PSA — Please Don't Use Glue To Make Cheese Stick To Pizza

Google's AI query-answering feature has some interesting suggestions to keep the cheese from falling off your next homemade pizza. However, we suggest taking this cooking tip with a rather generous pinch of salt — or better yet, don't try it at all. When asked how to keep the cheese stuck to their pizza, a seeker was advised to mix glue into the pizza sauce to give it more "tackiness." The advice comes from Google's AI Overviews, which scours the internet for answers to user queries. Unfortunately, it's still figuring out how to differentiate jokes (and sarcasm) from facts.

While it's important to double-check any AI-generated cooking tips you may get from Google searches or otherwise, there are ways to leverage the help of large language models (LLMs) in the kitchen. The trick is to keep the queries simple and verifiable, and, should the worst happen, the suggestions should be reversible so you can salvage your dish. 

For example, use AI to quickly convert weights and measures to help you figure out things like how many tablespoons are equal to an ounce. For anything more nuanced than that, look to tried and tested human-generated sources of food information, like yours truly. 

As for getting the cheese to stay on your pizza, you can adjust the consistency of the sauce, cut your toppings into smaller pieces, or try one of several steps before reaching for that bottle of glue.

Glue on pizza is a joke that AI took seriously

The origin of the "glue-on-pizza" suggestion appears to have been sourced from a Reddit thread from over a decade ago. One user responded that mixing ⅛ of a cup of Elmer's glue to the pizza sauce would help keep the cheese on. While this is quite obviously a joke, the response has several upvotes, putting it at the top of the thread, which is where it was picked up on by Google's AI search query algorithm. Consequently, a Google search of "cheese not sticking to pizza" suggested mixing ⅛ cup of non-toxic glue into the sauce, which was shared by the user in a Tweet.

Interestingly, glue on pizza is a culinary trick, but not when that pizza is meant to be consumed. It is often used in food photography to make cheese pulls look spectacular. The practice of using inedible additives to make foods look more appetizing in photographs has been around since the 1940s. For pizza, a small amount of white glue is mixed in with the mozzarella cheese. Before the Reddit thread was discovered, some members of the online community thought that this food photography trick was where the AI got the idea of adding glue to pizza.

How to (really) get cheese to stay on pizza

If you are having trouble with cheese sliding off your pizza, a few simple steps can address that. Often a watery pizza sauce can make the top of your pizza slippery but you don't have to add glue to hold things together. Instead, cook the pizza sauce for a few more minutes to reduce and thicken it. You can also add thickening agents like cornstarch or xantham gum to your sauce. Over-saucing the pizza can also make the cheese slip.

Toppings like mushrooms and bell peppers release moisture when cooked, making the top of your pizza too wet. Par cooking these ingredients beforehand and chopping them into smaller pieces can reduce watery pools from forming on your pie.

When topping the pizza, ensure that some of the cheese falls directly on the dough near the edges of the pizza. The crust where the cheese and dough are in direct contact (without any sauce in between) helps anchor the cheese to the pie. If you're using a high-moisture cheese like fresh mozzarella or burrata, ensure that the pieces are placed far enough to not melt and pool together as large chunks of such cheese tend to slip off. You can also take inspiration from Giada De Laurentiis' trick for coating noodles with cheese and sprinkle grated parmesan on your pizza, which adheres to the surface and helps hold the cheese and toppings together. 

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