18 Things to Make with Leftover Cheese

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Person sprinkling shredded cheese onto bread in an Air Fryer basket.

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.

Grating Cheese / Katie Workman / themom100.com / Photo by Mia

Different Kinds of Shredded Cheese:

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. 

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.

Best Turkey Lasagna


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


Pieces of Parmesan Cheese on a black surface.

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. 

18 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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Woman placing shredded cheese onto eggs on a tortilla.

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.

18 Things to Make with Leftover Cheese

Cheesy Ground Beef Quesadillas
4.87 from 22 votes

Cheesy Ground Beef Quesadillas

These comfort food quesadillas come together quickly and make a great last-minute dinner or satisfying snack.
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Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells / Sarah Crowder / Katie Workman / themom100.com
5 from 1 vote

Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells

Cheesy and satisfying, this is a great alternative to tomato-based baked pasta dishes.
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Cheesy Mashed Potatoes / Sarah Crowder / Katie Workman / themom100.com
5 from 2 votes

Cheesy Mashed Potatoes

What happens when you add melty cheeses to fluffy mashed potatoes? Comfort food gets even more comforting.
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Red bowl of Spicy Cheesy Artichoke Dip.
5 from 1 vote

Spicy Cheesy Artichoke Dip

Everyone loves an artichoke dip and this chunky one has both cheesiness and a little kick.
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Pasta Shells with Pumpkin in a Creamy, Cheesy Sauce
5 from 3 votes

Creamy Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

Pretty, satisfying, cold weather comfort food
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Mexican Tortilla Chicken Soup
5 from 6 votes

Mexican Chicken Tortilla 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.
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Simple Baked Pasta with Bolognese Sauce / Katie Workman / themom100.com / Photo by Cheyenne Cohen
5 from 1 vote

Simple Baked Pasta with Bolognese Sauce

A super solid, super satisfying cold weather pasta casserole—kind of a deconstructed lasagna.
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Bulgur Wheat, Sweet Potato and Black Bean Gratin
5 from 5 votes

Bulgur Wheat, Sweet Potato, and Black Bean Casserole

This colorful, protein-packed bulgur wheat and sweet potoato vegetarian casserole can be served as a main course or a substantial side.
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One-Skillet Cheesy Beef and Macaroni
4.60 from 50 votes

One-Skillet Cheesy Beef and Macaroni

This is total comfort food; a one dish recipe, with even the pasta cooking in the same skillet.
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Shepherd’s Pie / Carrie Crow / Katie Workman / themom100.com
5 from 7 votes

Shepherd’s Pie

A savory ground lamb and vegetable filling topped with cheesy mashed potatoes…Shepherd's Pie is the ultimate Irish comfort food.
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Herbed Cheesy Puff Pastry Bacon Straws
5 from 2 votes

Puff Pastry Cheese Straws with Bacon

Flaky puff pastry gets all twisted up with cheese and bacon. An easy, classic appetizer for parties (and probably worth ruining your appetite for).
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Cheesy Loaded Hasselback Potatoes, some of which have bacon and sour cream on top.
5 from 4 votes

Loaded Cheesy Hasselback Potatoes

Loaded Hasselback potatoes are brushed with garlic butter, stuffed with cheese, and topped with all the fixings!
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Cheesy Beef and Hash Brown Casserole
4.87 from 52 votes

Cheesy Ground Beef and Hashbrown Casserole

Crispy but tender shredded potatoes top a casserole of juicy ground beef bound together with a creamy cheesy sauce.
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Sheetpan Macaroni and Cheese Squares
5 from 4 votes

Sheetpan Macaroni and Cheese Squares

Mac and cheese becomes portable!
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Breakfast Quesadillas / Katie Workman / themom100.com / Photo by Mia
5 from 1 vote

Breakfast Quesadillas

This fun twist on quesadillas is very flexible and customizable and a great way to start your day! It's a vegetarian-friendly breakfast, too.
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Hot Clam Dip / Carrie Crow / Katie Workman / themom100.com
5 from 1 vote

Hot Cheesy Clam Dip

The kind of thing you would order “for the table” without a moment’s hesitation.
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Instant Pot Ziti “Lasagna” with Bolognese Sauce / Katie Workman / themom100.com / Photo by Cheyenne Cohen
5 from 4 votes

Instant Pot Ziti “Lasagna” with Bolognese Sauce

The Instant Pot quickly makes cooked pasta, sauce, and cheese come together in a layered pasta dinner.
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Plate of Spinach, Mushroom, and Chicken Quesadillas on a wooden table.
5 from 8 votes

Spinach, Mushroom, and Chicken Quesadillas

This chicken and vegetable quesadilla is satisfying, substantial, and ready for adaptation!
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About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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1 Comment

  1. Jessi Colpa says:

    I am very pleased with this grater. It is very easy to use and clean and is nice that you can grate straight onto toast so less plate washing. Can be assembled for right or left handed operation. As said very easy to keep clean just rinse parts under hot water no need even for dish washer as is so quick to clen would be clean before can even open the dishwasher door let alone start it.