Wisconsin Brick Cheese vs. Mozzarella Cheese

Wisconsin brick cheese and mozzarella cheese are two popular cheese varieties used often in cooking.

Wisconsin Brick Cheese vs. Mozzarella Cheese

While both can melt smoothly and have mild flavor, they have some key differences in terms of taste, texture, origins and uses.

What is Brick Cheese?

Brick cheese originated in Wisconsin in the late 1800s. It gets its name from the brick-shaped form that the cheese is pressed into during production.

This semi-hard cow's milk cheese has a pale yellow color and open texture with small holes. When young, brick cheese is mild, sweet and nutty in flavor. As it ages, it becomes tangier with a more pronounced aroma.

Brick cheese is made by heating and curdling pasteurized milk, cutting the curds, pressing them into molds, brining and aging. Traditional brick cheese is smear-ripened, meaning it is washed with a bacteria solution during aging to encourage flavor development.

Key Takeaway: Brick cheese is a semi-hard Wisconsin cheese known for its mild, sweet flavor when young and tangy taste when aged longer.

What is Mozzarella Cheese?

Mozzarella is a soft, white Italian cheese originally made from the milk of water buffalos. It has a high moisture content, making it creamy and elastic in texture.

Authentic mozzarella is made using the pasta filata method, which involves stretching and kneading the curds in hot water. This process aligns the proteins in the cheese, allowing it to melt smoothly when heated.

The flavor of fresh mozzarella is milky, mild and lightly sweet. Low-moisture mozzarella used for cooking has a bit stronger, saltier flavor.

Mozzarella can be made from cow's milk as well, though buffalo milk imparts a more delicate flavor. It is the quintessential cheese used on pizza and for dishes like caprese salad.

Comparing Taste and Texture

One of the biggest differences between these two cheeses is their texture:

  • Brick has a dense, semi-firm texture that becomes crumbly when cooked. It has an open, holey appearance.
  • Mozzarella is soft, creamy and much higher in moisture. It becomes stringy and elastic when melted.

The tastes of young brick and fresh mozzarella are both mild, but brick has a sweet, nutty flavor compared to mozzarella's milky, delicate taste.

Aged brick develops sharper, tangier notes while low-moisture mozzarella has a more pronounced salty flavor.

Melting Abilities

A notable similarity between brick cheese and mozzarella is that they both melt very well, making them ideal for cooking.

However, there are some differences in how each cheese melts:

  • Brick cheese becomes creamier and oilier when melted. It can become almost spreadable in texture.
  • Mozzarella melts into long, stretchy strings. It retains its elasticity when heated.

Brick cheese has higher fat content, which contributes to its smooth, lush melting properties. Mozzarella's high moisture content and protein structure allow it to remain pliable when melted.

So both work well as cooking cheeses, just with slightly different end results. Brick flows into dips and sauces, while mozzarella forms gooey layers and topping.

Origins and History

Wisconsin brick cheese and mozzarella come from very different origins:

  • Brick cheese was first made in 1877 by John Jossi in Wisconsin. Its production centered around the state's dairy region.
  • Mozzarella has Italian roots dating back many centuries. It was originally made from the milk of water buffalo before becoming a cow's milk cheese.

Wisconsin brick cheese is a distinctly American original, while mozzarella is ingrained in Italian cuisine and food tradition.

These backgrounds influence the flavor profiles and textures of the cheeses. Brick cheese owes its creamy, open texture to Wisconsin's cheesemaking practices. Mozzarella's origins led to its uniquely stretched curd and high moisture content.


Brick and mozzarella have relatively similar nutritional value. Both are good sources of:

  • Protein - Brick and mozzarella contain around 7-8 grams of protein per ounce.
  • Calcium - One ounce of either cheese provides around 20% of the daily calcium needs.
  • Phosphorus - Important for bone health and energy production. About 15% of daily needs.
  • Vitamin B12 - Helps maintain healthy nerves and blood cells. Each cheese has around 15-20% of the RDI.

However, there are some differences:

  • Fat - Brick cheese is higher in fat, with 9 grams per ounce versus 5 grams in mozzarella.
  • Sodium - Mozzarella contains about 2-3 times more sodium than brick, around 170mg vs 60mg per ounce.

So brick cheese has more fat and calories while mozzarella is higher in salt content. Overall though, both can fit into a healthy diet in moderation.

Popular Uses

The different textures and flavors of brick and mozzarella make them suited for some unique applications:

Brick Cheese Uses

  • Detroit-style pizza
  • Grilled cheese sandwiches
  • Quesadillas
  • Mac and cheese
  • Baked pasta dishes like lasagna
  • Topping for burgers or brats

Mozzarella Uses

  • Pizza (New York style or Neapolitan)
  • Caprese salad
  • Paninis and sandwiches
  • Stracciatella soup
  • Baked ziti or eggplant Parmesan
  • Fresh table cheese

Brick cheese works well in melted applications thanks to its creamy, oily texture when hot. Mozzarella is perfect fresh or baked into dishes where its strings and elasticity stand out.

Purchase and Storage

When purchasing brick or mozzarella cheese, opt for varieties made from whole, pasteurized milk. Here are some tips:

  • For brick cheese, look for Wisconsin-made brands for authentic flavor. Mild, young brick works best for cooking.
  • For mozzarella, choose fresh mozzarella packed in water or low-moisture mozzarella. Avoid pre-shredded bags.
  • Check the sell-by date and pick the freshest option available.
  • Once opened, rewrap tightly in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.
  • Eat within 7-10 days for the best flavor and texture.

Proper storage helps prevent the cheese from drying out or absorbing fridge odors. Keep an eye on expiration dates and reuse promptly after opening.

Cheese Pairings and Substitutions

Brick and mozzarella pair well with various ingredients:

  • Brick - Tomatoes, peppers, basil, sausage, pickles, mustard, pretzels, dark beer
  • Mozzarella - Tomatoes, olives, basil, prosciutto, figs, melon, sparkling wine

Some good substitutes if you don't have one or the other are:

  • For brick - Monterey Jack, mild cheddar, provolone, mild Muenster
  • For mozzarella - Oaxaca, provolone, Monterey Jack, fontina

While not exact matches, these cheeses can work in a pinch for melting or as a fresh snack cheese. Adjust saltiness and cook times as needed.

Which is Better - Brick or Mozzarella?

Whether brick cheese or mozzarella is better depends on the application:

  • For Detroit-style pizza or baked pasta dishes, brick cheese is the traditional choice. It provides creamy, melty layers of flavor.
  • For Neapolitan pizza or caprese salad, fresh mozzarella is the authentic ingredient. It gives the desired soft, chewy texture.
  • For general melting ability, both perform well. Brick flows into dips while mozzarella forms stretchy strands.
  • For a mild eating cheese, low-moisture mozzarella has a versatile flavor. But young brick also pairs nicely with fruits and nuts.

So your cooking needs should dictate which cheese will give you the best results. Both brick and mozzarella have unique qualities that suit them for different dishes and uses.

Key Similarities and Differences

  • Appearance - Brick has a pale yellow color and open texture. Mozzarella is white with a smooth look when fresh.
  • Aging - Young brick cheese is mild tasting. Mozzarella has a short aging time to retain moisture.
  • Texture - Brick is dense and crumbles easily. Mozzarella is soft, creamy and stretchy.
  • Melting - Both melt smoothly. Brick becomes oily while mozzarella turns elastic and stringy.
  • Flavor - Young brick and fresh mozzarella have a mild, delicate taste. Aged brick and low-moisture mozzarella are more robust.
  • Origins - Brick comes from Wisconsin while mozzarella has Italian roots.
  • Uses - Brick shines in baked dishes like pizza or lasagna. Mozzarella is perfect fresh or melted.

Understanding this breakdown of similarities and differences allows you to choose the right cheese for your recipes and cooking style. Both brick and mozzarella have their place in the kitchen!


What cheese is used in Detroit style pizza?

Authentic Detroit-style pizza uses Wisconsin brick cheese or a blend of brick and mozzarella. The high fat content and creamy melting properties of brick cheese help create the signature fried edge and chewy crust.

Is brick cheese and mozzarella the same?

Brick cheese and mozzarella are two distinct types of cheese. While they share some melting abilities, brick cheese is semi-hard in texture while mozzarella is soft and high in moisture. Their flavors and origins differ as well.

Can I substitute brick cheese for mozzarella?

It's best not to substitute brick for mozzarella in dishes where the stretchy melting quality is important, like Neapolitan pizza. But in baked dishes, brick can work instead of mozzarella by adjusting salt and cook times.

What is the white cheese on pizza?

The white cheese typically used on pizza is mozzarella. Whole milk or part skim low-moisture mozzarella offers the best meltability and flavor for pizza cheese. Fresh mozzarella is also used but may make pizza dough soggy.

Is mozzarella better than cheddar?

It depends on the use. Mozzarella is ideal for dishes where you want stretchy melted cheese like pizza or lasagna. Cheddar has a sharper flavor that stands up well in sandwiches and burgers. Both have their strengths.


Brick cheese and mozzarella each have their culinary strengths thanks to their unique origins, production methods, flavor profiles and textures.

Wisconsin brick cheese shines when you want creamy melted layers like in Detroit-style pizza.

Italian mozzarella is perfect where its stringy, elastic texture is desired, like on Neapolitan pizza or caprese salad.

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!