Humans are basically hardwired to love a good cheese pull. It's one of the oldest advertising tricks in the book, designed to make our mouths water and our minds think of delicious cheese. What the ad men won't tell you about cheese pulls, however, is that you can pull off this food-styling trick at home, without fancy equipment or a lot of training. The real secret to get perfect DIY cheese pull is to pick the right cheese. So what is the best cheese for cheese pulls? We decided to find out by putting six different cheeses to the test.
Our methodology to find the best cheese for cheese pulls was simple. We took six cheeses we know melt—including cheddar, mozzarella, Brie, and processed American—and made grilled cheese sandwiches with each. For those cheeses that came in blocks, like Monterey Jack and fontina, we shredded the cheese instead of using slices. Then we prepped the grilled cheese sandwiches, one by one; sliced each down the middle, and pulled as far as it would go.
We based our rankings on stretch quality and distance. Were the strands evenly spaced? How far did the cheese go? And, perhaps most importantly, did the cheese pull make us want to take a bite or two or four of the sandwich?
OK, that's enough talking about cheese pulls without photos. Here's how each of the six cheeses ranked, from worst to best.
We had no trouble getting the Brie to melt. We did, however, have a lot of trouble getting it to stretch. The result was a delicious grilled cheese sandwich but a terrible cheese pull.
5. Processed American
We had a similar problem with the processed American cheese as we did with the Brie. It melted beautifully (and tasted delicious), but processed American cheese was not very stretchy. It was, however, hot as lava, and after we pulled it apart, the cheese dripped onto the studio floor, leaving a cheesy mess. But damn if it didn't look good on the way down.
So yes, it was drippy, not stretchy—but the processed American outranked the Brie if only because of the drama.
The melted fontina cheese did have some nice stretch to it, with a couple evenly spaced strands of cheese. But that stretch quickly devolved into a glop.
Unlike the American cheese, which quickly fell to the floor with a splatter, the fontina gracefully dripped. We all appreciated the chance to catch the drip in a paper towel rather than let it make a mess on the ground.
Cheddar cheese wasn't the cheese that melted the most dramatically or stretched the furthest, but it was reliable—with a nice color, an easy melt, and an even stretch. If you're looking for a readily available cheese that'll get you a good photo, go for cheddar. (Just make sure it's not aged.)
2. Monterey Jack
On first glance, the sandwich made with cheddar cheese looks pretty similar to that made with Monterey Jack when pulled apart. But the reason Monterey Jack outranks cheddar is because it stretched way further before breaking.
Dramatic, definitely. But not nearly as impressive as the stretchiest cheese of them all...
Going into this shoot, we had high hopes for mozzarella. After all, it's a cheese that's known to be stretchy. But we had no idea how far we'd be able to take it.
The melted mozzarella cheese stretched about five feet before it snapped apart, and even then, the strings of cheese were still stable enough to twirl with our fingers. There was no denying that mozzarella is king when it comes to cheese pulls—which is probably why pizza ads always look so good.
But really, in this ranking of cheese pulls, we like to think that everyone's a winner.