We Tried 20 Bags of Shredded Cheese — Here Are the 4 We’ll Be Buying Again
Fun fact: Shredded cheese is, far and away, the preferred cheese of Americans. U.S. market research shows that we’re spending more money (MILLIONS more, to be exact) on the shredded kind than any other form of cheese, including block cheese. And it makes sense: Shredded cheese is a brilliant shortcut that saves time and effort (not to mention any casualties that may result from using the box grater).
Given the amount of money we spend on shredded cheese annually, it’s no wonder why there are so many options out there. After gathering every shredded cheese we could find (in a reasonable number of grocery store trips), we ended up with 20 different bags in the most popular categories: Cheddar, Mexican Blend, Mozzarella, and Vegan Mozzarella. Which ones were worth buying again? Let’s take a look!
How We Tested the Cheeses
Once all of the shreds were in hand, our work was cut out for us. We started by testing them straight out of the bag. While this is not the textbook way to enjoy shredded cheese (most brands are coated with potato starch or cellulose to prevent clumping), it’s a thing that people do, in fact, do. Usually while standing over the sink. (Don’t deny it!) After sampling the shreds in their purest forms, we performed a melt test: Grilled cheese for the cheddar, quesadillas for the Mexican blends, and pizza for the mozzarella shreds. The goal? To evaluate that gooey, creamy texture.
We kept notes on overall flavor, sharpness, creaminess, melt level, and the conciseness of ingredients lists. A few brands were equally as sharp, but less melty; others were creamy and melty, but too mild to detect cheese varietal. As we studied the shreds closely, one other thing was clear: Thicker shreds melted better, and thinner shreds were drier (this is possibly because they have more surface area that gets coated with anti-clumping agents).
Our Favorite Shredded Cheddar Cheese: Trader Joe’s Unexpected Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Out of all the shreds that we ate straight-up, we couldn’t stop reaching into the bag of Trader Joe’s Unexpected Shredded Cheddar Cheese and shoveling away. It was sharp. It was creamy. It was crumbly in the best possible way (according to experts, as cheddar ages it not only sharpens and deepens in flavor, but also dries out and gets more crumbly because tyrosine crystals form shards that break the cheese apart). This cheese is aged to perfection. Aside from being a total snack right out of the bag, this was also the superior cheese in grilled cheese.
More info: Trader Joe’s Unexpected Shredded Cheddar Cheese, $4.99 for 8 ounces
Our Favorite Shredded Mexican Blend Cheese: Organic Valley 3 Cheese Mexican, Thick Cut Off the Block
The standout in this category was Organic Valley 3 Cheese Mexican, Thick Cut Off the Block, a blend of sharp cheddar, Monterey Jack, and Colby cheeses. As the bag suggests, these shreds were ultra-thick, which we noticed helped them melt super well. We preferred these over “ultra-thin shreds” that tended to dry out. While other shreds we tried also had a gloriously smooth, creamy texture in quesadillas, the sharpness and tanginess of the cheddar in Organic Valley stole the show.
Buy: Organic Valley 3 Cheese Mexican, Thick Cut Off the Block, $4.19 for 6 ounces
Our Favorite Shredded Mozzarella Cheese: Sargento Off the Block Whole Milk Mozzarella
The bags of shredded mozzarella were begging for the pizza treatment (we did a simple equation of French bread + tomato sauce + mozz ). Once again, the thicker the shred, the better the melt. With its thick, smoothly melting, stretchy shreds (and the highest fat content of any brand), Sargento Off the Block Whole Milk Mozzarella also had just enough salt to lend it savory notes. This one also had the most tender and best texture, we think due to the fattiness.
Buy: Sargento Off the Block Whole Milk Mozzarella, $4.89 for 8 ounces
Our Favorite Shredded Vegan Mozzarella Cheese: Good Planet Plant Based Mozzarella
There was one last category of shredded cheese to weigh in on. Our first observation: These cheeses had a long list of ingredients, and they didn’t melt super well. But we know that vegans need a good vegan cheese! So we found it: Of all the ones we tried, Good Planet Plant Based Mozzarella melted fairly well and tasted the most like mozzarella. That said, we know that vegans are passionate about their favorite cheeses. If you are vegan, please vote in the comments below!
Buy: Good Planet Plant Based Mozzarella, $5.99 for 7 ounces at Good Planet Foods
What’s your go-to brand of shredded cheese?