When your recipe calls for grated cheese measured in cups, but the supermarket only sells the cheese you need as wedge labeled in pounds, it can be challenging to figure out exactly how much to buy. Luckily there is this general guideline to make cooking with cheese easier:
- 1/4 pound cheese = 1 cup grated
- 1/3 pound cheese = 1 1/2 cups grated
- 1/2 pound cheese = 2 cups grated
This conversion works for most cheeses, including Bleu cheese and Feta, which are normally crumbled, not grated or cubed.
Parmesan cheese, however, is slightly different. One pound of this cheese equals about 4 1/2 cups grated which makes 1/4 pound come out to about 1 1/4 cups grated.
Measuring by Weight
If you are measuring by weight, remember that coarsely grated cheese is much heavier than finely grated cheese. In other words, 1 cup of coarsely grated cheese will contain less cheese than 1 cup of finely grated cheese. Most well-written recipes will specify what grating size is used.
No Need to be Exact
Don't worry too much about having the exact amount of cheese in recipes calling for cup (volume) measurements—a little more or less is not going to make much of a difference. If you only had 7 ounces of cheese, it probably wouldn't negatively affect the overall outcome of a recipe calling for 1 cup (8 ounces) shredded cheese.
When in doubt, always buy more than you think you'll need. Extra cheese is never a bad thing!
Grating Your Own Cheese
Although it seems like a no-brainer to grab a bag of shredded cheese at the supermarket, grating your own is not as difficult or time-consuming as you might think. Also, the end result is pure cheese, whereas the pre-packaged shredded cheese includes additives to keep the cheese from clumping together and becoming moldy.
If you use a lot of cheese and prefer to grate your own, you should consider getting a good box grater for basic cheese shredding—1 cup of shredded cheese will take under two minutes. If you use the food processor, you'll have grated cheese in 10 seconds. In addition, a microplane (most often used for zesting) makes quick work of producing very fine grated Parmesan cheese.
There are a few tricks to making grating cheese even easier and with quicker cleanup. First, use cold cheese—less will stick to the shredder and your hands. Second, if you are shredding a large block of cheese, cut it in half before starting so it doesn't break apart. And finally, place the grater over waxed paper to make pouring the cheese into the measuring cup clean and simple.