The Best Cheeses to use When Making Pizza
Everyone loves pizza. America’s favorite food is a sinfully delicious mix of tangy sauce, crisp dough, and melty, gooey cheese. A hot pie fresh out of the oven is simply irresistible. While it’s hard to beat a slice from your favorite local spot, or from the top places in New York City, sometimes there is nothing better than making one from scratch in the home kitchen.
In fact, making pizza at home is super easy! Long gone are the days where you need a pizza stone, or a specialized pizza oven. One of the easiest ways to make homemade pizza is in a pan. It’s a fun process, and you definitely don’t need to be a super chef to make a delicious pizza.
No matter how you plan to make a pie, it’s vital to nail the ingredients. You can make delicious sauce using canned tomatoes, or completely from scratch using over ripe tomatoes that are lying around the kitchen. Dough can also be bought pre-made, or whipped up with some pretty simple ingredients.
But if you’re really trying to nail a perfect homemade pie, choosing the best pizza cheese is key. Cheese can really make or break the tastiness of a pizza, and can also elevate the flavor of a pie from a classic delight to a new age delicacy. Here is some of the best cheese to use on a pizza.
The quintessential cheese when it comes to pizza, mozzarella is perfect to use for a few reasons. For starters, you can’t beat the flavor. Since it’s minimally processed, it offers a fresh taste with a light and creamy texture. This is a great cheese to use when making Greek, Margherita, and Neapolitan style pizzas, or combined in a blend with other types of cheese.
Mozzarella can be bought in high and low moisture variations. The difference between the two are important to understand since it effects the ultimate texture and taste.
High Moisture mozzarella is the fresh stuff. It won’t keep fresh for long and should be used within a day or so of buying. This soft and pillowy cheese can be challenging to get proper consistency on a pizza, and doesn’t always evenly melt. But it has a light and milky freshness that is superb on a properly made pie.
Low Moisture mozzarella lasts longer and melts pretty easily, making it a strong choice when making a pizza. The flavor is also bolder and more defined, almost tangy in a way. The cheese also browns perfectly, making it a good visual (as well as tasty) topping for a pie.
With a sharp, flavorful taste and vibrant yellow coloring, cheddar makes for a great pizza topper. However, cheddar can be a little intense to use as the only cheese on a pizza, so we love to use it in cheese blends. It goes especially mixed with mozzarella.
Cheddar also adds a satisfyingly stretchy consistency to melted cheese. The strong and somewhat nutty flavor is a great compliment to sweeter sauces. It’s a great cheese to use on specialty pies, like chicken bacon ranch, or as a compliment to meat toppings like sausage and pepperoni.
A classic pizza topper, parmesan always kicks up the flavor when sprinkled on top of a slice. Added to a cheese blend or used as the primary cheese on a pizza probably isn’t the best idea. We recommend using parmesan as a topping enhancer rather instead.
Exposure to high heat can compromise the flavor of this cheese. For that reason, save it as the finishing touch on your slice. It goes exceptionally well as a garnish on pizza that has a flavorful, intense red sauce like sicilian, grandma style, and margarita pies.
Another popular option, provolone cheese is versatile and compliments most types of pizza. It melts easily and has solid stretchiness, and the flavor is ideal for a classic pie. Depending on how long the provolone has been aged can effect the flavor and consistency.
Aged provolone has a sharper, more intense flavor, while shorter aged cheese will be sweeter. Provolone is a perfect cheese to put on simple pies, like tomato basil or pesto pizza.
A perfect cheese on top of white pies, ricotta is an unconventional, yet delicious cheese option. Ricotta’s creamy texture and naturally sweet taste pair it exceptionally well with sharper flavors like roasted garlic or tomatoes. It’s also a great base for sweeter pizza, and goes well with fruits like blackberries or figs.
Since ricotta has an extremely high moisture level, it can be dense and sloppy. Try to make sure that the crust is crisp and sturdy enough to handle the added weight of globs of ricotta.
A rich and mildly sweet cheese, gouda melts and stretches it’s way into a top cheese to use on pizza. The smokey notes in gouda compliment rich pies, like barbecue chicken or bacon pies, or ones that have smoked meats or veggies.
Gouda can come in smoked or non-smoked versions. Smoked gouda is a richer, and smokier (duh!) flavor, while regular gouda can be more mild and sweet.
A fun cheese to use due to it’s ability to withstand extremely high heat, gruyere is a great cheese to use with pizza. You won’t have to worry about the cheese blistering while trying to bake a super crispy crust.
Gruyere has a sweet and nutty flavor that’s not too overpowering. It’s a great cheese to use on any pizza that has other sweet toppings, like ham or peppers, or asparagus.
The last of our Triple G cheeses (Gouda, Gruyere, & Goat). Goat cheese doesn’t melt evenly like other cheeses, so it won’t give you the stretch factor. The flavor is also not for everyone. Goat cheese has an intense tart and creamy flavor that when harnessed right can be truly delicious.
Goat cheese pairs well with other deep flavors. Try it with caramelized onions, sun dried tomatoes, or figs garnished with arugula for a unique and fresh taste.