Grating Cheese / Katie Workman / / Photo by Mia

Whether you purchased packaged shredded cheese or shredded it yourself, sometimes you don’t use it all up, and there is no way this is going to waste.  In fact it’s one of the best “leftovers” ever – I actually buy cheese and shredded cheese all the time without the slightest notion of what I will make with it, because I know when I have shredded cheese in the house, only good things will happen.

Cheese Choices

While some of these recipes might stipulate a particular kind of cheese, almost always it’s up to you which one you’d like to use.  If a sharp cheddar is called for, for instance, then you may not want to swap in mozzarella, which is much milder….or maybe you would like to, because that’s what you have and you are fine with a softer cheese-flavored dish.  It’s all good.  It’s all really, really good. 

26 Things to Make with Leftover Cheese: If you have leftover cheeses of all kinds, these recipes will help you put them to fabulous use.

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Here are some cheeses you might have or want to buy, and a bit about their flavors and intensity:

Air Fryer Grilled Cheese Sandwiches


A firm cow’s milk cheese, often available in white and orange varieties, and made in a whole lot of parts of the country—Wisconsin, New York, Vermont, to name a few.  There are many kinds of cheddar, and also many levels of sharpness.  Pick the one that feels right for the dish and your folks.

Monterey Jack:

An easy to love firm, semi-soft cheese made from cow’s milk, this melts really nicely and kind of goes with everything.  It’s flavor is quite soft though, so it’s nice blended with other cheeses.

Pepper Jack:

Same cheese as above but with bits of jalapeno or other spicy peppers sprinkled throughout.


Usually available in part-skim and whole milk varieties.  Fairly soft, super mild, easily meltable, used often in pizzas and lasagnas and other Italian pasta dishes.


Fairly firm, often slightly smoky (sometimes more than slightly – it might even have smoke flavoring added).  Medium level of flavor intensity.


Parmesan Cheese

Parmesan cheese comes grated in a variety of densities, from an almost powdery fine grated version, to hefty strands.  It’s is nutty and salty and intensely flavored, so if you do decide to go with Parm you may want to blend it with another milder cheese, unless you are really going to a full-flavored nutty taste. 

The world of Parmesan is a deep one, with all sorts of things to know about where the cheese is made, how it’s made, how long it is aged, and more, so if you want to dig in deeper, here’s some reading on that.  It’s super flavorful, but not the meltiest of cheeses (and when it melts it’s not that creamy)

Shredded Cheese Blends: 

There are lots of blended shredded cheese available in packages.  Mexican Blend, Italian blend, Pizza Blends, Taco Blends, more specific blends like Cheddar-Jack, Colby Jack, Mozzarella-Provolone and others.  There seem to be more and more blends available, which is awesome.  I love these blended shredded cheeses, because with no extra work on my part, I’m getting a variety of cheese flavors in my dish. 

Mexican Tortilla Chicken Soup / Todd Coleman / Katie Workman /

What is added to shredded cheese?

Usually wither cellulose or potato starch are added to package shredded cheeses to prevent clumping, but in very small amounts. Check the label to see, and if you are a purist, you can buy blocks of whole cheese and shred your own.

26 Things to Make with Leftover Cheese

Cheesy Ground Beef Quesadillas

Like the best bar food in the world, but right here in your own kitchen.

Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells

This is a little bit of a where-have-you-been-all-my-life recipe.

Cheesy Mashed Potatoes

A comfort food gets even more comforting.

Spicy Cheesy Artichoke Dip

Sriracha Gouda is the secret ingredient in one of my favorite hot dips of the year.

Hot Cheesy Scallion Kale Dip

One of the nicest things that can happen to a bunch of kale.

Creamy Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

Pretty, satisfying, cold weather comfort food

Very Cheesy Orzo Casserole

Never throw away small pieces of leftover cheese again.

Mexican Tortilla Chicken Soup

This divine soup is scented with chili, cumin and coriander, and topped with all kinds of deliciousness, like avocado and tortilla crisps. This is one of my favorite soups of all time.

Simple Baked Pasta with Bolognese Sauce

A super solid, super satisfying cold weather pasta casserole—kind of a deconstructed lasagna.

Bulgur Wheat, Sweet Potato and Black Bean Gratin

This casserole can be served as a vegetarian main course or a substantial side.

One-Skillet Cheesy Beef and Macaroni

This is total comfort food; a one dish recipe, with even the pasta cooking in the same skillet.

Cheesy Mashed Potato Topped Shepherd’s Pie

Mashed potatoes atop a savory pie are delicious; cheesy mashed potatoes are kind of sublime.

Herbed Cheesy Puff Pastry Bacon Straws

These cheese straws are probably worth ruining your appetite for.

The Best Easy Cheesy Loaded Hasselback Potatoes

Just when you thought baked potatoes couldn’t get any better, they do…. and then just when you thought hasselback potatoes couldn’t get any better, they do!!

One Skillet Chicken with Cheesy Orzo and Baby Kale

Like an orzo-ey risotto with chicken cutlets nestled right in the mix.

Cheesy Beef and Hash Brown Casserole

Crispy but tender shredded potatoes top a casserole of juicy ground beef bound together with a creamy cheesy sauce.

Sheetpan Macaroni and Cheese Squares

Mac and cheese becomes portable!

Breakfast Quesadillas

Very flexible, and a hell of nice way to start the day.

Hot Cheesy Clam Dip

The kind of thing you would order “for the table” without a moment’s hesitation.

Instant Pot Ziti “Lasagna” with Bolognese Sauce

The Instant Pot quickly makes cooked pasta, sauce, and cheese come together in a layered pasta dinner.

Spinach, Mushroom, and Chicken Quesadillas

A chicken quesadilla recipe to keep changing up.

Air Fryer Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

A new, easy way to get to heavenly grilled cheese sandwiches (with step by step instructions and photos!)

Cheesy White and Green Spinach Lasagna

Rich and creamy; filled with sautéed spinach, fluffy ricotta, simple béchamel sauce, and melty cheeses.

5-Minute Cheddar Cheese Popcorn

This popcorn made with real cheddar is a far cry from the cheese popcorn you buy in bags.

Stovetop Macaroni and Four Cheeses

You don’t have to use all four cheeses (but by golly you’ll be happy you did).

Havarti and Gouda Turkey Lasagna

Gouda and havarti give this hearty lasagna serious cheese flavor. This is a contender of a lasagna.

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