Making homemade pizza is a fun way to spice up your weeknight dinner repertoire. Pizzas are forgiving in that lots of different food combos taste delicious on them. When it comes to toppings, the sky's the limit! My mom covers her homemade pizza in pine nuts, kale, lots of veggies, anchovies, and so many other tasty foods, resulting in an amazing medley of flavors. However, one of the more particular aspects of your pizza is the cheese, so it's important to look into the best cheese for pizza before starting your pizza journey!
How to Choose Your Cheese
Cheese is an integral part of any pizza, the melted, gooey layer above the tomato or pesto sauce and below the toppings. It may be tempting to simply use whatever you have on hand, but the type of cheese you use does matter. Different cheeses will have different benefits, so it depends on what you're envisioning for your homemade pizza.
The first factor to consider when choosing which to use in your pizza is meltability. Soft ones will melt easily, within minutes, but harder types like parmesan will take much longer. If you top your pizza with hard cheese, it may turn into sad, partly melted lumps that never connect, which is not what you want.
The other detail to consider when figuring out the best cheese for pizza is its flavor. If your pizza is covered with bold flavors like prosciutto, pepperonis, sundried tomatoes or caramelized onions, it's probably best to stick with a neutral cheese.
On the other hand, if you chose toppings with milder flavors like mushrooms and bell peppers, using a flavorful cheese can only make your pizza more delicious. The best dishes have the perfect mix of flavors and textures, so it's important to consider how your ingredients will go together. When making pizza, the best cheese depends on what flavors you like and what your other ingredients are!
Classic Pizza Cheeses
Mozzarella cheese is the obvious choice, and this popular option is foolproof and versatile, perfect for its meltability and mild flavor. Low-moisture mozzarella lasts longer in the fridge, melts more easily and has a stronger flavor than fresh mozzarella. Low-moisture whole milk mozzarella has an especially tangy flavor. As for fresh mozzarella, it's beloved for its perfectly creamy texture. Both types of cheese are tasty on a simple Margherita pizza.
The second most popular option is provolone. This Italian cheese is made from cow's milk and has a subtly tangy flavor. Depending on how aged it is, provolone can range from more mild to super flavorful, and when used in a pizza recipe it will create a classic pizzeria pizza.
Other Yummy Pizza Cheese Options
Cheddar is great if you want to add a burst of flavor to your pizza, making it the perfect cheese to go with milder toppings. Although cheddar has small elasticity, meaning it doesn't stretch much, it melts well.
Fontina cheese is another excellent pizza cheese. Fontina has a smooth texture and a tangy flavor, reminiscent to the sharpness of cheddar. Pizza makers often use this cheese in combination with mozzarella and parmesan for the perfect mix of flavors.
Smoked gouda is a deliciously bold choice, with a smoky and buttery flavor. Though yummy, smoked gouda has a very distinctive flavor, and it's best to use alongside milder toppings.
Another full-flavored cheese is gruyere, which is hard, nutty and earthy. This melts well and doesn't blister much, so it's a great option for pizza. Gruyere is often paired with caramelized onions and prosciutto for a tasty flavor combo.
Another one of the best cheeses for pizza is goat cheese. It doesn't melt like mozzarella and won't cover your whole pizza, but it will make small savory pockets to add a burst of tart, earthy flavor on certain bites.
Although the layer of melted cheese beneath your toppings is an invaluable part of any pizza, we can't forget the cheesy garnish on top! Cheese lovers like myself will take any opportunity to add extra, and I never feel that my pizza is complete without a healthy sprinkling of parmesan on top.
Although parmesan cheese is the most popular garnish, parmigiano-reggiano is another flavorful choice to sprinkle on top your freshly baked pizza. This hard, nutty cheese adds an addictingly salty flavor. Another option is pecorino romano, a hard, white cheese that adds a touch of saltiness and tanginess. When it comes to cheese, the more the merrier!