The quick answer is Mozzarella…
The longer answer is pretty much any other cheese you like!
Soft cheese, hard cheese, cheese that is melted during baking, cheese that is grated on the pizza out of the oven, hey, you can even put cream cheese on pizza (although that’s better in a cheese sauce like this cauliflower cheese pizza).
Personally, I’m an advocate of ‘you don’t know till you’ve tried it’ as far as experimenting with new cheese on pizza goes, but classics are classics for a reason, and certain pizza styles are defined by the type of cheese you top them with. Here’s some of my favourites.
Mozzarella the undisputed MVP of the cheese on pizza world. The most consumed cheese in the US (and that’s largely down to pizza eating!) is favoured for it’s delicate, milky flavour as well it’s insane meltability and stretchiness.
You’ll find mozzarellas that are fresh or aged and part-skim or whole-milk. Depending on what you’re looking to achieve with your final pizza will depend on which mozz is best suited for the job.
Fresh mozzarella such as Fior di Latte or Buffalo Mozzarella is more suited to a classic Neapolitan pizza as it melts beautifully without browning too much at the high temperatures. Some people don’t like the traditional soupy finish of the pizza though and if this is you, you can dry out fresh mozzarella using a cloth for an hour or two before using.
Slower bakes such as this NY style pizza tend to favour aged mozzarella due to its low moisture and beautiful browning abilities and some NY pizzerias will use an East Coast 50/50 blend of whole and part skimmed to achieve the look they want.
Low moisture, aged mozzarella will generally come as a block or ready grated. I’d urge you to avoid the grated stuff as that tends to have weird anti-caking agents that aren’t great for pizza. Instead, grate your own ensuring the block is well chilled before starting.
Like mozzarella, provolone is a pasta filata (stretched-curd) cheese meaning it can produce those brilliantly stretchy cheesy strands we know and love. As well as being used as a base cheese, going on before the toppings in a Chicago deep dish, this semi-hard Italian cheese can be used to add a mild sharp tang to compliment other toppings.
Wisconsin Brick cheese is a staple ingredient when topping a deep dish Detroit style pizza - but unfortunately, it can be pretty hard to find outside of Detroit.
This medium-soft cheese is cultured at a hotter temperature than American Cheddar which produces a cheese that has a slightly higher fat content - making it perfect for achieving those signature charred and crispy edges.
When baking a Detroit style pizza you’re using the fat in the cheese that runs down the slanted pan edges to achieve that incredible unique pizza crust. If you don’t live in Detroit or struggle to get hold of brick cheese, a blend of low-moisture mozzarella and Jack cheese can mimic the effect pretty well.
Parmesan & Pecorino.
Although very different both parmesan and pecorino are hard cheeses that lend themselves to all manner of Italian classics - and pizza is no different!
Some, particularly Neapolitan pizzaiolos, will put a grating on before baking the pizza but it’s probably more common to see these cheeses grated over a pizza that's just come out the oven to add a salty punch to the final slice.
There are probably thousands of different blue cheese’s (I don’t know for sure. I don’t have time to find out… you can google it and let me know if you really want) and many vary wildly in texture and flavour.
Play around with them as blue cheese on pizza is a flavour packed treat that you should not deprive yourself of. Soft blues like gorgonzola melt into a delightful salty gooey mess on this Nduja & Hot Honey pizza whereas a more crumbly blue such as Stilton might be better crumbled over to finish a pizza.
Like a few cheeses feta doesn’t really melt on a pizza - but it does significantly change texture. As such, it can be interesting to put some on before you bake as well as crumbling over the top post bake. This Elotes pizza recipe uses both techniques to produce a really interesting texture to a brilliantly tasty pizza.
Another that doesn’t really melt but is delicious whipped and spooned or piped over a spicy pizza to add a cooling touch.
Every other cheese in the whole wide world…
Unless you’re a militant pizza purist there’s no reason why you can’t try any cheese on pizza. Some will work going on the pizza before baking and some will work better as a ‘finishing’ cheese but there is literally a world of weird and wonderful cheeses wherever you are on the Earth so treat pizza like the blank canvas it is and see what you can create.
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