What is Burrata

If You Like Mozzarella, You'll Love Burrata

Burrata with Pesto
Burrata with Pesto. Photo by Jennifer Meier

Burrata Cheese

Burrata is a fresh Italian cheese that's very similar to fresh mozzarella, only creamier. The outer shell is solid mozzarella, while the inside contains stracciatella and cream, giving it an unusual, soft texture. It is also defined by some sources as an outer shell of mozzarella filled with butter or a mixture of butter and sugar. It is usually served fresh and at room temperature. The name burrata is derived from the Italian word burro, which means butter, and gives some insight into what this cheese is all about.

Burrata is filled with thick, fresh cream and tiny shreds of stretched mozzarella curd that spill out when the cheese is cut into. It's a little bit like eating a molten ball of fresh mozzarella. 

Some brands of burrata cheat and are filled with mascarpone cheese instead, although this is not a traditional filling for burrata.

The Difference Between Burrata and Mozzarella

Burrata starts out much like mozzarella and many other cheeses, with rennet used to curdle the warm milk. But then, unlike other cheeses, fresh mozzarella curds are plunged into hot whey or lightly salted water, kneaded, pulled and twisted to develop the familiar stretchy strings.

This stretched curd is also known as pasta filata, which gives the cheese a soft but slightly elastic texture.

The remnants of mozzarella are used in a genius (and delicious) way to fill balls of burrata (along with whole cream).

The flavor of mozzarella and burrata are very similar.

The real difference is in the texture. Burrata is looser, creamier and richer.

Serving Burrata

To eat burrata, one only has to slice into the ball of cheese and the creamy filling will be revealed, often spilling onto the plate. For the most flavor and best texture, bring burrata up to room temperature before serving.

Burrata is often served with a simple sprinkle of salt and drizzle of olive oil. Slices of good bread can scoop up the burrata or the soft cheese can be spread onto crackers.

Burrata is also often served like mozzarella, with fresh tomatoes and basil. Burrata is also a decadent and delicious topping for pizza. Add the burrata to pizza near the end of the baking process, so it gets warm but not too watery.

The mild, creamy flavor of burrata also pairs well with summer fruit like fresh berries, melon and stone fruits.

Eat Burrata Fresh

Burrata should be eaten as fresh as possible. When burrata has gone bad, the flavor is sour and it will smell like old milk.

In Italy, eating burrata as soon as possible might mean eating it on the same day that it is made. In the United States, you probably won't be as lucky. But look for burrata that isn't too close to its "sell-by" date and ideally eat the burrata the same day that you cut into it.