Mozzarella is a white curd cheese that originates from Italy and that is now a universally well-known cheese. It’s very versatile and it’s usually available everywhere, so finding it shouldn’t be a problem.
Mozzarella is used in a variety of dishes so if you can’t get your hands on this particular cheese and you want to find a substitute for mozzarella, here are your best options.
The best substitutes for mozzarella
Mozzarella is an Italian TSG (Traditional Specialty Guaranteed) product, certified by the European Union in 1998. This means that mozzarella sold in the European Union must be produced following the traditional recipe: it doesn’t specify the type of milk that must be used, so the most common type of mozzarella is usually made from whole milk.
The production of mozzarella begins by leaving the buffalo milk to rest and then heating it the next day until it coagulates. The curd is then cut into small pieces, and these small pieces are left to rest for a few hours, to promote a richer texture and flavor.
The curd is then covered in hot water and heated until it forms a paste that is elastic enough to stretch without breaking. At that point, the paste is cut and made into balls by hand. The balls are dropped into cold water to firm them up, then into salted water, and eventually packed.
Unlike other cheeses, mozzarella is not aged and is eaten fresh within a few hours after it’s made. It has a dense consistency, with a light aroma of cream and a delicate flavor. Mozzarella is low fat, very digestible, high in proteins and vitamins, and has a low salt content.
There are a lot of different types and variants of mozzarella, the most known is probably mozzarella di bufala, traditionally produced in the Campania region of Italy. “Di bufala” means that the cheese is made with the milk of the water buffalo. This milk is richer than cow’s milk and this makes this type of mozzarella a little bolder and sweeter.
The other common type of mozzarella is fresh mozzarella, made in the same way as mozzarella di bufala, but with pasteurized or unpasteurized cow’s milk. This makes the second type cheaper and easier to find.
There is another type of mozzarella, a low-moisture one, with a denser texture and a less mild flavor than regular mozzarella. This type of cheese melts really well and, unlike regular mozzarella, releases little to no water, making it perfect for cooking and the number one choice for pizza toppings.
The choice for a mozzarella substitute really depends on what you want to use it for, so check the following alternatives to see which one is the best for your needs.
Provolone is another Italian cheese, made from cow’s milk and, just like mozzarella, it’s a curd cheese. It has a creamy interior and a semi-hard exterior, with a taste that varies depending on the aging period.
It usually comes in two variants: provolone dolce (less aged, with a creamier and more delicate flavor) and provolone piccante (more aged and sharper.) The first type has a more similar taste to mozzarella.
Provolone, being semi-hard, can be a good substitute for mozzarella cheese in those recipes that call for low-moisture mozzarella, like pizza or lasagne.
A very similar substitute for mozzarella cheese is scamorza, a stretched-curd cheese made from cow’s milk. It has a semi-hard consistency and a texture similar to low-moisture mozzarella. There is also a variant of this cheese that requires being smoked (scamorza affumicata) and that adds even more flavor.
Scamorza is an aged cheese, so it has a sharper flavor than mozzarella, but just like provolone is a perfect substitute for low-moisture mozzarella in recipes that require a melting cheese.
If you’re looking for a cheese similar to mozzarella to be used not on a pizza but in entrées or even on its own, burrata is a perfect choice.
Just like mozzarella, burrata is a stretched-curd cheese made from cow’s milk (and even water buffalo’s milk). It looks like a normal ball of mozzarella, but the inner part is made with crumbles of mozzarella curd mixed with fresh cream. This makes it creamy and delicate, better to be eaten very fresh.
Burrata, being so creamy, doesn’t make a good substitute for mozzarella cheese on pizza, but it can be an amazing alternative nonetheless.
Queso Oaxaca is a semi-hard, white cheese made from cow’s milk that originated in Mexico, with a very similar production process to mozzarella.
The taste and the melting qualities of this cheese are also very similar to mozzarella, making it a perfect substitution for mozzarella cheese in those recipes that calls for melting cheese, like lasagna or pizza.
Fontina is another Italian cheese, made from cow’s milk, that can be a good substitute for mozzarella cheese in lasagna if you want to try something with a more intense flavor.
Fontina has a rich and earthy taste that gets more intense with age, so if you want to use this cheese as a substitute for mozzarella, you’ll have to carefully pair the rest of the ingredients in your recipe, keeping in mind this stronger taste.
For example, lasagna is usually made with mozzarella or with béchamel sauce. Both of these ingredients have a mild taste, so if you want to use fontina in your recipe, keep in mind the added flavor!
Asiago is an Italian cheese made from cow’s milk, that has different tastes and textures according to its age. Young Asiago has a milder taste and a smoother consistency, making it a good substitute for mozzarella in recipes that calls for melty cheese.
7. Bel Paese
Bel paese (Italian for “beautiful country”) is a semi-soft cheese made of cow’s milk, with a buttery flavor and a milky aroma. It has good melting qualities and a taste similar to mozzarella, so it’s a really good substitute if you want to use it on pizza or as a snack.
Gouda is a well-known Dutch cheese, made from cow’s milk that comes in a lot of different variations based on age. The younger version of the cheese is semi-hard, creamy, and has a smooth texture. The taste is slightly nutty but it’s still mild and sweet like mozzarella.
It’s another cheese that melts really well, so it can be a nice substitute as a topping for pizza.
Caciocavallo is a stretched-curd cheese, originated from South Italy. It’s made of cow’s milk and is somehow similar to provolone. It’s a perfect topping for pizzas and salads, and the younger version of caciocavallo has a milder taste, making it a nice option if you’re looking for a cheese similar to mozzarella.
Edam is another semi-hard cheese made from cow’s milk, and just like many other kinds of cheese, it has a mild taste that intensifies with age.
When consumed young, Edam has a light and subtle taste, with just a hint of nutty undertones, and it also melts really well. For these reasons, Edam is the right choice if you’re looking for cheeses similar to mozzarella.
11. Monterey Jack
Monterey Jack is an American cheese made using cow’s milk, known for its mild and light taste. It could be considered another cheese like mozzarella if used as a topping for pizza because it has the same kind of mild flavor and the right melting consistency.
The only downside is that Monterey Jack has a little bit more oils than low-moisture mozzarella, so you could end up with a slightly greasier pizza.
Jarlsberg is a Norwegian cow’s milk cheese, classified as an Alpine cheese, with a semi-firm interior and a mild, buttery taste. It has a soft texture that melts well into a creamy consistency, and for these reasons, it can be a good substitute for mozzarella.
If you want to use it as a pizza topping, you can buy shredded Jarlsberg cheese to make your life easier!
13. White cheddar
White Cheddar is a widely available cheese, made from cow’s milk, that can be a decent substitute for mozzarella if wisely chosen. It doesn’t have the same elasticity so, even if it melts well, it won’t produce the same stringy pizza slices mozzarella would.
When looking for white cheddar be careful not to choose an aged one, because the taste won’t be the same as mozzarella!
Another cheese that doesn’t melt exactly like it, but that still constitutes a good substitute for mozzarella, is ricotta, an Italian cheese made from the leftover from the production of other cheeses.
It has the same freshness, the same mild taste, and a similar consistency to mozzarella. It can be a good option for a pizza topping but, just like burrata, you have to add it only at the end of baking.
Havarti is a Danish cheese made from cow’s milk, with a subtly sweet taste and a semi-hard texture. It can be used in a variety of ways, but it’s best used grated or melted, which makes it a good substitute for mozzarella cheese in lasagna.
The flavor becomes stronger with age, so it’s better to choose a younger Havarti.
If you want to use a cheese like mozzarella in a salad or as a fresh topping, Feta can be a good choice. It has a crumbly and creamy texture, which makes it similar to mozzarella when consumed fresh and not cooked.
Stracchino is another type of Italian cow’s-milk cheese, with a very soft and creamy texture. It is usually eaten very fresh, and it has the same kind of taste as mozzarella.
Stracchino can be eaten on its own, but also makes for an amazing substitute for mozzarella cheese on pizza.
Crescenza is a cheese that belongs to the same family of stracchino, so it’s very similar to the previously mentioned cheese. Crescenza has the same kind of texture and taste, but it’s a little bit lower in fat and higher in nutrients.
Crescenza can be a good substitute for mozzarella, especially if you want to eat it on its own, but it also can be used on pizza or while making lasagne.
Cotija is a Hispanic-style cheese made from cow’s milk that is usually shredded or grated over dishes. Unlike the other options, this cheese is hard and firm, so it’s not a good substitute if you want to achieve the same kind of melty consistency as mozzarella.
It can still be a good substitute for mozzarella in salads or even as a pizza topping if you want to try something different.
How to choose a mozzarella substitute
Mozzarella is a very versatile cheese and it has a lot of uses. For this reason, choosing the right mozzarella substitute can be difficult.
If you want to substitute mozzarella as a pizza topping, you might want to choose a similar melty cheese like provolone, Edam, scamorza, or cheddar.
If you want to substitute mozzarella in another dish, like lasagna, you might want to carefully read the recipe and keep in mind how the difference in taste and consistency could change the final result.
If you want to eat something like mozzarella on its own, you might want to stick to burrata, ricotta, or feta.