Is Mozzarella Cheese Keto-Friendly?


One thing that people crave the most while on a keto diet is dairy, especially cheese because most cheeses are high in fats and low in carbs. The most loved cheese throughout the world is the Mozzarella cheese. But is Mozzarella cheese keto-friendly?

Here’s what I know from some tasty research:

Yes. Mozzarella cheese is keto-friendly. The net carbs can range from 0 to 2g per serving depending on the type of mozzarella. However, it’s important to consume it with other keto-friendly foods. For instance, while Mozzarella is fine, pairing it with tomatoes and balsamic vinegar could knock you out of ketosis.

Now that we know Mozzarella cheese is keto-friendly, there are some rules we need to follow while consuming it. How many types of Mozzarella cheese are there? And is fresh mozzarella less keto-friendly than hard mozzarella? 

There is so much more to learn about Mozzarella on keto-diet.

Lets’s dive in to know more.

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Is fresh mozzarella low carb?

Yes, is the short answer.

Fresh mozzarella is amazingly tasty. In fact, fresh mozzarella and traditional hard or grated mozzarella are almost 2 totally different things.

Nothing compares to the texture and flavor of freshly sliced mozzarella cheese. And the good news is that it’s pretty low in carbs.

Some may even consider it “zero” carbs since it only has 0.8 grams of net carbs per 1-ounce serving.

One popular way to consume fresh Mozzarella (besides on a Margherita pizza, which is strictly a no-no on keto) is Caprese salad. Freshly sliced tomatoes and Mozzarella, fresh basil, and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar make the best Caprese salad.

Unfortunately, tomatoes and balsamic vinegar aren’t the most keto-friendly ingredients. Balsamic, especially, is very high in sugar, which means it is also high in carbs. It may be okay for those on a cyclical keto diet (which we will describe shortly), but you still need to be careful.

You can read more about balsamic vinegar on a keto diet in my recent articleClick on the link to read the article.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your Caprese. You may only need to forgo the balsamic vinegar. Sherry vinegar makes an excellent keto-friendly substitute. And use more mozzarella than tomatoes, which have about 5 grams of carbs per tomato.

Does hard mozzarella cheese have carbs?

The good news is all types of mozzarella are low in carbs. But some are higher than others. Low-fat hard mozzarella cheese, for instance, is going to be a little higher than some of the other ones.

There are a few different types of Mozzarella cheese. Mozzarella is more than just the freshly sliced, shredded, or string cheese forms.

And each type is slightly different in its macros, including net carb count (and we’ll look at the carb count on all of them further below).

The six main types of Mozzarella include:

  • Fresh – mild in flavor; sold in plastic packaging in liquid and ball form. May come about the size of a small orange, an egg (bocconcini), or a cherry (ciliegine). Should be eaten within a few days of opening.
  • Mass-produced – sold dry in plastic packaging. The texture is firmer (more rubbery), and the flavor is a bit saltier. Mostly sold in shredded form and used for lasagna and pizza. Low-fat versions are usually higher in carbs than full-fat versions.
  • Mozzarella di Bufala – meaning of the water buffalo. Slightly harder to find and more expensive since most Mozzarella is made from cow’s milk now. The flavor is somewhat bolder and sweeter with a slight grassiness.
  • Burrata – looks like regular fresh Mozzarella but filled with a rich cream. A shred of Mozzarella curd may also be mixed into the cream.
  • Smoked – can be fresh, mass-produced, or Bufala. In most cases, the cheese is cold smoked, where the temperature doesn’t go over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Wood chip types can vary, but hickory, chestnut, alder, pecan, cherry, and apple are most common.
  • Scamorza – made the same way as fresh Mozzarella but is drier and firmer. Melts well and is less watery.

Here is a table including each type of mozzarella cheese and their macros per 1-ounce serving:

Of course, every brand’s label could vary slightly, but they should all be close to these numbers.

Type of Mozzarella Calories Fat Protein Carbs
Fresh 69 5.1 g 5.1 g 0.5 g
Mass-Produced Whole Milk 90 7 g 7 g 0 g
Mass-Produced Part-Skim (low fat) 80 6 g 7 g 2 g
Part-Skim String Cheese 86.1 6 g 7 g 0 g
di Bufala 75 7 g 4 g 0 g
Burrata 85 6.3 g 6.3 g 0.6 g
Smoked 59.9 4 g 6 g 1 g
Scamorza 90 7 g 6 g 1 g

How many net carbs are in mozzarella cheese?

As you can see from the chart above, the amount of net carbs in Mozzarella depends on the type. Most are under 1 gram per 1-ounce serving; however, mass-produced part-skim Mozzarella may have more.

Now, the question remains: how many carbs can you eat on the keto diet? It depends on the type of keto diet you are following.

There are a few variations on the keto diet, each with its own recommended ratio of fat to carbs to protein.

  • Standard ketogenic diet (SKD): low carb (5%), moderate protein (20%), and high fat (75%)
  • Cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD): involves periods of higher-carb refeeds (i.e., five keto days, two high carb days)
  • Targeted ketogenic diet (TKD): allows you to add carbs around workouts
  • High-protein ketogenic diet: similar to standard, but allows more protein. 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbs.

Being based on percentages, the number of carbs allowed in the diet will vary from day to day, depending on what you balance it with. To avoid any risk, try to stick to about 20-30 grams of net carbs per day on average.

In some cases, you can even have up to 50  grams, particularly with a cyclical ketogenic diet.

What is the lowest carb cheese?

Mozzarella cheese is keto-friendly as it is low in carbs, but it is not at the top of the list for low carb cheeses.

The majority of cheeses on the list below are considered “zero” carb since they contain less than 1 gram of carbs per 1-ounce serving.

The list is not exhaustive, but considering the most popular cheese types, the one lowest in carbs is most likely brie with 0.1 grams of carbs per 1-ounce serving. Depending on the kind of Mozzarella you choose (particularly burrata), you can also get close to 0 carbs per serving.

For your convenience, we have included a table of some of the common cheeses that are listed as keto-friendly in order of net carbs. These macros are per 1-ounce serving.

Type of Cheese Calories Fat Protein Net Carbs
Brie 95 7.8 g 5.9 g 0.1 g
Muenster 104 8.5 g 6.6 g 0.3 g
Gruyere 446 35 g 32 g 0.4 g
Colby Jack 109 8.8 g 6.8 g 0.5 g
Gouda 101 7.8 g 7.1 g 0.6 g
Mozzarella 85 6.3 g 6.3 g 0.6 g
Halloumi 85 6.3 g 6.3 g 0.6 g
Blue 100 8.1 g 6.1 g 0.7 g
Paneer 83 7.1 g 4 g 0.8 g
Asiago 111 7.3 g 10 g 0.9 g
White Cheddar 115 9.4 g 6.5 g 0.9 g
Parmesan 111 7.3 g 10 g 0.9 g
Feta* 75 6 g 4 g 1.2 g
Swiss* 108 7.9 g 7.6 g 1.5 g
Cream* 102 10 g 1.8 g 1.6 g

* = contain over 1 g of net carbs per 1-ounce serving. Eat in moderation.

Does low-fat Mozzarella have less carbs?

Compared to mass-produced whole milk Mozzarella, reduced or low-fat Mozzarella (usually made with 2% milk rather than whole) is slightly higher in carbs.

You can expect about 80 calories, 6 grams of fat, 7 grams of protein, and 2 grams of net carbs per serving in a low-fat Mozzarella.

It’s still a bit high compared to fresh Mozzarella but can still work in moderation as long as you aren’t pairing it with non-keto-friendly foods.

Did I cover all you wanted to know about mozzarella and if it’s keto-friendly?

Mozzarella cheese is an excellent choice for the keto diet, though some variations are better than others. You will want to stick to the fresh stuff rather than the mass-produced shredded kind. 

If you are going for cheap and easy, mass-produced isn’t necessarily forbidden. You will need to be a bit more careful when balancing it with other carbs in your diet. Since the low-fat Mozzarella has more carbs than whole milk Mozzarella, you might want to steer clear of part-skim mozzarella. 

What’s your favorite mozzarella keto recipe?

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For those of you who are looking to keto to improve your health, or just help get a sense of control over your diet, we invite you to join the next KETO 30 Guided Challenge starting soon!

CLICK HERE to learn more about the challenge and how to save up to 50% off on the awesome products over at Keto Logic!


Photo which requires attribution:

Pizza Rustica by Cayobo is licensed under CC2.0

Jeff Campbell

Jeff was a leader for Whole Foods Market for over 2 decades and is now a recovering foodie. When he's not spending time in the kitchen, he can usually be found with his wife & 3 daughters, he can usually be found practicing martial arts, making music, or blogging on his other sites. Click to learn more about me

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