Cheese burst is a popular pizza topping that provides an extra gooey, stretchy layer of cheese. It’s a fun twist on traditional pizza that adds an indulgent, cheesy burst of flavor in every bite. But what exactly is cheese burst made of?
The Main Ingredients in Cheese Burst
There are just a few main ingredients that go into making the delicious cheese burst topping:
- Mozzarella Cheese – This is the base of the cheese burst, providing the signature stretchiness and meltability.
- Cheddar Cheese – Added for a sharper, more complex flavor.
- Processed Cheese – Helps bind the cheeses together.
- Emulsifying Salts – Allow the cheese to melt smoothly without separating.
- Stabilizers – Help thicken the cheese to the ideal burst-able consistency.
The exact ratio of cheeses and other ingredients can vary between recipes, but mozzarella and cheddar almost always form the bulk of the cheese blend. Let’s look closer at the purpose each ingredient serves.
Mozzarella is the star of the show when it comes to cheese burst. This soft, creamy cheese melts beautifully and has that signature pull that allows it to stretch into delicious strings. Fresh mozzarella and low-moisture mozzarella are both great options. The more moisture in the cheese, the more melt potential it has. Low-moisture mozzarella may need to be blended with a small amount of fresh mozzarella or cream cheese to achieve maximum stretch and melt.
While mozzarella provides the melt, cheddar gives cheese burst its nutty, tangy flavor. Aged cheddars work best, as they contain less moisture and will help prevent the cheese burst from becoming greasy. Young or medium cheddar can also work, just be sure to drain off any excess moisture. Grating the cheddar before adding it to the cheese blend will also promote an even melt. The cheddar should make up around 20-40% of the total cheese to provide plenty of flavor without compromising the stretch.
Many cheese burst recipes call for a small amount of processed cheese product, like American cheese singles. This helps bind all the cheeses together into a cohesive, smooth melt. The emulsifying salts in processed cheeses prevent the proteins in the cheese from clumping together and separating when heated. Just a slice or two is all you need for the whole cheese blend.
In addition to getting emulsifiers from processed cheese, many recipes also add a pinch of extra emulsifying salts. This further ensures the cheese melts evenly into a cohesive, elastic texture. Sodium citrate is a common emulsifying salt that helps create that satisfying cheese pull. A mere 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon is enough for 1-2 cups of cheese.
The last key ingredient is a stabilizer to help thicken the melted cheese. Common choices include mustard powder, cornstarch, tapioca flour, or xanthan gum. These ingredients aid in moisture retention and prevent the fat in the cheese from fully separating. Just 1/2 to 1 teaspoon per cup of cheese is effective. They allow the cheese burst to achieve the ideal thick, stretchy, “burst-able” consistency.
The Cheesemaking Process
Making cheese burst requires a specific process to bring all the ingredients together into the molten, elastic topping we know and love. Here is an overview of the basic cheesemaking steps:
- Grate or shred the mozzarella and cheddar cheeses to allow them to melt smoothly. Drain off any excess moisture.
- Add the cheeses to a saucepan with the processed cheese and emulsifying salts.
- Slowly heat the mixture over medium-low, stirring frequently, until completely melted and uniform.
- Sprinkle in the starch or gum stabilizer and continue heating for 2-3 minutes until thickened to the desired consistency.
- Allow to cool slightly before pouring over pizza. The cheese burst will thicken more as it cools.
The cheese can also be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. Reheat before using to regain that signature ooey-gooey texture.
How Does the Cheese Get So Stretchy?
You may be wondering just how cheese burst achieves that incredible elasticity that allows it to dramatically stretch and pull apart. The secret lies in the physical structure of the cheese.
When cheeses like mozzarella are heated, the fat and proteins start to melt. Normally, this causes fat to leak out of the cheese, making it greasy. But with cheese burst, emulsifiers and stabilizers prevent this separation. Instead, the proteins link together into long, tangled chains while retaining their moisture content. This protein matrix is what creates that satisfying stretch.
Heating and cooling the cheese multiple times helps further develop this protein network. So cheese burst that can be pulled into long elastic strands has been very carefully crafted through precise temperature control and ingredients.
Now that you know what makes cheese burst tick, let’s talk about how to serve it up hot and fresh. Here are some tantalizing topping ideas for your next cheese burst pizza night:
Classic Cheese Burst
You can’t go wrong with the simple classic route – just your cheese burst blanketing a plain cheese pizza. The gooey cheese is star of the show here without any distractions.
Pepperoni Cheese Burst
Pepperoni and cheese are simply made for each other. Scatter crispy pepperoni slices under the blanket of cheese burst for a perfect savory, spicy bite.
Supreme Cheese Burst
Pile on your favorite pizza toppings – pepperoni, Italian sausage, mushrooms, onions, peppers and more – before drenching in cheese burst for an over-the-top experience.
Chicken Bacon Ranch Cheese Burst
Grilled chicken, crispy bacon, and fresh ranch flavor is a winning combination. Just add in the cheese burst for even more cheesy goodness.
Make Your Own Cheese Burst
Once you’ve gotten a taste of this crave-worthy cheese pull, you’ll want to make your own homemade cheese burst. Here is an easy recipe to try:
- 8 oz fresh mozzarella, grated
- 4 oz aged cheddar, grated
- 2 oz cream cheese, softened
- 2 slices American cheese
- 1/2 tsp sodium citrate
- 1/2 tsp mustard powder
- Combine grated mozzarella, cheddar, cream cheese and American cheese slices in a saucepan.
- Heat slowly over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until melted and smooth.
- Stir in sodium citrate and mustard powder until fully incorporated.
- Continue heating 2-3 minutes until thickened.
- Allow to cool slightly before using.
- Pour over pizza and spread evenly. Bake pizza as desired.
The great thing about cheese burst is you can customize it to your tastes. Play around with different cheese varieties or add-ins like sun-dried tomatoes, herbs, or spices to make it your own.
To get the most out of your homemade cheese burst, follow these storage guidelines:
- Allow cheese burst to cool to room temperature before covering and refrigerating.
- Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
- Reheat gently before using to restore that incredible stretch.
- Avoid freezing, as this can cause the cheese proteins to break down.
- If refrigerated cheese burst loses its elasticity, stir in a teaspoon of milk before reheating to revive it.
Having trouble getting your cheese burst to achieve that picture-perfect pull? Here are some tips for troubleshooting common issues:
Greasy or Separated Cheese
- Use lower-moisture cheese varieties and drain off excess moisture.
- Increase emulsifying salts to 1 tsp per cup of cheese.
- Cook at lower heat for a longer time, stirring constantly.
Not Stretchy Enough
- Add a bit more fresh mozzarella for moisture and stretch.
- Increase cooking time to fully melt cheese proteins.
- Add a teaspoon or two of milk to boost moisture.
- Make sure to use grated or shredded cheese, not cubes.
- Cook for longer over lower heat for a smoother melt.
- Add a pinch more emulsifying salts.
Too Thin and Runny
- Use more aged cheddar and less fresh mozzarella.
- Increase stabilizers to 1 tsp per cup of cheese.
- Cook for longer to evaporate excess moisture.
It may take some trial and error to find the right ingredient ratios and techniques for your ideal cheese pull. But once you’ve mastered the art of cheese burst, you’ll be able to create this mouthwatering sensation anytime.
Cheese burst certainly lives up to its name, bursting with an incredible cheesy flavor in every delicious, gooey bite. Getting that picture-perfect pull requires just the right blend of stretchy, melty cheeses and emulsifiers. Mozzarella, cheddar, processed cheese and stabilizers all work together to create the irresistible texture we love. Adjusting moisture content, temperature, and ingredients can help you achieve cheese pull perfection. Topped on pizza or pasta, cheese burst is a fun new way to get your melted cheese fix. Now that you know what makes this stuff tick, get creative in the kitchen with your own custom cheese burst flavors and recipes.