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I'm trying to make pizza that's comparable to ones you get at restaurants. It's pretty good, but it's lacking those classic brown spots on the cheese.

I'm using pre-shredded mozzarella cheese, so I thought that the rice flower anti-caking agent added to it makes it harder to brown? I am not using a pizza stone either, and am cooking my pizza at 425F for 15 min

I get melted cheese, but it's completely white, with splotches of red sauce. It looks like I poured Elmer's glue all over my pizza.

What can I do to get my pizza cheese to brown right?

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  • Does it really say cellulose on the ingredient list of your pre-shredded mozzarella ?
    – Mołot
    Oct 21, 2022 at 2:43
  • @Mołot Probably
    – Some Guy
    Oct 21, 2022 at 3:01
  • 1
    It might be hard to get good answers, if you aren't sure what ingredients you are using.
    – Mołot
    Oct 21, 2022 at 3:13
  • @Mołot Ok I checked again, and the anti-caking agent is actually rice flour, not cellulose
    – Some Guy
    Oct 21, 2022 at 3:19
  • How much time do you bake the pizza for? Is the oven fully preheated first? Are you confident that your oven’s thermostat is accurate?
    – Sneftel
    Oct 21, 2022 at 8:09

4 Answers 4

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It isn't browning because the top of your pizza is not getting hot enough to brown the cheese. One solution for baking pizza in a home oven is to use the broiler near the end of your bake time. You can also place your rack as high as possible, cooking as close to the top as you can. Just keep an eye on the broiler situation if you do this, and also use the broiler step I suggested.

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  • And this would be because... real pizza ovens get upwards of 800F+ where your home oven probably isn't even really at the 425F it says it's at.
    – SnakeDoc
    Oct 21, 2022 at 20:04
  • @SnakeDoc clearly, the premise of the question is that the OP is using a home oven...no?
    – moscafj
    Oct 21, 2022 at 20:59
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    Well yes, but it is probably not common knowledge that Pizza Ovens are specialist equipment, and are used to cook pizzas at extreme temperatures unobtainable by home ovens. After all, every frozen pizza box, and every grocery store pizza dough says cook somewhere between 425F and 450F. A home oven cannot replicate much of anything a real pizza oven can, including browning of the cheese without turning the crust into a brick... which leads us into work-arounds such as using a broiler as you have suggested.
    – SnakeDoc
    Oct 21, 2022 at 21:11
  • @moscafj By the way, should I use the convection setting on my oven when baking pizza? I don't use that setting
    – Some Guy
    Oct 22, 2022 at 1:00
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    @SnakeDoc the very high temperatures of a pizza oven are required for oven spring and to produce the typical cornicione (egg shell crust), but not for browning cheese. In fact there are next to pizza, lots of dishes like gratins, casseroles and the like with browned cheese on top you actually can do in a home oven. Also remember that you usually dont want ultra high temperatures when producing a browned crust with a Maillard reaction e.g. in shallow frying, but moderate high heat.
    – J. Mueller
    Oct 24, 2022 at 17:22
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I suspect that the cheese you are using is just not ideal for browning. If you want to stick with mozzarella try to get an aged, low-moisture and also low-fat or skim variety. Otherwise Emmental cheese or a young Gouda, could help to gain more browning. In the US Brick Cheese is widely-used for pizza; this also might be worth a try to get results that are close to what the typical pizza parlours serve.

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As others pointed out you need the heat. Also, I would suggest a stone. For a stone, I would use a thick Cordierite stone. Like 1" think if you can get it. If you want to kick it up a notch, get two and put one above the pizza to give it that extra boost of heat on top.

Also, make sure you pre-heat the oven if using the stones. I would preheat for about an hour. But given energy costs now that might be a bit much.

If you can swing get the Dough-joe steel pizza plate. I have the 1/2" model and it works really well.

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This is because you cannot bake your pizza at hot enough temperatures.

Certified Napoletan pizza is baked at 550 or 600 Celsius (1100 F) in a wood-fired oven. Most restaurants don't have that, so they use 12 kW electric ovens, which go to 450 C (840 F). You are baking in a home oven, at 220 C (425 F).

A pizza stone will certainly give you improvements in the dough texture, but not in the cheese color.

If you insist on browned cheese, you can go over the pizza with a gas torch after it has been removed from the oven. Alternatively (as pointed out in comments), if your oven has a "grill" setting of the top element, you can finish the pizza by turning on this setting and placing the pizza close to the top.

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  • 2
    Some ovens have a top grill feature which can help with getting nice brown cheese crusts. (the heat transfer doesn't work by conduction or convection but by radiation, so looking at temperature is misleading in this case).
    – Philipp
    Oct 21, 2022 at 10:57
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    You can get nice patchy browning at 240°C in a home oven, which is an OK temperature for thicker styles. I bake my pizza in a fan oven with no top element. It goes to 270°C but that's too hot for either of the doughs I make to cook through (one is really quite fluffy, from the bread machine, the other is sourdough and can be made much thinner but not Neapolitan thin)
    – Chris H
    Oct 21, 2022 at 12:00
  • @Philipp oh yes, thank you for pointing that out. Indeed, such a setting will brown the pizza.
    – rumtscho
    Oct 21, 2022 at 19:44
  • BTW regarding my comment above, I use mozzarella balls torn up, rather than thr bags of ready grated
    – Chris H
    Oct 21, 2022 at 20:05
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    A Neapoletan pizza with browned cheese would fail to met AVPN criteria, it explicitly states the cheese should be just melted, not exceeding 70°, which is possible due to the very short baking time. Most restaurants serving other pizza styles are using afaik temperatures round about 350° for pizza, as higher temperatures would shorten the baking time too much to cook the toppings thoroughly.
    – J. Mueller
    Oct 22, 2022 at 14:01

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