Mozzarella cheese is easily the most popular cheese for pizza around the world. It has the perfect taste and texture and between low-moisture mozzarella and fresh, there are plenty of choices. But not everyone likes mozzarella, or even has to it. Thankfully, there are lots of mozzarella substitutes that go great on pizza.
Monterrey Jack, Havarti, Provolone and White Cheddar are great mozzarella substitutes that pair perfectly with pizza sauce and crust. These cheeses have a higher fat content which gives them a creamy taste and great ability to melt. For even better results, try blending these cheeses together for something really special.
But not all cheeses are created equally and so you may like some of these mozzarella substitutes and not others. Let’s go over each one and what makes them great.
Monterrey Jack Is A Great Mozzarella Substitute
If you’re looking for something that has many of the same qualities as traditional low-moisture mozzarella cheese, Monterrey Jack is a great option.
Monterrey Jack is available in most grocery stores across North America and it has a flavor very similar to low-moisture mozzarella. This cheese has a relatively high fat content as well so it melts great.
Contrary to popular belief, using Monterrey Jack on your pizza will not give it a “southwestern” flavor. In fact, you probably won’t even notice the difference. I know I’ve accidentally used Monterrey Jack on pizza before and only found out when I noticed the wrapper in the garbage later on.
If you’re familiar with Detroit style pizza, you may not be aware that very often Monterrey Jack is blended in with traditional mozzarella to give it its distinctive buttery flavor. You can check out my recipe for Detroit style pizza here, as well as a list of popular Detroit style cheese blends.
Havarti Gives Pizza A Creamy Taste
I don’t hear many people mention putting Havarti on pizza but it’s a great option if you’re a fan of this type of cheese.
I actually got the idea for it from my wife’s Mac and Cheese recipe that I love. She uses a whole block of Havarti instead of the traditional Cheddar cheese blend, and it’s one of my favorite meals. It’s a creamy cheese with a slightly muted flavor.
I thought to myself, why not try Havarti on pizza?
I usually use a blend of Havarti and Mozzarella when using it on pizza because I love the way it melts and the creaminess it adds to each slice. I find when I use Havarti in conjunction with low-moisture mozzarella, it almost gives it some of the qualities I look for in fresh mozzarella. For me, that makes Havarti a big winner.
Provolone Is Closely Related To Mozzarella
I once asked a very experienced Neapolitan pizzaiolo about his favorite fresh Mozzarella substitute. I was somewhat surprised when he told me it was Provolone, but I gave it a try and really enjoyed it.
That being said, Provolone is not new to the pizza game. In fact, lots of people love it and use it in place of mozzarella all the time. This is because provolone is actually closely related to Mozzarella.
Provolone is prepared by stretching curds in warm water to form elastic cheese in a very similar way to Mozzarella. However, instead of being served fresh, Provolone is shaped into a wheel and ages in a salt water brine. As a result, provolone has a saltier and tangier taste than traditional Mozzarella.
Despite some things I’ve read online, all the Provolone I’ve tried has melted just fine. I sometimes like to blend it with fresh Mozzarella on Neapolitan style pizza to give it a kind of special kick.
White Cheddar Is Unorthodox But Good On Pizza
Anyone that suggests using Cheddar cheese on pizza has to be prepared for some blowback, especially from the Italian pizza making community. But a Cheddar-y pizza has a uniquely indulgent flavor that I sometimes can’t resist.
Cheddar cheese pizza isn’t even all that uncommon in American pizza making circles, especially White Cheddar. In fact, White Cheddar is another common cheese blend found on Detroit style pizza.
Cheddar, white and orange, is also commonly found on “Bar” or “Tavern” style pizza commonly found in suburban areas of the Northeastern US, especially southern New England. This style of pizza is very thin and usually features a heavy helping of Cheddar blended in with traditional low-moisture Mozzarella.
What you get with Cheddar is a fattier, oilier and sharper tasting pizza. It’s definitely not what I’d add to something as delicate and refined as a Neapolitan style pizza, but it’s perfect for a Friday night pizza at home.
And if you’re interested in making a “Bar” style pizza at home, featuring a Cheddar cheese blend, you can read all about it in my post about it here.
Parmesan Works Well By Itself
If you’re in the mood for something completely different, try using Parmesan by itself on your next pizza.
You don’t need to go overboard and add as much as you would if you were using Mozzarella, just a bit will do. Parmesan is naturally tangier and saltier than most fresh cheeses so you’ll definitely still taste it in smaller amounts.
For an even better flavor, if you can find it, opt for the real stuff – parmigiano reggiano – instead of the typical American kind you find in most supermarkets. This cheese is aged for months, sometimes years, and served fresh on many popular dishes. It’s also packed with nutrients including lots of gut friendly bacteria.
It’s not the cheapest of cheeses, but considering how little of it you actually need to use, it will go a long way and lasts forever in the fridge.
For best results, bake your pizza with just sauce and shred fresh parmesan over it when it’s done.
Tip: To save money, ask your grocery’s deli counter to cut you a small piece of parmigiano reggiano. All you need is a few dollars worth and it will last you a long time.
I can’t possibly go into depth on every kind of cheese that goes well on a pizza, so here is a list of some others I like or want to try in the future. If you’re a fan of any of these kinds of cheeses, don’t hesitate to try it on your next pizza.
- Colby Jack
- Goat Cheese
- Pecorino-Romano (similar to parmigiano reggiano)
- Ricotta (added fresh afterwards)
What’s your favorite kind of cheese on flavor? Have you tried any of the options I’ve mentioned above? Let us know how it turned out in the comments below.