What Is Burrata and How Is It Made?

Move over, mozzarella. Burrata is the most decadent Italian cheese there is.

Italians know their cheese. But dare I say no Italian cheese has better proven this than burrata. This relatively young cheese was developed in the 20th century. The exterior resembles fresh mozzarella, but break into it with a fork, and you'll find a surprise inside: an ooey, gooey mixture of cream and small cheese curds. It's just begging to be scooped up with a slice of crunchy, Italian bread!

Get to know this Italian cheese, and get top-rated recipes for putting it on display. Here's everything you need to know about burrata.

What Is Burrata?

Burrata is a soft, fresh Italian cheese made from cow's milk. Based on the outer appearance alone, this cheese could easily be mistaken for fresh mozzarella—and that's because the outer shell is made of soft mozzarella.

But break into it, and you'll be pleasantly surprised to find an oozing, soft interior made of small cheese curds and cream. In fact, the Italian word burro, translates to butter, giving you an idea of just how rich and creamy it is.

This decadent cheese originated in southern Italy and dates back to the early 1900s (at least four centuries after the development of mozzarella). Ever since, burrata has been a key ingredient in Italian dishes such as pizza, pasta, and Caprese salads. But, in my opinion, there's no better way to eat burrata than on its own with a little olive oil and Italian bread.

Apulien Burrata cheese with olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper
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How Is Burrata Made?

Burrata is essentially a shell of mozzarella wrapped around a lush mixture of cheese curds and cream all formed into one supple, malleable ball. But how does it go from mozzarella and cream to the ball of cheesy goodness we know it as today? It's a meticulous process perfected by Italian artisans, but here we'll break it down into layman's terms as best we can.

Burrata starts like any cheese, with cultures and rennet, which are added to warm, fresh cow's milk. As the milk starts curdling, the whey separates and is drained off. Next, boiling water is poured over the curds, which are then stretched, essentially making mozzarella.

But here's where burrata distinguishes itself from mozzarella: The stretched curd is used to create a pouch, that is then filled with a mixture of cream and fresh curds. The pouch is then sealed off to create burrata's signature, dumpling-like shape.

What Does Burrata Taste Like?

We've established that burrata is rich, so it should come as no surprise that it is often described as "buttery." Truthfully, the thing that's so beautiful about this fresh cheese is the supreme balance it achieves in both flavor and texture. Burrata has similar flavor notes as fresh mozzarella cheese, but with a more decadent, concentrated milky taste and a sweetness that's reminiscent of rich cream.

Burrata vs. Mozzarella: What's the Difference?

Based on appearance alone, it's easy to confuse burrata with fresh mozzarella. But as we know, looks aren't everything. Mozzarella is an essential ingredient in burrata—it is used to make the outer wrapping or "shell." But unlike mozzarella, which is made from stretched curds all the way through, burrata's center is made from a mixture of fresh cream and curds.

The two kinds of cheese are similar in flavor, but burrata has a looser, more rich texture, thanks to the cream. Burrata is also higher in fat than mozzarella, again, thanks to the cream. Both types of cheese are typically packaged in some type of liquid to retain moisture. While both kinds of cheese are rich in flavor and texture, burrata's creamy center makes it ideal for the occasional indulgence.

Are Ricotta and Burrata the Same?

Although both are soft, fresh Italian cheeses with similar sounding names, ricotta and burrata are not the same, nor are they commonly substituted for one another. Ricotta is made using the whey leftover from producing other cheeses and has a very mild, delicately sweet, and creamy flavor. It does not have the mozzarella-like pouch that is a signature of burrata, and because of its high moisture content, is easily spreadable. Fluffy ricotta cheese is typically sold in a lidded, plastic container—often shelved next to cottage cheese in supermarkets—and is a staple ingredient in a wide variety of dishes, such as lasagna and other types of pastas, cakes, and even cookies.

Substitutes for Buratta

The next best thing to burrata is, you guessed it, fresh mozzarella. Because the two cheeses bear a resemblance in both flavor and ingredients, they are going to make the best substitutes for one another in recipes. However, you won't get that same creamy, loose texture with mozzarella that you get with burrata.

But if you're planning to melt the cheese, fresh mozzarella is the better (and more affordable) choice anyway. The appeal of burrata is its creamy center, which is lost when it is melted.

How to Eat Burrata

To make the most of burrata, use it in dishes that can really show off its texture contrast. And always serve it at room temperature for best results. As we've already established, drizzling it with a little olive oil and scooping it up with crunchy, Italian bread is my favorite way to indulge in it.

But you can also serve burrata overtop a salad, paired with fruit, or as a pizza topping (just be sure to place it on the pizza after baking, so you don't lose the texture). And of course, this Italian cheese is the perfect pairing for fresh tomatoes and basil.

How to Store Burrata

The decadent, creamy texture of burrata makes it a little difficult to preserve. Once cut into, burrata is best enjoyed immediately. This cheese isn't going to freeze well, because of its high moisture content. Refrigerate in its original packaging or in an airtight container filled with water for up to five days.

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