I eat pizza constantly and have noticed that one of the most annoying pizza properties is cheese sliding. You take a bite and all the cheese is dragged off and often swings down and burns your chin with hot tomato sauce.

I have noticed this effect with home-made, frozen and delivery pizzas and the effect is not always consistent. Sometimes my frozen pizza has sticky cheese and sometimes it slides off despite being the same product prepared in what would appear to be the same way. The same can be true for delivery pizzas where even two identical pizzas ordered together may not act the same way.

What causes the dreaded cheese slide and what measures can be taken to prevent it?

  • I imagine this is due to the physical characteristics of a given pizza slice: if the dough mounds up just so and the piece of mushroom is placed just so, they physically hold the cheese in place, while on the next slice the pepper happens to be skin-side-down and thus helps the cheese go sliding away. There are just too many variables to effectively prevent this, so the only remedy is as moscafj says: wait for the pizza to cool off, so that even if you get slidy cheese, it won't cause physical injury. (Clearly, using a fork and knife is not an acceptable solution for most people.)
    – Marti
    Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 0:14
  • @Marti I don't think you need any theories about toppings doing random things to explain this; it happens (and doesn't happen) with plain cheese pizza.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 4:18
  • 3
    Rivets, you need more rivets!
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 18:34

9 Answers 9


I've always found sliding in pizza occurs when the moisture in the layers is too different. The cheese is too dry and so it sticks together, the sauce is too wet and so it slides (the toppings can be either). If everything is a bit drier, it sticks together well and can be bitten apart. If everything is a bit moister, it tends to slide apart more easily and won't tug on the rest of the slice that much.

As for why the same ingredients or same brands can sometimes stick, and sometimes not - moisture isn't as tightly controlled as some of the other variables. Cheese in particular can have different levels of moisture from variables in how it was stored - the ice crystals driven off of (or scraped back onto) frozen pizza, or whether a bag of shredded mozzarella breaks into fluffy dry strands or packs into moist clumps in the bag... or tries to melt back into a solid block. Or the settling of sauce, if the denser clumps sink and the thinner liquids end up closer to the top, the first pizza and the last might have subtly different amounts of liquid to deal with.

The level of moisture might also be related to other variables being not so tightly controlled - a little bit more or less sauce or cheese (like, teaspoon-ish) might not be noticed in even professional contexts, or something like the proportion of longer strands to little crumbs of cheese in even the same amount might affect how they interact with each other on a pizza.

the simplest way to fix it is mechanically - mixing part of the cheese into the sauce. This helps add moisture to the cheese, since it is coated in the sauce, and helps dry the sauce (less cheese on top means the sauce is more exposed). The cheese and sauce stick better to each other for being slightly intermixed, and stick better to the crust for being a bit more homogeneous. This has the benefit of not needing to change proportions, if you like a certain ratio.

Toppings, I have always found, are better being partly submerged under the cheese and through the sauce, since they have access to both the oven's heat for browning, and the moisture from the sauce so they don't dry out. It also helps mechanically prevent sliding, interrupting the layers and providing gaps and anchors (depending on topping and relative moisture).

If dealing with a frozen pizza, particularly one I'm adding toppings to, I would sprinkle drops of water on top to make sure the whole thing is moist. If the cheese dries out, it also prevents moisture from leaving the sauce... so more likely leading to slipping. If it stays moist, the problem is much less and it mixes with the sauce better on its own - and its easier to add moisture than remove it.

As for delivery pizza, there's no fix I know of, since it's already made and ready. Ah, well, it tastes good anyway, and it's convenient enough to put up with occasional mishaps.


Let it cool a bit. Then eat. Added bonus: You don't sear the roof of your mouth.

  • So is it simply that hot cheese is stickier? My experience would suggest that while cold (refrigerated) pizza never slides, even room temperature pizza may behave in this way, and even extremely hot cheese may stick properly. So while it would appear that temperature is a factor, there must be more to the story.
    – zeel
    Commented Oct 14, 2013 at 23:25
  • No science to back this up, but I notice fresh out of the oven...cheese slides off...big mess...burned mouth. Maybe a combo of heat and steam buildup between sauce and cheese?
    – moscafj
    Commented Oct 14, 2013 at 23:36
  • plus...no time for some moisture to absorb into crust? Creating a slippery layer of steam and moisture?.....worthy of testing!
    – moscafj
    Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 0:07

I had this same problem when making my own pizzas, and it bugged me a lot. I work at papa john's and I was trying to figure out why my home pizzas had dry "hardened" melted cheese. It would all pull off in one bite, and now I shall share what I have learned.

its not just about quantity of sauce. at PJ's, we often use too much sauce or someone will order extra sauce. Usually, we add more than we are supposed to because we think we are making the customer happy. The cheese on these pizzas does not usually slide off. Unless:

If you order a pizza with tomatoes or pineapples, we often do not have time to fully drain the ingredients. All this extra juice adds water to the crust and sauce. And herein lies the problem.

Our sauce is very thick compared to a cheap pasta sauce from walmart. When I make sauce at home, I take a can of delmonte garlic and onion pasta sauce (99 cents) and add another pasta sauce to it. The Del Monte is too sweet but i like the flavor. So I get another can of something less sweet. I kept getting inconsistent results unless I used less sauce, as you all pointed out. But the amount of sauce is not the problem. Its the wetness of the sauce, and the wetness of the dough. Also, you need whole milk mozzerella, better to shred it yourself.

I add 2 tbsp of olive oil to the sauce and reduce it. The sauce will be thick enough when the oil no longer separates. It should be "pulpy"... not like chunks of vegetable matter, but it should look grainy and uneven... When the sauce is thick enough, the oil will incorporate into the sauce almost magically. If you still see a sheen, reduce more. of course, if you add too much oil it will never incorporate.

There are storebought sauces that are the right thickness, but they taste terrible because there's usually a strong but stale tomato and herbal flavor. The flavor changes the more its cooked and I guess when it sits in a bottle after being cooked down I just don't like the flavor. I add oregano at the very end because I like the aromatic spicyness of it. That all cooks off when reducing the pot for an hour.

Try drier crusts. Instead of a 1:1 ratio of flour to water (by volume), try something closer to 3:1. You might booger it up but just play with it.

Don't think that preshredded cheese isn't the problem because it might be. The whole milk blocks of mozzerella are very moist. If it doesn't feel like taffy don't buy it. You shouldn't have dry little pieces of cheese. This will cause the cheese to harden on the top and it adhere to itself and pull off when you bite into it.


I think it is a combination of things:

  1. Using too much sauce so that it becomes slippery
  2. Not enough cheese was added near the crust where it bonds the cheese with the pizza.
  3. Too much cheese where the cheese is heavy enough that it slides off.
  4. Sometimes toppings that end up under the cheese make the cheese slide off.

Not to link to unreliable sources but Reddit actually has a pretty good discussion thread about this.

  • 1
    Too little cheese? I'd think that too much cheese would cause this; the cheese will stick to itself and resist stretching and breaking if there's enough of it.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 4:19
  • @Jefromi I think that's true too but I was talking about near the crust where the cheese melts and then cools down so it sticks to the crust. Of course if there is too much cheese it would also be too heavy. I added yours in.
    – aug
    Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 4:21

All my life, I had been making pizza in the order: crust, tomato sauce, toppings, grated cheese. I even worked in a bistro which served pizzas to customers, and it was done that way too. Until one day, I decided to make homemade pizza together with a friend, and to my horror, he assembled it in the order: crust, tomato sauce, cheese, toppings. After some research, it turned out that this method is also very widespread.

So, if you have a problem with the cheese sliding off, try making pizzas with the cheese below the toppings. It might stick to the crust better. I am not sure that it will work, but it's probably worth a try.

  • 1
    To my horror! My world will never be the same again! +1
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 10:24
  • And then there's the styles of pizza where the sauce goes on above the cheese. (but this generally done for places with really hot ovens (eg, coal fired), hotter than you're not going to get at home)
    – Joe
    Commented Oct 16, 2013 at 3:52
  • I worked at a pizza place once; sauce, cheese, toppings. The toppings, especially raw meat, needed the dry heat to crisp up nicely. If it was under the cheese, I imagine it would steam it instead. Whatever works, but that is the order I do it. Just don't use too much sauce and the cheese should adhere to the crust. Or bear your mouth blisters with pride...
    – JSM
    Commented Jun 6, 2014 at 23:09

If you're happy with the flavour and texture except for the sliding, it could mostly be a question of physics -- that is, the shape of the pizza tends to allow it to droop, and therefore the toppings can fall off.

If you hold the pizza appropriately, this should be reduced to some extent.

This is a great video about the math behind this idea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGl3_92KW7I

  • Too much sauce: you should be able to see the dough through the sauce. It will thicken as it cooks. Too much sauce, and it will prevent the cheese from sticking to the crust.
  • Too much cheese: remember it will melt and spread. If you lay it on too thickly, it will congeal into a thick, rubbery layer that slides off instead of a gooey, stretchy coating that adheres the toppings to the crust.
  • Swamp Yankee? That has GOT to be an American nickname. Yet you espouse moderation? TRAITOR!
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 11:45
  • 3
    @Jolenealaska - Rhode Island and CT are serious about their pizza. It's not the grease-frisbees of Nu Yawk or the pastry-crust casseroles of Chicargo. Pizza needs moderation. And calamari wid 'nanna peppas an' gawlick brad an' stuffed clams an' a pitcha a' Narragansett, an' we'll takes it awl ta go. Like I said. Moderation. Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 11:51
  • 1
    Yeah well, reindeer sausage and moose meat make for yummy pies too. :)
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 11:57

While a consistent thin layer of sauce is more common, I've found that splashing the sauce on the crust with limited spreading with the back of a spoon leaves areas of dough with no sauce which does two things for you:

  • Adheres the cheese to the pizza
  • Provides a variable taste and texture - some areas of no sauce, some with little, and some with lots, adding variety and enjoyment to the meal

I prevent cheese sliding by making a crisp (non-bendy) crust, and melting the cheese to it before putting the toppings on. The routine:

Pave the oven rack with firebricks before pre-heating.

Roll out the dough on a pizza pan. Paint the rim with olive oil. Bake the bare crust for about 4 minutes, just long enough to be able to handle the crust without the pan.

Sprinkle cheese directly on the crust and return to the oven with a pizza peel, baking directly on the bricks. Bake long enough that the cheese melts into a uniform layer.

Remove crust from the oven with the peel. Spread sauce uniformly on the melted cheese (the cheese forms a waterproof layer, keeping the sauce from soaking into the crust). Add toppings. Bake until the bottom of the crust is the color you like your toast.

Let cool for 15 minutes (on a rack) before cutting and serving.

This produces a crisp crust with the topping firmly bonded to it.

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