Our Test Kitchen Tip Will Make Shredding Mozzarella and Other Softer Cheeses a Cinch

What can you do when you need to grate a cheese that slips and slides on the box grater?

grated mozzarella cheese on counter
Photo: irontrybex / Getty Images

If you've ever been frustrated by trying to shred softer cheeses like mozzarella which start to fall apart as you try to shred them, we're here to help. While pre-shredded has its perks, it's a time saver for sure, we're team grate-your-own-cheese for freshness and fewer additives. Here we're sharing our test kitchen team's favorite tip that makes shredding softer cheeses simple: freeze your cheese! Read on for exactly how to freeze cheese for grating and which varieties of cheese this technique works best for.

The most popular candidate for freezing before shredding is mozzarella. You want even shreds of this mild-flavored fresh cheese, not big chunks of varying sizes that won't melt evenly. Freezing mozzarella before grating means you can shred it evenly and also makes sure the cheese isn't "slipping and sliding all over the box grater and you run less of a risk of slipping up and accidentally grating yourself," points out Riley Wofford, Associate Food Editor.

Deputy Food Editor, Greg Lofts, also recommends freezing semi soft cheeses like fontina or young Gouda to firm them up before grating. "At room temperature or even cold from the fridge, softer cheeses tend to stick in the grater holes, smush and smash up, and just not really shred into even, thin strands as they should," he says.

You don't need to freeze cheese for long before shredding it—in fact, doing so could compromise the flavor and texture. According to our Editorial Director of Food Sarah Carey, 30 minutes is enough time to slightly harden the cheese. Once it's firm, use a box grater and shred the cheese like you normally would.

Freezing cheese before grating isn't necessary for all cheese types. For example, semi-hard cheeses like cheddar, Monterey jack, and gruyère, as well as hard cheeses, such as Parmesan are solid enough to grate at room temperature or from the refrigerator.

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