Burrata, a fresh Italian cheese made from cow's or buffalo's milk mozzarella, contains a soft stracciatella filling of curds and cream. The name burrata, derived from the Italian word burro, means butter, which provides a clue to the richness of this cheese. The creamy center gives it a higher fat content than most cheeses.
Source: Cow's or buffalo's milk
Texture: Liquidy center
Flavor: Milky and mild—like fresh mozzarella
What Is Burrata?
This succulent cheese originated in southern Italy. The contrasting textures of burrata come from its creamy center, so it should be served very fresh and at room temperature to highlight this trait. Some U.S. brands fill mozzarella balls with mascarpone and call it burrata, but this goes against traditional production methods. Look for imported burrata in specialty cheese shops or well-stocked grocery stores and expect to pay about a third more than for fresh mozzarella.
Burrata vs. Mozzarella
Mozzarella and burrata taste similar, but the texture of burrata is looser, creamier, and richer—more similar to full-fat ricotta cheese. This texture comes from the curds and cream in the center of a ball of burrata. Mozzarella is lower in fat than many cheese varieties, including burrata, which has cream in the center. Both fresh mozzarella and burrata generally come packaged with some liquid to maintain moisture in the cheese.
How Burrata Is Made
Burrata starts out much like standard mozzarella, with rennet used to curdle warm milk. The fresh curds get plunged into hot whey or lightly salted water, then kneaded, pulled, and twisted to develop the familiar stretchy strings.
This stretched curd, also known as pasta filata, gives mozzarella cheese a soft but slightly elastic texture. To take it one step further into burrata, producers form pouches of cheese and stuff them with fresh curds and whole cream, creating the signature creamy center.
For most uses, you can substitute fresh mozzarella for fresh burrata, although it won't have the textural contrast that makes burrata so appealing. Generally, mozzarella makes a better choice if you plan to melt it, such as on pizza or in a baked pasta dish, since it costs less and burrata loses much of its creaminess when you heat it. Spring for burrata if you want a standout on a cheese plate or to top a salad.
Cut into a ball of burrata and the creamy filling spills out onto the plate. You can make the most of this characteristic by serving it on a cheese plate or intact on top of a salad. For the most flavor and best texture, bring the cheese to room temperature before you serve it and wait until you're ready to eat before you cut into it. You can cut or shred burrata to cook with it; toss it to combine the inner and outer layers once you do.
Burrata is often served simply with a sprinkle of salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Scoop it up with chunks of good bread or spread the soft cheese onto crackers. The mild, creamy flavor of burrata also pairs well with summer fruit like fresh berries, melon, and stone fruits.
Burrata puts a fresh take on a classic caprese salad with tomatoes and basil, and makes a decadent and delicious topping for pizza. Add the cheese at the end of baking so that it gets just warm but doesn't lose its creamy quality.
Burrata should be eaten as fresh as possible. When it goes bad, the flavor becomes sour and it smells like old milk. In Italy, eating burrata as soon as possible might mean eating it on the same day it is made. In the United States, you probably won't be as lucky, but look for burrata within its "best-by" or "sell-by" date and eat it the same day you cut into it.
Store fresh burrata in its unopened store packaging for up to its best-by date or for a few days beyond its sell-by date. If you open the package but won't use it all at once, transfer the liquid to an airtight container and keep the leftovers refrigerated for a day or two. Once you cut into a ball of burrata, it's best consumed immediately. Burrata does not freeze well.
You can use burrata nearly interchangeably with fresh mozzarella, but in cooked dishes, add it at the end so it gets warm without fully melting.