How to Grate Cheese

Four Methods:Using a MicroplaneUsing a Box GraterUsing a Rotary GraterGrating Cheese by Improvising

Cheese is the ultimate garnish. Though grating cheese is a very simply task, there are so many ways to slice this savory treat. Here are a few "grate" ways to shred your own cheese.

Method 1
Using a Microplane

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    Grate cheese using a microplane cheese grater. A microplane cheese grater consists of a handle attached to a long, flat grate with small, sharp teeth.[1] Although they are usually used for zesting lemons or grating garlic, they are perfectly serviceable when it comes to grating cheese.
    • Because microplanes tend to produce smaller pieces of grated cheese, they are best used with hard cheeses such as Parmesan or Pecorino. Grating a soft cheese like mozzarella with a microplane would only give you a mushy mass instead of cleanly grated cheese.
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    Unwrap your block of cheese. If it is too large to hold comfortably with one hand, slice it into manageable pieces with a knife. Err on the side of larger rather than smaller — there's less of a chance you'll hurt yourself with a big piece of cheese.
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    Holding the microplane over a plate or board, gently swipe the cheese against the grate using an up-and-down motion. Continue until you have the desired amount.
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    Tap the metal end of the grater lightly against the edge of the plate to release excess trimmings. Use a pastry brush, if necessary, to remove all the cheese trimmings from the microplane.
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    Switch out your microplane size depending on what you're using cheese for. Microplane graters come in a variety of sizes ranging from fine to coarse.[2] Finely shredded cheese can be used as the top layer of a freshly made pizza. Medium shredded cheese is thicker and a nice topping for baked potatoes or salads. Coarsely grated cheese is the thickest and can be used to garnish pasta.

Method 2
Using a Box Grater

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    Use a box grater to shred your cheese. A box grater is four sided, with each side having differently sized teeth.
    • Because box grates tend to have larger teeth, they work well with softer cheeses such as mozzarella or havarti.
    • Choose whichever grater plate suits the dish. The medium sized holes are great for garnishing tacos, but not so much for making crumb-like Parmesan to go on Spaghetti.
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    Keep your cheese medium to large sized. This will prevent you from scraping your fingers before you have the desired amount of shredded cheese.
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    Lightly coat the outside of the grater plate you will be using with cooking spray. This will make the cheese glide easier.[3]
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    Let your box grate decide how you'll use it. For box graters without a handle, hold the cheese and grater over a large bowl. For graters with a handle, place the end of the grater on a cutting board.
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    Rub the cheese against the grater in an up-and-down motion. Once you reach the end of the cheese, rub it with your palm to avoid scraping your knuckles.[4]

Method 3
Using a Rotary Grater

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    Slice your cheese using a rotary grater. A rotary grater consists of a handle connected to a circular grating compartment. A side crank is then rotated to grate the cheese. Raise the top handle of the grater, place a small block of cheese into the compartment, and lower the handle.
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    Apply some pressure to the top of the handle with your thumb. Grip the handle normally with your other fingers.
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    Turn the handle with your other hand while aiming the grating compartment at a nearby plate or bowl. Stop whenever you feel like you have enough shredded cheese.
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    Rotary graters are safer as your hands are not required to press against the plates.They are also very efficient[5] and are best reserved for making large quantities of shredded cheese. For example, if you need to make nacho dips or breakfast casseroles, use a rotary grater.

Method 4
Grating Cheese by Improvising

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    Shred cheese with a vegetable peeler. Though not as efficient or glamorous as using a cheese grater, a vegetable peeler will still get the job done.
    • Hold a medium sized block of cheese over a regular sized plate. Rub the peeler against the cheese in a continuous forward motion.
    • For higher quality slices, refrigerate the cheese first or opt for a hard type of cheese (such as Parmesan).[6]
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    Use a sharp kitchen knife to thinly slice cheese. Though this is more time consuming, a knife is a nice substitute for a vegetable peeler.
    • Hold a small chunk of cheese against the surface of a plate. Gently slice off thin shreds onto the plate.
    • Opt for a plain edge rather than a serrated edge. Plain edge knives are better at shaving and skinning.[7]
    • Avoid holding large blocks of cheese. Since knife work is more dangerous than other grating options, you want to have a steady and firm grip on the cheese.
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    Mince cheese with a food processor. For quick and easy shredded cheese, a food processor is the optimal choice.
    • Refrigerate your cheese until it is firm but not too hard. Chop it into smaller blocks and place it in your food processor.[8] Be cautious about overloading your processor. Some food processor blades have seized up or become unbalanced when grating cheese.[9]
    • Turn the food processor on and monitor the shape of the cheese shreds. Once you have shredded the cheese to your liking, turn off the processor and empty it onto a plate.
    • If your processor has a shredding disk, select this blade as it will provide better quality slices.
    • Avoid processing softer cheeses such as Mozzarella. This will result in smeared, not shredded, cheese.[10]
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  • Use a rotary grater or a food processor for larger dishes. It will save you effort and time, especially if you are taking food to a party.


  • Microplane and box graters leave your fingers more vulnerable to scrapes. Choose these graters when making small amounts of shredded cheese.

Things You'll Need

  • Cheese block
  • Cheese grater
  • Plate or cutting board

Article Info

Categories: Food Cutting Techniques