The Best Simple Mozzarella Substitutes

mozzarella substitute

Looking for an alternative to Mozzarella Cheese? You’re in the right place! Keep reading for my favourite simple mozzarella substitutes both dairy-free and dairy based.

What is Mozzarella Cheese?

Mozzarella is a semi-soft cheese from Italy with a beautiful subtle cheesy flavour. It’s traditionally made with buffalo milk although it can also be made with cows milk.

There are two types of mozzarella. Fresh mozzarella which is not aged and has a white color and very mild flavor. Slightly aged mozzarella also known as low-moisture mozzarella is firmer and has a slightly yellow colour.

It’s a great melting cheese that is used on pizza and in baked pasta dishes like lasagna. Fresh mozzarella is served raw with fresh tomatoes and basil in the classic Italian dish Caprese salad (‘insalata Caprese’).

The Best Mozzarella Cheese Substitutes – Dairy

1. Gruyère Cheese

This go-to melting Swiss semi-hard cheese is stronger and slightly more nutty in flavor but gives a similar stringy texture when melted so will be my number one choice. Especially for mozzarella sticks or a cheese sauce.

2. Cheddar

Cheddar has a slightly harder cheese texture and slightly stronger cheese flavor to Mozzarella so it would be a good match. It will melt in a similar manner in cooked dishes. White cheddar cheese will be an even closer match from a color perspective.

3. Swiss Cheese

Swiss cheese is slightly firmer and sweeter than Mozzarella but it generally won’t be a problem in most dishes. Other Swiss types of cheese like Raclette cheese or Appenzeller Cheese or Dutch cheeses like Edam cheese or Gouda (especially young gouda or mild gouda) or Jarlsberg cheese from Norway or American Swiss cheese can all be substituted.

4. Ricotta Cheese

Ricotta won’t melt as well as low moisture mozzarella but it is often used on pizza or in pasta dishes to give a beautiful creamy texture. It’s also a great substitute for fresh mozzarella in a Caprese salad.

5. Emmental Cheese

With a similar flavor profile to Swiss cheese, Emmental is a good melty cheese alternative to Mozzarella.

6. Comté Cheese

Like cheddar and swiss cheese, the French Comte cheese has a very similar flavor profile and semi-hard texture to aged Mozzarella so makes an excellent substitute.

7. Provolone Cheese

Another semi hard Italian cheese, provolone will melt into cheesy goodness in a similar manner to Mozzarella cheese.

8. Fontina Cheese

As with Provolone, Fontina from Italy, Sweden or other countries will melt in a similar manner to aged Mozzarella.

9. Oaxaca Cheese

The best mozzarella substitutes from Mexico (especially for aged mozzarella) is definitely Oaxaca cheese because it has a similar texture and melts in a similar manner. Other Mexican Cheese like queso blanco (curd cheese) can be used in salad like fresh mozzarella.

10. Parmesan Cheese

Parmesan from the family of hard cheeses is much firmer and drier than Mozzarella so it won’t melt as well on pizza or in mozzarella sticks or chicken parmesan. But for recipes like a Caprese salad where the Mozzaralla is providing cheesey flavour, shaved Parmesan can be used instead.

11. Halloumi

While the texture of halloumi is dryer and the flavour much saltier, it will melt well to be a surprisingly good substitute for Mozzarella.

12. Feta

The Greek cheese Feta is saltier and won’t melt as well as Mozzarella – but will give an intense boost of flavour so will be better than no cheese. Good in dishes like quiche where Gruyère is being used for flavour only. Not so good on a grilled cheese sandwich.

13. Goats Cheese

Fresh goats cheese is tangier, creamier and less salty than Mozzarella but will add some cheesy goodness. Goats cheese won’t melt in the same way as Mozzarella so may not be great in cooked dishes.

The Best Dairy-Free Mozzarella Cheese Substitutes – Plant Based

If you’re looking for vegan or non-dairy alternatives to Mozzarella, it can be a challenge to match the melty cheesy texture of Mozzarella. Although there are some acceptable vegan mozzarella options available commercially.

But if you’re willing to think laterally here are my best substitutes for dairy-free mozzarella:

1. Hummus

No hummus isn’t going to melt onto pizza and definitely can’t be cut into batons and breaded and fried like Mozzarella sticks BUT it will provide the substance and that delicious nutty flavor. A big dollop of hummus on top of cooked pizza bases just out of the oven can be just as tasty as melted Mozzarella.

2. Dairy-Free Pesto

Works in a similar manner to hummus. Again it won’t melt into oozy cheesy goodness but a dairy-free pesto will add loads of flavor and freshness and makes a great alternative to the cheesiness of melted Mozzarella.

My Tomato Almond Pesto recipe or this Sicilian Nut Pesto recipe are my 2 favourite non-dairy pestos.

Use instead of Mozzarella as the saucey component of your favourite gratins.

3. Brazil Nuts

Can be grated with a microplane to make a dust that looks a lot like grated Mozzarella. I also make a sprinkle I call Brazil Nut ‘Parmesan’ which is delicious sprinkled over pasta dishes or any where you’d normally grate over some Mozzarella.

4. Nutritional Yeast Flakes

Aren’t as salty as Mozzarella and won’t melt but they do add a similar hit of deeply savoury umami flavours. Use sparingly.

5. Olives

If you’re looking for a salty burst of flavour, a handful of olives is a good dairy-free and vegan alternative to Mozzarella.

6. Sun Dried Tomatoes

A similar idea to olives, sun dried tomatoes are bursting with flavour and will add a little sweetness to your dish instead of a cheese hit.

7. Salted Roast Almonds

For texture and salty taste roast almonds will take your dish in a different direction but it won’t be lacking in flavour or crunch.

8. Cashews or other nuts

Roast cashew nuts can be used in a similar manner to almonds. Or my cashew sour cream will work as a vegan mozzarella substitute in a similar manner to hummus.

9. Sea Salt Flakes

Another option to replace the salty hit from Mozzarella is to sprinkle your dish with sea salt flakes. It won’t provide the same visuals or substance as grated or melted cheese but you will appreciate the salty flavour explosions.

10. Capers

Work in a similar way to olives. Salted capers will be the best choice although capers in vinegar are better than nothing.

11. Toasted Breadcrumbs

In Italy toasted breadcrumbs – called ‘pan gratato’ are also known as poor mans Parmesan. They are great for adding crunch and visual interest when sprinkled over pasta.

How to Store Mozzarella

Mozzarella can be stored for months in the refrigerator in their sealed package. But once the package is opened it will generally only last a week or two before you start having mould growing on it. If this happens I just slice of the moldy part and eat the rest quickly. If I open a pack and know I’m not going to eat it in time I store it in a ziplock bag in the freezer.

Can mozzarella substitute for swiss?

Yes! Absolutely especially for dishes where the cheese is going to be melted. For salads calling for fresh mozzarella or buffalo mozzarella, slices of swiss cheese can be used but it will take the salad in a different direction.

What is a good substitute for fresh mozzarella balls?

If you’re going to cook and want a melted cheese vibe then Gruyere cheese, cheddar or Swiss cheese would be the best substitutes. But if you’re using the fresh mozzarella balls in a Caprese salad with basil and tomatoes I’d go for a softer cheese like ricotta or goats cheese or even labneh (yogurt cheese balls).

Can I substitute parmesan cheese for mozzarella?

You can use parmesan instead of mozzarella. The thing is that parmesan is dryer and won’t melt in the same way as mozzarella on pizza or lasagna so you’ll miss the oozy stringiness but the parmesan will provide plenty of cheesy flavour so it won’t be the end of the world.

If your recipe calls for fresh mozzarella balls you can substitute shaved chunks of parmesan – again the texture will be different but it may not be a bad thing in a Caprese salad when you have fresh tomatoes and basil.

Mozzarella Cheese Goes with…

  • Onions & Mozzarella
  • Macaroni (Mac) & Mozzarella
  • Thyme & Mozzarella
  • Chicken & Mozzarella
  • Tomato & Mozzarella
  • Olives & Mozzarella

More Ingredient Substitutes

Also see see the Simple Ingredients Substitutes Index.

Have fun in the kitchen!

With love,
Jules x