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The Difference Between Shredded And Grated Cheese

Shredded and grated cheeses in ramekins
Shredded and grated cheeses in ramekins - Candice Bell/Shutterstock

Cheese is delicious in all its forms, but when it comes to incorporating sharp cheddar, gruyere, or parmesan into recipes like slow cooker mac and cheese or cacio e pepe, the form it's in matters. Bags of shredded and grated cheeses are common at the grocery store, or you can do the work yourself at home. Either way, there are differences in shape and texture that you should consider when choosing shredded or grated cheese for your meals.

The most obvious difference between the two is the shape. Shredded cheese comes as thick shreds or strips that can be thinner or thicker depending on the manufacturing process, and you'll see more varieties of pre-shredded cheese at the grocery store than grated. In comparison, grated cheese is much finer and similar to powder; think of parmesan which is often found grated in a can. With shredded varieties, you might catch more of a cheese-forward flavor with gooey texture whereas grated cheese melds more into the dish overall for flavor throughout each bite.

When you buy either type at the store, keep in mind that they will be coated with an anti-caking agent to prevent them from sticking together, and they may also contain preservatives to keep them fresh. This means pre-grated or shredded cheeses have differences in texture and taste than fresh cheese, and it takes more time for them to melt when cooked.

Read more: Styles Of Regional BBQ In The US

When To Use Shredded Cheese And When To Reach For Grated Instead

Hand grating cheese over pasta
Hand grating cheese over pasta - Pekic/Getty Images

Plenty of recipes will work with either shredded or grated cheeses, but there are instances when one variety is better than the other. Use shredded when you want thicker layers of cheese either on top or incorporated throughout the dish. Some examples of when you should reach for shredded cheese are for sandwiches, like Tasting Table's ultimate grilled cheese, or for quesadillas like our sheet pan quesadilla. It's also good for getting thick layers on pizzas, casseroles, and baked pasta such as in a croissant breakfast casserole or classic baked ziti.

Because grated cheese is much finer, it's best used as a garnish on dishes like pasta or when you want to easily melt it in a dish for an essence of cheese flavor. Perhaps the most common use of grated cheese is on top of pasta dishes like our pasta e fagioli with pancetta and white beans, or Instant Pot spaghetti for an easy weeknight dinner. Grated cheese also incorporates well when mixed into cheesy scrambled eggs, sprinkled on top of salads like a Caesar paired with bread crumbs or croutons, or stirred in soups.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.