There are a lot of reasons why you would want to know equally delectable substitutes for ricotta cheese. One of these would be the fact that ricotta is more perishable than other cheeses because of its higher moisture content.
As a fresh cheese, ricotta is versatile for all types of dishes, from baked to cooked, and even on salads. Thus, it is important that you know ricotta substitutes.
In this post, you will find a roundup of some of the alternatives to ricotta cheese and other helpful FAQs for future reference.
What is a good substitute for Ricotta cheese?
There is a whole bunch of ricotta cheese substitutes but the following hit closest to home. Most of the ricotta cheese substitutes found in the list are also cheeses but there are some vegan choices as well as sauce counterparts that can be used as an alternative to ricotta.
1. Cottage cheese
Light and mild cottage cheese is a good substitute for ricotta. Sometimes, it is even more preferred than ricotta because they have almost the same taste and are lower in calories. But compared to ricotta, cottage cheese tends to be less creamy in flavor and runnier in consistency.
2. Goat cheese
When it comes to ricotta substitute, only use fresh goat cheese. As a rule of thumb, aged cheeses harden with time and their taste and smell become stronger too and you would not want that, say, for your waffles or salad.
If you want a balanced cheese with a creamy, mild and tart flavor for your dishes but do not have ricotta around, fresh goat cheese is a prime choice.
3. Sour cream
For dishes that do not focus on the cheese, you can use sour cream as a substitute for ricotta. Obviously, the taste and consistency of these two are different but sour cream could pass for ricotta dishes too or in making vegetable and chips dips.
It can also be herbed or used for cookies, baked potatoes, cakes, and fillings. If you are thinking about lasagna, limit the choice to the first two substitute cheeses only.
4. Cream cheese
Ricotta and cream cheese are similar when it comes to their level of creaminess and softness. Perhaps, their only difference is that cream cheese has higher fat content compared to ricotta.
Cream cheese is particularly popular in the US because it is the major ingredient to New York cheesecake. Other than this, it is also widely used for lasagnas, dips, desserts, and as spread to bagels and other pastries.
5. Queso fresco
This Mexican cheese literally translates to fresh cheese. It is distinct for its dry and grainy consistency and mild, milky, and salty taste. It is usually used in making signature Mexican dishes such as enchiladas and chili stuffing.
It can be grated, sliced, and used for ricotta dishes such as soups, casseroles, and fruit toppings. It is however, higher in fat, protein, calories, and salt compared to ricotta.
6. Greek Yogurt
This dairy has a lot of health benefits because it is a good source of probiotics. It is usually used in fruit and vegetable salads, egg-based dishes, in toasts as well as in making shakes and smoothies.
It is more runny than ricotta so if you want to get a similar crumbly consistency, you need to strain Greek yogurt in cheesecloth.
For ricotta substitute, we are particularly speaking of soft mozzarella.
Ricotta is associated with mozzarella because the leftover whey from mozzarella is used in making ricotta. But compared to ricotta, mozzarella has a milder flavor and it is clumpy as well as stringy in consistency.
You also have to know that choosing mozzarella for cooking and baking requires you to incorporate other types of cheeses for better flavor.
Also called quark, this cheese originates from Germany and Austria. It is a soft cheese often described as the lovechild of ricotta and mascarpone because of its mild, acidic, and creamy flavor. As a ricotta substitute, it is used mainly for desserts such as cheesecake and strudels.
This is another Mexican fresh cheese with the same creaminess, lumpiness, and color as that of ricotta. It is actually called the Hispanic ricotta made from leftover whey and milk, heated and then skimmed to be drained in baskets.
It has a strong flavor used in Mexican dishes such as tostadas, bolillos, taco filling or served as a side for beans. As a ricotta substitute, it is used for dessert fillings and in making dips.
Related: 21 Quick and Easy Mexican Desserts
10. Parmesan cheese
Yes, parmesan is a hard cheese but when grated and combined with other fresh and soft cheeses, this Italian classic can be one of the best ricotta alternatives out there.
It is useful in incorporating the grittiness of ricotta in cheese combos. The most popular combo to resemble ricotta would be cottage cheese.
This Italian cheese is more citrusy and acidic compared to ricotta. It is tartier in taste unlike the mild flavors of ricotta cheese.
It is usually used in Italian dishes such as risotto, the famous dessert tiramisu as well as in zabaglione.
As a ricotta substitute, it is recommended for strong flavored dishes, specifically those with garlic like cannoli. This cheese is denser and fattier than ricotta and can be hard to find in certain places.
12. Pot Cheese
While it is drier in consistency compared to ricotta, they are the same when it comes to their softness and crumbliness. It is called as such because it is literally prepared using a pot on a stove.
While it has a lot of whey content, it is less creamy and less moist compared to cottage cheese and ricotta. It is high in protein but less in fat and salt so it is a good choice as a ricotta alternative.
This one is an Indian cheese made with cow’s milk and cooked in lemon juice. It never melts, and is well-loved for its fresh, mild taste.
Traditionally, paneer was used for peas and spinach Indian dishes. But now, it is incorporated in many dishes such as curries, pasta stuffing, desserts, as well as in marinated and grilled meats.
Related: 48 Types Of Pasta and Their Uses
14. Buttermilk Cheese
This one is usually unavailable in convenience stores and some supermarkets. As a ricotta substitute, you can use it for pasta fillings, as well as in pound cakes and cheesecakes. It is also a favorite cheese spread with its acidic, but mild and creamy taste.
15. Clabber cream
If you are thinking about ricotta substitute for pasta fillings, clabber cream is a prime alternative because they have the same consistency.
It is basically made by souring unpasteurized milk with the addition of buttermilk. It also goes by the name of clotted cream and is usually used as cream topping to pastries such as scones.
You would love this cheese especially if you are from Russia or Eastern Europe. It is the Russian counterpart of topfen and is considered as one of the best substitutes for ricotta.
It has a crumbly texture, with mild, tarty, and creamy taste. It is usually used on savory dishes and in desserts.
17. Tofu Ricotta
If you are looking for a ricotta substitute that is good for a vegan diet and for people with dairy allergies and lactose intolerance, this one is the best choice for you.
It has the same crumbliness and creaminess of ricotta when eaten. It is often incorporated in savory dishes and those that rely with lots of herbs and spices.
You can also experiment and add it to pasta dishes and in baked goods. Tofu is high on protein but very low on fat and cholesterol.
18. Feta cheese
Feta is the French counterpart of ricotta and it is considered as the number one substitute for ricotta cheese. They have the same texture and crumbly consistency.
The only difference is that ricotta is sweeter than feta and feta is tangier and saltier than ricotta. Cooking with feta cheese means that you do not need to go heavy on salt because it is already salty on its own.
This soft cheese is usually made from sheep or goat’s milk. For those with slight dairy sensitivity, brousse is often a good choice because the milk it is made from is easier to digest.
It is also a good ricotta substitute because it has the same mild, creamy, and sweet taste of ricotta as well as its gritty and crumbly texture and consistency.
20. Bechamel sauce
It may not be a cheese but bechamel sauce works wonders for ricotta dishes. It is often used in lasagna with the addition of cheddar cheese or parmesan. It has the smooth, sweet taste of ricotta used in a lot of savory dishes, pasta, baked goods and roasted veggies.
When it comes to softness level, there is other cheese that resembles ricotta more than chevre. This French cheese is made of goat’s milk and has a stronger flavor compared to ricotta.
It is saltier and more tart than ricotta cheese and is also used in pasta, baked goods, and casserole dishes.
22. Fromage Blanc
This one is an expensive ricotta substitute because it is rarely found in supermarkets but if you want to go all in, then go for fromage blanc.
It has a fresh, buttery taste but with the consistency of yogurt. It is a good cheese spread and usually used for dessert toppings. It is versatile to use, does not become runny when cooked, and is one of the best low-fat substitutes for ricotta cheese.
23. Coconut Cream
This is another vegan-friendly substitute for ricotta cheese. It is loved for its smooth and creamy taste, as well as its watery nature. Like ricotta, it has a distinct fluffiness and sweetness to it.
And if you want to add some grit to it like the ricotta cheese, you can always incorporate coconut shavings to it. It can be used as spread, for baked goods, and in making shakes and smoothies.
24. Crème Fraiche
This one is comparable to sour cream in texture and consistency but with lesser sourness. It is a good substitute to ricotta because of its distinct creaminess. Because of its high fat content, it holds up better when cooked compared to ricotta.
Although it does not have the same gritty texture of ricotta, it is still a good alternative to pasta dishes like lasagna.
This one is not a cheese but a fermented milk made from cow or sheep’s milk. It is a good source of probiotics and is used to replace yogurt, buttermilk cheese or sour cream when making dips. Because it is a liquid drink, you will have to curd and strain it to resemble ricotta cheese.
Yes, you read that right. This is another vegan choice for ricotta. For this, cashews are soaked and then mashed or blended. Almond milk is then poured. The entire thing is wrapped and then strained in cheesecloth.
You would be amazed at how it could resemble the crumbliness of ricotta cheese. The end product has a neutral taste to it making it a perfect choice for unsweetened dishes that would traditionally call for ricotta.
What is ricotta cheese used for?
Ricotta is an all-around cheese for many classic Italian dishes. Its most popular uses would be in cooking lasagna, and in a lot of Italian casserole food.
It is also used as pasta filling for cannoli, manicotti, ravioli, and other pastas. For desserts, ricotta is whipped up in cheesecake and as filling for pound cakes.
Ricotta cheese is also a good sandwich spread. It can be used as a substitute for mayonnaise or used as toast spread along with other spices.
You would love it on pancakes and waffles too. It also goes well with egg-based dishes such as quiche and of course, omelets.
What are the health benefits of ricotta cheese?
So, aside from being a versatile cheese choice, what other things can be gotten from ricotta cheese? Here are some health benefits that might explain why ricotta cheese is sought-after.
- Ricotta cheese is a good source of protein. A 100g of ricotta is said to contain 7.5g of protein which is good if you are in a high protein diet or keto diet.
- It contains vitamins and minerals. As with other cheeses, expect that ricotta cheese is packed with calcium and zinc. Other than these, FDC lists at least 20 other vitamins and minerals that can be found in ricotta cheese.
- Helps in post workout recovery. Because it contains whey, ricotta cheese boosts metabolism after extraneous work. It does this by boosting protein levels in the body. It follows the same reason as to why protein shakes are taken after workout.
How many carbs in ricotta cheese?
One of ricotta cheese contains 10g of carbs. It is considerably higher in carbs compared to cottage cheese. As such, it is not a recommended cheese for those on keto diet. Here is the breakdown of other nutritional contents that you get from ricotta cheese for every cup:
- Calories: 428
- Fat: 32g
- Saturated fat: 20g
- Cholesterol: 125mg
Where can I find ricotta cheese?
Ricotta is one of the most accessible cheeses and you would find it in most grocery stores and supermarkets.
Bulk ricotta cheeses can also be found online. Inside the store, ricotta sits in the dairy section but is most of the time separate from the block or shredded cheeses.
Related: Can you freeze Ricotta Cheese?
Ricotta is a well-loved cheese but because it is easier to perish and given its higher fat and calorie content, there are questions about what substitutes are available for it.
Well, most fresh or whey cheeses could be used as a ricotta alternative as we have listed here. Each has their pros and at the same time limitations when it comes to specific ricotta dishes.
When ricotta is hard to find, or if you want to make some changes in your favorite ricotta dishes, the listed cheeses here should be on your priority list.
Vegan Cashew Ricotta Cheese
This is another vegan choice for ricotta
- Almond milk
- Cashews are soaked and then mashed or blended.
- Almond milk is then poured.
- The entire thing is wrapped and then strained in cheesecloth.
Amount Per Serving Calories 238