Is fresh mozzarella high in carbs?

Fresh mozzarella is a type of cheese that is made from cow’s or buffalo’s milk. It has a soft, creamy texture and a mild flavor. Fresh mozzarella is lower in fat than many aged cheeses, but it does contain a significant amount of carbs.

The carb content of fresh mozzarella

The carb content of fresh mozzarella can vary depending on factors like the brand, milk type, and preparation method. However, on average, a 1 ounce (28 gram) serving of fresh mozzarella contains around 2-3 grams of carbs.

Most of the carbs in fresh mozzarella come from lactose, which is the naturally occurring sugar found in milk. During the cheesemaking process, the milk sugars are concentrated as whey is drained off, leaving the curds behind to be formed into cheese.

Here is a nutritional breakdown of a 1 ounce serving of whole milk fresh mozzarella (3):

  • Calories: 85
  • Fat: 6g
  • Protein: 6g
  • Carbs: 2g

Based on this, fresh mozzarella provides about 2 grams of net carbs, calculated by subtracting fiber from total carbs. The actual amount can range from 1–4 grams for a 1 ounce serving depending on factors like milk type, moisture content, and brand.

How the carb content compares to other cheeses

Fresh mozzarella is lower in carbs than many other popular types of cheese. Here’s how it compares (4):

Type of cheese Net carbs per 1 ounce
Cheddar 0.4–1 gram
Swiss 0.5–1 gram
Blue cheese 0.5–1 gram
Fresh mozzarella 1–4 grams
Cottage cheese 2–6 grams
Ricotta 3–4 grams

As you can see, fresh mozzarella is moderate in carbs compared to hard cheeses like cheddar that are very low in carbs. However, it contains fewer carbs than soft fresh cheeses like ricotta and cottage cheese.

Factors affecting the carb content

There are a few factors that can alter the carbohydrate content of fresh mozzarella:

Type of milk

Fresh mozzarella can be made from cow’s milk or water buffalo milk. Buffalo milk contains slightly more carbs and calories than regular cow’s milk.

Here is a comparison of the nutrient content of 1 cup (244 grams) of whole milk from each source (5, 6):

Nutrient Cow’s milk Buffalo milk
Calories 146 170
Fat 7.9g 9g
Protein 7.9g 9g
Carbs 11.7g 14g

This means buffalo milk mozzarella will typically be a little higher in carbs than cow’s milk versions. However, the difference is small.

Moisture content

Fresh mozzarella can vary in texture from soft and moist to drier and more firm. Softer varieties with higher moisture tend to be higher in carbs.

For example, low moisture mozzarella may provide around 1 gram of carbs per ounce, while fresh, high moisture mozzarella may contain 3 or more grams per ounce.

The moisture also impacts the shelf life. Wetter mozzarella has to be consumed within just a few days, while lower moisture varieties can last 1–2 weeks refrigerated.

Preparation method

Traditional fresh mozzarella is made by heating and stretching the cheese curds in hot water, then shaping it into balls or logs. This is called the pasta filata method.

However, some mozzarella is made using a faster direct acidification method. This involves adding citric acid or vinegar to coagulate the milk. Direct acidification produces cheese with a higher moisture content.

So freshly made, pasta filata mozzarella tends to be lower in moisture and carbs than types made using direct acidification.

Part skim vs whole milk

Using partially skimmed milk decreases the fat content of fresh mozzarella compared to whole milk varieties. However, it may also cause a slight increase in the carb content.

For example, 1 ounce of part skim mozzarella may contain around 3 grams of carbs, versus 2 grams in whole milk mozzarella (7, 8).

The higher carb count is caused by concentrating the milk sugars into a smaller volume of milk fat during processing.

Serving size

Pay attention to the listed serving size when comparing carb counts, as the number of grams will be greater in larger servings.

For instance, a 3.5 ounce (100 gram) serving may be listed as containing 7 grams of carbs. But for a typical 1 ounce (28 gram) serving, that would equal about 2 grams of carbs.

Tips for lowering carbs in recipes

Here are some tips for reducing carbs when using fresh mozzarella:

  • Compare brands and select a lower moisture, part skim variety.
  • Drain excess liquid to remove some whey before using.
  • Blot with paper towels to remove moisture.
  • Use grated low moisture mozzarella instead of fresh soft mozzarella.
  • Combine it with lower carb cheeses like parmesan or ricotta salata.
  • Use smaller amounts of mozzarella balanced with more non-starchy veggies.

Is fresh mozzarella keto-friendly?

Fresh mozzarella can fit into a keto diet when used in moderation, but portion size matters.

Most people following a keto or low carb diet aim to stick under 20–50 grams of net carbs per day. Given this, a 1–2 ounce portion of fresh mozzarella would provide 2–6 grams of carbs.

This represents 10–30% of your daily carb limit on keto. So it’s something you’d need to account for and balance with very low carb foods for the rest of your meals.

Using freshly grated low moisture mozzarella instead of soft fresh mozzarella can help lower the carb impact.

Net carb totals in recipes

Keep in mind that the net carbs per serving can really add up when fresh mozzarella is an ingredient in recipes like pizza, caprese salad, and lasagna.

For example, here are the approximate net carbs for popular fresh mozzarella recipes:

  • 1 slice fresh mozzarella pizza: 10–15 grams
  • Caprese salad (2 oz mozzarella): 5 grams
  • Lasagna (with 12 oz mozzarella): 45 grams

To make these meals fit into a keto diet, you’d need to modify the recipes to reduce carbs from the other ingredients and keep your net carb total under 50 grams for the day.

Health impact of fresh mozzarella

Fresh mozzarella made from whole milk provides a range of nutrients (9):

  • Calcium: 18% DV
  • Protein: 14% DV
  • Phosphorus: 15% DV
  • Vitamin A: 6% DV
  • Riboflavin: 15% DV
  • Vitamin B12: 15% DV
  • Selenium: 14% DV

The high calcium content contributes to mozzarella’s bone-strengthening properties. The protein also helps support satiety.

However, fresh mozzarella made from whole milk is high in saturated fat, providing 25% DV in a 1 ounce serving (10).

Current dietary guidance recommends limiting saturated fat to less than 10% of calories (11).

For heart health, fresh mozzarella is likely best enjoyed in moderation as part of a diet focused on whole foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.

Lactose intolerance

Fresh mozzarella contains less lactose than milk, but it still has traces of the milk sugar. People with lactose intolerance may be able to handle small amounts, but tolerance varies.

Aged, hard cheeses are typically easier to digest for those sensitive to lactose because most of the lactose gets removed during processing. Try a small serving first to see if any digestive issues occur.

Uses for fresh mozzarella

Here are some of the most popular ways to eat and cook with fresh mozzarella:

Caprese salad

This classic Italian salad features fresh mozzarella paired with sliced tomatoes, basil, and drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.


The soft, melty properties of fresh mozzarella make it a perfect pizza cheese. It’s commonly used on Neapolitan style and gourmet pizzas.

Lasagna and baked pasta

For creamy, cheesy lasagna and baked ziti, fresh mozzarella is combined with ricotta and parmesan or pecorino romano cheese.


Fresh mozzarella, tomato, and basil make classic bruschetta toppings.


Cubes or slices can be added to salads for a protein and calcium boost.

Sandwiches and paninis

Fresh mozzarella goes well in all kinds of sandwiches paired with ingredients like tomatoes, basil, roasted peppers, and pesto.

Cheese boards

Alongside harder cheeses and cured meats, fresh mozzarella contributes a soft textural contrast.

Kabobs and skewers

Alternating fresh mozzarella with cherry tomatoes and basil makes a colorful, easy summer appetizer.

Is fresh mozzarella a healthy choice?

Fresh mozzarella can be part of a healthy diet when used to add flavor and creaminess, but should be eaten in moderation.

Benefits of fresh mozzarella include:

  • Provides protein for muscle tissue
  • Excellent source of bone-building calcium
  • Contains beneficial nutrients like B vitamins and selenium
  • Lower in carbs than many cheeses

Potential downsides to consider:

  • High in sodium
  • High in saturated fat
  • May trigger digestive issues if you’re lactose intolerant

Overall, fresh mozzarella can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet filled with plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, lentils, lean proteins, nuts and seeds.

If you have high cholesterol or heart health concerns, opt for part-skim versions or use stronger-tasting cheeses like parmesan to flavor dishes while using less mozzarella.

The bottom line

Fresh mozzarella is lower in carbs than many other types of cheese. On average, a 1 ounce serving provides about 1–4 grams of carbohydrates, depending on the preparation method.

Fresh mozzarella can fit into a keto diet when used in moderation. To reduce carbs, opt for low moisture, part skim varieties. It also tends to be more digestible for those with lactose issues compared to soft cheeses.

For the healthiest approach, enjoy fresh mozzarella as part of an overall balanced diet focused on whole foods.

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