For the longest time I thought that buffalo mozzarella and bocconcini were the same thing (just different sizes) but that’s not the case. They are actually two very different things.
Why all the confusion?
Buffalo mozzarella and bocconcini originated from Italy and were once only made from the milk of domestic water buffaloes. However, nowadays you can find them made with cow’s milk as well.
Mozzarella di bufula
Buffalo mozzarella (aka mozzarella di bufula) is soft, unripened mozzarella cheese that is made from the milk of a domestic water buffalo.
Buffalo mozzarella can only be called buffalo mozzarella if it is made with the milk of a water buffalo. It is higher in fat and protein and is also more expensive – about twice the price.
Fior di latte
Soft, unripened mozzarella that is made with cow’s milk is called fior di latte. It looks just like buffalo mozzarella but the taste is much more mild. It’s also not as high in fat so the texture isn’t as creamy.
Bocconcini (which means “little mouthfuls” in Italian) are small, round balls of young mozzarella cheese that are usually made from cow’s milk. These can be great for making hors d’oeuvres or a quick and easy salad with cherry tomatoes and basil.
Bocconcini can either be made with water buffalo or cow’s milk or a combination of the two but in North America, cow’s milk bocconcini is the most common. If it’s made with water buffalo milk it will usually say bocconcini di bufula or buffalo bocconcini.
What is burrata cheese?
Burrata is also a round, soft, cow’s milk cheese that can look similar to baby mozzarella but it’s stuffed with cream and mozzarella curds. As a result, the inside has a creamy texture that’s similar to ricotta while the outside is more firm/chewy. It’s absolutely delicious. It’s also the highest in fat because of the cream.
The best way to enjoy young mozzarella whether it’s made from water buffalo or cow’s milk is to simply drizzle it with some good olive oil. But you can have it along with some fresh tomato and basil if you like.