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Why does your pizza cheese burn? – 4 simple ways to prevent it

Burnt cheese on pizza

Who doesn’t love pizza? It’s one of the most popular foods in the world. 

If you love making pizza at home like me, you’ll probably agree that there’s nothing worse than taking out a pizza from the oven and finding out the cheese got burned. Especially when you have guests over. 

At first glance, it may seem like there is no easy fix for burnt pizza cheese. However, with a few simple tips and tricks, you can prevent burnt cheese from ruining your next pizza night.

In this article, I’ll be sharing with you the 4 most common reasons that cause burnt cheese, and how to simply prevent it from happening in the future.

Table of Contents

1. Your flame is too high

The first and most common reason for burnt cheese is that your flame is too high. 

When baking a pizza in a pizza oven you’ll always want to aim for an even cook on top and bottom. 

If you are cooking your pizzas on high flames, the cheese gets cooked way too fast on top while the rest of the pizza still remains undercooked.

How to fix

In order to prevent burnt cheese on your pizzas, the first thing you’ll want to do is to make sure that you lower the flames before tossing in the pizza.

If you are using a gas oven the solution is simple. Just turn the flames down with the heat control dial.

However, if you have a wood-fired oven, things get a little more complicated. Because you can’t directly lower the flame of the oven, you will need to get a little more creative.

In this case, what you’ll want to do is to guard your pizza from the flames. By using a metal peel as a guard, your cheese will be protected from the high flames and give the bottom enough time to cook.

Using a pizza peel to protect the pizza from the flame

2. The stone Isn’t hot enough

Another common reason for burnt cheese is that the stone isn’t hot enough. If you are using a pizza stone, it’s important to make sure the stone is preheated to the right temp before you toss your pizza in.

When you launch your pizza on a partially heated stone, the top of your pizza will cook too fast, while the middle and bottom will be left undercooked .

To prevent burning the cheese, make sure you check your stone’s temperature before you toss the pizza in, and don’t forget to let the stone reach the proper temperature for cooking.

3. You are using the wrong cheese

Different types of cheese

One common mistake that people do when making pizza at home is using low-fat cheese. 

While it may seem like a healthy choice, low-fat cheeses don’t melt as well as full-fat cheeses, and they tend to burn much faster. 

In addition, make sure you are using high-quality cheese, which often contains minimal amounts of added fillers and preservatives (when cheese is processed it tends to burn much faster).

For best results, try using high-quality mozzarella or a pizza blend. These cheeses are usually not processed, and often have a higher fat content, which makes them perfect to use on a pizza.

4. You are using shredded cheese

Shredded cheese

Speaking of cheese, using shredded cheese is another common reason that may cause burnt cheese.

If you are cooking Neapolitan-style pizzas (Which are baked at 400c), shredded cheese isn’t a good suit for you. When small pieces of cheese are exposed to those temps, they will start to burn much faster (a matter of seconds). 

Medium-sized chunks of cheese, on the other hand, will most likely do a better job.

When your cook a pizza with large chunks of cheese, the cheese will take much longer to melt compared to shredded cheese. That will give the bottom enough time to cook before the cheese burns, and as a result, you’ll end up with a perfect and evenly cooked pizza.

pizza cheese

5. You aren’t cooking the pizza directly on the stone

The final reason for burnt cheese can be that you aren’t cooking the pizza directly on the stone. If you are using a pizza screen, baking sheet, or a pizza pan, the heat will have a harder time reaching the bottom of your pizza.

As a result, your cheese on top will cook much faster than the bottom, and you’ll end up with burnt cheese and an undercooked pizza dough.

If you still insist to cook your pizza in a pan or on any other surface, you might want to consider changing your cooking method. 

In this case, you might want to be aiming for longer cooks at lower temperatures. That way you’ll give the pizza enough time to cook all the way through.


1. How do you make pizza crispy without burning the cheese?

Making a nice and crispy pizza without burning the cheese, can be challenging at times, no matter whether you’re using a pizza oven or a regular one.

That’s because a normal cook can’t achieve that balance, no matter what temperature you cook the pizza at. 

But don’t get me wrong, achieving that balance is completely possible, and I use this method for it:

When your oven reaches the right temp, toss the pizza in without the cheese and let it cook for half the time with the sauce only.

After the crust starts to become golden, take out the pizza and add the cheese on it.

Now your pizza is ready for the final stage, put the pizza back in the oven and bake until the cheese starts to babble.

PS: If you like extra crispy pizzas, try doing the final step with your flames completely out. Out of my own expirience it makes a huge difference.


2. Does the cheese go first or last on a pizza?

In my opinion, there is no wrong or right way to layer cheese on a pizza. While most people apply it last, some like to put it underneath the sauce. By doing so, the sauce acts as a shield, which keeps the cheese from burning.

How I see it is if your cheese never burns, you can stick to the traditional way and apply the cheese last. However, if you’re having trouble keeping the cheese from scorching, consider trying to put it beneath the sauce.


3. Why does your cheese burn and not melt?

There are two main reasons that cheese burns and not melts – either the temperature you are baking at is too high, or you are using cheese that contains too many added fillers.

When pizza is baked at high temperatures, the cheese will quickly burn before it even has a chance to melt. Preheating your oven to the right temperature is the key to get a proper melt on your cheese.

The ideal baking temperature for pizza is between 400-450 c in a pizza oven or 250-300 in a regular one. 

Added fillers can also be a common reason that cheese burns not melts. Lots of processed cheeses contain added fillers that help them retain longer. The chemicals in those ingredients make the cheese far more vulnerable to heat, which means it will burn much faster.

If your wish to get a proper melt, try using high-quality cheese (Like fresh mozzarella) on your pizza, and when buying cheese, make sure it is fresh with a minimal amount of added fillers.


4. What temperature does cheese burn at?

The exact temperature which cheese starts to burn at depends on several factors, including the type of cheese and the level of moisture it contains. 

Generally speaking, hard cheeses like cheddar have a higher threshold for heat than softer cheeses like mozzarella or brie. Additionally, aged cheeses are more resistant to burning than fresh cheeses since they have lower moisture levels.

Usually, when cheese is being cooked, it reaches the melting point already at 60 degrees Celsius. However, when cheese is exposed to high temperatures, things are quite different. For example, if you toss a pizza in an oven that is 500°C or higher, the cheese will turn brown and burn in seconds.


5. How long does it take for cheese to brown in the oven?

Depending on factors such as the type of cheese being used and the temperature of your oven, it can take anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes for the cheese to brown in an oven.

In most cases, when pizza is baked in a conventional oven at around 250 degrees Celsius, the cheese will start to brown after about 8-12 minutes.


6. How do you keep cheese from burning on pizza?

Keeping your pizza cheese from burning can be tricky sometimes. If you have trouble figuring out how to prevent that from happening, try following these few steps:

  1. Try protecting the pizza from the flames using a metal peel.
  2. Make sure that before you launch the pizza in you lowered the flames, and the stone is properly preheated.
  3. Use larger chunks of cheese.
  4. Avoid using low-quality cheese and go for high-fat cheeses.