The Best Cheeses To Use For Pizza

From the crispy crust to the sweet and savory tomato sauce, pizza is an Italian classic that has become one of the most beloved and popular dishes in the world. According to, pizza was born in Naples, Italy, out of a need for a convenient and fast food that was made with inexpensive ingredients. While you can make your own tomato sauce and even your own pizza crust, you will inevitably have to buy some cheese for your homemade pizza — after all, it is the star of the show.

From classic mozzarella to more unique cheeses like goat and burrata, there are several different kinds of cheeses that can go on top of pizza. Whether you want a simple pepperoni pie or a more complex caramelized onion and fig-topped recipe, having the best complementary cheese is the first step to making the perfect pizza. Without further ado, here is Tasting Table's guide to the best cheeses to use for pizza.


Mozzarella is without a doubt the most commonly used cheese for pizza. Per The Pizza Heaven, traditional Neapolitan-style pizza almost always calls for the use of mozzarella. In fact, for a pizza to be considered a true Neapolitan pizza, the use of mozzarella is required in the regulations. This soft and white cheese is known for its creamy flavor and stringy texture, making it one of the best cheeses for melting.

The two most common mozzarellas that are used in pizza making are fior di latte, which is made from cow's milk, and buffalo mozzarella, which is made from water buffalo milk, says Eataly. In addition to being a solid source of protein, mozzarella also has a lower level of sodium than most other cheeses (via Eating Well). Whether you're whipping up a traditional Margherita pizza or standard cheese pie, mozzarella is a great foundation that can be left alone or built upon with other cheeses and toppings.


Though provolone is a cheese commonly used on sandwiches, it can also make a great addition to a savory and cheesy pizza. According to Very Well Fit, provolone is a semi-firm cheese that is very versatile. Though it is a great melting cheese, it can also be consumed as is at a colder temperature. That being said, there is a difference between different kinds of provolone, making some better for certain dishes than others.

For example, deli provolone is much better for melting, making it the perfect choice for your classic cheese pizza (via Kids Are Great Cooks). It has a very mild taste, ensuring that the flavor won't overpower the entire pizza when combined with the other ingredients. However, provolone piccante has a sharper flavor that makes it better suited for a classy cheeseboard. Also, like parmesan, it can be grated over your pizza for a little extra flavor.


From its distinct yellow coloring to its sharp and bright flavor, cheddar cheese is a fan favorite for everything from pizza to macaroni and cheese. Per Fine Cooking, cheddar is a popular cheese for cooking due to the fact that it melts into a smooth and creamy consistency without losing its flavor. Since cheddar can vary in its degree of sharpness, it is important to be aware of what specific cheddar you are working with before putting together your pizza pie.

For example, if you are going for a more mild and simple pizza, you will want to avoid using extra-sharp cheddar cheese. However, if you are looking to keep the flavors very forward and bright, the sharper the better. Keep in mind that extra-sharp cheddar cheese has less moisture than regular cheddar, so you might find that it melts differently when cooking in the oven. For toppings, everything from pepperoni to jalapeño pairs nicely.


Ricotta is a fluffy and soft cheese that adds more contrast to the texture and flavor profile of a pizza. According to, ricotta cheese is lower in fat than other cheeses, and it is also a decent source of protein. When it comes to being a pizza topping, ricotta most often goes well on a bianca pizza (aka white pizza), placed on top of other cheeses such as mozzarella, provolone, or fontina.

At the popular Brooklyn Avenue Pizza Co. in Los Angeles, the La Bianca pizza uses ricotta, Calabrian chilies, and sauteéd spinach to create a flavor-packed pie that has a little kick to it. Since ricotta is so creamy, it is the perfect cheese to pair with spice. It helps create a balanced flavor profile that still packs a slight punch. Though you can use traditional tomato sauce with ricotta, keeping it simple with olive oil and oregano is good as well.


Per Live Eat Learn, Gouda is a Dutch cheese that can have a very different taste, texture, and smell depending on how long it is aged. When it comes to making pizza with Gouda cheese, an older selection is better due to its stronger flavor. Gouda cheese that is young can be very mild, so if you want your pizza to have a bolder taste, an older Gouda is best.

Older Gouda also has a firmer and more crumbly texture, and you might even find that there are small crystals inside the cheese (via The Spruce Eats). Though they may look like salt or sugar crystals, they are actually cheese crystals, and they are a sign of a nicely aged cheese. For toppings, Gouda is a great option for meat-forward pizzas that feature pulled pork, pepperoni, or even sausage. Gouda also goes great on savory sandwiches, pasta, and casseroles.

Monterey jack

According to The Spruce Eats, Monterey Jack is a white cheese that has a semi-firm texture and a mild taste. Also called Jack, this cheese is often infused with peppers, resulting in a spicy and flavorful pepper Jack cheese. The milk used to make Monterey Jack cheese comes from a cow, and it is highly meltable, making it great for gooey cheese pull on a pizza. That being said, since it is so mild in flavor, this cheese works best on a pizza that also has some bolder flavors.

In addition to pizza, Monterey Jack is a great option for quesadillas and grilled cheese sandwiches. When it comes to flavors and toppings, both pepper Jack and traditional Monterey Jack pair nicely with a tangy BBQ chicken pizza or a Southwestern take on the beloved Italian staple (via The Kitchn). Fresh basil also contrasts with the more mild flavors of Monterey Jack cheese nicely, resulting in a lighter and fresher pizza.


Are you looking to top your pizza pie off with something that is extra creamy and dreamy? According to All Recipes, burrata is a pretty new cheese that was just developed in the 20th century and is without a doubt one of the most decadent and special cheeses to date. Though it looks very similar to mozzarella, the inside of burrata is very creamy, featuring tasty curds that melt in your mouth. Typically, burrata cheese is placed in the center of a pizza and left whole so that the creamy insides spill out onto the other slices once it is cut.

Though burrata has a similar texture to ricotta, it can be used on white pizzas or traditional red sauce pizzas (via Well Plated). If you prefer to have some extra meat or protein, prosciutto is a solid option that is extra salty, adding some nice savoriness to the burrata. Red chili oil can also add a tasty kick and balance out the rich and creamy taste of the burrata.

Goat cheese

If you don't do well with cow's milk, goat cheese is a great alternative. According to Prevention, goat's milk is seen as a healthier option when compared to traditional milk for a multitude of reasons. In addition to having fewer calories, goat's milk also has higher levels of vitamin A, vitamin B, and even calcium. Most importantly, goat's milk is easier to digest than traditional milk, making it a more enjoyable option for those who are lactose intolerant.

From a white pizza to a veggie pizza, goat cheese can complement a wide variety of flavors. If you are looking to try something different, pair goat cheese with caramelized onions for a sweeter take on the famous Italian dish. Since goat farms tend to be smaller and more humane, goat cheese is also a great option for animal lovers who are passionate about fair farming practices and animal treatment.


While some people prefer to sprinkle just a bit of parmesan on their pizza before taking a big bite, others prefer to pack on as much of this vibrant cheese as possible over their slice. Per Foodly, parmesan is traditionally used as a grated topping on other mozzarella or cheddar cheese pizzas. While you can definitely sprinkle some parmesan over any pizza pie, parmesan enhances the pineapple flavors in Hawaiian pizza.

Since it is rather pungent, most people don't use parmesan cheese as a substitute for mozzarella. That being said, recipes like chicken parmesan pizza call for the use of more parmesan than a normal sprinkle, yielding a very rich and unique flavor. Though you can buy it pre-grated or shredded, classic parmesan cheese comes in a block and can be grated to your liking over your food. The longer your parmesan has aged, the stronger its taste will be.


If you're looking for something nutty and earthy, fontina cheese is the way to go. According to Kids Are Great Cooks, fontina is similar to Swiss cheese, and fontina cheeses that are made in Italy tend to be much sharper and bolder than other varieties. Though it is considered to be more of a specialty cheese, it can be found at most standard grocery stores nationwide.

If you're looking to switch things up, adding fontina to a pizza that has mozzarella or parmesan on it can really intensify the flavors and take your pizza to the next level. At the legendary Los Angeles pizzeria, Pizzeria Mozza, the Funghi Misti pizza uses fontina to brighten things up along with the mushroom and thyme to create an aromatic and flavorful pizza. Between just those three ingredients, a one-of-a-kind flavor profile is created, proving that fontina is a unique cheese that doesn't require much to shine.


Pecorino is a more unique and special cheese that is not as well known as other varieties such as mozzarella. Per Mavi Trade, pecorino cheese is actually made from sheep or ewe milk rather than cow milk. Though you may have never heard of it, this is actually one of the oldest and most ancient cheeses, having a very distinct taste and aroma. That being said, each kind of pecorino can vary depending on which region it comes from.

One of the best things about pecorino cheese is the fact that it is much easier to digest than traditional cow's milk, and it is also known to help reduce cholesterol. Pecorino is most often grated across the top of pizza, and, thanks to its sharper flavor, it adds more layers to your pizza. Though it can be used across many different kinds of pizza, the acidity of red tomato sauce complements the tanginess of pecorino, says Mortadella Head.

Wisconsin brick cheese

According to Detroit Style Pizza Company, authentic Detroit-style pizza calls for the use of brick cheese since it is able to bake very well and results in a cheesy and gooey pizza. Detroit-style pizza is traditionally made in a square shape and is somewhat similar to deep dish pizza since it is layered and thick. It is also characterized by the crispy bottom layer crust and the mouthwatering melted cheese that spills out the sides. Though mozzarella can certainly be used in tandem, brick cheese is absolutely the star of the show with this kind of pizza.

Originally made in Wisconsin, brick cheese gets its name from its brick-like shape. This medium-soft cheese has a relatively mild taste when it is young, though it can become more pungent with age. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinal says brick cheese was invented in the 1870s, though it's not commonly used outside of the Midwest.