Mozzarella makes a great addition to so many meals, especially Italian dishes. It is a mild-tasting cheese that adds a depth of flavor and texture to a dish, without being overwhelming.
If you are preparing a dish at home that calls for mozzarella and you open the fridge to find that you have run out or are looking for an alternative to this soft, white cheese, we’ve got you covered.
What is the best substitute for mozzarella? The best substitute for mozzarella depends on the recipe you’re preparing. Generally, the best substitutes include white cheddar, provolone, gouda, parmesan, ricotta, and feta. It is best to use a cow’s milk cheese in place of mozzarella, but there are a few exceptions to this.
There are quite a few substitutes for mozzarella depending on what you are cooking. Here is everything you need to know to find the best substitute for mozzarella, no matter what’s on the menu!
How To Choose The Best Mozzarella Substitute
What you use as a mozzarella substitute will depend on the meal you are cooking. However, there are a few cheese varieties that work well in most dishes, if you’re not too particular about the substitute you use.
Some of the best cheeses to use in place of mozzarella include:
- White cheddar
- Swiss Cheese
There are also a few criteria that the substitute must meet, which ensure that your replacement is the right consistency and flavor and includes similar ingredients to achieve the same results as mozzarella.
Here is what to look for in a cheese that is being used to substitute mozzarella:
- Cow’s Milk – The cheese should ideally be made with cow’s milk. This means it has a similar flavor to mozzarella, especially if it is a mild cheese. There are some exceptions to this, but it is generally better to use a cheese that has been made using cow’s milk.
- Able To Melt – Mozzarella cheese melts beautifully, whether topped on a pizza or mixed into a pasta sauce. The cheese used as a substitute for mozzarella should have the ability to melt as well. If the cheese does not melt, it just will not work in place of the mozzarella and could end up chewy and hard.
Be aware that some grocery store cheeses have many preservatives and additives that can affect the melting point of your cheese and make it turn stringy or burnt instead of melty and creamy.
It’s best to choose pure cheeses that are minimally processed, enough to make the cheese safe for consumption but not so much that it can’t perform to its greatest potential in the kitchen.
The Best Alternatives To Mozzarella Cheese
Whether you just don’t like mozzarella or you can’t find any to use in your dinner, there are alternatives to look to.
In order to choose the best mozzarella substitute, you need to know what the specific recipe you are cooking calls for. Some recipes just need a cheese that melts well, while other recipes need a soft, mild cheese for a delicate flavor.
Due to this, some cheeses might be ideal as a substitute for mozzarella in a salad but might not work so well in a dish that requires heat, such as a pizza or pasta.
There are also mozzarella alternatives that are almost identical to mozzarella, such as Bel Paese and Queso Oaxaca, but these aren’t easily found in the local grocery stores of North America.
So, to help you find the best cheese to use in place of mozzarella, here are some great options for different dishes, so you can get as close to the original result without using mozzarella!
The Best Mozzarella Substitute For Lasagna
Who doesn’t love a good serving of lasagna? It’s one of the most comforting meals you could ask for. Mozzarella on lasagna really wraps it all up, helping the lasagna crisp up and become golden on the top.
The cheese you use in place of mozzarella in lasagna does not have to be too stretchy, as the lasagna will need to set and it is cut into individual portions.
However, the cheese should melt well and be able to turn a beautiful golden brown when it crisps.
Here are the best mozzarella substitutes for lasagna:
- Gouda (Mild) – Mild Gouda works really well in lasagna. The buttery sweet flavor of mild Gouda pairs perfectly with the rest of the dish. Gouda melts easily into a smooth and creamy consistency, perfect to top a fresh lasagna!
- Havarti – Havarti is a cheese made from cow’s milk and is a semi-soft cheese. The subtly sweet flavor of Havarti, as well as its elastic texture, makes it a versatile cheese to use. You can grate or slice the Havarti to top on the lasagna, where it will melt beautifully.
- Edam – Edam is very similar to Gouda, with the same density and springy properties. It is sweeter and slightly creamier than Gouda, which could add a little more depth of flavor to the lasagna. Edam holds the flavor of herbs and spices quite well, matching it perfectly to a tasty lasagna.
- Cheddar – Cheddar has low elasticity, so it sets quite quickly after being heated and melted. This actually works out great for lasagna, as the melted cheddar sets after cooking, and allows you to cut perfect slices to serve. Cheddar also turns a beautiful golden-brown when cooked, which looks great on a meal. You can also choose between different cheddars with different levels of strength and sharpness, depending on what you prefer.
Now, we didn’t mention ricotta because most lasagna recipes already call for ricotta to form the cheesy inside filling between the layers. You’ll want to choose another cheese that compliments the flavor and texture of ricotta.
However, you can even choose a different cheese to fill the layers in between. If you’re in an experimental mood, we have another article for the best substitutes for ricotta cheese in lasagna.
The Best Mozzarella Substitute For Pizza
Mozzarella and pizza are a match made in heaven, and it might seem like pizza just isn’t the same without it.
However, there are some great mozzarella substitutes to use on pizza, to still get a melted, gooey, stringy cheese finish that melts well and offers some great flavor.
The below cheese options all melt well but have different flavors. You would get a great result using any of the below options, but the cheese you choose will depend on the flavor you are wanting to get with your pizza.
Here are the best mozzarella substitutes for pizza:
- White Cheddar – White cheddar is an ideal substitute for mozzarella. It has a strong flavor and melts very quickly. The strong taste and creamy consistency make it great on pizza, and you can still enjoy the stretchy, gooey cheese that you would when using mozzarella, just with more taste!
- Provolone – Provolone is fairly similar to mozzarella taste-wise and is probably the best option to use when making pizza when you don’t have mozzarella. While provolone is very similar in texture to mozzarella when melted, being stringy and stretchy, it does have a slightly stronger flavor.
- Cheddar – Cheddar is a popular cheese to use on pizza. It is semi-hard and is fairly pale in color. Young cheddar is nutty and rich, with a firm texture. As cheddar ages, it becomes more crumbly. You will get a great flavor using both young and aged cheddar on pizza, but you will not get the same stringy cheese effect, as cheddar has a low elasticity once melted.
- Edam – Edam has a light, subtle flavor, and is a semi-hard cheese. There are some nutty undertones to the cheese, which you might pick up on your pizza. Edam is made with partially skimmed milk and has a firm, smooth texture. The mild flavor makes it a good substitute for mozzarella on pizza, as well as its melting ability.
- Gouda – Gouda is also a popular choice to use on pizza. It has a rich, buttery flavor, and can also have some sweet hints. Being creamy, semi-hard, and made from whole milk, it melts well and does stay gooey and soft on the pizza once melted.
- Young Asiago – Asiago is a hard cheese, which is rich in flavor with a sharp taste. As the cheese is so hard, it is easy to grate and use as a topping, but you’ll want to choose a younger asiago, as it will melt easier and be softer than versions that have aged for longer. The younger versions melt well, just like mozzarella.
- Romano – Romano is a very strong tasting cheese, so only consider this cheese if you are looking for a punch of flavor! You will definitely get that cheesy taste from your pizza when using Romano, as well as some delicious creaminess.
- Parmesano Reggiano – Parmesanio Regiano is a popular cheese to sprinkle over many different meals to add an extra depth of flavor. Parmesan is actually the copycat version of this cheese. The original version, though hard, melts well and becomes sweeter as it ages. The granular texture and nutty undertones taste great on pizza, and it melts well too. Regular parmesan will taste good sprinkled over a pizza that is already cooked, but parmesan won’t melt the way real Parmesano Reggiano will.
You can even choose to use a mix of these cheeses to create your perfect combination of flavors and textures.
The Best Mozzarella Substitute For Caprese Salad
Mozzarella, fresh tomato, balsamic glaze, and basil – what more could you ask for when it comes to simple, tasty salads?
Once again, if you find yourself without mozzarella or want to try something different, you need to know which would be the best cheese to use in its place.
Here are the best substitutes for mozzarella in salad:
- Young Mild Gouda – Mild Gouda once again is a great substitute for mozzarella, even when it does not need to be melted. You could also use a mild Edam as well. These should be young cheeses and should not be smoked. This way, the flavor of the cheese will not overpower the other ingredients in the dish.
- Feta – Feta packs more flavor than mozzarella, but it is fresh and light, just like what you would want in place of mozzarella. When making a Caprese salad, you could use feta instead. It adds more of a tang, but still goes well with other ingredients. In a salad, you could crumble feta to top all of the other salad ingredients. It does take the salad to the next level.
- Provolone – Provolone is as similar to mozzarella as you could want and is soft enough to take mozzarella’s place in a salad or entrée. It has a stronger taste to it, but it is still considered mild and will not dull down any other flavors of the dish.
- Young Mild Cheddar – Mild cheddar can be used in place of mozzarella in salads and entrees. It can be sliced easily, and younger cheddars have a mild flavor that pairs with so many different ingredients.
You do not need to worry about the elasticity or melting of the cheese, as it will be served sliced and cold. The cheese needs to have a mild flavor that has a fresh taste and is fairly similar in consistency and texture to mozzarella.
The Best Substitutes For Mozzarella In Chicken Parmesan
You might think that because chicken parmesan is baked, it would require a similar type of cheese as lasagna. While these dishes both use mozzarella, their substitute cheese is quite different.
You could use other cheese options in place of mozzarella, but the options below best suit the flavors and the combination of ingredients in chicken parmesan.
Here are the best substitutes for mozzarella in chicken parmesan:
- Pepper Jack – Pepper jack is spicy and has a bit of a kick to it. The kick of the pepper jack pairs so well with the herbs and spices used in chicken parmesan. Pepper jack melts beautifully, but it is not a good option for pizza, as it becomes greasy due to its high oil content. This high oil content actually works well with chicken parmesan by adding more moisture to the chicken to prevent it from drying out.
- Young Swiss Cheese – Young swiss cheese has such a wonderfully distinctive flavor. It is semi-sweet and slightly nutty and pairs beautifully with the other ingredients in chicken parmesan. Swiss cheese does have a stronger taste than mozzarella, but the taste does not overwhelm the dish. It melts into a creamy texture and just adds to the dish overall.
- Ricotta – Ricotta is not known for its melting properties when used on pizza or to top off lasagna. When heated, it doesn’t melt but becomes wonderfully soft and has a creamy consistency, which is absolutely ideal in place of mozzarella in chicken parmesan. This creamy, saucy-like consistency works to even out the tomato in the dish and helps to keep the chicken moist, so you have a perfectly balanced dish all around.
- Jarlsberg – Jarlsberg is fairly similar to Swiss cheese, but it is also quite different. When melted, it turns into a creamy, thick texture, and has a buttery and sweet flavor. This sits on top of the chicken perfectly and adds a delicate touch to the dish.
Can I Melt Mozzarella into a Sauce?
While you can technically melt mozzarella into a sauce, the sauce will not have a smooth and creamy texture.
To get this texture in a sauce, as well as a cheesy flavor, you would need to use cheddar or another cheese with a high moisture content that doesn’t have a stringy consistency.
Does Fresh Mozzarella Melt?
Fresh mozzarella does melt and only takes a few minutes to do so. As the cheese is heated, it releases moisture which helps to prevent dishes from drying out.
Which Cheeses Do Not Melt?
There are quite a few cheese options that do not melt. These are not good to use in place of mozzarella in cooked dishes, as you will not get the same result in the dish.
Some cheeses that do not melt include:
- Cottage cheese
Some of these will change consistency when heated, but they do not melt as you would want cheese to melt on the top of a pizza or lasagna.
Why Do Some Cheeses Not Melt?
Cheese that has low water content does not melt as well as cheese which has high water content. Parmesan does not melt very well unless it is pure Parmigiano Reggiano, as it has a low moisture content.
Can I Use Fresh Mozzarella in a Lasagna?
Yes, you can use fresh mozzarella in lasagna, even though most recipes call for grated mozzarella. Fresh mozzarella tastes wonderful in lasagna and adds a fresh flavor to the dish.