How Do You Cut Mozzarella Balls for Pizza? (The Right Way!)

  • Begin by draining the mozzarella from its liquid and pat it dry
  • For easier handling, freezing mozzarella for 10 minutes before cutting, tearing, or shredding can help, especially since it’s a soft cheese
  • Opt for pizza mozzarella with lower moisture content for simpler slicing or shredding, available in blocks rather than traditional balls
  • Mozzarella balls are shaped during cheesemaking by stretching and kneading curds in hot water, forming the cheese’s signature stringiness and ball shape

Should You Cut, Shred, or Tear Mozzarella for Pizza?

Handling mozzarella is a bit of a slippery task, and you might wonder if you should try and cut it, or just tear it apart.

Or even shred it.

Mozzarella is a very soft cheese, and unless you have a very sharp knife, you might struggle to cut it into very thin slices.

If you put thicker slices of mozzarella on top of your pizza, they are not going to melt very effectively.

You could be left with blobs of cheese and a soggy crust, which is not what you were hoping for!

It’s possible to tear the mozzarella instead, but then you are going to end up with irregular pieces rather than nice round slices.

This won’t affect the taste, though; you may just need to spread them evenly over the topping.

Shredding is another possibility, but again, the softness of the mozzarella will be a drawback. 

You could end up with mozzarella clogging up your grater, getting stuck in the holes, and not leaving you with any cheese you can use!

One recommendation is to put the mozzarella in the freezer first but for no more than 10 minutes.

Make sure you dry it first, as well, so the outside of the cheese doesn’t ice over.

Partially frozen mozzarella will be easier to cut, tear, and shred, so it’s an option you might want to consider.

Of course, all the above advice assumes you are using a high-quality mozzarella with a high moisture content.

Instead, you may wish to purchase pizza mozzarella which has a lower moisture content.

You can find it in blocks rather than the traditional ball shape.

This will make it easier to slice or shred.

And for the ultimate convenience, you can buy ready-shredded mozzarella that you simply sprinkle on top of the pizza.

Why is Mozzarella Shaped Like a Ball?

Perhaps you have often wondered why is mozzarella ball-shaped.

To answer that better, let’s look at how mozzarella is made.

The highest quality mozzarella is made from buffalo milk, but cow’s milk is perfectly acceptable.

The milk is heated with the addition of rennet, live cultures, and acid, which form it into curds.

These curds are drained for several hours.

The next part of the process is to immerse the curds in salted hot water, and this is what softens them. 

The curds form what is known as stracciatella (strings), and as the mozzarella is stretched and kneaded, these cheese strings start coming together in a ball shape.

Eventually, one large ball of mozzarella is formed, and the cheesemaker cuts pieces from it to roll into smaller balls to retain the stringy texture.

If you pull a mozzarella ball apart, you can see the stracciatella, and these give it texture and give us that lovely stringiness we enjoy on a pizza!

Mozzarella also comes in other sizes, and the smaller balls are known as bocconcini, which are particularly delicious when breaded and deep-fried!

Mozzarella Cheese: How to Cut It for Pizza

My Final Thoughts

Mozzarella is a very soft cheese with high moisture content, which makes it difficult to cut.

Tearing or shredding the cheese is also somewhat of a challenge.

Freezing the mozzarella for 10 minutes can make the task easier.

It is also possible to buy pizza mozzarella that has lower moisture content and is easier to slice.

Mozzarella naturally forms into a ball shape during the cheesemaking process.

Don’t be afraid of getting to grips with your mozzarella, now you know how to cut it!

Another question you may be pondering once you have cut your cheese is why mozzarella goes orange and whether it is a problem.

Do you think that using different methods can influence the final texture and flavor of the pizza?

Let us know in the comments below!


How do you cut mozzarella balls for pizza?

To cut mozzarella balls for pizza, you should first drain and pat them dry.

You can either slice them into thin pieces with a sharp knife for even coverage on your pizza or tear them by hand for a more rustic look. For easier slicing, you can freeze the mozzarella balls briefly (about 10 minutes) before cutting.

Should you cut, shred, or tear mozzarella for pizza?

Handling mozzarella can be challenging due to its softness. Cutting into thin slices is recommended for effective melting, but this requires a very sharp knife to avoid thick slices that won’t melt well. Tearing the mozzarella is an alternative, resulting in irregular pieces that need to be evenly spread over the topping. Shredding is another option, although the softness of the cheese may clog your grater. Freezing the mozzarella for no more than 10 minutes before cutting, tearing, or shredding can make the process easier.

Why is mozzarella shaped like a ball?

Mozzarella is traditionally shaped like a ball during its making process. High-quality mozzarella, often made from buffalo milk (though cow’s milk is also acceptable), is heated with rennet, live cultures, and acid to form curds. These curds are then immersed in salted hot water, softening them into stracciatella (strings). As the mozzarella is stretched and kneaded, it naturally forms into a ball shape. This shape helps retain the stringy texture that is characteristic and desired in mozzarella, especially when used on pizzas.

Can freezing mozzarella affect its texture for pizza topping?

Freezing mozzarella for a brief period (about 10 minutes) before slicing, tearing, or shredding can make it easier to handle. This method does not significantly affect the texture or flavor of the mozzarella when used as a pizza topping. However, it’s important to dry the mozzarella before freezing to prevent icing on the cheese’s surface.

Is it better to use pizza mozzarella with a lower moisture content?

For pizza topping, you might consider using pizza mozzarella, which typically has a lower moisture content than traditional mozzarella balls. Pizza mozzarella is often found in blocks rather than ball shapes, making it easier to slice or shred. This type of mozzarella can provide a more consistent melting and coverage on the pizza, avoiding the issues associated with high moisture content in traditional mozzarella.

How does the cheesemaking process influence mozzarella’s texture?

The cheesemaking process, particularly the stretching and kneading of mozzarella, is crucial in developing its stringy texture. This texture is not only significant for the cheese’s physical appearance but also contributes to the delightful stringiness and mouthfeel when melted on a pizza. The process of forming mozzarella into balls by hand further enhances this texture, making it a preferred choice for pizza toppings.

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