12 Great Ways To Use Fresh Mozzarella Other Than Pizza

Mozzarella might be the most beloved cheese we have discovered. Its mild taste and silky texture make it palatable even to people who might not like cheese. This may be why it has become such a staple in countless dishes worldwide, reaching far beyond the boundaries of southern Italy, where it was invented. Originally prepared with the milk of water buffalos, a type you can still find in stores today, mozzarella is typically made with cow's milk and is available fresh, in low-moisture varieties, and even as string cheese.

Whichever the iteration, what sets mozzarella apart is its remarkable adaptability to various culinary contexts. Although we all know and love its performance as a pizza topping, it would be a crying shame to limit the joys of mozzarella to a single application. We don't have to stick to Italian dishes, either, as you might have noticed when you bit into that delicious cheesy quesadilla the other day or tried some amazing moussaka at the little Greek place on the corner. 

Mozzarella works in all these dishes — and more — because it melts readily and evenly. Not only that, but its stretchy consistency means that melting won't disintegrate it, causing it to create the perfect gooey layer for any dish. Let's take a look at some of the best meals in which you can use it. Other than on pizza, of course.

Crispy Cauliflower Parmesan

The basic ingredients in a Margherita or cheese pizza — crust, tomato sauce, and mozzarella — are so simple that you can almost substitute one of them and still end up with a similar creation. The ingredient in this instance is the crust, for which you can substitute cauliflower. This shouldn't be too much of a stretch of the imagination. After all, cauliflower pizza crust has gained momentum due to its perceived health benefits and weight-loss applications.

The cauliflower pizza in your grocery store's frozen goods aisle will likely have additives that hold it together, like cornstarch and olive oil. This is why, if you want the real deal, we offer our crispy cauliflower Parmesan recipe, which also is a great way to use fresh mozzarella. To make it, prepare sliced cauliflower, top it with marinara sauce and mozzarella as if making homemade pizza, and roast it in the oven until the vegetable is cooked and the cheese is melted.

Fresh Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

One of the great things about mozzarella as an ingredient is that a quality, fresh ball is so good that you hardly need to add anything. You could even pop it into your mouth straight out of the container. Or you can take it further and slice it up, then drizzle quality olive oil on top with a pinch of salt. Or add sliced ripe tomatoes and a few basil leaves. This recipe is so simple that it hardly needs one, but you can use our fresh tomato and mozzarella salad recipe anyway, in case you need some guidance.

This combination of ingredients is typically known as a Caprese salad, but that term makes it sound somewhat mysterious if you've never had one before. This salad combines fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil with simple condiments like olive oil and balsamic vinegar. To truly savor and appreciate a ball of fresh mozzarella, a simple approach may be your best bet. Its mild, milky flavor is at its best when not overwhelmed by other ingredients, while the acidity in the tomatoes and vinegar gives some dynamism to the dish as a whole.

Grilled Pesto Mozzarella Sandwich

A sandwich without some cheese in it is hardly a sandwich at all. While the selection of good sandwich cheeses is varied and vast, we're here today to warn you against overlooking mozzarella, even in its fresh, watery form. This is especially true if you plan on melting your cheese, as in the case of our grilled pesto mozzarella sandwich.

Mozzarella shines in this particular sandwich recipe for two main reasons and a few smaller ones, which you'll taste and experience in each bite. First, mozzarella's unique talent for melting evenly while retaining most of its fresh taste makes it a perfect candidate for sticking to your bread and lending flavor to the dish. Secondly, mozzarella and basil pesto are two top Italian staples and go incredibly well together. The mildness of the mozzarella won't stand in the way of pesto's herbaceous, pungent flavors. However, at the same time, it will somewhat mitigate them. Indeed, a sharp cheddar would end up battling with the pesto in your mouth. Stick with mozzarella. 

Cheese and Herb Croquettes

Mozzarella is versatile for many reasons, including because it can be used in any component of your meal, from appetizers to entrees and beyond. A great example of a mozzarella-based appetizer is our surprisingly light cheese and herb croquettes recipe, where the mozzarella plays a central role — literally and figuratively.

When you prepare these little bites of joy, you may notice they are surprisingly light, contrasting everything you know to be true of cheese. While we may love the stuff, it usually doesn't scream light and airy. This is not the case when you use fresh mozzarella, known for being mild even in the melted, gooey form it takes once stuffed inside fried croquettes. This is even truer in this recipe, where the mozzarella is paired with ricotta, another great mild Italian dairy product. Serve this finger food with a lemon, herb, and mayo dip to impart extra flavor to your croquettes while remaining in lockstep with the overall vibe.

Cheesy Mostaccioli

If you're looking for different ways to use mozzarella, your best bet is to look at our arsenal of Italian recipes, which includes our bubbly cheesy mostaccioli recipe. Mostaccioli can mean different things depending on who you ask. Someone from Naples might tell you it's a chocolate and almond-based dessert, typically served around Christmas. Someone from Calabria might see that and raise you a honey biscuit. An Italian family in Chicago will almost definitely point you toward a pasta shape, typically baked with cheese and other goodies and served at graduation parties. That's the one we're talking about here.

Mostaccioli, in this case, is a type of tubular pasta similar in size and shape to penne but with a smooth texture instead of ridges. This means, of course, that if you can't find this slightly off-the-beaten-path type of pasta, you can always substitute for penne. After that, the second most important ingredient is mozzarella, which should be torn into pieces and sprinkled on top of the prepared dish before it goes in the oven to be melted, along with grated Parmesan.

Chicken Parmesan

Despite the name, our crispy and saucy chicken Parmesan recipe has much to offer in the cheese department. That is, Parmesan is not the only cheese player here. Mozzarella figures prominently and is one key contributor to the saucy part of the deal. First, let's start with the crispy part.

Prepare your chicken breasts and coat them in several layers of the good stuff: flour, eggs, breadcrumbs, and seasoning. Fry these up in a pan to make them crispier, then bake them in the oven with homemade tomato sauce and plenty of fresh mozzarella on the top. Tear the cheese apart by hand and distribute it evenly across the baking dish, along with the Parmesan. 

Although this recipe isn't all that simple, as it requires making everything from scratch, you can substitute homemade tomato sauce for a good quality canned variety, which should shave off approximately 10 minutes in prep and cooking time. Pair the chicken with a light salad and some oven-baked potatoes, which should be ready in about the same time as the chicken, 25 minutes or so.

Classic Baked Ziti

Mozzarella is famously a classic topping for pizza, but it's equally at home as a topping on baked pasta dishes, as shown in our classic baked ziti recipe. To use the star ingredient here, prepare your pasta bake with almost al dente ziti, browned sausage, sauteed aromatics, red wine, tomato sauce, and ricotta, and top it with sliced mozzarella and grated Parmesan before baking. The recipe calls for 8 ounces of fresh mozzarella, but, in truth, if you love the stuff, go to town with it and add as much as your dish can hold. There is no such thing as too much when it comes to mozzarella.

After the dish has been baked and comes out hot and bubbly, let it rest before serving. You want to wait for the juices from the mozzarella and other ingredients to settle down and solidify a bit, or you'll end up with a hot mess. You can use this time to prepare a simple vegetable side to pair with your baked ziti to turn it into a complete meal. The cheese, sausage, and pasta account for protein and carbs. Add a simple side salad or lightly sauteed green beans, and you're all set.

Roasted Caprese Sandwich

If you love Caprese salads but don't find them filling enough, this roasted Caprese sandwich recipe is for you. It comes with all the flavor benefits of the salad: tangy, fresh tomatoes, mild and creamy cheese, and bright basil leaves. However, it brings the added benefit of a nice loaf of bread to sink your teeth into.

To make this sandwich, you will want to roast most of the ingredients (hence the name) except the cheese. While this recipe calls for burrata, mozzarella makes a great substitute. Indeed, mozzarella, not burrata — which is creamier and tends to fall apart more readily than its counterpart — is the star cheese in Caprese salads, making mozzarella a more appropriate choice for this recipe. At least, it is if we want to stay true to the title. 

After the bread is out of the oven, lay some sliced mozzarella down and top it with roasted tomatoes. Don't forget to slip in some basil leaves before closing off the sandwich with the other piece of bread.

Italian Pasta Salad

Mozzarella is an amazing addition to many hot dishes, especially in its melted form. However, it is equally strong when served cold and fresh, as seen in our vegetarian Italian pasta salad. This recipe combines fresh mozzarella chunks with red onions, fresh basil, fresh grape tomatoes, Kalamata olives, green olives, artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, and al dente pasta. This may be a long list of ingredients, which doesn't even include those used to make the dressing, but it does nothing to dampen the effects of the mozzarella.

This pasta salad is ideal for summer cookouts or potlucks. It can be made ahead of time and connects some of the best ingredients summer offers. Make sure you are making this recipe at the height of the season. Off-season tomatoes tend to be a bit bland, which, in turn, could make your overall dish lack flavor despite the intervention of tasty mozzarella. Also, use the dressing recommended in the recipe. The hot peppers, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, and lemon zest all help impart a tangy kick and an element of brightness to the pasta.

Mozzarella Sticks

It may seem like a cop-out to mention that one great way of using fresh mozzarella involves making it into sticks — but this is about more than changing the shape. Our gooey and stringy mozzarella sticks recipe is about taking a good ingredient and making it better by breading and deep frying it. Let's face it — nearly anything can be made better by deep frying. This recipe will finally allow you to transform this classic American bar snack into something you can enjoy at home whenever you want. 

For the easiest handling, opt for a low-moisture mozzarella that you can chop into rectangles and dip into flour, beaten eggs, and breadcrumbs. However, there's no rule against using fresh mozzarella here. Many recipes call for fresh mozzarella, as the breadcrumbs tend to stick to it more readily, and the result tends to be even more ooey-gooey. But remember: Fresh mozzarella won't hold together as well, so tread carefully.

Eggplant Panini

It is well-established that cheese is a good filling for a sandwich. In some cases, it might be the only filling a sandwich needs. That said, we're all about going above and beyond with food, hence our Ratatouille-ish eggplant panini with herb aioli recipe, which includes a healthy dose of mozzarella. However, it also brings a ton of veggies: roasted eggplant, zucchini, and bell peppers.

Indeed, this is more of a hot meal than a simple sandwich. After the vegetables roast in the oven for 20 minutes, layer them on a piece of sourdough bread with mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, and homemade aioli. Top your sandwich with another piece of bread and slide it into a panini press until the mozzarella turns gooey. This part is key: Although your roasted vegetables will likely be warm when you layer them into your sandwich, they aren't enough to melt the mozzarella. Cold mozzarella would be fine — and hot mozzarella is preferable — but tepid mozzarella could be slightly harmful to the texture and flavor of your sandwich.

Chopped Caprese Salad

People from Capri, where the original Caprese salad was invented, might be surprised to learn there is more than one way to prepare this dish. Like all delicious meals, the Caprese salad evolved and took on different forms according to the creativity of its makers. In the case of our chopped Caprese salad recipe, this dish transformed from a simple layering of tomato, mozzarella, and basil slices into a more traditional tossed salad with chopped cherry tomatoes, diced mozzarella (or small balls), and minced basil.

The benefits of making this salad over the layered version are that you don't need a knife to cut through the tomato slices, and you can put it on the same plate as your chicken, steak, or whatever protein you choose to pair with it. The traditional Caprese salad requires a special plate, as presentation is key. However, this chopped salad — which contains the same ingredients, only prepared and presented differently — is much more practical and tastes as good.