Should You Wash Your Shredded Cheese?

It may sound weird, but it's not the worst idea ever.

<p>PeterHermesFurian/Getty Images</p>

PeterHermesFurian/Getty Images

TikTok has been the home of some offbeat (but ultimately, awesome!) culinary suggestions, but the trending suggestion to wash your shredded cheese seemed a little suspect. Bagged shredded cheese is a shortcut when you don't have time to shred your own—and this seemed like it was adding an extra step that was making it a lot less convenient.

Plus, wet shredded cheese seemed pretty unappealing, as damp isn't exactly what you're looking for in a pizza topping or grilled cheese filling.

Related: There's a Right Way to Store Your Cheese—Here's How

So why exactly are people soaking and washing their shredded cheese? And does it make a big difference in how your cheese melts? Here's the scoop on whether you need to (or should!) wash your shredded cheese.

What Washing Shredded Cheese Does

Pre-shredded cheeses have a little extra something added: a small amount of cellulose, calcium sulfate, or potato or corn starch that coats each individual shred. These are anti-caking ingredients the manufacturer adds to keep the individual shreds from clumping together in transit.

Related: The Best Way to Make Grilled Cheese, With Tips From a Pro

Rinsing off your prepackaged shredded cheese can help remove some of these anti-caking ingredients and in theory, makes it easier for your cheese to melt together uniformly in a gooey delight.

Do You Need to Wash Your Shredded Cheese?

The short answer: Not unless you have a food sensitivity to the ingredients used to prevent caking. (And honestly, at that point, you should probably forgo the prepackaged shredded cheese altogether, since rinsing won't remove every trace of the starch.)

We put washed shredded cheese to the test, against straight-from-the-bag and hand-shredded cheese. And there was no difference in how melty and gooey the pre-shredded cheeses turned in the cheese quesadillas we sampled. (And there was only a very, very slight difference in creaminess when compared to the "control group," a quesadilla made with cheese we freshly shredded.)

Washing didn't seem to impact the final product—either for better or for worse.

How to Wash Shredded Cheese

If you do want to try washing your shredded cheese, put the prepackaged shredded cheese you plan to use in a colander or ideally, a strainer—as a strainer has finer holes that will allow less of the cheese to escape.

Only rinse the shredded cheese you plan to use for that dish. Even if you pat it dry, the cheese will retain moisture, and become clumpy and prone to mold if you store it afterward.

Make sure the water is cool to prevent premature melting, and rinse the cheese for a few minutes, then shake out as much excess water as possible.

Dump the cheese onto a towel or paper towel, and pat dry to remove more moisture. You may want to leave it in the towel or paper towel for a few minutes to allow more of the moisture to be absorbed.

Then go ahead and pop these into your favorite cheese-based recipes.


Only use rinsed shredded cheese in dishes where the cheese is cooked and melted—the clumps that washing creates will be a little less than enticing when sprinkled on top of a salad.

Shredded Cheese Tips

Shredded cheese is definitely a recipe staple, so don't shy away from using it—whether you opt to use a prepackaged shredded cheese or shred your own. One big benefit of shredding your own cheese (besides the lack of anti-caking ingredients) is that it's much cheaper per ounce than buying the prepackaged varieties.

Check out these tips if you want to skip the whole "should I wash shredded cheese" debate and just DIY your own.

Invest in a tool that'll make shredding cheese simple

With food processors, box graters, and other grating tools out there, it's pretty fast to shred your own cheese.

Related: The 7 Best Graters of 2024, According to Our Tests

Unless you're making pizza or mac and cheese for a huge crowd, it'll likely only take a few minutes to shred your own.

Optimize your cheese for shredding

Cheeses like cheddar, mozzarella, Swiss, and others on the softer end of the shredded cheese spectrum may do well with a short stint in the freezer (about a half hour) to make it easy for you to get perfect shreds.

For hard cheeses like Parmesan and Romano, add a little moisture back by wrapping it in a damp paper towel in the fridge for an hour or so before you shred.

Store your shredded cheese safely

If you're a meal prep maestro, shredding a big batch of cheese at once makes a lot of sense. You can store shredded cheese safely in your fridge for a few weeks, or longer in the freezer—just be sure you store it in an airtight, freezer-safe container, and reduce the amount of surface area that's exposed to the air to prevent freezer burn.

Related: How to Freeze (and Thaw) Food—Plus How to Keep Your Freezer Organized

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