Ricotta cheese is a versatile ingredient in many recipes. However, it may not always be available or suitable for certain dietary restrictions. Fear not; you can choose an excellent substitute for ricotta cheese in various dishes.
This article will explore the best options to use instead of ricotta cheese. You’ll find an option here if you are lactose intolerant, vegan, or just looking for a different taste.
Ricotta is a fresh cheese that is light and moist, making it more perishable than other cheeses. It can come from the milk of cows, sheep, goats, or water buffalo. But the most common ricotta uses cow’s milk.
When people make cheese, they separate the curds from the whey. For this reason, the whey just contains the remaining milk solids and water.
Ricotta is a type of whey cheese from the leftover byproducts of making other cheeses.
Rather than discarding the whey, people reheat it with a small amount of milk and acid to create ricotta. This process is how this cheese gets its name – “ricotta” means recooked in Italian.
This Italian cheese resembles a dense, grainy, thick sour cream in texture. It is naturally low in fat compared to other cheeses. Nevertheless, it still tastes rich.
Ricotta is widely available and inexpensive.
It is popular for its use in various dishes, from lasagna and baked Ziti to cannoli and cheesecake.
There are several good substitutes for ricotta cheese, depending on the recipe and your dietary preferences.
Here are some options to use as ricotta substitute:
Cottage cheese is an excellent substitute for ricotta cheese. This cheese is equally versatile.
It adds moisture and protein to recipes like ricotta.
Do remember that substitute is slightly chunkier than ricotta.
Still, you can use it in almost the same way as ricotta.
Add it to lasagna, dips, and pancakes.
This is a barely noticeable swap, especially in dishes.
After all, it also offers a pleasant texture similar to ricotta.
Moreover, substituting is easy since you can swap it using a 1:1 ratio.
This is a great alternative if you do not like ricotta cheese or are looking for a healthier option.
Cream cheese can be used as a substitute for ricotta in some recipes, although it has a tangy flavor and is higher in fat and calories.
You can use it in warm pasta dishes where it melts into the sauce.
It also has a sweet and milky flavor. But its high density and silky texture set it apart from ricotta.
If you worry about a change in texture in your dish, use some sour cream. This addition will help you achieve the same airy and fluffy consistency.
For the best results, soften the cream cheese before adding it to your recipe.
Popping it in the microwave for a few seconds does the trick.
Use it instead of ricotta in pasta, dips, or desserts.
Greek yogurt has a similar texture to ricotta and can be used as a substitute in many recipes. It’s also high in protein and lower in fat than ricotta.
While it tastes and looks different, you can use it to replace ricotta cheese in certain recipes.
It is a good option for both sweet and savory dips. But it may not work as well in cooked dishes like lasagna due to its consistency.
This ingredient has more liquid than ricotta. You can strain it using a very fine mesh or a large coffee filter for a closer match.
Similarly, use a smaller amount to compensate for the texture change. Use ¾ Greek yogurt to replace each cup of ricotta cheese.
As always, use a plain version of yogurt rather than flavored ones, as they can alter the taste of your dish.
Tofu on its own might not be a great replacement. But if you blend it with tahini, nutritional yeast, and olive oil, you’ll have a vegan ricotta swap.
This vegan alternative has a similar texture and consistency to ricotta cheese. You can use it in lasagna, dips, and other dishes that call for ricotta cheese.
Tofu’s neutral taste also means it can easily take on the flavor of your dish without altering it.
Aside from being a vegan and dairy-free option, silken tofu is also healthy. It is low in fat and calories but high in protein, making it perfect for health-conscious people.
On top of that, it is also rich in vitamins and minerals such as iron, calcium, and magnesium.
All these said, silken tofu is an excellent substitute for ricotta cheese in many recipes.
In a pinch, sour cream can be a great substitute for ricotta cheese. Unlike Greek yogurt or cream cheese, sour cream has a thinner consistency.
For this reason, it doesn’t work well in all recipes that call for ricotta, but it’s perfect for dips and spreads. It can also add a delicious creaminess to baked potatoes.
This substitute also does a good job in a lasagna dish.
In fact, some lasagna recipes even use sour cream instead of ricotta for a moist and creamy texture.
This alternative is a good option for a last-minute ricotta swap since it’s a common staple in many households. It’s also rich and milky but has a tangy flavor that can add a twist to your recipe.
To avoid an overly sour dish, you might need to reduce the amount of other tart ingredients. For example, if your recipe has lemon juice, use less of it.
Cashew cheese is a great substitute for ricotta cheese, too. It is vegan and dairy-free, making it suitable for people with strict diets.
You can make cashew cheese by soaking and blending cashews. Then, combine it with various herbs, spices, and other ingredients.
The resulting “cheese” has a similar creamy texture to ricotta cheese. So, it is a perfect alternative in recipes like lasagna, dips, and spreads.
It’s also a healthier option. After all, cashews are high in healthy fats, fiber, and protein. It is also lower in calories and cholesterol than ricotta cheese.
Cashew cheese is also incredibly versatile, so you can make it in many different flavors. It’s easy to customize to your taste and dietary needs.
That said, you may use cashew cheese in sweet or savory dishes, making it a great option for a wide range of recipes.
Feta cheese is an excellent substitute for ricotta cheese. This cheese has a crumbly texture but almost the same nutritional profile. Feta cheese especially works in lasagna. Its strong, salty flavor can help offset the sweetness of tomato sauce.
For the perfect lasagna, mix crumbled feta with a beaten egg to help it bind together. Then, adjust the amount of other ingredients to balance the saltier flavor of feta cheese.
Feta cheese is not an exact flavor match, but it provides a unique tangy flavor that adds variety to the dish.
One advantage of feta cheese is that it typically uses sheep’s milk. Sheep’s milk has lower lactose content than cow’s milk, so those who want less lactose in their diet can use it.
Feta cheese is also a good source of calcium and protein, so it is a healthy addition to your diet.
Goat cheese is among the best ricotta cheese substitutes as well. Do note that this only works if you can have dairy, as it obviously uses goat’s milk.
You are better off with other swaps on this list if you are vegan.
Although it has a distinct creamy and tangy flavor, it pairs well with lasagna, pasta, and pizza. It is also versatile, so you can use it in salads, sandwiches, and fruit plates.
When using goat cheese to replace ricotta, remember to use fresh goat cheese. It has a lighter flavor than aged goat cheese, making it a better option.
A 1:1 ratio of fresh goat cheese to ricotta will work in some recipes. But for most recipes, starting small is the key, as adding too much may overpower the dish.
Goat cheese is a good source of protein and calcium. It is perfect for those looking to add more dairy to their diet.
Mascarpone cheese is a delicious alternative to ricotta cheese in many recipes. After all, it offers a creamy and rich taste.
Mascarpone has a similar mild and sweet flavor profile to ricotta. But it comes with a slightly more tart undertone. And it is also much creamier.
Remember, though, that it has a higher fat content than ricotta. It may not be your best bet if you are watching your fat intake.
But mascarpone’s buttery and smooth texture make it perfect for dishes that need velvety consistency. If you find it too thick, thin it with cream or milk to adjust the consistency to suit the recipe.
Use it for savory dishes like pasta and risotto, where its creaminess can enhance the dish’s flavor.
Buttermilk cheese is another excellent substitute for ricotta cheese. It works in savory recipes like pasta or even in sweets like cheesecakes.
Like ricotta, this cheese is moist, creamy, and slightly sweet. But what makes it different is the acidic and tangy taste that gives it a unique zing.
Using it to replace ricotta cheese can result in a flavor shift. This change in taste makes it an ideal alternative for people who want to add something extra to their dishes.
The other downside is that buttermilk cheese is not commonly found in stores. There may be better choices if you are in a hurry.
If you have the time, you can make it at home easily. Just drain buttermilk in the fridge until it takes on a cheese-like consistency.
Pot cheese can replace ricotta cheese because of its soft and creamy texture.
This cheese gets its name because of the process people use to make it. To make this cheese, you need milk, acid, a pot, and a stovetop, hence its name.
It does have a drier consistency than ricotta. But adding cream or yogurt to pot cheese gives it more moisture and brings it closer to ricotta’s texture. Similarly, adding eggs to baked and cooked dishes also helps.
Like buttermilk cheese, finding pot cheese in stores might be challenging. You may resort to making it at home in that case.
You can use it in any recipe that calls for ricotta cheese. Add it to savory dishes like pasta, lasagna and even as a bread spread.
Another option you have for a ricotta cheese substitute is fromage blanc. This French cheese has a fresh, milky flavor and a buttery consistency like yogurt.
For this reason, you may use fromage blanc in cooked and baked recipes, spreads, and pasta fillings. This cheese is also great in pizzas, dessert toppings, and sauces.
Fromage Blanc is also healthier than ricotta cheese, so that’s another plus.
Now the downside is if you do not live in France or Belgium, fromage blanc might be difficult to find. And when you do find it, you have to shell out more money, as it is expensive.
Another thing about fromage blanc is that it does not melt into a pool of cheese when you cook it. That said, its applications are endless, making it worth every penny.
Queso fresco is crumbly, salty, and tangy, while ricotta is creamy, mild, and slightly sweet. Both of these cheeses are fresh cheeses, but they have different textures and flavors.
However, in some recipes, you can use queso fresco as a substitute for ricotta cheese.
Use this substitute in some recipes, such as enchiladas or stuffed peppers that have a Mexican or Latin American flavor profile.
However, it may not work as well in recipes that call for a sweeter or milder flavor, such as cheesecake or cannoli.
Since Queso fresco is crumbly, it may not work as well in recipes that require a creamy texture.
To make queso fresco more similar to ricotta, you can crumble it and then blend it with a small amount of cream or milk until it reaches a smooth, spreadable consistency.
You may also want to add a small amount of sugar or honey to balance out the saltiness.
When choosing a substitute for ricotta cheese, there are several factors to consider, including the recipe you are making, your dietary preferences, and the flavor and texture you want to achieve. Here are some things to consider:
Consider the recipe you are making and the role that ricotta cheese plays in it. For example, if the recipe calls for ricotta as a filling for lasagna, cottage cheese or tofu could be good substitutes. If the recipe calls for ricotta as a topping for toast, cashew cheese or Greek yogurt could be good substitutes.
Consider your dietary preferences when choosing a substitute for ricotta cheese. For example, if you’re vegan, you’ll want to choose a dairy-free substitute such as tofu or cashew cheese. If you’re looking for a lower-fat option, cottage cheese or Greek yogurt could be good choices.
Consider the flavor and texture you want to achieve in the final dish. For example, if you want a creamy texture, choose a substitute that has a similar texture to ricotta, such as cottage cheese or Greek yogurt. If you want a nutty flavor, cashew cheese could be a good choice.
Consider the availability of the substitute you want to use. Some substitutes, such as cashew cheese, may be more difficult to find in some areas or may be more expensive than other options.
When substituting for ricotta cheese, keep in mind that the flavor and texture of the final dish may be slightly different. It’s always a good idea to test the substitute in a small portion of the recipe before using it in a larger batch.
When it comes to Italian cuisine, plenty of recipes call for ricotta cheese. But you can still make these dishes using ricotta cheese alternatives if you have none.
For example, you can use pot cheese or fromage blanc to make lasagna or stuffed shells. Buttermilk cheese works great in a savory pasta dish like carbonara. Lastly, mascarpone is a great ricotta swap in sweet recipes.
People also use ricotta cheese in baked goods like cheesecake, muffins, and pancakes. You can use fromage blanc, pot cheese, or cottage cheese for these dishes.
Since consistency is important in baking, blend the cheese until it’s smooth and creamy.
You can also use cream cheese as a ricotta substitute for baked goods. But remember that it has a stronger flavor and is denser than ricotta. Using cream cheese may call for recipe adjustments and affect the texture of your dish.
Ricotta is common in dips and spreads like spinach and artichoke dip, and whipped spreads. And not having ricotta should not stop you from making them. You can use substitutes like yogurt, sour cream, or cream cheese in dips and spreads.
Fromage blanc works especially well in savory spreads like herb and garlic cheese spreads.
Mascarpone or cream cheese are your best options for making a sweet dip.
Cottage cheese is an excellent substitute for ricotta cheese in lasagna. But it would be best if you blended it first to create a similar smooth texture. Its mild flavor pairs well with the other ingredients in the famous dish. For some recipes, you may add eggs to help create a more ricotta-like texture. If you don’t have cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, tofu, and cream cheese are good options as well.
Like in lasagna, cottage cheese is the best alternative for ricotta in a baked ziti recipe. Similarly, blending cottage cheese is best to get a closer texture match to ricotta. Cream cheese, plain yogurt, and tofu make great swaps as well. Note that the substitution may alter the flavor and texture of the dish slightly.
In baking, sour cream is among the best substitutes for ricotta. Using it may alter the texture and flavor of the dish, though, as sour cream has a tangy taste. But it is versatile, so it pairs well with the ingredients in a baked recipe. It may be thinner and less creamy than ricotta cheese. But little adjustments to your recipe will yield very similar results.
Mozzarella and ricotta have similarities, but they do have lots of differences. That said, mozzarella is not a great ricotta alternative for all dishes. For instance, mozzarella may not be the best option if you’re making a dish that requires a creamy texture. So, skip it in lasagna or stuffed shells. But if you’re making a recipe that calls for ricotta as a topping or garnish, then mozzarella can work.
Ricotta and cottage cheese are both soft, white, and slightly sweet. That said, people are often confused about whether they are the same. Ricotta uses leftover whey, while cottage cheese uses curdled milk. The difference in the production process results in distinct textures and tastes. Ricotta is smoother, creamier, and milder in flavor. Cottage cheese is lumpy and has a slightly tangy taste. So no, ricotta is not basically cottage cheese.
Ricotta cheese is versatile and can add moisture and richness to your recipes. But if you can’t find ricotta cheese, there will surely be a substitute for ricotta cheese for you. Cottage cheese is a great alternative – it is similarly moist and protein-rich.
Cream cheese, Greek yogurt, silken tofu, and sour cream are also excellent options.
Greek yogurt and silken tofu are vegan and healthy choices that add protein to your diet.
If none of these appeal to you, queso fresco, a Mexican cheese, is another alternative. All these options will work in most recipes, so experiment with them and find your favorite.