Kitchen Hacks

Ina Garten’s Go-To Shortcut for Grating Cheese

So little time, so much Parmesan.

May 30, 2019

There are many kitchen tasks I look forward to, like scrambling eggs, kneading bread dough, mashing pesto, and frosting cakes. But there are just as many I would rather hand off to my sous chef husband, like washing lettuce, washing herbs, really washing anything, and grating cheese.

Actually, I used to not like grating cheese. Tedious at best and knuckle-bloodying at worst. (Box graters, Microplanes, I’m looking at all of you.) But then Ina Garten taught me a better way, as she always does.

The secret? Skip the grater entirely and turn to a food processor instead. And no, not to the food processor grating attachment. Just throw the cheese in the bowl and pulse, pulse, pulse.

The clear benefit of this method is time. While you’re still grating, grating, grating away, Ina hits a button a few times, ends up with a mountain of cheese, and says, “How fast is that?” Very!

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Top Comment:
“"washing lettuce, washing herbs, really washing anything, and grating cheese" Lol - like mother like daughter - I hand off the exact same tasks to sous chef husband aka Dad!”
— Amy L.
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But the bigger benefit, if you ask me, is texture. Grated cheese, whether it’s on the biggest-possible holes or an ultra-fine Microplane, yields slivers and shards. Meanwhile, blitzing cheese in a food processor yields a nubby, pebby, ground-up consistency—a lot like the pre-grated Parm you’d buy at a supermarket. (Hm! I wonder how they do it!)

Not only is this uniform texture preferable in bread crumb coatings, like Ina is assembling in the video above for chicken Parm, but it’s A+ in dressings, and pretty dang addictive as a topping, for everything from salad to pasta.

Below are six recipes that come together faster—and better—with Ina’s cheese-grating hack. (Psst: This method also works for most hard cheeses that are similar in texture to Parmesan.)


Pass the Parm, Please

With some olive oil and white wine (you already have both around, right?), Heidi Swanson turns grated cheese into your new favorite crudités dip.

We deem this frittata: the perfect spring dinner. With spring greens, pancetta, and lots of Parm, it’s a meal all on its own. But we wouldn’t turn away some crusty bread and rosé.

The lazy cook’s fettuccine Alfredo? Sign me up. Here, instead of cooking the pasta in one pot and making sauce in another, you join forces (and conquer the world!).

This Parmesan dressing was created for a shaved cauliflower, beet, and fennel salad. But don’t let that hold you back from pouring it on all sorts of roughage.

Not all pesto has to start with basil and end with pasta. This one swaps in thyme and grilled bread and plops some lemon crème fraîche on top.

This Marinated Steak With Almost Caesar Salad comes together like that thanks to the food-processor trick. Plus, there are no eggs—or worrying about emulsifying eggs either.

What’s your favorite lesson from Ina Garten? Tell us in the comments!

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Emma is a writer and recipe developer at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing stories about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now, she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter.

8 Comments

Brownie June 2, 2019
Cheese is so much better shaved in the food processor. The texture is so smooth. Plus Cheese is cut in a uniform fashion. I use three different blades depending on cut desired. I also always shred my lettuce and cabbage etc. I don’t like carrots but I will eat them on salad if they are shredded in the food processor. The carrots look so pretty sprinkled on top. I also shred beets. Otherwise I feel a beet is inedible unless shredded in food processor. I have a mini food processor for small jobs like shallots. A food processor is a cheese and salad game changer!!
 
Jodi R. June 2, 2019
Just use a magic bullet. Works like a dream!
 
angela June 2, 2019
Well thanks a lot, I just processed parmesan like you said and now my cuisinart food processor is destroyed with overheating because it has a grater for a reason! Do not process cheese this way as I just proved what happens!!! Uuuuugh!!!!!
 
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Emma L. June 3, 2019
Yikes! So sorry to hear that, Angela, and honestly stumped on what went wrong. Like Ina, I've done this trick tons of times (with an old-ish food processor), and have never encountered overheating. A couple keys to this method, in case it helps: chopping the cheese into chunks before processing and pulsing a lot in the beginning.
 
Adrienne B. June 2, 2019
I use my food processor when I need more than 12 grates on the box grater. I used to have a food processor that only had an S blade, so none of my cheese was grated, and I noticed a few things were a little different when I got a new food processor. For some things, the grating blade is best because the pieces of cheese are flat and long so they do better when you want to layer something, like quesadillas or lasagna. But for pimento cheese, the S blade is the ONLY way to fly.
 
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Emma L. June 3, 2019
Mmmmmm I love pimento cheese!
 
Patricia F. June 2, 2019
Maybe it's because Ina Garten and I are about the same age but most of her tips for doing things easier are things I've been doing for years. Younger cooks seem to think you have to do things the hard way in order to be "authentic" or something, but sometimes, the food processor is really your go-to all-rounder. I love Ina Garten!
 
Amy L. May 31, 2019
"washing lettuce, washing herbs, really washing anything, and grating cheese"
Lol - like mother like daughter - I hand off the exact same tasks to sous chef husband aka Dad!