When reading a recipe, odds are you’ll only see one name listed when you need to add a certain semi-soft, unripened southern Italian cheese: mozzarella. Would it shock you to know that “mozzarella” is in fact an overarching term that can actually refer to about 12 types of the cheese? Odds are you’ll probably recognize some of the words on this list (it seems as though burrata is on at least 80 percent of restaurant menus these days, regardless of whether the place serves Italian food), and others might be completely new. And while you may not be able to find all 12 options at the first grocery store you walk into, a good cheese shop—or even certain cheese counters—will stock them for you.
Translating to “bite sized,” bocconcini mozzarella is just that—a one- to two-ounce ball of cheese about the size of a campari tomato. Originally, bocconcini were only made with buffalo milk, but now you should be typically be able to find buffalo-cow milk blends.
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Soft, spreadable burrata is typically made with cow’s milk. The exterior is a thin wall of mozzarella that’s formed into a pouch while it’s still warm, after which the inside is filled with stracciatella (see #11) and cream. It’s typically served with bread.
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Technically the smaller version of bocconcini, cillengini are those grape-sized balls of mozzarella you’ve probably had on an appetizer plate.
Sold in blocks, pre-shredded bags, or as string cheese, low-moisture mozzarella is (duh) a mozzarella cheese with less water than its counterparts. More comparable in firmness to springy Cheddar or Monterey Jack than other mozzarellas, low-moisture mozzarella is salty and super-stretchy when melted, making it ideal for pizza.
Mozzarella di Bufala
Mozzarella di Bufala is, as its name implies, mozzarella made entirely from buffalo milk. Rich, creamy, and ideal for snacking, this type of cheese is actually protected by numerous laws that require it only be made with a traditional recipe in specific regions of Italy.
Fior di Latte Mozzarella
Translating to “milk cream,” fior di latte mozzarella is made with all cow’s milk as opposed to buffalo or a blend, making it a bit cheaper and slightly less rich than other types of mozzarella.
About the size of a large egg, ovolini are mozzarella balls that can be made with buffalo, cow, or a mixture of the two milks.
Truly adorable perlini are balls of mozzarella that are actually the size of pearls, making them ideal mix-ins for salads and pastas.
Though produced with the same technique as regular mozzarella, pecorella is made with sheep’s milk as opposed to buffalo or cow.
Treccia mozzarella is the classic cheese (buffalo or cow milk) stretched into strips instead of balls and then braided like challah when warm.
Not the soup or the ice cream flavor in this case, stracciatella, which comes from the Italian word for “shredded” is stretched and shredded bits of mozzarella. You’ll typically find it mixed with cream inside a ball of burrata.
Known as affumicata in Italian, smoked mozzarella has a golden, slightly tough exterior and a toasty flavor.