The Best Types of Cheese for a Pizza
When it comes to topping a pizza with cheese, it’s hard to go wrong because hardly any type of cheese will make your pizza taste bad. But there are a few things to remember for a top-notch cheese pizza. Let’s break down how different cheeses can bring out the best flavors.
Qualities to Look for in a Good Pizza Cheese
Melting Ability: It should melt smoothly to cover the pizza evenly without being too runny or dripping off the slice. The butterfat content of a cheese influences this characteristic, as cheeses with higher fat content are denser and melt well.
Stretchiness: Another crucial quality of pizza cheese is its ability to stretch. After all, what’s a cheese pizza without the fun of pulling a slice free from a stringy, cheesy mess? Once again, the butterfat content contributes to a cheese’s delightful stretchy texture.
Browning: An ideal pizza cheese should blister and turn into a mouthwatering shade of brown during baking, thanks to the Maillard reaction. A cheese’s moisture and fat content play a role in achieving this desirable color.
Mozzarella, a common type of semi-soft Italian cheese, ticks all three boxes, making it the most popular and widely used cheese for pizza all over the world. Particularly in terms of stretchiness, no other cheese quite matches its stringy perfection.
The Best Types of Cheese to Put on a Homemade Pizza
Though mozzarella is so perfect for a pizza, its mild flavor might leave you wanting a bit more from your pizza. This is why the following table has over a dozen ideas for different types of cheese you can experiment with.
If you’re up for it, blending your favorite cheese with mozzarella can create a delightful combination of stretchiness and flavor. One classic and widely used combination in many restaurants and pizzerias is a blend of mozzarella and provolone, offering the perfect stretch and a delicious taste.
Note that some cheeses are recommended to be added after baking. It is because their delicate texture makes them turn black if exposed to the oven’s heat.
|Melting & Texture
|Solo or Blend
|When to Add
|Mild, creamy, slightly tangy
|Excellent melting with a gooey texture
|Typically used on its own. Blends well with parmesan or romano for added depth
|Melts well, develops a gooey consistency
|Can be used on its own. Blends well with mozzarella or cheddar for a balanced flavor
|Melts well, but can become oily if overcooked
|Used in blends. Pairs well with mozzarella for a classic taste
|Melts into crispy, golden-brown bits
|Typically used in blends. Pairs well with mozzarella for a salty kick
|Sprinkle on top after baking, before serving
|Spicy, creamy, slightly tangy
|Can be used on its own. Blends well with mozzarella or cheddar for a spicy kick
|Similar to Parmesan, melts into crispy bits
|Similar to Parmesan. Used in blends with milder cheeses like mozzarella
|Sprinkle on top after baking, before serving
|Mild, creamy, slightly sweet
|Softens and becomes creamy when heated
|Often used in blends. Pairs well with mozzarella or fontina for a creamy texture
|Before baking or dollop before serving
|Mild, nutty, slightly sweet
|Melts well, has a smooth and creamy texture
|Can be used on its own. Pairs well with mozzarella or parmesan for a creamy texture
|Nutty, slightly sweet, and caramelized
|Melts smoothly, becomes creamy
|Used in blends. Pairs well with mozzarella or cheddar for a milder taste
|Tangy, salty, crumbly
|Softens but retains its crumbly texture
|Best used in blends. Pairs well with mozzarella or ricotta for a contrasting texture
|Sprinkle over baked pizza before serving
|Mild, buttery, and slightly tangy
|Melts well, develops a smooth and creamy texture
|Can be used on its own. Pairs well with mozzarella or Provolone for added creaminess
|Goat Cheese (Chèvre) Crumbles
|Tangy, earthy, and slightly tart
|Softens when heated and retains a distinct flavor
|Best used in blends. Pairs well with mozzarella or feta for a creamy, tangy combination
|Crumble over baked pizza before serving
|Bold, tangy, and slightly sweet
|Melts into creamy pockets, adds a strong flavor
|Best used in blends; pairs well with mozzarella or Provolone for a balanced flavor
|Before baking or crumble over baked pizza before serving
Here are a few more types that can be as good on a pizza as the cheeses mentioned in the above table. But, they may not be as easily available in the United States.
- Brick Cheese
- Aged Havarti
How Much Cheese Goes on a Pizza
Though it depends on the size of your pizza and the topping ingredients, putting 6-8 oz. cheese on a 12-inch pizza can be a good point to start. Of course, you can never put too much cheese on your pizza.
Though no vegan product will capture quite the taste and texture of real cheese, you may go for a vegan mozzarella. These dairy-free ‘cheeses’ use soy, nuts, and vegetable oils to imitate the delightful taste and flavor of real mozzarella, though they don’t have quite the same stretchiness or browning effect.