I know people can be really pedantic when it comes to pizza. Anything other than mozzarella and you can expect to be canceled by Twitter. But if you think rationally, pizza is just like any other carb base. So, it’s okay to experiment with non-traditional alternatives once in a while to broaden your palate’s horizon.
When you look up “what type of cheese for pizza”, fresh mozzarella is the most common answer to pop up, thanks to its signature cheese pull. The second best option would be smoked gouda. If you want to be creative, provolone, fontina, asiago, and parmesan can be surprisingly good alternatives too.
In this blog post, I will delve into the different types of cheese that are commonly used in pizza making and provide detailed information on their characteristics, flavor profiles, and how they interact with other ingredients.
Let’s get to it:
The Cheese Chronicles: How Cheese Transforms Pizza’s Flavor and Texture
Ah, cheese! The quintessential ingredient that makes pizza one of the greatest inventions of mankind. The right cheese can elevate the flavor and texture of your pizza, while the wrong cheese can lead to nothing but disappointment. Let’s take a closer look at the role of cheese in pizza making.
The flavor is one of the most important aspects of a pizza, and cheese is the star of the show. Mozzarella cheese is my go-to choice because it strikes the perfect balance between flavor and stretchiness.
However, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can try experimenting with other cheeses like provolone, emmental, fontina, edam, or even a crumbly, sharp blue cheese like gorgonzola. Just keep in mind that stronger cheeses should be balanced out with other toppings to prevent overpowering the overall flavor.
As for the texture, cheese plays a crucial role in creating that gooey, stretchy goodness that makes pizza so satisfying. The cheese melts in the oven and combines with the sauce and toppings to create a perfect harmony of flavors and textures.
To achieve the desired stretchy texture, I recommend using cheese with a high moisture content. Conversely, if you prefer a crispier crust, choose cheese with a lower moisture content.
What Type of Cheese for Pizza: My Top 7 Picks ( Plus One Honorable Mention)
Looking to experiment with different types of cheese on your pizza to create something unique and out-of-the-box? Well, me too. All the time!
Just out of sheer curiosity, I have tried a variety of cheeses on my pizza. While some turned out unexpectedly delicious, some made me gag.
I have also tried combining 3-4 types of cheese to create my own special blend and have finally come up with a blend that hits the mark. I’m going to share the recipe o my secret pizza cheese blend later in the article.
But first, let’s discuss in detail the wide variety of cheeses you can use on pizza:
Mozzarella – Reigning Supreme in the Pizza Realm
A pairing made in heaven; it’s weird to imagine a classic Italian or New York-style pizza without the iconic mozzarella cheese pull. But what is it about mozzarella that makes it the perfect cheese for pizza? Well, let’s dive in and find out.
The Elasticity Factor
Elasticity is a key factor to consider when determining what type of cheese for pizza to go with. When you cook a pizza, the cheese needs to melt and spread evenly across the surface of the pie. If the cheese is too oily or watery, it won’t melt evenly, and you’ll end up with a greasy or unevenly cooked pizza. But if the cheese is too firm, it won’t melt at all.
The reason why mozzarella is considered the best cheese for pizza is that it strikes the perfect balance between moist (sorry) and fatty.
But why is mozzarella so elastic?
According to this source, Mozzarella’s stretchiness is due to its unique protein structure, specifically the casein protein, which aligns and forms a mesh-like structure during the stretching process. The milk composition, treatment, and processing techniques also play a role in the cheese’s stretchiness.
The process of making mozzarella cheese starts with milk from either water buffaloes or cows. The milk is heated and mixed with bacteria that convert lactose into lactic acid. This causes the milk to turn into a solid mass called curd. The curd is cut into small pieces and heated again, which removes more liquid from the cheese.
The curd is then stretched and kneaded by hand, which causes the cheese to become stretchy.
Regular fresh mozzarella can have as much as 60% of water. When cheese is exposed to heat, the water inside it starts to boil and turn into steam. This steam forms a bubble in the cheese as it gathers together, causing the steam to be trapped between strands of protein and globules of fat.
In layman’s terms, the moisture content of moz, along with its high elasticity, allows it to maintain the perfect consistency when baked.
However, some people prefer to use low-moisture mozzarella (45-52% moisture) for its better reliability.
But for me, nothing beats the taste of fresh mozzarella di bufala. In order to avoid the soggy mess, I slice the cheese thinly so that it melts more evenly and doesn’t release too much moisture. You can also pre-bake your crust for a few minutes before adding the cheese to make the crust stays crispy.
The Fat Content Equation
The fat in cheese decides how it responds to heat. More fat in cheese equals a strong buttery taste and more greasiness but less stretchiness. Since a lot of people associate the quality of mozzarella cheese with the “cheese pull”, many pizzerias use low-fat, low-moisture, pre-shredded mozzarella on their pizzas.
I am not against that, but if you want the real taste of Margherita with a decent cheese pull, try blending fresh moz with low-fat cheese in 70:30 ratio.
Nutritional Profile of Mozzarella
We all know that the show-stopping element of any pizza is the ooey-gooey, melty cheese that blankets the entire pie.
But as much as I adore the flavor and stretchiness of mozzarella, I also know that it’s essential to consider the nutritional benefits of the cheese we choose for our pizzas. After all, a pizza that tastes heavenly and is also good for your body? That’s a win-win!
So, let’s go over the nutritional value of mozzarella:Note: I will be only highlighting the protein, fat, calcium, and sodium content. These are usually the main nutrients found in cheese.
- Protein: Mozzarella is a rich source of protein, which is crucial for building and repairing tissues and supporting overall health. 100 grams of mozzarella cheese has around 28 grams of protein.
- Fat: Fresh mozzarella is also packed with fats that are actually good for your health. 100 grams of mozzarella has 17 grams of fat (11 grams of saturated fat). If you are on a calorie-deficit diet, you can always opt for low-fat moz.
- Calcium: Mozzarella is also packed with calcium, making it an excellent choice for those who prioritize bone health. 100 grams of mozzarella contains 731 mg of calcium.
- Sodium: Mozzarella is moderately high in sodium. There is 743 mg of sodium in 100 grams of regular mozzarella cheese. Low-sodium mozzarella is also available for those mindful of their sodium intake.
Smoked Gouda – A Smoky Sensation
Whether I’m making a classic Margherita or getting creative with unique toppings, smoked Gouda never fails to impress with its remarkable flavor and texture. It’s a secret weapon in my pizza-making arsenal that adds depth, complexity, and a touch of indulgence to my culinary creations.
What truly sets smoked Gouda apart is its remarkable reliability. As the pizza bakes, the cheese transforms into a molten pool of creamy goodness, stretching and bubbling, creating a luscious and indulgent texture that I can’t resist.
And that hint of smokiness is all you need to elevate your homemade pizza to the gourmet level.
Nutritional Insights into Smoked Gouda
Smoked gouda can be a fantastic cheese for pizza, but is it healthy? Good news! It is. However, as with any food, moderation is key. Be mindful of your portion sizes and choose low-sodium options if necessary to fit your dietary preferences and health goals.
Below is the nutritional information for 100 grams of smoked gouda. Note: Numbers will differ from brand to brand.
- Protein: Gouda cheese is a decent source of protein. 100 grams of smoked Gouda cheese contains approximately 25 grams of protein, making it a protein-packed choice for those looking to meet their daily protein needs.
- Fat: Smoked Gouda cheese is also high in healthy fats that are beneficial for your health. 100 grams of Gouda cheese contains around 27.4 grams of fat, with 18 grams of saturated fat.
- Calcium: 100 grams of smoked Gouda cheese contains about 700 mg of calcium, making it an excellent choice for those who prioritize bone health.
- Sodium: It’s important to note that Gouda cheese, like many other cheeses, is high in sodium. 100 grams of regular smoked Gouda cheese contains approximately 819 mg of sodium.
Provolone – The Bold Choice
Provolone truly steals the show when it comes to making the perfect thick, stuffed crust pizza, just like the famous Chicago-style pie. The taste, texture, and reliability of provolone are simply divine, and they elevate the pizza experience to a whole new level of indulgence.
When I sink my teeth into a slice of pizza with provolone, I’m greeted with a rich, slightly tangy flavor that perfectly complements the robust tomato sauce and savory toppings. The texture is delightfully creamy yet slightly firm, allowing for a satisfying bite with just the right amount of chew.
Nutritional Information of Provolone
Provolone is not just a flavor superstar for your pizza, but it also brings a host of nutritional benefits to the table. Just like with any food, moderation is key.
Here’s a breakdown of the nutritional information for 100 grams of provolone, though do keep in mind that these numbers may vary slightly from brand to brand.
- Protein: You will receive 26 grams of protein in 100 grams of smoked provolone cheese.
- Fats: In 100 grams of provolone cheese, you’ll find around 27 grams of fat, with 17 grams of saturated fat. These fats can contribute to a well-rounded diet and provide energy for your body.
- Calcium: 100 grams of provolone contains about 800 mg of calcium, making it an excellent choice for those who prioritize bone health and want to ensure they get their daily dose of this essential nutrient.
- Sodium: Provolone is comparatively high in sodium. In 100 grams of regular provolone cheese, you’ll find approximately 876 mg of sodium.
Fontina – The Creamy Contender
Fontina! This luscious Italian cheese, similar to Gruyere, Provolone, and Swiss cheese, is an absolute game-changer for my pizza creations. Its rich and nutty flavor with hints of earthiness adds a depth of taste that leaves me craving for more.
The semi-soft texture of Fontina brings a delightful creaminess to each bite. I would gladly sub mozzarella with fontina in any kind of pan pizza. If you are planning on making a thick crust, overloaded pizzas, you got to try it with Fontina. Believe you me, you will become obsessed!Note: You can sub fontina with gruyere since both of them share many similar characteristics.
Nutritional Overview of Fontina
The rich and creamy texture of fontina comes from its high-fat content. If you are watching your calories, go easy on the amount of cheese you sprinkle on your pizza.
Below is a detailed breakdown of the nutritional information of classic fontina cheese made of unpasteurized milk:
- Protein: 100 grams of fontina will fetch you about 26 grams of protein.
- Fat: There are approximately 31 grams of fat in 100 grams of fontina. 19 grams of which is saturated fat.
- Calcium: Fontina is a powerhouse of calcium. 100 gram contains 550 mg of calcium
- Sodium: 100 grams of cheese has about 800 mg of sodium.
Asiago – A Flavorful Twist
Asiago cheese boasts a unique blend of nutty and tangy flavors that add complexity to pizza. Its smooth texture creates a luscious mouthfeel. I had an asiago cheese pizza ages ago at a gourmet pizzeria in my town.
At first, I wasn’t sure about the taste, but after, like bites, I was sold! The nutty and tangy notes of asiago perfectly complemented the tomato sauce and toppings. Asiago, along with a generous helping of parmesan, lent a moreish quality to the pizza.
Nutritional Facts of Asiago
For those closely monitoring their macros and micronutrients, here is a brief overview of the key nutrients found in asiago cheese:
- Protein: 100 grams of high-quality asiago has about 25 grams of protein.
- Fat: The total fat content in 100 grams of asiago is 25.83 grams. Out of which, 16.41 grams is saturated fat.
- Calcium: Asiago is a powerhouse of calcium, with 1184mg of calcium in every 100 grams of cheese.
- Sodium: Sadly, it’s also one of the most sodium-heavy cheeses out there. 100 grams of cheese will fetch you 1602 mg of sodium.
Emmental – The Nutty Alternative
Remember the yellow cheese full of holes in Tom and Jerry? That’s Emmental! It’s a type of semi-hard Swiss cheese made from unpasteurized cow milk. It melts easily.
And as far as flavor goes, strong notes of butter and ripe fruit complemented by slightly nutty undertones make it a great option for just about any dish that calls for cheese. Want to fancy up your cheese burst pizza? Go with emmental!
Nutritional Details of Emmental
Caution: Emmental is one of the fattiest cheeses on this list. If you are on a weight-loss diet, be mindful of the portion.
- Protein: A 100-gram serving of emmental/Emmentaler is loaded with 30.2g grams of protein.
- Fat: 100 grams of emmental has 30.9 grams of total fat and 20.6 grams of saturated fat.
- Calcium: There’s a whopping 1,025mg of calcium per 100 grams of cheese.
- Sodium: You will get approximately 187 mg of sodium per 100 grams.
Goat Cheese – The Gourmet Choice
Calm down those furrowed brows! Goat cheese is not that bad and it goes quite well on pizza. But with highly specific toppings. I have tried goat cheese with balsamic caramelized onions on a thin-crust pie.
Well, it was one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had. The combination of sweet, salty, tangy, and umami is a formula for guaranteed success! It might not work for everyone and for every kind of pizza. But it’s definitely worth a try if you are craving something unique.
Nutritional Breakdown of Goat Cheese
Goat cheese is a relatively healthier option than provolone or Emmental. So if you are wondering what type of cheese for pizza won’t load you up with tons of fat and sodium, goat cheese would be a good option.
- Protein: You will get about 19 grams of protein per 100 grams.
- Fat: 100 grams of goat cheese contains 21 grams of total fat. 15 grams of this is saturated fat.
- Calcium: Thereis 140 mg calcium and…
- Sodium: 459 mg sodium in 100 grams of cheese.
Honorable Mention: Parmesan – The Finishing Touch
Parmesan can effortlessly elevate the flavor profile of thin-crust pizzas. But parmesan on its own doesn’t do much on a pizza. You need to pair it with rich, creamy cheese like mozzarella, gouda, or Swiss cheese to make it work.
Some also prefer using pecorino instead of parmesan. I personally find it a tad bit overpowering for the kind of toppings I use. If you want a bolder flavor, you can always swap parmesan for pecorino.
Nutritional Breakdown of Parmesan
The good news is that parmesan is one of the more nutritious cheese options for pizza. IF consumed in moderation. Below is the nutritional value of a 100-gram serving:
- Protein: With 28 grams of protein, parmesan is the most protein-rich cheese on this list.
- Fat: You will get 28 grams of total fat, 15 grams of which is saturated fat.
- Calcium: 853 grams of calcium per 100-gram serving.
- Sodium: 1804mg per 100 grams. If you are dealing with hypertension, consume only a small amount if you really have to.
The Cheese Selection Guide: Finding the Perfect Match for Your Pizza
Well, it depends, really. People like me just go with the flow. I don’t mind trying the most outlandish thing like blue cheese on pizza. Some decisions I regret, and some I don’t.
However, if you are someone who does everything by the book and would love to learn how different types of cheeses impact the flavor and character of a pizza, keep reading. Below, I have outlined the key aspects to keep in mind while picking a cheese for pizza:
Balancing Taste and Texture
Different cheeses have distinct flavors that can significantly impact the taste of your pizza. For instance, mozzarella is known for its mild and milky taste. Smoked gouda and emmental offer a sharper and tangier flavor.
Fontina has a nutty taste; provolone is slightly tangy. And asiago has a unique blend of nutty and tangy flavors. Choose a cheese that complements the other ingredients in your pizza.
The texture is also important. Cheeses like mozzarella, asiago, gouda, and provolone have a smooth and creamy texture when melted.
The Melt Factor: Essential for Pizza Excellence
Mozzarella melts quickly, creating that classic cheese pull. This is due to its perfect moisture-to-fat ratio. But Gruyere and fontina have higher melting points. This results in a thicker and creamier layer when melted. Consider the melting point of the cheese and how it aligns with the desired outcome of your pizza.
Evaluating Nutritional Values
Cheeses aren’t inherently unhealthy. We make them unhealthy by consuming heaps of it on a daily basis. Besides, cheeses vary in their protein, fat, calcium, and sodium content.
For instance, mozzarella is a good source of protein and calcium. Emmental is usually higher in fat and sodium. Fontina and asiago also offer unique nutritional benefits.
A Tour of Regional Cheese Varieties in Pizza
Pizza isn’t synonymous with mozzarella all over the world. Here’s a quick overview of regional variations of pizza cheese to enhance your knowledge. If you have a specific regional variety of pizza in mind that you want to make at home, this guide is for you.
1. Neapolitan Pizza: Authenticity in Every Bite
Originating in Naples, Italy, mozzarella di bufala is the soul of a classic Neapolitan pizza. Some chefs also layer the crust with parmesan before adding mozzarella.
2. Roman Pizza: A Crispy Encounter
Apart from fresh mozzarella, many pizzerias in Rome serve ricotta cheese pizzas as well. Ricotta is often paired with pecorino for enhanced depth of flavor.
3. Sicilian Pizza: The Thick Crust Delight
Apart from mozzarella and parmesan, Sicilian pizzas are often topped with strong cheeses like pecorino romano, toma, or caciocavallo.
4. New York-style Pizza: The Iconic Slice
Grated, dry mozzarella is what gives New York slice that much sought-after cheese pull.
5. Chicago-style Pizza: Deep-Dish Decadence
Whole milk, low-moisture mozzarella is the traditional choice of cheese. If you wish to amp up the heartiness of the dish, you can pair it with a blend of parmesan, provolone, and/gouda. Any easily meltable cheese will work, really. Chicago-style pizzas are quite flexible when it comes to cheeses.
6. Detroit-style Pan Pizza: The Crispy Edge
There’s only one right answer for this. And that’s Wisconsin brick cheese. It’s a semi-hard cow milk cheese with a mild earthy and nutty flavor with a hint of sweetness. Think of it as a happy hybrid of cheddar and Limburger.
My Exclusive Secret: The Ultimate 3-Cheese Pizza Blend!
Remember I promised to share my secret pizza cheese blend recipe at the beginning of this article? Well, I intend to deliver on my promise. So here it goes:
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded smoked gouda cheese
- A pinch of chili flakes and cayenne pepper
Feel free to experiment with different ratios of the cheeses to suit your taste buds. More smoked gouda will give a stronger smoky flavor, while more mozzarella will result in a milder, creamier result. More importantly, have fun while you’re at it!
Cheesy Queries Answered: Everything You Wanted to Know About Pizza Cheese
Is cheese pizza bad for cholesterol?
Cheese pizza is not inherently bad for cholesterol, as it depends on your overall diet and lifestyle. Moderation is key here.
What cheese is in Pizza Hut’s stuffed crust?
Pizza Hut’s stuffed crust typically contains mozzarella cheese.
How long is mozzarella cheese good for?
The shelf life of mozzarella cheese varies. But it’s generally good for about 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator. Smoked mozzarella can last up to 4 weeks.
As you can see, there’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to what type of cheese for pizza. From classic options like mozzarella and parmesan to the adventurous asiago and goat cheese, the choices are endless.
Wrapping Up: The Final Slice of Our Cheesy Journey
At the end of the day, it all comes down to personal preference. If you want to swap the traditional option for a different cheese, I say go for it! Even a misadventure is an adventure!