Mozzarella vs Monterey Jack — Differences

Last Updated on January 17, 2024 by Aaron

When it comes to cheese, there are two popular contenders that often come up in conversations – mozzarella and Monterey jack. Mozzarella is an Italian cheese with a soft and mild flavor, while Monterey Jack is an American cheese with a slightly sharper taste. Both kinds of cheese are versatile and can be used in numerous dishes, but they have some distinct differences as well.

Two kinds of cheese

Mozzarella is a fresh cheese that best serves soon after it is made. It is traditionally made from water buffalo milk and has a high moisture content. This lends it a milky flavor with slightly sweet undertones. It can be served as slices, cubes or shredded, and its texture ranges from soft and stretchy to the firm. Mozzarella is commonly used in pizza and lasagna, as well as on sandwiches and salads.

Monterey Jack cheese is an aged cheese that has a more distinct flavor than mozzarella. Its flavor is slightly tangy, nutty and sharp, due to the aging process. Monterey Jack is usually sold in blocks or slices, but it can also be grated for use in various dishes. This type of cheese is popular in Mexican dishes, such as quesadillas or burritos. It is also a great topping for burgers and salads.

Mozzarella has a mild flavor that blends well with other ingredients, while Monterey Jack has a more robust flavor that can provide a nice contrast in dishes.


When it comes to texture, mozzarella is generally softer and smoother than Monterey Jack. It also tends to be more pliable, making it an ideal choice for dishes that require stretching the cheese. The low-moisture mozzarella that is often used on pizza, for example, has a rubbery texture that makes it easier to stretch and shape. The mozzarella string cheese is a style that has a stringy quality, it can easily pull it apart in strands.

Monterey Jack, by comparison, has a compact texture that does not stretch as mozzarella. It melts quite well for grilled cheese, sandwiches and other dishes, but it does not have the same stringy quality as mozzarella. The cheese also tends to be drier than its Italian counterpart. This makes Monterey Jack better-suited grating and melting. You can find many Monterey Jack variations such as pepper Jack, Colby Jack, dry jack, herb jack and more.

Mozzarella is stretched-curd cheese; Jack is washed-curd cheese

The process of making mozzarella is known as pasta filata or ‘stretching curd’, whereby the curds are heated with hot water and then stretched before being formed into balls. This gives mozzarella its distinctive elasticity and texture.

Monterey Jack, on the other hand, uses a process called ‘washed curd’, where the curds are drained of whey and washed with water to dilute the whey. The result is a cheese that has a reduced acidity and milder tasting cheese similar to Colby. In contact is the ‘cheddaring’ in cheddar making, in which the acidity is increased — to develop a sharper flavor.

Which is Healthier?

When it comes to nutrition, both mozzarella and Monterey Jack cheese are high in protein, calcium and minerals. But mozzarella actually has less fat, less salty and fewer calories than Monterey Jack. Jack has lower lactose levels than mozzarella, so it may be a better choice for those who are lactose intolerant. However, both kinds of cheese can be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

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