Cheddar cheese is delicious and is used in a variety of dishes or cut into snacks. In this article, we’ll teach you how to melt cheddar cheese in the microwave and get the best results possible.
Picture one of these scenarios: it’s after school, a big game is about to start, or it’s very late at night. You are craving something with cheese and want something quick. The solution is easy: microwaved nachos!
Like many other people, cheese is on my weekly grocery list. Regardless of whether I’m making macaroni & cheese, nachos, or using it as a topping for eggs, cheese’s versatility makes it a necessary staple of most people’s kitchens.
I have been using a microwave to make quickly microwaved nachos before I was ever permitted to use an oven. In this guide, I will tell you how to melt cheddar cheese in the microwave and get the best results.
How Does Cheese Melt?
Cheese melts in phases at different temperatures. The first part of cheese melting is breaking down milk fat. This happens at about 90 degrees Fahrenheit (or 32 degrees celsius).
That means that on a hot summer day or in a car sitting in the sun, you can start melting cheese without direct heat. While it is best to bring the cheese to room temperature before melting, it’s not advisable to start the actual melting process on your dashboard.
The second phase of cheese melting depends on the hardness or dryness of the cheese. The higher the moisture content in the cheese, the lower the temperature is needed to melt the calcium bonds that hold the casein proteins and the cheese together. Mozzarella has high moisture content making it great for melting.
For mozzarella, the casein proteins melt at around 130 degrees Fahrenheit or about 54 degrees Celcius. Mild Cheddar Cheese is harder and has a lower moisture content than mozzarella, needing to reach 150 degrees Fahrenheit (or about 65 degrees Celcius) to melt.
It is important to know the moisture content of the cheese to get the best possible melted cheese from the microwave. A simple rule to remember: the higher the moisture content in a cheese, the easier it is to liquefy.
Spending a few seconds choosing the right cheddar cheese for your purposes will help you get the best microwave melted cheese possible.
Now that you know a little about how cheeses melt, we need to answer a bigger question: what type of cheddar should I pick to melt in the microwave?
Mild, Sharp, or Extra Sharp Cheddar?
We need to start by choosing the right kind of cheddar cheese to get the best results microwaving the cheese. The older (or sharper) the cheese, the less moisture the cheese has and the more
flavourful it becomes. I like to use extra sharp cheese in my macaroni and cheese dishes.
However, it is best to use mild or sharp cheddar cheese with higher moisture content to get the best result from melting cheese in the microwave. These cheeses will melt and liquefy quicker and easier than a drier or harder cheese.
But the choice of what cheddar to use is up to you! However, when melting cheddar cheese in the microwave, you are going to have to pay attention during the first few attempts. If you don’t pay attention, you risk overcooking the cheese and having a difficult mess to clean up. So,
exactly how can we melt cheddar cheese in the microwave and get the best result every time?
Wait! What About Melting Pre-grated Cheese in the Microwave?
Using shredded cheese for quick nachos will work well, but you should use cheese from a block that you have grated yourself. Packaged pre-grated cheeses are often coated with starch or cellulose to stop the cheese from sticking together in the bag and can lead to issues when trying to melt cheese evenly in the microwave.
Although, using pre-shredded cheese on microwaved nachos is the easiest and fastest way to melt cheese directly on the nachos.
If you are trying to melt cheese directly onto food or the consistency doesn’t matter, pre-grated cheese will do the trick. If you are trying to create liquid cheese, the consistency of the melted cheese does matter.
If consistency is important, we recommend cutting the cheese into evenly sized cubes and allowing it to reach room temperature.
The “How-To” of Melting Cheddar Cheese in a Microwave
The first step to melting cheddar cheese in the microwave is simple: use a microwave-safe dish. This may seem like common sense, however, ensuring that the dish is microwave safe is the first thing you should do before microwaving anything.
Although not necessary, an additional step is to use a vented lid on the dish. This helps retain the moisture being released from the cheese and makes the melting process quicker
The second step is preparing the cheddar cheese for melting. How you prepare the cheese to be melted matters, depending on your final use of the cheese.
If you are planning on melting the cheese to drizzle over broccoli, you’ll want to use a microwaveable bowl and evenly cut squares of cheese. Although, if you are making nachos, you will want to sprinkle cheese directly onto the chips and the serving plate.
For the best results, you should use block cheddar cheese cut into even-sized cubes. When the blocks of cheese are as equal in size as possible, the blocks will melt evenly with each other, resulting in liquidy and consistent melted cheddar cheese.
A simple rule to remember: to melt cheese to the desired consistency, always start with evenly sized cubes of cheese.
Finally, and most importantly, you need to use a high-power setting on the microwave for a short time. This is the final step and the ultimate secret to perfectly melted cheese in the microwave.
However, how long you microwave the cheese is entirely dependent on a combination of the microwave, the type of cheese you use, and how much cheese you are trying to melt.
Estimates for how long to microwave cheese range from 15 – 30 seconds. Over microwaving the cheese will overheat the cheese and cause the cheese to separate into components rather than into a consistent liquid.
Start with 15 seconds on high power and pay attention to the cheese melting! You may find that 20 seconds or 25 seconds is perfect for your microwave and liquidy cheese goals.
So, about those late-night nachos….
Answering the question “how to melt cheddar cheese in a microwave” seems very simple on the surface.
There is no one answer to this question. The best way to do it depends on the type of cheddar cheese, how much cheese you’re using, and the microwave oven you’re using. There are different ways to melt cheddar cheese depending on what you want to use it for.
Once you know these answers, heat your cheese on a high setting for 15-30 seconds, being very careful to avoid overheating the cheese.
Now that you know this, feel free to experiment with melting different cheeses in the microwave and see what timing works for you and your melted cheese purposes.
And about those late-night or after-school nachos: we have you covered with our guide to making the best-microwaved nachos.