Mozzarella Sizes – (Why Fresh Small Balls are the Best)

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Mozzarella Sizes – (Why Fresh Small Balls are the Best)

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Are you confused with all the different mozzarella ball sizes? 

Have you ever visited the supermarket and looked at all these cheeses with these weird Italian names?

They all look the same, right?

So how do you know which one to pick? 

No worries, in this article, we will go over all the different types of fresh mozzarella ball sizes, how they differ in preparation, and what all those Italian names mean.

So, let’s get started!

Mozzarella Ball Sizes

Fresh mozzarella cheese is known by various names depending on its size and form. The most common mozzarella sizes in grocery stores are the pound log and half-pound balls, ideal for slicing. 

But they also have other types of mozzarella sizes, usually kept in water, that share the same mozzarella-making process. The other mozzarella sizes include pearls, noccioline, ciliegine, bocconcini, and ovolini.

Although there may be some variance between varieties and cheesemakers, the basic process is the same. Milk is heated to a temperature of 90 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, after which rennet (i.e., enzymes that thicken milk during the cheesemaking process ) and either citric acid or vinegar are added. This process activates the mixture and causes it to curdle.

At this point, the solids (or curds) are cut into pieces and separated from the liquid (or whey), the residual of which gradually drains as the curds rest and solidify. Soon thereafter, when they have reached the proper pH, they are slightly heated, salted, and shaped.

Why Does Mozzarella Cheese Come in Different Sizes?

The size of fresh mozzarella will depend on the application that it will be used. For example, if you are snacking, it is better to have more petite balls because they are easier to eat than you can in just one bite.

You will have different options to make salads, depending on how you want that salad to look.

For example, in a Caprese salad, you will need a slightly bigger mozzarella ball because that particular salad intends to show big slices of tomatoes and cheese arranged by color.

Types of Mozzarella by Size

There are different types of mozzarella sizes:

  • Perlini or Mozzarella Pearls (Pearl size)
  • Noccioline (Nut size)
  • Ciliegine (Cherry size)
  • Bocconcini (Bite size)
  • Ovolini (Egg size)
  • Fior di Latte and di Bufala (Ball Size)
  • Burrata (Ball Size)
  • Nodini (Knot)

Mozzarella Ball Sizes Chart

Explore the enticing realm of mozzarella through our mozzarella ball sizes chart, designed to guide you through the diverse dimensions of this scrumptious cheese, perfect for enhancing a wide range of dishes and tastes.

mozzarella sizes infographic
Mozzarella Ball Sizes Chart

How to Choose the Best Mozzarella Size

The key to choosing the best mozzarella sizes is symmetry; keep everything the same size.

To select the best size for your application, think of what you will make with the mozzarella ball, and try to imagine how they will look in terms of size and how they will interact with other ingredients.

Regarding flavor, regular mozzarella balls tend to be bland compared to cheddar cheese or smoked mozzarella. So the key is not to overpower the cheese flavor when combined with other ingredients.

The best approach is to keep the mozzarella size the same as the other ingredients. For example:

  • Cherry tomatoes with Ciliegine
  • Campari tomatoes with Bocconcini
  • Roma tomatoes with Ovalini

However, if the mozzarella is the show’s star, choose a bigger size, like the 8 oz mozzarella ball. Because it will be plated on its own, and all the attention should be focused on that big cheese ball.

Burrata
Burrata

Now, let’s look at all these different cheeses so you know what we are discussing.

What is Perlini?

Perlini, also known as mozzarella pearls, is a mozzarella cheese that originated in Italy. This variety of mozzarella is the tiniest of them all, resembling pearl-like balls, thus the name. Perlini cheese is made from pasteurized cow’s milk or water buffalo milk.

Perlini
Perlini

How Does Mozzarella Pearls Taste Like?

The texture is light and airy, with delicate, mild, and milky tastes. 

Because of its tiny size, this mozzarella is ideal for savory tartlets because it melts rapidly and doesn’t absorb much liquid. Add a little flaky sea salt for additional flavor, and you are all set!

You can use perlini for salads, snacks, and simple pasta meals. 

What is Noccioline?

Noccioline are nut-sized mozzarella balls; they are delicate and fresh, making them ideal for pizza. This 100% whole cow’s milk mozzarella is porcelain white with a deliciously smooth and luscious texture. 

The name noccioline comes from the Italian word for “nut” and refers to the cheese’s size.  

They should call them “right-size” because of their size and melting capability, making them perfect for pizza.

What is Ciliegine Mozzarella Cheese?

Ciliegine is a variety of mozzarella cheese that originated in Italy. It comprises little, silky white mozzarella balls prepared from pasteurized cow’s milk or, in some instances, water buffalo’s milk. 

Ciliegine is somewhat bigger than noccioline but smaller than bocconcini.

The name ciliegine comes from the Italian word for cherry and refers to the cheese’s size.

What Kind of Cheese is Ciliegine?

Ciliegine are cherry size mozzarella balls; they are delicate and fresh, making them ideal for salads and snacking.

These smooth, porcelain white pearls are made from fresh; local milk is collected only a few hours after milking.

How Does Ciliegine Mozzarella Balls Taste Like?

The flavor is light, delicate, fresh, and milky, while the texture is soft, spongy, and elastic. These little mozzarella balls are usually supplied in brine and used in salads and snacks. 

What is Bocconcini Mozzarella Cheese?

Bocconcini is an Italian cheese that comes from the Campania region. It’s a mozzarella-like cheese around the size of an egg created using water buffalo milk or a mix of buffalo and cow milk. 

bocconcini
Bocconcini

The name bocconcini comes from the Italian word bocconcini, which means little bites in Italian and refers to the shape and form of the cheese. 

Eating it raw or using it on pizzas or vegetable-based meals is best.

How Do Bocconcini Mozzarella Balls Taste Like?

The texture of these rindless tiny balls is semi-soft, creamy, elastic, and springy, with mild, buttery, and somewhat sweet tastes.

What is Ovolini Mozzarella Cheese?

Ovolini is a spongey, silky, porcelain-white fresh Mozzarella cheese with a mild flavor. 

These egg-shaped cheeses are packed in water for freshness and have a soft consistency and flexible flexibility, making them enjoyable to eat. 

caprese salad
Caprese Salad

These fresh Mozzarella balls are delicious or refreshing to your favorite Caprese salad.  

Fior di Latte and di Bufala Mozzarella Cheese

Both fior di latte mozzarella and buffalo milk mozzarella cheese are typically found in balls ranging from 4 to 8 ounces, a fairly standard large ball.

The preparation of these cheeses is very similar; however, the significant difference is in the milk. Fior di latte mozzarella cheese is made from cow’s milk, while mozzarella di bufala is made with buffalo milk.

What is Nodini Mozzarella Cheese?

Nodini are little, silky, and shiny hand-shaped knots of fresh mozzarella fior di latte. 

It’s typically prepared using pasteurized cow’s milk, but it can also be created with the milk of water buffaloes.

Nodini
Nodini

The flavor is milky and fresh, while the texture is delightful, soft, stringy, elastic, and chewy.

Nodini can be eaten alone or with ingredients like cold meats and fresh veggies.

The knotty form of the cheese exposes a larger surface area, making it suitable for different sauces and olive oil to engulf the nodini thoroughly.

What is Burrata?

Burrata, “buttered” in Italian, is an artisan cheese from Puglia. Cow’s milk, rennet, and cream are used to prepare the cheese. 

The cheese is thought to have been invented by Lorenzo Bianchino Chieppa, a cheesemaker who created a shell out of stretched mozzarella threads and filled it with sweet, creamy cream and smaller, leftover pieces of mozzarella.

The outcome was a real delicacy with the creamiest inside and a creamy fresh milk flavor rapidly gaining a following. 

Burrata should be consumed as soon as possible, ideally within 24 hours. It’s fantastic on its own, seasoned merely with salt, pepper, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Still, it’s also great with fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, and prosciutto or topping for pizzas or bruschettas.

types of mozzarella sizes infographic

Types of Mozzarella Sizes

What is the difference between Ciliegine and Bocconcini?

Both Bocconcini and Ciliegine are mozzarella cheeses. The difference between ciliengine and bocconcini is their size. Bocconcini cheese is small balls, while Ciliegine mozzarella is much smaller, like a cherry.

Bocconcini, “small bits” in Italian, are bite-sized Mozzarella cheeses that originated in Naples and were previously prepared solely from water buffalo milk. 

They’re mild unripened cheeses in plastic tubs filled with whey or water and are semi-soft, white, and rindless. 

Bocconcini are often produced from a combination of water buffalo and cow’s milk. Because this delectable cheese is perishable, it’s essential to eat it immediately.

These rindless small balls are semi-soft, creamy, elastic, and springy in texture, while the flavors are mild, buttery, and slightly sweet.

They’re perfect for marinating or tossed in a cherry tomato salad. 

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Ovoline vs Ciliegine

Ovoline and Ciliegine are two delightful variations of fresh mozzarella, each offering its own distinct size and form that caters to different culinary preferences and presentations. Ovoline, deriving its name from the Italian word for “small eggs,” are oval-shaped mozzarella pieces approximately 2-4 ounces in size.

They are larger than Ciliegine and are commonly used in dishes that require a more substantial cheese presence, such as panini sandwiches or sliced and layered in lasagna. Ciliegine, meaning “little cherries” in Italian, are smaller mozzarella balls with a diameter of around half an inch.

These petite spheres are perfect for incorporating into pasta dishes, sprinkling on pizzas, or simply enjoying as a tasty snack. While both Ovoline and Ciliegine share the creamy, mild flavor and smooth texture characteristic of mozzarella, their unique shapes and sizes allow for versatility in the kitchen, providing endless possibilities for delicious and creative culinary endeavors.

Bocconcini vs Ciliegine

Bocconcini and Ciliegine are two delightful types of fresh mozzarella, each with its own unique characteristics that make them sought-after ingredients in various culinary creations. Bocconcini, which translates to “small mouthfuls” in Italian, are bite-sized morsels of mozzarella typically measuring around 1-1.5 inches in diameter. These tender, semi-soft cheese balls have a delicate, milky flavor and are often used in salads, antipasti platters, or skewered with cherry tomatoes and basil for a classic Caprese salad.

On the other hand, Ciliegine, meaning “little cherries,” are even smaller, with a diameter of approximately half an inch. Their petite size makes them ideal for incorporating into pasta dishes, pizza toppings, or simply as a delightful snack on their own.

Both Bocconcini and Ciliegine boast a subtle, creamy taste and velvety texture, which can elevate any dish they are added to, providing an exquisite taste experience for cheese lovers.

Ciliegine vs Pearls

Ciliegine and Pearls are two distinct variations of fresh mozzarella, each boasting a specific size and shape that lends itself to different culinary applications. Ciliegine, Italian for “little cherries,” are small mozzarella balls approximately half an inch in diameter. Their dainty size makes them a delightful addition to pasta dishes, pizza toppings, or as bite-sized treats perfect for snacking.

As the name suggests, Pearls are the smallest form of mozzarella balls, typically measuring around a quarter of an inch in diameter. Their minuscule size adds a touch of elegance to any dish and is well-suited for more delicate presentations, such as a garnish on top of bruschetta or mixed into grain salads.

Both Ciliegine and Pearls share the same creamy flavor, and smooth texture that mozzarella is renowned for, but their contrasting dimensions allow for diverse culinary expressions and unique taste experiences.

Ovoline vs Burrata

Ovoline and Burrata are two exquisite types of Italian cheese that, while similar in appearance, offer unique taste experiences and culinary applications. Ovoline, named for its “small egg” shape in Italian, are oval-shaped pieces of fresh mozzarella cheese, typically weighing between 2-4 ounces. Their larger size lends itself well to dishes requiring a more substantial cheese component, such as paninis, lasagna, or Caprese salad.

On the other hand, Burrata is a luxurious cheese often compared to mozzarella but with a twist. It features a thin outer layer of fresh mozzarella encasing a rich, creamy center made of stracciatella (shredded mozzarella) and cream. The sumptuous filling offers a velvety, indulgent texture and delicate flavor that elevates any dish it graces. While Ovoline provides the classic mozzarella experience, Burrata brings an extra level of decadence and sophistication to the table.

Both kinds of cheese are versatile and can be used in various dishes, from appetizers to main courses, but their distinct characteristics will impact the final result, offering different dimensions of flavor and texture.

What is the Best Mozzarella Size for Pizza?

The short answer is it depends.

If you want to melt the mozzarella in the oven while the pizza cooks, it is best to choose a small mozzarella size: the pearls or the noccioline; anything bigger than that will not melt.

If you want the cheese to melt extra fast in strings, choose a low moisture mozzarella cheese instead of fresh mozzarella.

Pizza with melted mozzarella pearls
Fresh Mozzarella Pizza

The other problem is that big balls of mozzarella on top of the pizza will look out of place.

If you choose a bigger size of fresh mozzarella, then you have to manually tear the cheese into smaller pieces so it will slightly melt.

fresh mozzarella on pizza
Fresh Mozzarella on Top of Pizza

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The Last Slice

We hope you can now know the difference in mozzarella ball sizes you can find at the cheese counter at your local supermarket and what those Italian names mean. So you can be a cheese ball PRO!

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