Cheddar cheese is one of the most popular types of mainstream cheese which is used to make amazing food.
It can be melted to make into a sauce, dips for your crackers & nachos, cheese fondue to dip in the vegetables of your choice & there is an endless number of things that you can make with cheddar.
Cheddar cheese can be melted in a microwave very easily & efficiently for making smooth, rich & creamy molten cheese in no time.
With the right temperature, the right type of cheese, technique, appropriate timings, melting cheddar cheese into a rich liquid in the microwave can be a real breeze!
So, here’s a comprehensive guide with tips, instructions & frequently asked questions on how you can appropriately & safely melt cheddar cheese in the microwave & use it further to make amazing recipes.
How to Prepare the Cheddar Cheese for Melting in a Microwave
Choosing the right kind of cheese is very important before beginning the melting process.
The cheese that is available in the market is usually labeled ‘mild’, ‘sharp cheese’, ‘extra sharp cheese’, or ‘seriously sharp cheese’ .
You need to buy a mild cheese or a sharp one for a smooth, creamy molten liquid.
Mild or sharp cheese indicates that the age of the cheese is not much like that of the extra-sharp cheese or the seriously sharp type.
This type of cheese melts easily & quickly in the microwave due to its higher moisture content & the amount of heat needed to be applied to it is very less.
Try to make small pieces out of the big block of cheddar. Making small pieces will help the heat spread over more surface area thus helping the cheese melt faster.
You can cut it into small cubes or slice it with a knife or shred it with a grater for a larger surface area .
Make sure to cut uniform cubes or slices of the cheese or each piece will melt at different rates causing burnt or overcooked cheese pieces.
Few of the cheese cubes may melt faster & become oily & greasy while waiting for the bigger cubes to melt. The larger cubes may not even melt properly .
Melting the cheese as a block will take a lot of time & it may also burn because the heat will not be able to get distributed throughout the cheese.
So, shredding the cheese is the best option to go for before beginning to melt.
After purchasing the cheese, make sure to refrigerate it for a few hours or put it in the freezer for a few minutes before shredding the cheddar.
Shredding the cheese at room temperature will make it soft & mushy.
Keep the small cubes of cheese or the shredded cheese at room temperature for around 20 min so that it does not take long while melting. Now, the cheddar is ready to go into the microwave.
- A microwave-safe bowl, preferably something made of Pyrex glass, Borosilicate glass, ceramic.
- A grater or a knife
- Milk or cream
- A vented lid
- Potholders or an oven mitt
- Cut or slice the cheese into small cubes or shred it – Take the frozen solid block of cheddar cheese & cut it into ½” or 1” cubes . You can also make thin & fine slices.
Cheddar is best melted when you shred it with a grater. A 6 ounces block of cheese may make around 1.5 cups of shredded cheese .
After grating the cheese, do not transfer it back to the refrigerator. Cover it & keep it aside at room temperature.
- Transfer the small cheese pieces into a microwave-safe bowl – Use a microwave-safe bowl instead of a plate .
The solid cheese will become a gooey liquid after it melts & it will be impossible to contain it within a plate. So, use a bowl so that the molten cheese doesn’t spill.
- Microwave settings – Set the microwave at the lowest heat setting possible , almost at 50% power level & place the bowl of shredded cheese inside it.
Cover the bowl with a vented lid. Melt it for 15 sec . Stir the partially melted cheese in between to spread the heat. The cheese should start melting at around 90°F.
Try using low to medium heat for melting the cheese. Repeat the process for an increment of 15 sec until it melts completely. It should melt completely at around 150°F .
- Stir the melting cheese – Keep stirring the melting cheese after 15 sec to distribute the heat evenly & make the molten mass of cheese smooth .
Do not stir the cheese too much as this will cause the protein in it to clump together & the melted cheese will be lumpy & lose its smooth consistency.
- Add milk or cream – You can add a tablespoon of cream or milk to the melting cheese for faster melting & better, creamier texture .
If the shredded cheese has already melted & has a smooth consistency then skip using the milk or the cream.
- Remove the hot bowl of melted, creamy cheddar cheese – Once the cheese has melted fully, check whether it has a stringy appearance or not.
Then remove the bowl of hot, molten cheese immediately from inside the microwave using potholders or an oven mitt.
Do not allow any standing time or do not let it cool or else it will harden to become firm again.
Temperature: Low to medium heat
You can also check out this video from ‘Just How to DIY’ channel where it is demonstrated how easy it is to melt cheddar cheese in the microwave.
Tips to Remember while Melting Cheddar Cheese in a Microwave
Please follow the tips while melting cheddar cheese in a microwave quickly & safely:
- Use microwave-safe containers – Use a microwave-safe bowl, preferably something made of Pyrex glass, Borosilicate glass, ceramic to melt the cheddar cheese in the microwave. Refrain from using a plain dish as it will not be able to contain the cheese when it melts . Please check the bottom of the container to read labels that indicate whether it’s safe or not to use it in the microwave. Try to not use any microwaveable plastic as the chemicals may leach into the food at higher temperatures.
- Refrain from using metal or foam containers – Do not use any metal containers in the microwave. Avoid using foam trays or aluminum foils, paper napkins & colored paper plates as they can melt or release toxins in the food.
- Use a vented lid – Cover the bowl of cubed or shredded cheese with a vented lid while melting it in the microwave. This will carry out the melting process faster & help retain the moisture for a better-melted cheese.
- Keep stirring – Do not leave the melting cheese unattended, to melt on its own in the microwave. Make sure to use a spatula or a spoon to keep stirring & mixing the newly formed melted cheese to distribute the heat evenly .
- Do not overheat the cheese – If the cheese is exposed to too much heat, then the water & the fat will start separating & oozing out of the melted cheese. This will cause the protein molecules to tighten up & the cheese won’t be soft & smooth anymore. You may risk making it chewy & rubbery. The entire molten cheese will be oily & greasy will all that fat oozing out of the material .
- Do not overdo the mixing – Mixing the melted cheese vigorously may cause it to accumulate at one place because of the formation of clumps of proteins & the molten cheese will lack a flowy nature.
- Keep the cheddar cheese block in the refrigerator – Before cutting the cheddar into cubes or shredding it, make sure to keep the cheese block in the refrigerator for a few hours or in the freezer for a few minutes so that it hardens well & is easy to chop it or grate it.
- Keep the cubed or shredded cheese at room temperature – If the cubed or shredded cheese from the freezer or the refrigerator is made to melt in the microwave, then it will take much longer than melting cubed or shredded cheese kept at room temperatures for a while.
- Cut small uniform cubes or slices of the cheddar – Try cutting ½” to 1” cubes of the cheddar. Do not make irregular cubes or slices as there are high chances of a few of the cheese cubes getting burnt or a few may be undercooked or overcooked.
- Use less aged cheddar cheese to melt – Aged cheese is very difficult to melt as the proteins form a firm structure & the fat & water in the cheese form tight bonds which becomes nearly impossible to break & gives you a hard time melting the cheese . Try buying mild or sharp cheese. This indicates that the cheese has not aged much & contains more moisture than ‘extra sharp’ & ‘seriously sharp’ cheese. Melting mild or ‘sharp cheese’ will give a smoother & creamier molten cheese & it will also be easy to melt.
- Do not use packaged shredded cheddar – If you want to grate the cheddar, then please consider doing it yourself & try not to use the packaged ones for melting in the microwave. The pre-grated cheese available in packaged form should not be used as it contains coatings like cellulose or potato starch for the shred cheese to not stick together in the packet . This coating makes it difficult for the shredded cheese to melt in the microwave. So, buy a cheese block & refrigerate it previously so you can shred it when you want to obtain melted cheese that is free of any preservatives .
- Remove the bowl of molten cheese carefully – Since you need to serve the newly formed molten cheese immediately, you cannot afford to wait to hold the bowl until it comes to a suitable temperature . So, remove the hot bowl of melted cheese using an oven mitt or potholders. Remove the lid carefully so that you do not risk burning your fingers or face with the rising hot steam from the bowl.
Alternate Ways to Melt Cheddar Cheese
Cheddar cheese can be melted efficiently & easily on a stovetop too.
Keep the block of cheese you want to melt in the freezer for a few hours or in the refrigerator for a while to make it firmer & solid so that it does not become mushy when you cube/slice/grate it. Try shredding it for better results.
Keep the bowl of grated/cubed/sliced cheese at room temperature to bring it to normal conditions before melting it in the microwave.
This will help the cheese melt in no time. Place the cheese in a non-stick pan or a pot & see that the vessel has enough space to accommodate all the cheese .
Now, heat the pan on a low flame & melt the cheddar cheese slowly. Do not heat for a longer time or heat on a high flame or the cheese will turn lumpy & greasy.
Keep stirring & mixing frequently in between or the melted cheese may stick to the pan & start burning.
Once the cheese melts completely, around 150°F , stir it once to check whether it has a stringy consistency.
If yes, mix well & remove the pan from the heat immediately to avoid making the cheese rubbery & chewy . Another quick & effective way of melting cheddar cheese is by steaming it .
Place the block of cheese you want to melt in the freezer for a few hours or in the refrigerator for a while to make it firmer & solid so that it becomes easy to shred/cube/slice.
Shred the cheese for a larger surface area. Keep the grated/cubed cheese in several small bowls that should fit in a saucepan & should be safe when heated.
Now fill a vessel, preferably a saucepan with water up to 1/3rd of its height & boil it on a stovetop over high heat .
Once the water boils up, then reduce the flame to just keep the water simmering.
After that, place a steamer basket directly over the hot simmering water & place the small bowls of shredded cheese over it.
Leave the water to heat for up to around 5 min & let the cheese melt.The cheese will melt into a rich, creamy molten liquid instantly.
Keep checking & stirring the melted cheese frequently with a stirrer because you certainly don’t want to burn it. To make it smoother, you may also add 1 – 2 tablespoons of flour to the melting cheese .
You can also check out this video from ‘wikiHow’ channel where it is demonstrated how easy it is to melt cheddar cheese on the stovetop.
How to Store Melted Cheddar Cheese
Keep the molten cheddar cheese in an air-tight container & refrigerate it & store it for a week. If you want to store it for longer, keep the melted cheddar covered in a container in a way that no moisture or contaminants must enter it & place it in the freezer to store it for a few months.
Melted cheddar cheese can stay on the counter without being refrigerated for around 48 hours without any change in texture or taste .
Since, it is low in moisture content, it has very little chance of getting spoiled as low moisture is unfit for microbial growth.
To store it for longer & avoid any bacterial growth, it is better to refrigerate it but before that make sure to store it in an air-tight container or wrap it tightly so that no moisture enters & is safe from any contaminants.
This way, the melted cheese can be stored for 7 – 14 days . If you want to store the melted cheddar cheese for months, then consider keeping it in the freezer.
It is best to consume the melted cheese as soon as possible as the cold temperature can change the texture & taste of the cheese .
Yes, it is safe. Melting cheddar cheese in the microwave is not only safe but also very convenient.
Using a microwave to melt cheddar will help maintain the low temperature needed to make the cheese & not overcook or undercook it . The process will also be quick & free of mess.
Make sure to use a microwave-safe bowl, a vented lid & maintain proper temperatures to avoid any accidents & get the best results.
Do not use any metal or foam containers as the chemicals may melt at high temperatures & leach into the cheese which can be injurious to health.
You can add some flour or cornstarch to the melted cheese to prevent the protein molecules from coming together & clumping.
The starch in the flour will coat the fat & protein molecules of the melted cheese so it will keep the molecules from coming together & maintain the flowy nature.
You can also add lemon juice or white wine to keep the melted cheese smooth . The acid will bind to the calcium molecules & prevent them from getting linked with the proteins. Thus, the protein molecules will be unable to clump together.
The added acid will also help to contribute some liquidity to the cheese thus keeping it from hardening & becoming stringy.
I hope this comprehensive article helped you in melting cheddar cheese in the microwave easily.
If you have any queries regarding the process, feel free to ask us. Also, if you know any other methods or tips please let us know so we can add them to our article to make it even better!
Do share this with your family & friends who may want to melt cheddar cheese in the microwave & help them out too.