Cottage cheese is a dairy-based product used in many recipes and can be enjoyed as a snack or meal. Usually, cottage cheese is composed of small curds caused by acidifying milk and separating the curds from the whey.
If you’re trying out a recipe that calls for cottage cheese but you don’t have any on hand, you might be surprised to find there are plenty of cottage cheese substitute already in your refrigerator.
Related Article: Guide to freezing cottage cheese
Ricotta: Best Cottage Cheese Substitute
Ricotta cheese is made using a similar process to cottage cheese. Cows milk is acidified – usually with vinegar or lemon juice – and the cheese is strained.
This cheese is creamier and is easier to spread but contains more fat than cottage cheese. It doesn’t have as much of a “curdled” texture, so if that’s something that bothers you about cottage cheese, ricotta is a great substitute. Plus, it’s widely available in most grocery stores across the country.
One of ricotta’s biggest claims to fame is its use in lasagna. Many lasagna recipes call for cottage cheese, but if you don’t like the texture and want something smoother, ricotta can become your go-to ingredient for just about any baked pasta dish.
Ricotta often holds up better in layered dishes, as well. It’s a bit thicker than cottage cheese and won’t cause your lasagna to “ooze” when you cut into it.
Even if you don’t have ricotta on hand, another “perk” is that it’s one of the easiest cheeses to make at home. All you need is whole milk, vinegar, and a large pot, and you can have the best tasting, fresh ricotta cheese of your life in under an hour.
Mascarpone is an Italian cheese that is soft and creamy. It’s often compared to cream cheese and can be used interchangeably – even when you’re spreading it on a bagel or toast!
It has a higher fat content than cottage cheese and a more robust flavor. That’s because it’s made from heavy cream, rather than milk. The process for making mascarpone is very similar to ricotta. Some type of acidic ingredient is added to the cream, and it gets strained once solidified.
Mascarpone is often used in desserts – specifically tiramisu. If the texture of cottage cheese is what’s causing you to seek out an alternative, mascarpone can be a perfect substitute. It’s so creamy, smooth, and rich, with no curds whatsoever.
Whether you want to spread it on something as a snack or use it in a dessert, you won’t have to worry about any unpleasant textures.
This cheese has a dense, almost custard-like quality that cottage cheese does not have, so if your recipe depends on the extra water from the cottage cheese, you may need to adjust your proportions. In baking, a cottage cheese replacement must match the required amount of liquid in a given recipe.
If you are attempting to watch your weight, then look to another substitute on this list because mascarpone has a higher fat content than cottage cheese. It’s great for adding richness to desserts and savory dishes, but not when you’re restricting calories.
Egg whites as a replacement for cheese?
Believe it or not, it works!
Cottage cheese on toast is a popular breakfast staple for many. It’s low-calorie, filling, and can start your day off with a lot of protein. Egg whites offer the same benefits with a similar texture.
Scrambled egg whites are incredibly nutritious, high in protein, and their flavor can be adjusted depending on the seasonings you use.
Eggs would be the best and most natural substitute if you intended to eat cottage cheese on its own. Using eggs as a substitute ingredient in recipes can be a little more tricky, so please pay attention to any notes or any advisories that your recipe book may list about substitutions.
If you are attempting to reduce your intake of dairy milk products or cheeses, then using egg whites is a terrific option. You can use egg whites by cracking an egg and separating the yolk from the white, or you can purchase egg whites that are already separated and sold in a carton.
Culinary companies and grocery stores are even selling vegan egg substitutes. For instance, JUST egg is a plant-based option that scrambles like an egg and works perfectly for omelets or other egg dishes. It is an excellent dairy-free alternative for cottage cheese and a fantastic addition to your morning routine.
Like cottage cheese, Greek yogurt has few calories and is high in protein. It’s versatile and can be added to party dips or to add moisture and creaminess to baked goods.
If a bread or cake recipe calls for cottage cheese, Greek yogurt is a great alternative. But, be sure to adjust your recipe for the shifts in water content so that your baked goods will rise properly.
Typically, it’s safe to use Greek yogurt as a one-to-one substitute for cottage cheese in savory or sweet recipes. Greek yogurt is very smooth and does not have any curds like cottage cheese. However, Greek yogurt has a distinct tanginess and flavor that cottage cheese does not have, so be sure to factor in any flavor considerations as you’re building your recipe.
If you’re using it in a baked dish or smoothie, you may need to add some kind of additional sweetening agent to it to balance out the natural tanginess.
Both Greek yogurt and cottage cheese are tasty to eat entirely on their own, but both are enhanced when creative toppings are added. For example, a fruit and granola parfait using either cottage cheese or Greek yogurt can make for an excellent healthy breakfast or snack.
If you are cooking with Greek yogurt rather than eating it by itself, choose “plain” rather than one with added flavors or sweeteners.
Can’t fiind greek yogurt? See alternatives.
Tofu is a wonderful dairy-free alternative to cottage cheese. It’s a vegan and vegetarian favorite made from soybeans and can be used for both savory dishes and sweet dishes.
Tofu comes in different levels of firmness, so depending on your recipe, you may want to purchase either silken tofu or extra firm tofu. It is often found in grocery stores in the produce section with other plant-based options like tempeh or seitan.
This cheese has a very high water content, and often recipes will ask you to squeeze the water out of the tofu before you use it. However, this water content is a real benefit when substituting tofu for cottage cheese in recipes because it gives the two a similar texture. You can use any type of tofu as a one-to-one substitution for cottage cheese.
Interestingly, if you crumble firm tofu, it will resemble cottage cheese – specifically, a distinct white semi-liquid with small curds. Tofu has a very mild flavor and lends well to various spices or additives to enhance its flavor.
Use tofu or cottage cheese in your next smoothie recipe to add a depth of flavor that is often hard to achieve in a home kitchen. The thickness of tofu and cottage cheese adds nutrition and healthy calories for a balanced beverage and enhances a simple treat.
Whether you’re trying to lead a vegan lifestyle or just want to try something different, tofu is one of the best plant-based substitutes for cottage cheese you’ll find.
As you learn more about the qualities of cottage cheese and how other ingredients can be used as alternatives, don’t be afraid to get creative with your recipes.
One of the best things about cottage cheese is that it can serve as a blank canvas in many ways. It lends well to a variety of flavors and can transform itself in just about any dish.
Whether you don’t like cottage cheese or you just don’t have any on hand, have fun with these alternatives, and play around with them to see what they can do for your favorite snacks and meals.