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What's the best shredded cheese?

We review supermarket shredded cheese from Aldi, Coles, Woolworths, Devondale, Mil Lel, Perfect Italiano and more.

shredded-cheese-on-wooden-board
Last updated: 14 July 2019

Packaged shredded cheese from the supermarket is a super convenient product that you can use in everything from pasta bakes and pizzas to toasties and tacos. 

So which shredded cheese is best? We blind taste test and review 36 supermarket shredded cheese products – cheddar/tasty cheeses, mozzarellas and blends – from brands including Aldi, Coles, Woolworths, Devondale, Mil Lel and Perfect Italiano, to see which is the cheese of choice.

What's the best shredded cheese?

Best overall

Five shredded cheeses achieved an overall score of 80% or more, meaning they delivered on both nutrition and taste in our expert panel blind taste test. 

  1. Perfect Italiano Mozzarella: 84%
  2. Mil Lel Shredded Mozzarella Cheese: 83%
  3. Coles Australian Mozzarella Cheese Shredded: 80%
  4. Devondale Mozzarella Cheese: 80%
  5. Mil Lel Shredded Baking Blend: 80%

Perfect Italiano Mozzarella (described on the pack as being "perfect for lasagne and cannelloni") and Mil Lel Shredded Baking Blend (a mix of mozzarella, cheddar and parmesan "created for savoury delights") both got the thumbs up from our judges, and were also two of just six in our test to get the equal highest score for nutrition.  

Mil Lel Shredded Mozzarella ("created for pizza") and Coles Australian Mozzarella Cheese Shredded ("perfect for pizza, baked potato and lasagne") both got the equal second-highest score for taste (Woolworth's Hillview Tasty Shredded Cheese scored the highest). Both these products, along with Devondale Mozzarella Cheese, use non-animal rennet so are suitable for vegetarians.  

And good news for those on a budget – at just $0.93 per 100g, the Coles mozzarella is one of the cheapest shredded cheeses in our test.

Top 5 product profiles

Perfect Italiano Mozzarella Shredded Cheese

Perfect Italiano Mozzarella

Perfect Italiano Mozzarella

  • Overall score: 84%
  • Price per 100g: $1.70
  • Country of origin: Made in Australia from at least 98% Australian ingredients
  • Experts say: "Nice supple texture with very good stretch. A richer mozzarella with a mild, cheesy flavour."

Mil Lel Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

  • Overall score: 83%
  • Price per 100g: $1.18
  • Country of origin: Made in Australia from at least 96% Australian ingredients
  • Experts say: "Clean flavour with a milky sweetness, typical of mozzarella. Excellent stretch."
Coles Australian Mozzarella Shredded Cheese

Coles Australian Mozzarella Cheese Shredded

Coles Australian Mozzarella Cheese Shredded

  • Overall score: 80%
  • Price per 100g: $0.93
  • Country of origin: Made in Australia from at least 95% Australian ingredients
  • Experts say: "Milky, mozzarella aroma. Nice flowy melt and good supple texture."
Devondale Mozzarella Shredded Cheese

Devondale Mozzarella Cheese

Devondale Mozzarella Cheese

  • Overall score: 80%
  • Price per 100g: $1.17
  • Country of origin: Made in Australia from at least 96% Australian ingredients
  • Experts say: "Some good caramelisation with a moderate stretch. Slightly floury mouthfeel."
Mil Lel Baking Blend Shredded Cheese

Mil Lel Shredded Baking Blend

Mil Lel Shredded Baking Blend

  • Overall score: 80%
  • Price per 100g: $1.18
  • Country of origin: Made in Australia from at least 96% Australian ingredients
  • Experts say: "Strong cheesy flavour, with good texture and stretch. Light browning and oily patches on surface from the melt."
Hillview Tasty Shredded Cheese

Hillview Tasty Shredded Cheese

What about 'tasty' cheese?

The cheddar/tasty cheeses in this test all got fairly low scores for nutrition because of their high fat and salt content, which brought down their overall scores. 

But if you're simply after the tastiest 'tasty', check out Hillview Tasty Shredded Cheese ("perfect for pasta and sandwiches") from Woolworths. This cheese got a nutrition score of 30%, but a tastebud-tantalising 82% for taste (overall score 66%). Our experts described it as having "a subtle flavour with good savoury notes and acid balance with slight sweetness and a good, even melting consistency producing a nice golden crust".

Product comparison tables

Shredded cheese tips: buying, using and storing

Buying

  • Strength. Some brands give a strength rating for the cheese on the pack – a low number representing a very mild flavour (such as mozzarella), a middle number a more bold, mature flavour (such as 'tasty' cheese) and a high number a cheese with more intense 'bite' (such as a vintage cheddar).
  • Nutrition. Compared with other cheeses, mozzarella is relatively low in fat and salt, so shredded mozzarella and mozzarella blends are great for those looking for healthier options.
  • Condition. If the bag is transparent, check that the product is in good condition before buying. If it hasn't been stored or handled correctly, mould can form before the cheese reaches its use by date.

Using

Shredded cheese is versatile. You can use all varieties in a range of dishes, both raw and melted. But as a guide:

  • Mozzarella is perfect for pizza, as it has fantastic stretch and its subtle flavour allows the other toppings to shine. Its lower fat content means it will melt more slowly without burning, giving the other pizza toppings time to cook.
  • Blends, which are usually a combination of mozzarella and cheeses such as cheddar and parmesan, are also good for pizza. But they're good for pasta bakes too, particularly those with just a few ingredients, as they offer melt, stretch and a distinct flavour.
  • Cheddar/tasty shredded cheeses are great for mac 'n' cheese, cauliflower cheese or cheese toasties, when you want the 'cheesy' flavour to be dominant. You can also use them straight from the pack in filled sandwiches and rolls, as well as in salads.

Storing

  • It's fine to keep shredded cheese in its original bag, but make sure it's well sealed and airtight. With shredded cheese there's more surface area for things to go wrong (such as exposure to bacteria) so use clean hands or a spoon to get what you need from the pack. And don't leave it out of the fridge for too long, as moisture can form in the bag, making it more susceptible to mould.
  • Shredded cheese can be frozen. Mozzarella in particular is more vulnerable to spoilage due to its high water and low acid and salt content, so if you don't use the whole bag soon after opening, you can portion it out into smaller sealable bags to freeze and use at a later date.

Is there wood pulp in my cheese?

'Wood pulp in cheese!' This sensationalist headline has done the rounds in recent years, kept alive by social media. It sounds alarming (and a little off-putting), but the reality is much more pedestrian.

It stems back to results of tests by a US media outlet, following an enforcement action by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) against a cheese manufacturer, after the FDA found that several of its grated-cheese products contained more than the approved limit of cellulose.

Cellulose is a legal, food-grade additive (number 460) that can either be naturally sourced or manmade. It has various uses in food production, including use as an anticaking agent in products such as shredded cheeses, as it coats the strands to stop them clumping.

But it's also one of the most abundant organic compounds on earth and is the main component of plant cell walls, which includes trees. From this fact, certain US media outlets made the melodramatic leap from 'cheese contains cellulose' to the clickbait headline 'Wood pulp in cheese!'

Ironically, it wasn't the presence of cellulose itself that concerned the FDA – rather, it was the fact that the manufacturer was using cellulose to increase the products' bulk and weight and, arguably worse, packaging trimmings of various cheeses and other ingredients, and labelling them 100% Parmesan or Romano.

All the shredded cheeses in our test contain an anticaking agent, either cellulose (29 of the 36 products), tapioca starch (six products) or methyl cellulose (additive 461: one product).

Cheese judge stretching mozzarella cheese with a fork

Penny assessing mozzarella

How we test

Products

We tested 36 shredded cheese products available Australia-wide through at least one of the major supermarket chains. We focused on shredded mozzarella, cheese blends and 'tasty' cheese products, including reduced-fat ('light') and lactose-free varieties. We didn't include parmesan, flavoured cheese varieties or vegan cheese. Price is based on pack price in stores (not on special offer) in June 2019. 

Tasting

Our experts tasted the cheese samples blind (without knowing the brands). The mozzarella and cheese blends were grilled on plain pizza bases and the tasty cheese was grilled on plain white sliced toasted bread. We also gave the experts a raw portion of each cheese to take into consideration.

Scores

Experts independently judged all shredded cheeses, scoring each sample for flavour and aroma, texture and presentation, which included evenness of melt. The overall score is made up of taste 70% (50% flavour and aroma, 30% texture, 20% presentation) and nutrition 30% (the product's Health Star Rating was calculated from the data in the nutrition information panel and converted to a percentage). We recommend products with an overall score of 80% or more.

Meet our expert taste testers

Three cheese judges standing in front of the CHOICE building

L-R: Penny Lawson, Sonia Cousins and Mike Smith, our expert taste testers.

Sonia Cousins has 15 years' experience as a cheesemonger and judges regularly at major Australian cheese shows (and occasionally overseas). She also runs a cheese education and consulting business called Cheese The Day, which presents cheese appreciation classes for the public, and workshops covering cheese sensory evaluation for industry professionals. In her spare time, Sonia is a frequent appreciator of home-made pizzas and cheese toasties, so she knows how to spot the difference between a superb stretch and a melted mess.

Penny Lawson is a self-diagnosed 'curd nerd', with 20 years' experience in the food industry, including dairy judging at Royal Agricultural Society produce competitions in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. She's been at the forefront of the specialty cheese sector as a retailer and commentator, and is a passionate supporter and promoter of Australian producers. You can find her at Penny's Cheese Shop in Potts Point, Sydney, where she grills a life-changing cheese toastie and sells a range of hand-made and farmhouse cheeses.

Mike Smith grew up with French grandparents, starting his love of all things cheese at a very young age. Having worked across Europe a lot over the past 15 years, Mike sought out cheesemongers and experiences, hoping one day to bring these experiences back home. In 2014, Mike started The Cheesesmith, launching with a cheese hut at Sydney Festival and selling just over 3000 toasties in the first fortnight of operation. Mike still runs The Cheesesmith, catering for large events and creating experiences with other craft-food and beverage providers.

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Email us at factcheck@choice.com.au or read more about fact checking at CHOICE.

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