The Best Cheeses for Pizza
It’s safe to say that pizza is one of America’s favorite foods. In the United states alone there are over 70,000 pizzerias that generate more than $32 billion in revenue annually. So, as the owner of a pizzeria, it can be tough to create a pizza that stands out from all of your competition’s. One of the best ways to go about doing this is to choose the perfect cheese to top off your different types of pizza. Check out some of the most popular pizza cheeses below and choose the one that best complements the style of pie your establishment makes.
Mozzarella is the most popular cheese option for a true Italian pizza, and it has quickly become the cheese of choice for other styles, too. Since it’s minimally processed, it offers a fresh taste with a light and creamy texture. It is usually the base of every pizza cheese blend, and some pizza styles, like margherita, only call for mozzarella.
There are many factors to consider when choosing the best mozzarella cheese for your pizza. First, you want to choose between low- and high-moisture options. High-moisture mozzarella has a very short shelf life and has to be used within the first day of being made. Thanks to its high-moisture content, this cheese will create a true soggy-in-the-middle Neapolitan pie your customers will love. Low-moisture mozzarella, on the other hand, is further soured after it’s been made and has a longer shelf life, making transportation and purchasing in bulk much easier. This lower-moisture option also has a saltier and denser flavor than its high-moisture counterpart and melts much easier, as well.
Another factor to consider when choosing the best mozzarella cheese is fat content. There are two main options of low-moisture mozzarella cheese: whole and skim (or part-skim). The higher the fat content, the more the cheese will melt and make for a better presentation.
Provolone is a semi-hard Italian cheese and is the most popular cheese that’s blended with mozzarella. The flavor of provolone varies greatly, depending on how long it's been aged. If you want to add a sweeter flavor and creamier texture to your pizza, then go with a provolone that’s been aged for a shorter amount of time. To add a sharper taste and dryer texture, choose a provolone that’s been aged for a longer period of time.
This hard, sharp-tasting cheese is a great addition to pizza. Although people don’t tend to associate cheddar cheese with pizza, it is in fact an ingredient in a lot of pizza cheese blends. Since cheddar has small elasticity, it doesn’t blister as easily as mozzarella, which is why it’s a good addition to your pies. Also, if you choose a sharper cheddar cheese that has a deep orange tint, it will add color to your pizza. Cheddar cheese is also commonly used on specialty pies like chicken bacon ranch, cheeseburger, and buffalo chicken pizzas.
Parmigiano-Reggiano, the true Italian name for parmesan cheese, adds the perfect finishing touch to any pizza. This hard cheese, in addition to other aged Italian hard cheeses, can be shaved or shredded on top of freshly-baked pizzas. It should never be blended into your cheese mix, and due to the delicate flavor and dryness of this cheese, it should never be baked in the oven. When these cheeses are exposed to heat, their umami taste is ruined. Besides, parmesan acts best as a garnish on your pie or crust.
Other Cheese Types
Although mozzarella, provolone, cheddar, and parmesan are the four main pizza cheese types, there are many other cheese varieties that can be incorporated into your gourmet pies to add a unique taste. Try incorporating some of the following cheeses into your specialty pizzas:
Gouda - This semi-hard Dutch cheese is known for its rich, unique flavor and smooth texture. Gouda is a delicious addition to pizzas featuring pulled pork or barbecue chicken. Plus, it’s available in straight or smoked, so you can pick the option that will best bring out the other flavors on your pizza.
Goat - Although goat cheese doesn’t melt like mozzarella and provolone do, it softens up very nicely when cooked in the oven. Try dropping small blobs of goat cheese across your pie’s surface, so customers get random savory bites. Goat cheese pairs well with caramelized onions, figs, and peppers.
Gruyere - Gruyere melts very nicely and has a savory flavor. When someone bites into gruyere, they experience a range of flavors, starting with sweet and ending with nutty and earthy. This cheese also doesn’t blister easily. Gruyere is great on pizzas with almost any topping, from sliced potatoes and peppers to ham and sausage.
Ricotta - Ricotta is the typical base cheese used for white sauce pizzas. The ricotta is typically blended with mozzarella, fontina, gruyere, or gorgonzola and topped with chicken, shrimp, and broccoli.
Now that you know the characteristics of each cheese type, you can choose to go with a basic mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan mix, or you can experiment by adding in some specialty cheeses. Just make sure whatever cheeses you choose complement the other main toppings on your pies. Also, while you're here, be sure to stock up on some essential pizza supplies and boxes, so you can continue making delicious pies that will keep your customers coming back for more.