One of the best pizza toppings on the planet is soft, creamy, stringy mozzarella cheese. But now two mozzarellas are made the same. So, what is the Best Mozzarella For Pizza?
There’s low moisture, high moisture, fresh, pre-shredded, ciliegine, bocconcini…but which is the best to use for pizza? We’ve worked our way through the different types of mozzarella cheese to find the right one for you!
What Is Mozzarella?
Mozzarella is a soft white cheese that originates from Southern Italy. It has a soft, creamy texture that offers a light and milky flavor.
Thanks to its creaminess and soft consistency, mozzarella is a highly meltable cheese which makes it the perfect pizza topping!
Traditionally mozzarella is made from buffalo milk, but it is more commonly made from cow’s milk nowadays.
Mozzarella is also used for authentic Neapolitan pizza. It is mentioned in the AVPN’s (The True Neapolitan Pizza Association) international rules and regulations for making the pizza.
So, it’s clear to see just how important a topping mozzarella is for traditional pizza making.
Aside from being made from buffalo or cow’s milk, there are several different forms of mozzarella cheese. We’ve mentioned a few already.
However, in terms of which mozzarella cheese is the best for pizza. It’s usually dependent on what you’re looking for and the type of pizza you’re looking to make.
Typically, the best mozzarella for Neapolitan pizza is fresh mozzarella made from cow’s milk or buffalo milk.
If you’re looking to make a homemade oven pizza. It’s normally better to opt for an American-style mozzarella that has a low-moisture.
Let’s take a look at some of the different types of mozzarella…
Fior di Latte – Fresh Mozzarella
Fior di Latte is fresh cow-milk-based mozzarella cheese. It is probably the most common type of mozzarella used for a Neapolitan pizza. Most fresh mozzarella cheeses will usually come in a bag of liquid that is designed to keep the cheese fresh.
Because it’s kept in a liquid, the cheese stays wet. This gives it a nice fresh flavor that you don’t get with regular shredded cheese.
As Fior di Latte has a creamy texture, it melts well and doesn’t burn easily. This makes it the perfect topping for pizza. It is baked at high temperatures in traditional wood or coal-fired brick ovens.
Because of Its short shelf life, fresh mozzarella must be kept in liquid. The softness and wetness of the cheese make it virtually impossible to shred. Slice fresh mozzarella.
Mozzarella cooked in a hot wood or coal-fired oven, the hotter temperatures. This will cause the moisture in the cheese to evaporate, and allow the pizza base to become beautifully crispy.
However, the temperatures in regular ovens aren’t as high. Leaving you with wet cheese. All the moisture has evaporated.
This can prevent your crust from becoming crispy, and might even leave it soggy. You can improve pizza baking in your home oven by using a pizza stone or pizza steel.
If you want to use fresh mozzarella at home. We recommend draining the cheese properly and leaving it to dry out before you add it to your pizza.
This will get rid of any extra moisture before the baking process.
If you want to get rid of even more liquid, you can also cut the cheese. Then wrap the pieces in a paper towel around 30 before you use it.
If you want to do this ahead of time. Make sure you store the cheese in the fridge until you need it.
Mozzarella di Bufala – Buffalo Mozzarella
Mozzarella di bufala is a traditional cheese that hails from Campania, Italy.
Fact: Made from buffalo milk, not cows. It is higher in fat and gives the cheese a creamier, softer, and more flavorful taste than fior di latte.
A lot of people even argue that mozzarella di bufala tastes better than cow’s milk mozzarella. It makes it a better cheese to use for pizzas.
Like fior di latte, buffalo mozzarella comes in a bag or container. A bag filled with liquid will keep it fresh.
However, buffalo mozzarella has a higher moisture content than fior di latte. It will often contain around twice as much water in its bag or container.
Should you use buffalo mozzarella in a regular oven, it’s even more important that you drain and dry the cheese. The base will be soggy.
It’s also worth noting that mozzarella di bufala is more expensive. It’s harder to come by than mozzarella made from cow’s milk.
Low-Moisture Fresh Mozzarella
This is an American invention that is more commonly used on American-style pizzas, such as New York-Style. In comparison to Italian mozzarella, low-moisture mozzarella is often lower in fat as it’s made from skimmed cow’s milk.
This cheese is made in a pretty similar way to Italian mozzarella. It’s dried using chemicals to lower the moisture content. Not only does the cheese have less moisture, it also extends its shelf life of the cheese.
During the chemical process, different acids are used – such as vinegar – which will give the cheese a different flavor.
Unlike Italian mozzarella, low-moisture mozzarella doesn’t taste as fresh. It does, however, have a much sharper, almost saltier taste.
In terms of consistency, it’s not as creamy and has a much firmer feel to it. Although it is firmer, the low-moisture mozzarella does become very stringy when it melts.
Due to the firmer consistency, it’s also a lot easier to shred. It’s also a lot cheaper than Italian mozzarella. If you want fresh low-moisture mozzarella cheese, most deli counters will have some available.
In recent years pre-shredded mozzarella has become vastly popular. It’s usually made from the American low-moisture mozzarella.
Instead of being sold in blocks, slices, or balls, this cheese comes pre-shredded in the packet.
Pre-shredded mozzarella is pretty convenient if you’re making pizza at home. There’s no need to dry out the mozzarella beforehand and you can simply pour it over your pizza.
It’s also pretty cheap and can be bought in most shops and grocery stores.
As it’s the same cheese used for low-moisture mozzarella, it has a pretty similar flavor profile.
In comparison to traditional Italian mozzarella, it’s slightly sharper and doesn’t have the same fresh taste.
As shredded mozzarella is packed into bags, starch and anti-caking agents are added to prevent the strings from sticking together. Because of this, it doesn’t taste as nice as fresh mozzarella.
The starches can also affect the cheese’s melting ability. These starches will soak up some of the moisture which results in a drier cheese.
As the cheese is drier, it can burn more easily in the oven. So it’s not the most ideal cheese for high-temperature cooking.
Best Mozzarella For Neapolitan Pizza
When it comes to cooking Neapolitan pizza it’s best to use fresh mozzarella like cow or buffalo milk mozzarella. Not only is it more in line with the traditional recipe, it has the best taste.
In fact, if you’re going to cook any traditional Italian pizza. You’re going to use a wood or coal-fired oven. It’s always best to use either fior di latte (cow’s milk), or mozzarella di buffalo (buffalo milk). It has a high baking temperature and will evaporate most of the moisture. This will leave you will a soft, creamy melted cheese.
This pairs well with a tomato-based sauce and a slightly charred pizza crust.
Best Mozzarella For New York-Style Pizza
If you’re making New York-style pizza, the best option is definitely fresh low-moisture mozzarella. You can also use fresh Italian mozzarella, but just remember to drain and dry it properly.
Best Mozzarella For Deep Dish Pizza
Typically, low-moisture mozzarella is used for Chicago-style pizza. This is because the cheese is under the crust, so moisture will be trapped.
As there’s already a lot of sauce on the pizza, you don’t want extra moisture.
If you want to create a barrier between the sauce and the crust, use sliced low-moisture mozzarella. You can also top a Chicago-style pizza with some shredded cheese too.
Best Mozzarella For Thick Crust Pizza
Once again, you’ll want to use fresh low-moisture mozzarella for thick crust pizza. This is because thick crust pizza usually requires a longer baking time at a lower temperature.
This means that fresh Italian mozzarella will struggle to dry in the lower heat. It will contain too much moisture, and that will prevent the crust from crisping.
It’s also worth noting that you shouldn’t use pre-shredded mozzarella for thick crust pizza.
As the baking time is longer, the starches in the pre-shredded mozzarella are much more likely to burn.
To Sum Up…
What mozzarella you use for your pizza completely depends on what you’re looking for. For Neapolitan style or traditional pizzas, you’ll want to use fresh Italian-style mozzarella. It will add a creamy flavor that compliments the sauce and crust perfectly.
Also, it melts beautifully in wood or coal-fired ovens. For American-style pizzas, it’s better to opt for low-moisture mozzarellas, as they’re usually baked at lower temperatures. They also have a lower price and longer shelf life too.
In general, it’s better to avoid pre-shredded mozzarella when baking pizza. This can ruin the taste of the pizza.
However, if you’re a big fan of a dry and crispy cheesy layer. By all means, reach for the pre-shredded mozzarella.