I’m sure you know the feeling all too well, why does my Parmesan cheese clump?
You’re aiming to create a wonderful pasta sauce, and Parmesan is the way to do this.
However, there’s nothing worse than adding Parmesan to your pasta and then watching it clump.
Let’s face facts, if your pasta sauce isn’t smooth, it’s pretty much ruined.
So, why exactly does Parmesan cheese clump?
Is this to be expected?
Or are you doing something wrong?
Allow me to reveal all.
There are various reasons why your Parmesan cheese clumps. Firstly, if you’re looking to add Parmesan to pasta sauce, it needs to be very finely grated. Unfortunately, thick shreds of Parmesan will always clump. Furthermore, never add Parmesan to completely dry pasta, as this will always produce clumps too. Plus, you should always add Parmesan bit-by-bit while continuously stirring, as opposed to all at once.
1. Are You Grating Your Parmesan Too Thick?
I would hazard a guess that you’re looking to add Parmesan to a pasta dish.
As an example, perhaps you’re making a version of pasta Alfredo.
So, this calls for plenty of butter, maybe some cream, and lashings of grated Parmesan cheese.
That being said, the size of your Parmesan shavings could be the difference between a beautiful smooth Alfredo sauce or a clumpy mess.
Realistically, you’ll want to grate your Parmesan as finely as possible.
So, you must avoid large shreds or sheets of Parmesan.
Unfortunately, the larger your Parmesan, the greater the chance it will cling, especially to other cheese surrounding it.
This simply means that it’s likely that your cheese will melt unevenly and, therefore, clump.
So, you must ensure that you use the finest side of your grater for your Parmesan.
2. Is There Enough Liquid in the Pot?
Something else to be wary of is whether you have enough liquid in the pot.
If you attempt to sprinkle Parmesan onto dry pasta, you’re going to end up severely disappointed.
In fact, I can guarantee that dry pasta will see your Parmesan cheese clump.
Realistically, a dish such as Alfredo will generally have plenty of butter and cream, although cream isn’t always used.
So, this should provide enough moisture for you to add your Parmesan.
Basically, the liquid ensures that the Parmesan is constantly surrounded by heat, as well as distributing more evenly among the pasta.
In other words, the cheese is all going to melt at the same time.
Unfortunately, if you add Parmesan cheese to dry pasta, you’ll typically find some of it melts straight away, whereas some of it doesn’t.
And this is how Parmesan cheese clumps form.
How to Make Creamy Alfredo Sauce
3. Should You Add the Parmesan All At Once?
The final reason Parmesan cheese clumps simply comes down to how you’re adding it to your pasta.
What I mean by this is that cheese should be added slowly and gradually.
So, if you choose to add your Parmesan all at once, there’s a much higher likelihood that it will clump.
In fact, you’re likely to achieve the same results as not having enough liquid in the pot.
When you add a great mound of Parmesan to your pasta, it once again will be melting at different times.
So, some Parmesan will melt immediately, while other bits aren’t receiving enough heat to completely melt, so they will generally clump together.
Therefore, simply add your Parmesan bit-by-bit, and continue to stir your sauce throughout.
Once more, this allows the cheese to melt more evenly, which is how you can avoid clumps.
So, as you can see, there are various reasons why Parmesan cheese clumps.
This mainly comes down to how finely grated the Parmesan is, whether there’s any liquid in the pot, and how you’re adding the Parmesan.
In essence, you need to grate Parmesan extremely finely.
Next, you should never add Parmesan to dry pasta, as it requires liquid to melt evenly and therefore avoid clumping.
Finally, you should always add Parmesan a little at a time while constantly stirring to ensure a beautiful, creamy, and smooth sauce.
If you are looking for a different sauce for your pasta, you might wish to read my article on whether you can melt Laughing Cow triangles.