Cheese is one of those foods that many of us just can’t do without! In fact, pretty much everything tastes better with the addition of cheese!
But when using cheese for cooking, most recipes require us to grate it first. But what if you don’t have a cheese grater?
How do you grate cheese without a grater? If you don’t have a cheese grater, there are several other methods you can use to grate cheese. These include chopping cheese with a knife, shredding it with a vegetable peeler, or crumbling soft cheese with your hands. The best method to use depends on the texture and temperature of the cheese.
So, if you’re hunting for a missing cheese grater, or staying somewhere without a grater, don’t panic! We’ve got all the best cheese grating hacks for you!
Let’s take a look a why we need to grate cheese and find out the best ways to grate it if you don’t have a grater.
Why Do You Need To Grate Cheese?
Most of us buy cheese in bulk—it stores well in the fridge, and it often works out cheaper to buy cheese in this way.
And while we can slice chunks of cheese off the block for sandwiches and salads, when cooking with cheese it is often necessary to grate it.
But why is this? What would happen if we didn’t grate our cheese before cooking? Well, there is a technical reason why cheese should be shredded or grated before cooking!
This is because of the way cheese acts when it melts. It does not melt down completely into a liquid but becomes very soft.
This soft cheese does not normally break up into smaller parts, so you will end up with a large lump of almost liquid cheese.
When cheese is shredded or grated, we barely notice that it has not completely melted into our recipe. A very finely grated cheese, such as parmesan, will pretty much completely disappear into a sauce once it melts.
However, if we added it as a complete lump then the result would be a chunk of soft Parmesan floating around in our dinner!
Cubes of cheese added to soup melt slowly, leaving long strings of melted cheese in the soup (which is not necessarily a bad thing!). Finely grated cheese will disappear into the soup without a trace.
And yes, we know you can buy grated cheese in bags, but it somehow just isn’t the same!
The texture of freshly grated cheese is much nicer, and the cheese retains its flavor better if left whole for as long as possible.
So, now we know why we should grate cheese, let’s find out how to achieve this without a cheese grater!
The Top 5 Methods Of Grating Cheese Without A Grater
Is your old grater past its best? Or maybe it has mysteriously disappeared? Whatever the reason you don’t have a cheese grater, don’t panic—there are some really simple ways to grate cheese without a grater!
Here are our top 5 ways to grate cheese without a grater:
1. A Knife & Chopping Board
Let’s start with something that every kitchen should have—a simple sharp knife and a chopping board! Yes, you can cut cheese to create the same effect as grated cheese, and it really is as easy as it sounds.
All you need to do is take your block of cheese and cut a thin slice from the end. The thinner the better here, so take your time over this step!
Next, lay your slice on the chopping board and cut it into thin strips. You will end up with lots of sticks of cheese resembling matchsticks.
If you are cutting from a large block of cheese these might be quite long, so cut or break them into smaller pieces if necessary.
One fun twist on this method is to cut your initial slice of cheese with a serrated knife. This will give you a scalloped slice of cheese.
Next, cut your matchsticks with the knife’s edge running across the ridges. This way you will end up with wavy cheese shreds—great for garnishing a salad!
The knife method is simple and very effective but can be quite time-consuming, especially if you need a lot of grated cheese. Our next suggestion is perfect if you need to whizz up a large batch of grated cheese in a hurry!
2. In A Food Processor
Now obviously this method depends on one thing; you need a food processor to start with! And not just any food processor will do, as only certain attachments will be suitable for grating cheese.
To grate cheese with a food processor you will need a shredding attachment. This is the perfect way to get delicately grated cheese. This may also sometimes be called a grating disc or blade.
If you are a bit confused about what attachments your food processor has, the shredding or grating attachment is the one that sits at the top of the bowl of the food processor.
As food is fed into the chute, it passes through this attachment and into the bowl.
Not all food processors have this attachment, so check first before embarking on a grating mission!
The shredding disc may also come in different sizes, to create specific thicknesses of food. Make sure you select the one which best suits your grating requirements.
To grate cheese in a food processor, attach the grating disk to the top of the bowl. Place the lid and feed chute securely on top of this.
Next, prepare your cheese for grating. It needs to be in small enough pieces to be fed into the chute easily. Long rectangles work really well for most food processors.
Turn on the food processor at a medium-speed setting. Feed the cheese into the chute, and let the spinning blade do the rest of the work! All you might need to do is use the feeding tool to gently push the cheese down the feed chute.
This is a great (pardon the pun!) method for grating large quantities of cheese quickly.
The only downside is that most food processors are a bit laborious to wash up, but at least your grated cheese will be neatly contained in the bowl rather than spread all over your kitchen.
3. With A Vegetable Peeler
A cheese slice might sound like an obvious way to cut cheese, but it can also be used to create grated cheese as well! And if you don’t have a cheese slice, then a vegetable peeler can also be used to create delicate strands of shredded cheese.
There are two different ways you can use a cheese slice or vegetable peeler to help grate cheese.
The first method is to use these utensils to take wide, thin strips of cheese from the end of the block. These thin slices can then be chopped into matchsticks in the same way as the knife method.
The second way to create shredded cheese with a vegetable peeler or cheese slice is to use them to take very thin, narrow strips of cheese directly from the block.
To do this you will need to use the sharp edge on the corner of the block of cheese.
The corner method works very well to start with, but as you take more slices the corner will get wider! To rectify this you could take a thin rectangle of cheese and use the cheese slice to peel off thin shreds.
4. With A Zester
Remember that zester you’ve got sat in the back of your kitchen drawer? It can also be used to grate cheese! A zester will give you very finely grated cheese and will be perfect for hard cheeses such as parmesan.
Use the lemon zester in just the same way as a cheese grater, taking care to avoid grazing your fingers on the sharp ridges.
5. With A Mandolin
The mandolin is another one of those kitchen gadgets that we forget about! Then when we do use it, we wonder why we don’t get it out of the cupboard more often. A mandolin has a myriad of uses, and grating cheese is just one of them.
When you buy a mandolin, it will come with several different blades all with a specific purpose. We tend to stick to just one or two of these, but you might be surprised at just how versatile some of the others can be!
The best mandolin blade for grating cheese is the one designed to shred vegetables. Simply pop it onto your mandolin, take a block of cheese, and away you go!
This method is perfect for harder cheeses such as cheddar and parmesan.
Top Tips For Grating Cheese
Do you find grating cheese a tedious and laborious task? This is one of those jobs that should be quick and easy, so let’s see how we can help you! Here are our top tips for making great grated cheese:
- Chilled cheese is much easier to grate, so make sure that it is refrigerated before you try to grate it.
- A spray of oil will help prevent cheese from sticking to your grating device. Give your grater, mandolin, cheese slice, or food processor blade a squirt of cooking spray and your grating experience will be transformed!
- You can grate Parmesan without any tools whatsoever! Rub two lumps of Parmesan together and you will be rewarded with the perfect snowy flakes of tangy cheese.
- A box grater is much easier to use if you lay it down, grating the cheese in a horizontal motion. This will help reduce hand cramps and stop the inside of the grater from becoming clogged up with cheese.
Do Different Grating Methods Work Better With Different Cheeses?
Yes, absolutely! The best way to grate cheese depends entirely on the texture and firmness of the cheese.
Hard, dry cheeses like cheddar and parmesan take more muscle to grate but hold their texture well once grated.
These types of cheese work best with alternative grating methods such as the cheese slice or mandolin. Hard cheese is also easier to grate into different thicknesses, from long strings through to a fine powder.
Softer cheeses like brie are not as easy to grate, as they tend to stick to the blade.
However, softer cheeses do not need to be grated as finely, as they will melt much more quickly when added to hot food. For very soft cheese, you may get away with slicing it into cubes rather than grating it.
One of the hardest cheeses of all to grate is mozzarella—it will quickly clog up the blades of your grater, making this a laborious task!
However, the best tip we can give you is to freeze your mozzarella for 15 minutes before you grate it. This will make grating this soft and squidgy cheese as easy as a firm cheddar!
And don’t forget that some cheeses don’t need any grating at all! This applies to soft, crumbly cheeses such as feta, which will break apart easily in your fingers to sprinkle into your dinner.
Now that we’ve gone over the absolute best ways to grate cheese without using a cheese grater, let’s take a look at a few related questions on the subject!
What’s the best way to store grated cheese?
If you’ve got a stack of grated cheese leftover, you will want to store it in the best possible way to keep it fresh.
If grated cheese becomes too warm it will sweat, causing it to stick together in an unappetizing lump. But what is the best way to store grated cheese?
If you have bought grated cheese from the store, it will have an anti-clumping agent to stop it from sticking together.
Therefore, all you need to do is keep the cheese as fresh as possible in an airtight bag or container. This should be stored in a refrigerator, but remember to check the “use by” date on the bag.
For cheese you have grated yourself, you can add a sprinkle of cornstarch to act as an anticlumping agent.
Pop the cheese into a Ziplock bag, add the cornstarch and give the bag a shake to distribute it evenly. This will help keep your grated cheese fresh and perfect, ready for your next catering extravaganza.
Can grated cheese be frozen?
If you’ve got an excess of grated cheese or managed to pick up a bargain from the store, you might be tempted to pop it into the freezer to extend its shelf life. But is this a good idea?
Firstly, remember that most cheeses already have a very long usable life! The applies particularly to hard cheeses, such as romano and parmesan—they can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 12 months.
When cheese is frozen, the texture will be altered and it will not be as appetizing as the pre-frozen version.
Therefore, it is a good idea to only freeze cheese that is intended to be used in cooking. This way the altered texture will be disguised when the cheese melts into your recipe.