Mozzarella Gone? Provolone to the Rescue!

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Absolutely! Provolone can be a fantastic substitute for mozzarella, especially if you’re looking for a bit more flavor punch💥.

While young provolone melts beautifully (perfect for pizza🍕!), aged provolone adds a delicious nutty complexity to dishes. So, before you cancel pizza night, give provolone a try – you might be surprised how much you love it!

Basket of fresh sliced and whole Provolone cheese
basket of fresh sliced and whole provolone cheese

Can you substitute provolone for mozzarella?

👍 The Big YES: Provolone can be a delicious swap for mozzarella.

Here’s how to make it work:

  • Young provolone is your best bet for its melty goodness. It’s a fantastic pizza cheese, especially when a recipe calls for shredded mozzarella.
  • Provolone’s flavor pairs beautifully with tomato sauce, making it a great addition to baked pasta dishes.
  • Get creative! Provolone is amazing in melty favorites like grilled cheese, quesadillas, and even a fancy croque monsieur.

💁🏻‍♂️Pro tip: “Grande cheese” often refers to an aged provolone with a sharper flavor. Look for “dolce” (sweet) or “piccante” (spicy) on the label.

📝My cheesy experiment: I’ve even used provolone in place of fried mozzarella sticks👇 – delicious!

fried mozzarella sticks crispy on a black woden plate isolated on dark gray background
fried mozzarella sticks crispy on a black woden plate isolated on dark gray background

🧀 Provolone vs. Mozzarella: Know BEFORE You Cook

CheeseFlavor ProfileTextureMelting AbilityBest Uses
ProvoloneRanges from mild (young) to sharp (aged)FirmHolds shape well when meltedPizza, baked pasta, sandwiches
MozzarellaMildSoft, delicateMelts into stretchy consistencyCaprese salad, charcuterie boards, pizza

At the Boat Basin Café, we experimented extensively with provolone from small local cheesemakers.

My fellow chef Giada De Laurentiis was right that age dramatically impacts flavor. We loved the buttery sweetness of younger provolones from local New Jersey dairies in our Caprese salads.

But for our signature Baked Ziti with Crispy Provolone, we splurged on bold, aged provolones from craft makers in Wisconsin. The sharp bite balanced the rich tomato sauce beautifully.

Beyond flavor, mozzarella and provolone vary greatly in texture. Fresh mozzarella is divinely soft and delicate. Meanwhile, provolone retains a firmer, dense consistency, especially high-quality blocks we grated ourselves rather than pre-shredded bags.

We did discover one trick through trial and error for melting provolone into temptingly bubbly goodness every time. I’ll share this secret hack later on!

With such diverse varieties, substitutions require thoughtfulness. Proceed with reasonable expectations rather than assuming provolone will mimic mozzarella perfectly. As Giada recommends, always taste test first whenever possible!

To learn more about the unique types of provolone cheese and their flavor profiles, check out this guide. And for an overview of more about mozzarella and its history, this reference is useful.

❗️Provolone Pro Tips ❗️

Top view of a freshly-prepared pizza with shrimps on a plate.
Top view of a freshly-prepared pizza with shrimps on a plate.

During my years at Boat Basin Café, I picked up some handy tricks for getting the most out of provolone. My tips for cheese success:

  • 🧀 Know your provolone: Sweet or sharp? Northern or Southern Italian? These factors greatly impact the flavor. Read labels, ask for advice, and do a quick taste test before cooking.
  • 🧀 Aged provolone shreds beautifully, making it a great topping for pizzas, pasta, salads & more. I like to use shredded aged provolone on my fried mozzarella sticks 🍕 for an extra flavor punch! 💥

💥Provolone Promotions: Recipes Where It Reigns Supreme 💥

At Boat Basin Café, provolone took center stage in some of our most popular dishes:

Tasty appetizing classic lasagna on plate
tasty appetizing classic lasagna on plate
  • 🧀 Melty Marvel Lasagna: We blended provolone with ricotta and mozzarella for the ultimate cheese lover’s lasagna. The combination creates a velvety, complex flavor and luscious texture.
  • 🧀 Crispy Chicken Parmesan: For next-level flavor, I coat chicken cutlets with panko breadcrumbs and fried provolone slices before baking. The cheese gets crispy, for a crave-worthy crunch in every bite.
  • 🧀 Ooey-Gooey Baked Ziti: Fellow chef Anne Burrell says provolone is the MVP for binding together baked pastas. Its smooth melting properties help create an unbelievably rich, sauce-coated baked ziti.

👉You may also like: Dairy-Free Lasagna: No Mozzarella, No Problem

💁🏻‍♂️My Provolone Save-the-Day Story

I still chuckle thinking about the time provolone rescued a kitchen crisis at Boat Basin Café. We were making our popular eggplant Parmesan, but when I went for the mozzarella, it was gone! Panic set in – how could I finish without the star ingredient?

Then I spotted some aged provolone. A quick taste test gave me hope.

I shredded it and added a layer over the eggplant and sauce. One bite after baking and I was amazed – the nutty flavor was delicious! It also browned beautifully.


In my years as a chef making Italian cuisine daily at Boat Basin Café, I gained a tremendous appreciation for the versatility of provolone cheese. It can make a delicious mozzarella substitute, but the key is choosing the right variety and dish.

  • Young and melty: Opt for mild provolone on pizza.
  • Bold and flavorful: Aged or smoked provolone works wonders in pasta bakes.
  • Taste test: Whenever possible, sample the provolone beforehand to see if it fits your recipe.

Provolone might not be as universal as fresh mozzarella, but it opens a world of exciting cheese recipes. Whether you’re out of mozzarella or just want to add some tangy zip, provolone can be your cheesy savior.

Don’t just substitute – embrace provolone’s unique flavor and discover a whole new Italian adventure in your kitchen!


Can I use provolone instead of mozzarella?

Yes! Provolone can be a delicious substitute for mozzarella. Young provolone is a great melty option for pizza, while aged provolone adds rich, nutty flavor to baked dishes.

Does provolone taste the same as mozzarella?

Provolone has a slightly different flavor than mozzarella. Mozzarella is mild and milky, while provolone is sharper, especially as it ages. Think of it as adding a flavor boost to your dishes.

Does provolone melt well?

Yes, provolone melts beautifully, especially young varieties. Aged provolone also melts, but may retain a bit more firmness.

What other cheeses are similar to mozzarella?

If you’re looking for other mozzarella substitutes, consider:
Burrata: Creamy and soft, perfect for salads and fresh dishes.
Fontina: Melts well, with a buttery flavor.
Monterey Jack: Mild and versatile, a good all-around substitute.

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