Too much mozzarella on hand and no way of using it before it spoils? Considered freezing it but not sure how that works out? Can you freeze mozzarella cheese?
If any of those questions have brought you here, you’re in the right place.
Below, I talk about freezing both fresh mozzarella and mozzarella blocks. That means no matter if you have a leftover half of a big ball of mozzarella, a third of a block, or some shredded mozzarella, I’ve got you covered.
Without further ado, let’s talk about freezing this popular variety of cheese.
Can You Freeze Fresh Mozzarella?
Fresh mozzarella is usually used in salads and other side dishes. It’s quite wet because it’s submerged in brine that helps it last longer.
And even if you remove some of that moisture before freezing, it still turns out watery and soft after defrosting. In other words, the texture changes and not in a good way.
Fortunately, frozen fresh mozzarella still works quite alright when melted and used as a topping. I, for one, like toasts with melted mozzarella, and that’s how I tend to use the frozen leftovers.
If you have a dish or two in your repertoire that calls for melted fresh mozzarella, you can definitely use those frozen leftovers instead.
Thawed fresh mozzarella turns out watery. If excess moisture might ruin your dish, defrost the cheese and dry it before melting the cheese. Otherwise, feel free to skip defrosting and use it straight from the freezer.
Now that you know how freezing fresh mozzarella works out, it’s time to talk about how you can do it. Don’t worry – it only takes a couple of minutes and some equipment that you surely have around.
How To Freeze Fresh Mozzarella?
While you can freeze the whole mozzarella ball, I prefer freezing the cheese sliced. This way, I can grab a slice or two when needed, without having to defrost the entire thing. That works great for toasts like these.
If a different size or shape works better for your recipe, go with it. The idea here is to be able to get from the freezer exactly as much as you need in seconds.
Here’s the step by step:
- Remove excess water. Discard the brine and give the ball (or balls) a minute to ooze more liquid.
- Portion the mozzarella in a way it makes sense for the recipe you have in mind. Again, I like to slice the ball, but feel free to go with whatever size or shape makes sense for you.
- Remove excess moisture. There will be more moisture after cutting the cheese, believe me. I use a paper towel to get rid of it, so all of that brine won’t freeze with the slices.
- Move the portions into a freezer bag. You could pre-freeze the cut pieces on a tray, but I tend to skip that step and put the slices in a bag right away. Make sure they’re in a single layer so they don’t freeze together. This way, you can grab one or two pieces when needed.
- Freeze the bag flat. When you chuck the freezer bag into the freezer, make sure it stays flat until the pieces freeze solid. Once they’re frozen, you can reorganize things however you like.
That’s it. The fresh mozzarella is secure in the freezer and waiting for you to use it. You can find some ideas on how to do that later in the article.
Now, let’s talk about those mozzarella cheese blocks.
Can You Freeze Mozzarella Cheese Blocks?
Mozzarella block contains much less water than its fresh counterpart. It looks and feels almost like a semi-hard cheese. That also means that freezing it doesn’t have as many downsides as freezing fresh mozzarella.
The only thing that you should worry about is the cheese going dry after freezing. And in many cases, it’s not that big of a deal anyway.
That means you can freely freeze your leftover mozzarella blocks and use them pretty much however you like.
Having said that, let’s talk about how to freeze those blocks.
How To Freeze Mozzarella Blocks?
There are two ways of freezing mozzarella blocks that I know of. You can freeze the cheese shredded or in portions.
Before choosing one method over the other, consider how you’re going to use that southern Italian cheese.
Let’s say you want to make homemade mozzarella sticks. If that’s the case, you’re going to choose to freeze the block in portions.
But if you need some cheese to melt on top of a pizza or a casserole, freezing the cheese shredded is probably your best bet.
If you have no idea how you’re going to use that cheese, I suggest you go with shredding and use that cheese as a topping. I mean, everything is better with a little extra mozzarella on top, isn’t it?
Freezing Mozzarella Sticks or Portions
Before you get started, remember that the cheese will dry out unless you wrap it tightly.
If you’re going to melt it anyway, that shouldn’t be that big of an issue. But if you want to use it as-is, make sure it’s well wrapped. Nobody likes dry mozzarella.
Let’s get to it:
- Portion the cheese. Go with what works best for your recipe of choice. For mozzarella sticks, you might cut the block into sticks already, or into a couple of fat slices that you can divide into sticks after thawing.
- Wrap the portions. If you don’t care about the cheese drying, you can skip this step. Otherwise, use a freezer or aluminum wrap (like I did in the article on freezing fresh yeast) to cover each portion tightly.
- Put the portions into a freezer bag or container. If the pieces of cheese aren’t wrapped, make sure they don’t touch each other, so they don’t freeze together. Alternatively, you can pre-freeze them on a baking sheet and then place them in a container of choice.
- Transfer the bag or container into the freezer.
And that’s a wrap. The cheese can sit in the freezer until you need it.
You can freeze string cheese (aka cheese sticks) the same way.
Freezing Shredded or Grated Mozzarella
Grating the block of mozzarella before freezing it is what I usually go with. The frozen cheese turns out dry (compared to before freezing), but that’s okay for using it as a topping.
Here’s how I like to go about it:
- Grate the cheese. Start by putting the block into the freezer for 10 to 30 minutes, so it firms up and is a bit easier to shred. Choose the size of the grating slot based on what works best for what you need.
- Pre-freeze on a baking sheet. Line the baking sheet or cookie tray with aluminum foil, or (like I do) with a silicone mat. This way, the cheese doesn’t stick to the surface. Transfer the shredded cheese onto the foil or mat and put it into the freezer until it’s frozen solid.
- Break down the frozen cheese with a spatula. The cheese will freeze together into a single large clump. To have it readily available when needed, I break it down with a spatula into a bunch of small chunks. It only takes like half a minute, so you might as well do it right now.
- Transfer the cheese into a freezer bag or container. Go with what’s convenient for you. If using a bag, squeeze out the air before sealing it. Label the bag if you like.
- Put back into the freezer. The cheese is now ready to sit in there for the long term.
How To Thaw Mozzarella?
Now that you have some frozen mozzarella in your freezer, you might be wondering how to defrost it. There are a couple of options:
- In the fridge. Put the mozzarella into the refrigerator for a couple of hours. The time needed for the cheese to thaw depends on how you’ve frozen it – shredded thaws fast, large portions not as much. Leaving the package in the fridge overnight is the easiest way to go about that.
- On the counter. For safety reasons, use only for thin slices and shredded mozzarella that will defrost in under an hour. Use immediately.
- Skip defrosting. If you need to melt the cheese, you can often skip thawing. Let the heat of the toaster or the oven take care of that before it melts the dairy product.
If you have frozen fresh mozzarella on hand, and don’t want any extra moisture in whatever you’re cooking, pat it dry with a paper towel after thawing.
How To Use Frozen and Thawed Mozzarella?
Here are a couple of options on how to use that mozzarella that you’ve frozen:
- Topping. This method works for both blocks and fresh mozzarella. You can melt the cheese on top of a pizza, casserole, or even a plain old slice of bread. It’s my favorite choice by far.
- Melting. Creamy soups, egg scrambles, and the like, all can benefit from a bit of extra cheese added. And mozzarella works just fine for that purpose.
- Any recipe that calls for melted mozzarella. As I mentioned, if you need to melt the Italian cheese, you might as well use frozen one. That means dishes like mozzarella sticks are definitely on the menu.