, you can also pair it with other cheeses like fontina, Gruyere, gorgonzola, and mozzarella cheese.

  1. Roquefort

The French make the blue Roquefort cheese from sheep’s milk. This blue cheese is slightly moist and has a tangy, crumbly feeling. 

The cheese is also smooth and creamy, making it great for pairing with other pizza toppings. However, the FDA has banned Roquefort because of a harmless version of the E. coli bacteria.

  1. Swiss

The name already gives the location of the Swiss cheese. Yes, it is a semi-hard cheese from Switzerland with a savory and spicy flavor. 

This cheese acts as an excellent substitute for mozzarella if you want an intense flavor. Besides, the cheese is elastic and melts well. 

You can combine the nutty taste with zucchini, apples, or mushroom toppings.

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The Last Slice

In general, we learned about the various categories of cheese, how to buy cheese to keep the test, and the various types of cheese. 

We’ve also seen where every kind of cheese comes from, how it’s classified, and how you can use it on your pizza. 

Now that you’ve found the perfect cheese for your needs, you can begin baking your homemade pizza. With the right cheese and toppings, nothing can go wrong.

Enjoy!

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