Parmesan Cheese: Why Doesn’t Melt Well & How to Fix

Do you like to cook with Parmesan cheese? This popular, flavorful cheese is a great addition to many dishes, but sometimes it doesn’t melt as well as you’d like.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss why Parmesan cheese doesn’t always melt well, and we’ll give you some tips on how to fix the problem.

We’ll also answer some common questions about melting Parmesan cheese.

So whether you’re making a pizza, soup, or sauce, read on for all you need to know about melting Parmesan cheese!

Why Doesn’t Parmesan Cheese Always Melt Well?

Can Parmesan cheese melt? The answer is yes, but sometimes Parmesan cheese doesn’t melt as well as other cheeses.

It’s because parmesan has a lower moisture content than soft or semi-soft cheeses, and they also contain more milkfat and salt – Parmesan cheese contains about 32% moisture and 30% fat content.

Some of the grated parmesan are even lower – at about 23%.

Because of its high fat and relatively low moisture content, Parmesan cheese has a slow flow, is slower to melt, and can easily become grainy when melted.

When the cheese is heated, some of the water evaporates and the fat separates from the solid proteins.

This can cause the cheese to become oily or clumpy, and it can also make your dish taste greasy. Especially when you stored your parmesan for a long time in the fridge, it’ll become drier.

The fresh parmesan melts better.

On the other hand, the production of true parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano) requires a minimum aging of 12 months. The longer the aging, the lower the water content. Real parmesan doesn’t melt entirely, it just softens.

Also, pre-grated Parmesan cheese found in the supermarket is a less ideal choice for melting. The Italian Imported Parmigiano Reggiano USDA is only made of milk, salt, and rennet, while processed parmesan such as Kraft Parmesan USDA, contains cellulose (a filler made of sawdust or wood pulp) up to 9%!

Cellulose hinders the cheese melting ability. Different brands of parmesan may have different percentages of cellulose.

At what temperature and how long does Parmesan cheese melt?

Aged Parmesan cheese melts at about 180-200 °F (82-93 °C). It takes approximately two to four minutes for Parmesan cheese to melt under high heat.

You can use a lower heat but it will take longer for the cheese to melt.

Also, it depends on the thickness, shape, and quality of the cheese.

Does Parmesan cheese melt on pizza?

Parmesan cheese is often used as a topping on pizzas. It’s one of the most popular pizza toppings because it’s full of flavor and has a nice salty, nutty taste.

Parmesan does melt on pizza. However, do not expect it to melt into a stringy and stretchy state like mozzarella. The cheese can easily become globs, clumpy or oily.

How to Melt Down Parmesan Cheese?

Now that we know why Parmesan cheese doesn’t always melt well, let’s talk about how to fix the problem.

Here are some tips for melting Parmesan cheese:

  • Use fresh or finer grated Parmesan cheese: If you’re using pre-grated, dry Parmesan cheese, it’s going to be more difficult to melt. Try using fresh Parmesan cheese instead, or shred it yourself. The fresher the cheese, the better it will melt. Finely grated cheese creates more surface area to make sure inside and outside are heated at the same rate.
  • Add a small amount of liquid: Adding a small amount of liquid (such as milk, broth, cream, sauce) can help to thin out the cheese and make it easier to melt. Just be careful not to add too much liquid or your dish will become watery.
  • Use lower heat: If you use too much heat, the cheese can easily become clumpy or oily. For instance, tossing them into a boiling soup. Try using lower heat and melting the cheese slowly. This will help to prevent the fat from separating from the solid proteins.
  • Stir frequently: Stirring the cheese frequently will help it to melt more evenly.
  • Bring it to room temperature: If your Parmesan cheese is straight from the fridge, it will be more difficult to melt. Try bringing it to room temperature first by letting it sit out on the counter for 30-60 minutes.

How to Melt Parmesan Cheese in the Microwave?

If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to melt Parmesan cheese, the microwave is a good option.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Place the desired amount of Parmesan cheese in a microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Microwave on medium for about 1 minute or until melted.

High power may cause parmesan cheese to become crisps. It’s a good snack to try with just 1 ingredient needed – parmesan. Read Are Parmesan Crisps Good?.

How to Melt Parmesan Cheese in the Oven?

Similar to microwave parmesan. High heat for 6-10 minutes in the oven can bake the parmesan into crisps or even burnt it easily. Do it for about 4-5 minutes instead, and also you can use cooking spray for a better result.

More often, you can place Parmesan cheese slices on top of casseroles or pasta dishes and bake it in the oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly. This method works well if you’re looking to melt a small amount of cheese.

If you’re using shredded Parmesan, it will take less time to melt.

How to Melt Parmesan into Sauce?

Parmesan cheese can be melted into the sauce to create a thicker and creamier consistency.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Add the Parmesan cheese to the saucepan with the rest of your ingredients such as flour or milk.
  2. Heat the sauce over low heat, stirring frequently until the cheese is fully melted.
  3. Do not haste to boil the sauce or the cheese will become clumpy.
  4. This method is perfect for sauces like alfredo or carbonara. Adding Parmesan cheese to the sauce will give it a richer and creamier flavor.

How to Melt Parmesan into Soup?

Do not toss the parmesan into the soup as it boils. The high heat will cause the cheese to become oily and clumpy. Instead, add the Parmesan rind to the soup and be allowed to simmer. It will probably not dissolve completely, but it will melt enough to enhance the flavor of the soup.

Parmesan cheese can also be melted into soup for extra flavor and richness.

You can also melt your Parmesan cheese into the sauce first (as above) and add them into the soup later towards the end of cooking. Alternatively, use it as a garnish to sprinkle on top of the soup before serving.

What Type of Parmesan Cheese Melts Best?

There is no definitive answer to this question. Different types of Parmesan cheese will melt differently, depending on the brand and how it’s made, and the ingredients used. Typically, the true Italian parmesan cheese (Parmigiano-Reggiano) will melt better than the cheaper imitations. However, it can be slightly more expensive, read why.

Reference:

  1. Fine Cooking – Science of Melting Cheese
  2. Popular Science – Cheese Mistakes