How to Choose Cheese for Pizza: Find Which is the Best Cheese?

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How to Choose Cheese for Pizza

Are you wondering how to choose cheese for pizza? 

There is something about a melty and stretchy cheese pull that makes pizza one of the most loved dishes in the world. 

But how do you choose the best? In short, we use the type of cheese depending on our desired taste and flavor. 

The cheese you decide to use can make or break a pizza. You can add flavor and texture depending on what direction you want to go.

However, a few standards can help us select the most suitable cheese for your pizza, and soon you will be PRO on how to choose cheese for pizza.

Let’s check it out!

Cheese for Pizza

What makes a pizza so good?

How to choose cheese for pizza when you have so many options?

The answers can vary per flavor, but cheese is one of the key ingredients to the quality of a pizza.

There are various types of cheese, and there is no “one size fits all” kind. We must understand what dishes best fit a specific kind, or we might be disappointed with the final product.  

Before deciding on how to choose cheese for pizza, it’s essential to understand what makes each type of cheese unique.

Different Kinds of Cheese for PIzza
How to Choose Cheese for Pizza

Tips on How to Choose Cheese for Pizza

  • Don’t purchase mozzarella that has already been shredded. Instead, purchase mozzarella a block from your supermarket’s deli and keep it in the freezer.

Then, when you’re ready to use it, shred the mozzarella with a cheese grater for a food processor. The cheese taste will be creamier and richer if you use shredded deli mozzarella.

  • Choose whole milk cheese. Whole milk mozzarella has a creamier texture (almost like cream cheese) and more taste than other milk mozzarella.

Because of the greater fat content level, the texture is creamier, and the taste is superior. It does, however, have one to two grams more fat per serving than another milk mozzarella.

If you use full milk mozzarella, you won’t require as much cheese as you would if you used skim milk mozzarella.

  • Try other mozzarella versions, such as fresh mozzarella. This kind of mozzarella is the traditional Italian pizza cheese. Eight-ounce balls of fresh mozzarella are available in many supermarkets.

It’s commonly vacuum-sealed in a whey-filled container. This cheese cannot be shredded since it is soft and readily breaks apart. If you want to shred it, place it in the freezer for about 30 to 45 minutes, then grate it with a box grater.

It does have a short life span; once opened, fresh mozzarella has a limited shelf life and should be used within a week.

Types of Cheese for Pizza

How to Choose Cheese for Pizza

Here are the various types of cheese:

Fresh Cheese

Fresh cheese is a group of commonly used cheeses for cooking. Fresh cheeses are produced from fresh, non-aged, and non-pressed curds.

Fresh cheese varies in taste, with some possessing a velvety texture and a salty taste, while others are sweeter but with a moist exterior. 

Fresh cheeses have a uniform consistency, although some variants are more acidic and quickly melt.

You can find most types of fresh cheese in any supermarket.

Creamy goat cheese is the most well-known, as it is used in pasta dishes like chicken alfredo or variants of carbonara. The crumbly but creamy feta cheese is often used for salads and soups, while soft mozzarella is a worldwide staple. 

In short, fresh cheese is the one we turn to the most.

Soft Cheese

Soft cheeses have a pronounced flavor and odor, providing unique characteristics to most dishes.

Whenever we have drunk conversations during family gatherings or friendly reunions, there is often some soft cheese to go along with the wine. The taste of most soft cheeses is mild, but the texture is creamy and moist.

Some famous soft cheeses include blue cheese, buffalo mozzarella, burrata, and brie.

Semi-Soft Cheese

These cheeses are smoother, with almost no rind. They have a lot of moisture, and tastes vary depending on the kind. Some variants go well in sandwiches and other snacks like sliced American cheese.

Others, like Gouda and Provolone, appear in many platters. When used for baking, these cheeses melt wonderfully, although they can be harder to shred if used as-is.

Semi-Firm Cheese

These cheeses are pressed during their production. This process strips them of moisture, becoming firmer as they age. They are usually used for snacks and sandwiches, although some are also seen in cooked dishes like soups and casseroles.

Cheddar and Edam are known variants, although others are more popular in niche circles, such as Saint Nectaire cheese.

Semi-firm cheeses can be stored for long periods, lasting up to two months in the fridge when unopened. Even sliced or opened, they can last two to four weeks.

Firm or Hard Cheese

Firm or hard cheeses are pressed and cooked carefully to produce a concentrated and compact product. They are firm, although some variants have a grainy texture.

Many are grated when used as a garnish or additional spice, such as Parmesan and Romano. They also appear in soups, broths, and ham dishes.

Blue-Veined Cheese

These cheeses are fermented with a blue-green mold and injected inside through long needles. They have a strong flavor and a distinct appearance.

These cheeses are known in popular culture as good partners for crackers and fruits. Roquefort and Danish Blue have known variants.

How to Choose Cheese for Pizza

How to choose cheese for pizza?

We cannot just pick a cheese that looks cool for a pizza. Besides being lazy, it can also change the way the pizza tastes! There are a lot of factors we have to consider.

But do not worry; you will quickly develop a chef’s intuition and look for these characteristics even without knowing.

When you are wondering how to choose cheese for pizza, you need to check for the following:

Type of Milk

Milk is the foundation or base for any cheese, but the animal from which that milk comes drastically changes the way the cheese tastes. 

  • Cow’s milk – Milk of good quality is bland with a slightly sweet taste, very little odor, and a smooth, rich, creamy feel in the mouth. 
  • Goat’s milk – gets its flavor from the presence of short- and medium-chain fatty acids. These are fatty acids that give the milk its particular flavor. It’s that grassy, goaty, earthy flavor you get when eating goat cheese with a gamey flavor; contrary to cow’s milk, it does not have a sweet flavor.
  • Sheep’s milk – The high butterfat content in sheep’s milk means sheep’s milk cheese is buttery and rich with a tangy flavor. Other typical sheep’s milk cheese flavors are nutty and gamy.
  • Buffalo’s milk– is creamier, softer, and far more flavorful than cow milk, with a tanginess and depth of flavor that’s all it’s own.

The milk can affect how the cheese comes out, and you may have a specific preference for your pizza. 

For example, some pizzas aim to be vegan or low-fat.

Mozzarella cheese can be made with almost any kind of milk, but you have to check the packaging to be sure. 

Moisture Level

Moisture level plays an essential role since cheese is categorized by its firmness.

Higher moisture content results in a softer cheese, while lower moisture content results in a firmer cheese.

Accordingly, the moisture will affect the outcome of the pizza. 

Moisture Level Content of Cheese for Pizza

ClassificationPercent moistureCheese textureExamples
Low-Moisture13–34%Very hardParmesan, Romano
Medium-Moisture34–45%Hard/Semi-HardCheddar, Swiss, Gouda, Edam
High-Moisture45–55%SoftMozzarella, Blue, Brie
Very-High Moisture55–80%Very softCottage, Cream Cheese, Ricotta

A cheese with higher moisture will melt easier.

On the other hand, you can use harder cheeses or low-moisture cheeses for shredded toppings. 

Fat Content

If you are aiming for a low-fat pizza, then, of course, you have to pay attention to the fat content. While we all appreciate a great-tasting slice, our excess pounds are not always welcome! 

Some guests might prefer low-fat cheese instead of the more conventional kinds. Also, many low-fat variants have less dairy content, which helps lactose intolerance.

 In addition, there are also health benefits to cheeses with lower fat content, such as lower cholesterol levels.

Aging

Although overlooked by many chefs, the ripening of the cheese also matters. It is one of the most critical parts of a cheese production stage.

Aging affects the appearance and flavor and the smell and texture. The longer a cheese has aged, the sharper its taste.

We do not want a pizza overly sour, so make sure to choose a cheese that has aged just enough.

 Appearance

Some might dismiss the appearance as a superficial concern, but it is a crucial component of the pizza!

A cheese that looks out of place will disrupt the visual appeal of the pizza and can make plating difficult. It helps to test if the cheese looks good when melted and sliced.

Taste

Of course, taste is one of the things you need to look for. The saltiness, sweetness, or sourness must go well with the other ingredients. If the flavor is incompatible with your desired taste, look for a different type.

Stretchability

The cheese’s stretchability should be considered if you want a pizza that looks good and meets expectations.

Some expect the cheese to produce that distinct “pull” when you grab a slice, adding to their satisfaction and overall experience. We all want that magic, so this might be something to think about!

Meltability

As the saying goes, time is money! The length of time a cheese melts can affect your preparation. If you want to prepare a pizza within a shorter time, choose a cheese that melts quickly while still tasting great.

Country of Origin

In some cases, the cheese’s origin also matters as other countries prepare their cheeses differently. Some last longer while refrigerated, while others have a shorter shelf life.

The taste can also vary depending on the variant.

 Depending on your comfort, you can go out of your comfort zone and try some foreign kinds from time to time. Some great pizza recipes are born out of experimentation.

After all, we can only grow if we try out new things! Some countries have a good selection of cheeses, like Switzerland and France.

Of course, make sure to check your budget. It might not be practical to seek out imported cheese if you are trying a new recipe for the first time.

Application or Best Use

Lastly, a cheese that is not fit for a pizza should not be selected. Some kinds are only suited for sandwiches, soups, or other dishes. 

For example, ricotta goes perfectly with white sauce, but not in tomato-based sauces. Mozzarella is versatile and can work with most pizza recipes. Whatever the case, check if your choice goes well on a pizza.

It is better to be safe than sorry. Otherwise, you might end up with a disappointing product. Do not sacrifice the pizza taste because you have excess cheese around the house.

If it does not fit, do not force it.

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Now that you know how to choose cheese for pizza let’s look into when you add the cheese to the pizza.

When to Add Cheese to Pizza

Knowing when you can add the cheese to the dough is very important. You want to hit the right timing. Some types can be put on the pizza before baking, while others are only suited for toppings.

You want to bring out the best taste in the pizza, so be careful with the timing and placement.

Before Baking

Cheese is typically put on the pizza before baking. It is usually placed after the tomato sauce but before toppings like meat and vegetables.

This order allows the cheese to get enough heat to melt and brown.

Mozzarella is often used, although some also like parmesan, cheddar, provolone, etc. However, some variants have the cheese after the toppings.

Do not be afraid to experiment if you want!

After Baking

Many chefs overlook adding cheese after the pizza has finished in the oven. Although optional, they added more cheese as toppings can give the pizza a unique flavor.

Some grated parmesan works well, although some ricotta shavings can do the trick.

The key is finding the right cheese that does not overpower the rest of your toppings. You can use trial and error to find the perfect combination.

It might take a few tries to perfect it, so try to experiment on individual slices first.

Combining Different Cheeses for Pizza

When wondering how to choose cheese for pizza, who says you have to stick to one kind of cheese?

Certainly not the many pizzerias that make much money from 4-cheese variants.

We recommend exploring different combinations, although you have to be selective.

Mozzarella is the top choice as the prominent cheese because of its meltability and texture, but cheeses like feta and gouda do not work well with toppings.

Although pizzas thrive on color and variety, not all combinations produce quality. If you use ricotta, like in some flatbread pizzas, you can mix it with a dash of fontina or gorgonzola.

Be adventurous, but make sure to check the taste and consistency. Once again, trial and error are your best friends.

Best Cheese for Pizza

Mozzarella is the best choice for most pizzas.

Many chefs see this cheese as the go-to for many reasons, such as its flavor and meltability. It also has a long shelf life, which means the excess can be stored in the fridge for future use.

It is usually saltier, although it can even be tangy if allowed to age for more extended periods. That means you can use it as a substitute for provolone, cheddar, and other more expensive cheeses.

Best Mozarella Cheese for Pizza

When you are wondering how to choose cheese for pizza and have several mozzarella options, here’s what you need to look for.

Low-Moisture is the best mozzarella cheese for pizza; it has a creamy taste and a firmer texture, which makes it the ideal cheese for shredding. Sprinkle some on your next homemade pizza.

On top of that, low-moisture mozzarella also has great meltability. It stretches well but remains dry enough to go well with the crust.

On the topic of consistency, low-moisture mozzarella also shreds much easier. It has a very firm consistency, putting it above other variants. The firmness allows it to have a distinct stretchability when melting occurs.

 Unlike fresh mozzarella, which starts to deteriorate in taste after a few days, the flavor of low-moisture mozzarella stays intact in the fridge. 

The taste is also top-notch and will leave many guests satisfied. It can also be easily transported and is often sold in bulk for lower prices. No wonder this one stood out from the pack out of the many kinds of cheese in the world.

Many pizzerias built their way to the top by mixing and matching their ingredients, including cheese. The principle is to find a mix that speaks well with your preferences and goals as a chef. 

What is the Best Stretchy Cheese for a Pizza

The undisputed king of stretchy cheese for pizza is mozzarella. Low-Moisture mozzarella has the ideal moisture, elasticity, and fat content balance for meltability.  

Can You Use any Kind of Cheese for Pizza?

You can use almost any kind of cheese for pizza. However, you need to make what taste and texture you want to add to your pizza before choosing the kind of cheese to use.

Check our 30 Different Cheese for Pizza article to learn more about the different types of cheeses and how to use them for pizza.

Here are the Cheeses the Pros at Homemade Pizza Pro Use and Recommend

The Real Deal! Nothing Like It
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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Best for Authentic Neapolitan Pizza
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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Our Top Pick
Fresh Stracciatella with Truffles

 Fresh Stracciatella with Truffles is a cheese lover's dream come true. Famously used as a luxurious filling for burrata, this Italian-style cheese began with humble origins. Originally a peasant's dish made using leftover curds, the name "Stracciatella" means "little rags" or "little shreds." The fresh curds made from cow's milk are stretched and torn into white shreds before being soaked in heavy cream. The resulting soft, luscious and milky cheese is also peppered with small pieces of black truffle, turning a once lowly dish into a true gourmet cheese.

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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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The Last Slice

We hope you are now a PRO! on choosing cheese for pizza.

Do not expect to perfect your recipes right away. Choosing the right cheese is one step in this journey to become the next best pizza mastermind.

Whatever the case, do not lose faith while you go on your pizza-making journey.

Empires do not happen overnight, even ones built on pizza.

What you need is determination and passion, alongside some good low-moisture mozzarella.

Additional Cheese Resources

Enjoy!

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