Why Does Mozzarella Cheese Turn Orange? (Answered!)

  • Mozzarella cheese turns orange due to Brevibacterium linens (B. linens), a harmless bacteria found in milk or brine, which can naturally color and flavor the cheese
  • B. linens is safe to consume and does not indicate spoilage, although it may slightly alter the cheese’s taste
  • This bacteria is also responsible for the characteristic smell of “cheesy feet,” as it is found on human skin
  • The orange hue in mozzarella can enhance its appearance, similar to cheeses like Port Salut and Muenster which intentionally use B. linens
  • Orange liquid on pizza, often seen when mozzarella is used, results from moisture in the cheese mixing with tomato sauce or pepperoni, not from spoilage

Can You Eat Orange Mozzarella?

So, you’re just about to make a tasty pizza or salad and discover your mozzarella has turned orange!

What on earth has happened, and can you still eat orange mozzarella?

Although it may look pretty scary and unappetizing, it’s perfectly safe.

The orange color is produced by a bacteria called Brevibacterium linens or B. linens.

Although it is a form of mold, it doesn’t mean the mozzarella has gone off, you can still eat it.

As you know, the basis of mozzarella is raw milk, and this type of bacteria can be found in both cow’s milk and buffalo.

It may even have come from the brine if that is how the mozzarella has been preserved, as it can be present in sea salt.

Admittedly, there may be a difference in the taste of orange mozzarella, but it’s not particularly unpleasant.

And if you are using it as a pizza topping, you won’t notice any change in flavor.

It could become a talking point with your guests if you serve them orange pizza!

It’s possible to buy the bacteria in powdered form, as some cheesemakers like to purposely add it.

The bacteria turn the rind orange and give it an attractive appearance.

Port Salut and Muenster are good examples.

And now you know where the expression “cheesy feet” comes from because the bacteria can be found on human skin and causes foot odor.


What Causes Orange-Colored Liquid on a Pizza?

You might sometimes notice that your pizza is dripping orange-colored oil.

So, where does this come from?

The mozzarella may be leaking some liquid, particularly if it has a high moisture content.

The higher the temperature that the pizza is cooked at, then the more likely it is that liquid will be pressed out of the cheese.

However, a much simpler answer is that the oily liquid has come from any pepperoni you are using as a topping. 

This can mix with the moisture from the mozzarella resulting in an orange-colored liquid.

It’s not harmful, but do be careful, as it can be incredibly hot!

The amount of water in the tomato-based topping can also make a difference. 

If the tomato sauce is quite thin, and you are using high-moisture mozzarella, then the liquids from each will combine.

This can result in a soggy crust with orange-colored oil or liquid or the pizza not being fully cooked in the middle.

Another factor could be if you are using uncooked vegetables, especially mushrooms.

As they begin to cook, they will release water, so it’s always better to pre-saute them first.  

Canned olives or artichokes should also be dried first before being added to the pizza.

Why is Cheese Orange?

My Final Thoughts

Mozzarella cheese turns orange through the presence of a bacteria called Brevibacterium linens or B. linens.

It’s a type of mold, but it’s harmless, and the cheese is safe to eat.

The bacteria is found in milk or brine.

It can be deliberately added to cheese to give it an orange color.

Orange liquid on a pizza can come from the moisture in the mozzarella mixing with the tomato sauce or pepperoni topping.

Don’t throw your orange mozzarella away, it’s fine to use it!

And as we are talking about weird occurrences, here is an article I have written about mozzarella smelling like vinegar.

Does this article alter your approach to selecting and using mozzarella in your cooking?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!


Q: Why does mozzarella cheese turn orange?
A: Mozzarella turns orange due to the presence of Brevibacterium linens (B. linens), a harmless bacteria found in milk or added during cheese-making. It’s safe to eat but may slightly alter the taste.

Q: Can you eat orange mozzarella cheese?
A: Yes, orange mozzarella is safe to eat. The orange color is a result of B. linens bacteria and does not indicate that the cheese has gone off.

Q: What causes orange-colored liquid on a pizza?
A: Orange-colored liquid on pizza can result from the moisture in high-moisture mozzarella mixing with tomato sauce or pepperoni topping, not harmful but can be hot.

Q: Why is cheese orange?
A: Cheese can turn orange due to Brevibacterium linens, a type of mold that is harmless. This bacteria is found in milk or brine and can be added to cheese to give it an orange color.

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