12 Cheese Hacks That You’re Going To Love
The wonderful world of cheese is incredible to explore and experience. As well as the varieties that so many know and love, such as cheddar and Monterey Jack, there’re lots of underrated cheeses too. These include Cambozola, Pata Cabra, and quark. You’ve got soft cheeses like brie and camembert, cream cheeses, hard ones, plus smoked cheese and blue cheese such as Stilton. There’s also cottage cheese and cheeses made from cows’ milk or milk that comes from goats and sheep. There’re plenty of recipes for cheese lovers to truly adore from mozzarella sticks to lasagna and meatballs stuffed with cheese.
Cheese is a refrigerator staple that fills you up and is so spectacularly versatile to use. You might want to make a cheese sauce or a pasta dish, or perhaps you want to crumble some soft cheese on a salad. You can grill, fry, bake, and even boil cheese, and don’t get us started on making your own string cheese. Find out how to use cheese in place of a tortilla, and how you can turn cheese singles into a microwaveable snack. What’s a good cheese-grating tip, and how can you keep cheese for longer? You’re about to find out with 12 cheese hacks that you’re going to love.
1. Try Blake Lively’s boxed mac and cheese upgrade
When you just want a comforting cheesy dish but you don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen, you might reach for a boxed version of mac and cheese. Okay, so it’s not going to win any culinary awards, but that doesn’t mean to say you can’t get creative with this store-bought convenience food either. There’s something of a trend right now for boosting simple foods with some extra flavor. And even celebrities such as actress Blake Lively are getting in on the action. A Yahoo! Life feature reports on how the actress adds cheese to boxed mac and cheese to upgrade it. Try her method yourself.
Cook the macaroni as instructed and once drained add the cheese powder from the box. Now comes the upgrade. Add a little whole milk and mix that in with a third of a block of cream cheese. You don’t need to be exact with the next part, just grab a couple of handfuls of grated cheese. You’ll want some cheddar and gouda, or you can just use one variety if you prefer or swap it out for another hard cheese. The hack to make boxed macaroni and cheese taste better is to literally add more cheese. Now, that really is a cheese hack.
2. Slice cheese better with a fork
Here at Mashed, we love nothing better than hacks that you’re always going to remember once you know them. And we reckon every time you’re serving up a cheese board you’re going to use the following simple technique. This TikTok tip reveals how to cut perfectly even slices of hard cheese. To start with, you need a fork.
Make indentations with a fork close to the hard rind of your wedge of cheese. Hold the fork so that the tines are pointing upward so that you can see where they’re pressing into the cheese. Repeat this along the edge to create a row of holes, making sure you put the first prong in the last hole so that you get evenly spaced markings. The wedge of cheese should be positioned so that when you do cut into it you’re getting the right-sized slices. Use the fork marks as a guide as to where to cut, ensuring the knife cuts in a straight line. Try pressing on the top edge of the knife, close to the tip, as it sinks into the block for better control. As you cut, each slice should be evenly spaced, which means your cheese slices will be uniform as well. They’ll also have the rind on the end too.
3. Elevate grilled cheese with a Parmesan crust
Let’s face it, some of the most mouth-watering foods are simple dishes that’re given a tasty boost because they’re made in a particularly fantastic way. A grilled cheese sandwich is a good example. You can enjoy melted cheese on some basic bread that’s edible but lacks the wow factor. Or you can use special cheeses and types of bread that take this cheese-lover’s favorite to another level. Of course, you can also add some culinary flair and elevate grilled cheese with a TikTok hack.
Melt a little butter in the microwave and mix in some grated Parmesan cheese. Spread this on a slice of sourdough and fry it in a dry pan, cheese side down. Add a few slices of aged gouda, and another slice of the bread with the cheese and butter. Cover the sandwich completely with a pan lid that fits inside the frying pan. Fry on both sides until the Parmesan crust is brown and crispy. What a double cheese delight. A variation of this is to press grated Parmesan into mayo, spread it on two slices of bread, and fry the sandwich in butter. The tip here is to put cheese in the middle that you’ve grated yourself because it melts better than buying it pre-grated. To get that golden crust, fry it on low heat (via TikTok). It’s not enough to have grilled cheese on the inside, you need it on the outside too!
4. Turn cheese into taco shells
Have you ever been in a quandary when you’re craving some grilled cheese but you also love the idea of tacos? If not, you probably are that now you’re thinking of both of these things. Or what if you want either of these dishes but are cutting back on the carbs or following a keto diet right now? If you love cheese more than carbs, then here’s a TikTok hack for you. Once you know how to make hard-shell taco shells out of cheese, Taco Tuesdays will never be the same again.
Add scoops of grated Tex-Mex cheese onto greased parchment paper lining a baking tray. Make sure there’s a space between each pile so they don’t all join together when they’re baked in the oven. Bend the melted cheese rounds into a taco shape while they’re still warm and leave them to cool in a taco holder. That way they’ll retain their shape. All you have to do now is add whatever goodies you like such as meat, tomatoes, and red onion. Bite into your crunchy cheese shell stuffed with Mexican fillings and enjoy as you would your usual favorite taco.
5. Melt cheese in a pan
You may be under the impression that the only way to melt some cheese on top of some food so it looks deliciously molten and gooey is under the broiler or perhaps in the oven. However, if you’re cooking a dish in a skillet then it’d definitely be more convenient if you could melt the cheese in the same pan. Say you’ve cooked an omelet and it’s looking wonderfully folded and soft, but you want to cover it with hot cheese. If you just add the cheese on top then it’s going to soften a bit but may not melt enough before your egg is burnt. Here’s a TikTok hack for you to try.
Add some thin slices of cheese along the top of your omelet and make sure that the pan is really hot. Pour a small amount of water into the pan so that it surrounds the eggy dish and sizzles. Put a lid over the top and you’ll notice that the pan fills with steam as the water heats up. It’s this steam that makes the cheese melt so that it flows down the side of the omelet. After a short time, your whole dish will be encased in melted cheese and ready for you to tuck in. Enjoy that egg and cheese combo in every bite.
6. Make cheese sauce with sodium citrate
You don’t need to know the fascinating science about what makes cheese turn into a sauce. All you may want to consider is that the consistency of cheese fondue, for example, is created because elements that don’t usually like to mix are brought together with an emulsifier. The Cheese Professor points out how the element that’s working its magic is an acid. One such acid that’s got emulsifying properties and is used in cheese production is sodium citrate. And you can use this at home to create cheese sauce that’s not lumpy and has a gorgeously appealing sheen.
TikToker @connorscooking suggests that by melting grated cheese with some sodium citrate you can make a sauce for mac and cheese without having to make a roux. The sauce with the emulsifier looks more like a cheese sauce that’s served with nachos. YouTube home cook tipster Ethan Chlebowski points out how adding this acid to cheese means that you don’t have to add milk to get that creamy, silky cheese sauce texture. To follow his ratio, use one part cheese to five parts liquid, with sodium citrate amounting to around 2-3% of the weight of the cheese. The Cheese Professor puts this sodium citrate ratio at 4%, while the liquid element can vary depending on how thick you want your sauce. A Reddit post suggests that if you don’t have any sodium citrate, you can make it yourself by mixing baking soda with citric acid.
7. Create homemade string cheese
Mozzarella string cheese is darned popular in the U.S., so much so that there is a multitude of TikTok videos demonstrating divided opinions on how you’re supposed to eat it. These range from chomping on them to peeling off the layers. How do you eat yours? There’re also recipes using string cheese sticks, such as coating them in crushed Doritos and deep frying so that they’re crunchy on the outside and wonderfully melted on the inside (via TikTok). If you’re feeling the love for these dairy delights, then what about a YouTube hack that shows you how to make your own homemade cheese strings? Here’s how.
Heat salted water in a pan so that it’s hot but not boiling. Add in some grated mozzarella cheese and stir it around. As the heat rises the cheese will look soft and melted. Remove it from the water. Protecting your hands, start to stretch and fold the hot cheese. If the cheese cools down too much and becomes harder to stretch, you may have to heat it in the water again. It won’t have that string cheese quality if you don’t do this enough. After repeating this stretch-and-fold process around 30 times, roll the cheese into a long cylinder shape. Wrap it in parchment paper tightly and refrigerate it or give it a quick blast in the freezer. Cut off a piece when it’s cold and taste all those soft, stringy layers.
8. Marinate cheese to store longer
There are plenty of ways to store cheese, from aluminum foil to beeswax. You can even invest in a Cheese Grotto with a humidifying clay brick in a wooden box with shelves (via Cheese Grotto). However you keep cheese, and for how long, you want to consume it before it dries out or mold starts to grow on the surface. Culture magazine asserts that you may not know if cheese has gone bad just from giving it a sniff. You need to look for telltale signs such as blue cheese showing yellow marks on it.
What can be frustrating is that if you open a block of feta, you’ve only got a matter of days to consume it. A great hack suggested by Domesblissity to preserve your feta for another couple of weeks is to marinate it in extra virgin olive oil. Simply cover feta cubes with the oil in a glass jar with a lid. Give the salty cheese some added flavor by putting other ingredients into the oil too. You could add some fresh sprigs of rosemary, zest of a lemon, or peppercorns. Try our marinated mozzarella balls combining olive oil with individual pearls of the cheese along with minced garlic and dried basil and oregano. When all the cheese has been wolfed down, you can dip some bread into the oil which is infused with whatever flavors you added. There aren’t any rules here, so have fun creating your own marinades.
9. Make nacho-style sauce with cheese singles
Cheese sauce is so versatile, and it’s not complex to make. First, you make a roux with melted butter and flour, before adding milk and, of course, cheese. You may want to add in some garlic and some Dijon mustard too to elevate the flavor. What if you just want some melted cheese to dip some chips into for a laid-back movie night? To recreate classic movie theater nachos, follow what has to be the simplest TikTok hack ever. This is one for when you don’t want to cook, but want a comforting bowl of molten cheese.
In a microwavable bowl, throw in 5 slices of cheese singles. On top of these squares of processed cheese pour some semi-skimmed milk. The milk doesn’t have to be covering the cheese slices. Heat in the microwave and you’re not going to believe it, but that’s it. Serve on a wooden board with tortilla chips spread out around it. In four smaller bowls serve other Mexican-style dips, such as salsa, guac, refried beans, and sour cream. Dip your crispy chips into the cheese sauce and other sides as you enjoy movie night at home. This is a dish that’s totally made for sharing, just make sure you’ve got some napkins at the ready as it might get messy. And don’t watch anything too scary that might make you jump as you dunk. While this recipe hack isn’t going to win any Michelin stars, it’s deliciously simple.
10. Grate cheese with ease
There are so many incredible dishes to make using grated cheese, such as a classic mac and cheese or a grilled cheese sandwich. Other recipes that spring to mind are baked potatoes loaded with shredded cheese and nachos served with cheese sprinkled on top. As you get going with your box grater, you’ll want to make sure that you’re not making those big mistakes everyone makes when grating cheese. For example, if you’re grating a good amount of cheese then you’ll soon find that the grater holes become a little clogged up. This build-up, on the outside and inside of the grater, is a problem. The cheese bits from the grating can start to clump together and this makes the whole task a little more arduous
To grate cheese with ease, simply spritz your grater with some non-stick cooking spray. The oily surface will stop grated cheese from softening and sticking to the side of the grater and blocking the holes. Food Republic also notes how this greasy sheen makes cleaning easier as you’re not having to get rid of cheese that’s stuck to the metal. You may want to give your grater a quick tap too, to free up any grated cheese that might be sticking anyway. Lifehacker says to use this oiling hack in particular when grating soft cheese which is always a challenge to shred.
11. Crumble soft cheese
Is there anything that cheese doesn’t taste amazingly appetizing with? While it’s so good grated and melted into a sauce, it’s also moreish when a soft cheese is crumbled on a salad. Our apple goat cheese salad is one to try. Crunchy Honeycrisp apples, sweet honey-roasted pecans, and a sour vinaigrette complete a bowlful of flavor and a simple dish to take on a picnic or enjoy. If you don’t buy your goat cheese already crumbled, then you can do that yourself. However, with any softish cheese, these little bits can soon start to look and feel a little like a paste.
Lifehacker draws attention to a tip offered by a reader of Cook’s Illustrated to avoid this problem. All you need to do is pop your cheese into the freezer. Don’t leave it there too long, as you don’t want it to freeze, which will make crumbling even more difficult. After a few minutes, it should have hardened enough so that the crumbly bits don’t turn to mush. Use a fork rather than your hands when crumbling so that your body heat doesn’t counteract the cold. Once you’ve made your salad, leave it for a few minutes before serving so that the cheesy bits aren’t too cold either. Another crumbling technique ideal for soft cheese is to place it in a sealed bag and press it until it’s broken up (via YouTube).
12. Boil halloumi to make it softer
If you know halloumi cheese, then the chances are that you love it. That salty taste and unique texture make it perfect for grilling and frying as it doesn’t turn into a molten mess. No wonder this Cypriot cheese is such a popular choice for kebabs. Made primarily from sheep or goat milk, if you eat halloumi straight out of the packet then it has quite a rubbery texture. When it’s grilled or fried it softens a little without losing its structure. It’s not going to fall through a grill if you’re having a cookout or turn into a congealed mess in a pan. If you really want to experience a softer side of halloumi, then you may want to follow a culinary trick revealed by Good to Know.
British TV chef Matt Tebbutt suggests that a great way to cook halloumi is to boil it. You don’t have to take it out of its packet to do this either. Cook it for around 20 minutes before taking it out and slicing it. The Cyprus Mail shares a dish of watermelon, herbs, and Parma ham that uses this method. Open the packet when the cooked cheese has cooled down and tear it into chunks for this dish.