When it comes to cheese, it’s an art.
At MyRecipes we love cheese. I mean, really love cheese. On any given day, you can bet we’re digging into bowls of gooey macaroni and cheese, meltworthy grilled cheese sandwiches, and some of the cheesiest recipes on the Internet. We even reflected upon just how much we love the stuff by compiling our 100 best recipes with cheese, a collection full of pizzas, baked brie and other cheesy goodness—it’s safe to say we’re cheese fanatics over here.
But what really gets our mouth watering is that legendary, much sought after, jaw-dropping cheese pull. Don’t be fooled, an artful cheese pull is more than just scooping up a forkful of cheesy pasta. A truly Insta-worthy cheese pull takes a little food styling prowess. So, how do you really get that perfect cheese pull every time?
Get your ‘grams ready because we put the cheese pull to the homemade test. We challenged the co-hosts of Homemade Vs. The Internet to build an epic pizza seven layer dip, and go for the ultimate cheese pull. Our chefs turned to the expertise of food stylists to get the lowdown on pulling off the perfect pull, and we’re sharing the secrets for anyone wanting to achieve espically cheesier pictures at home.
1. Use the right kind of cheese
There’s actually a science behind why some cheeses melt better than others, but when it comes to a cheese pull, you’re looking for a cheese that stretches more than melts. We ranked six cheeses by their stretch to find that mozzarella was a clear winner, followed by monterey jack and cheddar. So, stick with mozzarella if you want something worth photographing, and opt for part-skim cheese. The fat and grease of full-fat cheese makes it fall apart easier, ruining your cheese pull.
2. And be sure to shred the cheese yourself
Though the pre-shredded bags might seem like a time saver, most of them are packed with cornstarch and anti-caking agents to keep the cheese from sticking. That also applies when you try to melt the cheese, making it much harder to get that picturesque pull. Buy a block of mozzarella and shred it by hand for best results.
3. Or cut the cheese to the right size
If you don’t happen to have a box grater nearby, you can cut the block of cheese or string cheese by hand. Just be sure to cut the cheese pretty thin, similar to the thickness of a deli slice of Swiss cheese. At the same time, keep the pieces small. If the surface area is too large, the cheese won’t melt evenly.
4. Create your foundational matrix
Don’t just sprinkle the cheese however which way you want. We applaud Robin Bashinsky’s trick of layering cheese pieces in a crosshatch pattern. So, take a hint from our professionals and create that strong base to really glue the cheese together.
5. Keep everything… moist
Sorry, we don’t love that word either, but moisture is key to getting that stretchy finish. If you’re cooking something in a pan, like grilled cheese, pop the top on the pan and let the sandwich steam a bit before going for the photo op. For other cheesy dishes, take a tip from our food stylists and use a steamer to get the cheese hot and melty.
6. But also add a dry buffer if necessary
If you’re worried the cheese might go from moist to watery because of other adjacent ingredients, like tomato sauce, you can put a dry layer between the wet ingredient and your cheese. Our chef rockstars used olives and pepperoncini to make sure the cheese didn’t become sauce saturated. Just be sure to pat dry any veggies you decide to incorporate.
7. Get it melty, but not too melty
Your sandwich is perfectly hot and melty, so now what? Well, don’t wait too long. Go for your cheese pull once the cheese is melted and barely browned. Let it cool for about a minute, and start taking those pictures. A cheese that’s too hot will pull apart too quickly and snap, while cheese that’s too cool will be too brittle and break instantly. Timing is key, but if you don’t nail it the first time, just remember—practice makes perfect (and trust us, this is a delicious technique to practice).