Burrata Cheese Vs. Buffalo Mozzarella

Burrata and buffalo mozzarella are two types of soft, white Italian cheeses that are often enjoyed in similar ways.

Burrata Cheese Vs. Buffalo Mozzarella

At first glance, they may look quite similar. However, there are some notable differences when it comes to their origin, production method, flavor, texture, and best uses that set them apart.

Origins and History

Buffalo mozzarella has a long history, likely originating in southern Italy, especially the Campania region, several centuries ago. There is evidence that Ancient Romans were producing a similar stretched-curd sheep's milk cheese as early as the 1st century AD. The name "mozzarella" itself and the method of producing this cheese is thought to have been established by monks at the San Lorenzo monastery in Capua in the 12th century. They would offer bread and soft "mozza" cheese to passing pilgrims.

Burrata is a much more recent creation that originated in the Puglia region of Italy in the 20th century. It was invented in the 1920s by a cheesemaker named Lorenzo Bianchino as a way to use up scraps left over from making mozzarella. So in a sense, burrata evolved directly from mozzarella production.

Key Takeaway: Buffalo mozzarella has ancient roots in southern Italy while burrata originated less than 100 years ago as a creative way to use leftover mozzarella bits.

Production and Ingredients

Traditional buffalo mozzarella is made from the milk of Italian Mediterranean water buffalos. It can only receive Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status if produced in certain designated regions of Italy using specific techniques that have been passed down for generations. Cow's milk versions are more common outside Italy.

To make buffalo mozzarella, raw buffalo milk is heated, cultures and rennet are added to form curds which are cut and then the curds are stretched and kneaded in hot water to develop the characteristic stringy texture. Finally, the stretched cheese pieces are formed into various shapes and sizes. Small bocconcini and braided treccia shapes as well as large baseball-sized rounds are common.

Burrata begins with a solid outer shell made from mozzarella curds. The inside is filled with stracciatella, a creamy mixture of torn or frayed bits of leftover mozzarella and fresh cream, which gives burrata its signature soft, rich, spreadable texture when cut open. The name stracciatella means "little rags" in Italian, describing the shredded appearance of the filling. The outer shell is then closed and shaped into rounds, tied at the top to seal in the creamy contents.

Key Takeaway: Buffalo mozzarella is stretched and shaped from curds while burrata is a mozzarella shell filled with a luscious stracciatella cream filling.


The flavor of buffalo mozzarella is delicate, mild, and milky, with a faint tang from the natural cultures and enzymes in the raw buffalo milk. The richer fat content compared to cow’s milk creates a softer, creamier texture and more buttery, rich notes.

Burrata offers a far more decadent eating experience. When you slice through the outer mozzarella shell, the soft filling oozes out and practically melts in your mouth with lush, sweet cream flavor complementing the subtle milkiness of the cheese base. The contrast between the firmer shell and spreadable stracciatella center is part of what makes burrata so prized.

Best Uses

The stretchy texture and mild taste of buffalo mozzarella makes it shine in both raw preparations and cooked dishes. Fresh buffalo mozzarella is the star ingredient of an Insalata Caprese with juicy tomatoes and basil. Thin slices easily cover pizzas for a gooey, delicious finish. Shredded or cubed buffalo mozzarella also perfectly tops vibrant pasta salads.

Burrata is best enjoyed fresh and uncooked to highlight its fabulous fluid texture. The thin outer shell cradles the luscious filling beautifully. Simply top bread, toast points or crackers with a burrata round and add a drizzle of bold extra-virgin olive and sprinkle of sea salt flakes or pepper. You can also add whole burrata rounds to composed salads with complementary ingredients like fresh figs, prosciutto, arugula, etc. The burrata filling will melt decadently over the other components when served.


Both buffalo mozzarella and burrata provide high amounts of calcium and protein. Fresh cheeses like these are lower in sodium and easier to digest than aged cheeses. Buffalo milk has almost twice the fat content compared to cow’s milk, which is reflected in the rich mouthfeel and flavor of mozzarella di bufala. The fresh cream tucked inside each ball of burrata adds even more fat and calories compared to regular buffalo mozzarella. So while extremely tasty, burrata should be enjoyed in moderation, especially by those monitoring saturated fats or calories.


Buffalo mozzarella has enough salty, tangy personality to pair well with sweeter ingredients like ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, stone fruits, melon, or roasted bell peppers. Sparkling wines, light reds, and rosé complement buffalo mozzarella’s versatility.

Burrata warrants center stage on the plate. It loves fruity olive oils, good bread, balsamic vinegar, tomatoes, and herbs, prosciutto or other cured meats, grilled or roasted vegetables, or fresh seafood like scallops or shrimp. Fuller white wines, like a rich Chardonnay or oaky whites hold their own alongside creamy burrata. Younger, juicy red wines also flatter burrata beautifully. Serve burrata at room temperature to fully appreciate its lush mouthfeel and sweet, buttery notes.

Key Takeaway: The mild, salty tang of buffalo mozzarella pairs broadly while creamy, rich burrata calls for fuller foods and wines that won't overpower.

Availability and Storage

Buffalo mozzarella, especially when imported directly from Italy, offers superb flavor but has a short shelf life of just a few days. Luckily, cow's milk fior di latte is much more widely available and keeps better. Look for pliable packages free of excess moisture. Discolored buffalo mozzarella with off smells or flavors should be discarded. For best results, use fresh mozzarella within a week of purchase. Store in brine until ready to use, then drain. Let mozzarella rest 20 minutes at room temperature before serving for optimal enjoyment.

Fresh, Italian-made burrata is difficult to find outside major metropolitan areas but gaining popularity. It is highly perishable and needs consuming within two days as the delicate filling spoils quickly. Domestically produced burrata keeps longer but lacks the real Italian character. Check burrata packaging closely for signs of deterioration like leaks, off-colors, foul smells, etc. Never freeze burrata or store below 40°F to avoid damage to the fragile texture. Always serve burrata at room temperature and slightly loosened from refrigeration for the most decadent presentation possible.


Can you substitute one cheese for the other?

Definitely. They share the same fresh pasta filata cheesemaking origin. Mozzarella delivers more elasticity for melted applications while mild burrata offers a richer eating experience. It comes down to texture and decadence vs intended use.

What Italian wines go best with each cheese?

Younger red wines like Chianti or Montepulciano work beautifully with either cheese. Sparkling reds and rosés also flatter mozzarella's acidity. Go for fuller whites with good acidity and moderate tannins when serving burrata.

Which regions of Italy produce each cheese?

Buffalo mozzarella has a long history in Campania and Lazio. Tradition dictates it be made from the milk of water buffalo raised on local pastures. Burrata hails from Puglia, created just 100 years ago as a way to use excess mozzarella curds.

Can you freeze either cheese?

Freezing damages the delicate structure essential for the exceptional mouthfeel of fresh buffalo mozzarella and even more so with burrata. Thawed cheese will be dense and rubbery. For peak enjoyment of their fresh pasta filata goodness, consume both cheeses ASAP after purchase instead.


While their white, plump appearances may seem interchangeable at first glance, buffalo mozzarella and burrata offer very distinct eating experiences thanks to differences in origin, ingredients, flavor, texture, and best applications.

Cheese Lover Chloe 🧀
Cheese Lover Chloe 🧀

I'm a total cheese fanatic! When I'm not busy studying to be a cheesemaker, you can find me scouring local farmers markets and specialty shops for new and exciting cheeses to try. Brie is my all-time fave, but I also love exploring aged goudas, funky blues, and rich creamy camemberts. Looking forward to sharing lots of melty, gooey cheese pics and reviews!