Who doesn’t like ricotta cheese? This cheese is so versatile that you can add it to your salad, have it as a dessert, and even as a quick healthy snack. But sometimes, we simply don’t have this one ingredient at hand. We eventually need a solution, but this time, don’t worry as there are many choices out there!
There is always a need for cheese here and there, and there are some cases when your recipe is totally dependent on the cheese, and you don’t want to mess it up. That’s why you should know exactly what substitute for ricotta cheese is good for your recipe.
But first, what exactly is ricotta cheese?
Ricotta cheese can be made from any type of milk, such as goat, or buffalo, but the ricotta we buy most often is made from cow’s milk. When you make cheese, the milk is separated into two things, the curds and the liquid left called whey. Unlike other cheeses, ricotta is not made from the curds, but from the whey and whatever very small amount of whey left in it.
To make the cheese, the whey is heated along with whole milk and usually added with a bit of citrus juice, then the curds in it begin to coagulate. Once the curds become solid, they are strained through a cheesecloth, and that’s the final product of your favorite ricotta cheese.
Let’s get to business. Here are the best ricotta cheese alternatives for your recipe:
#1. Cottage Cheese
Because it has a mild taste like ricotta, cottage cheese makes a great option as a substitute cheese. Keep in mind though that the texture is very different as it is less creamy and more clumpy. Cottage cheese is usually a breakfast food, especially for those who want a high protein and low-fat meal.
This cheese is made with the curds, and not the whey, but if mixed correctly, it can give the same feeling and texture as ricotta. Cottage cheese will be a great option for those trying to save calories but who want a similar flavor.
#2. Mozzarella Cheese
You have definitely had this cheese before as it is a staple in dishes like pizza and some pasta. However, this cheese is denser, clumpier, and melts faster. The flavor isn’t too overpowering, so it can be used as an alternative for ricotta in things like lasagna or pasta dishes.
Ricotta cheese is actually made from the whey left behind during the mozzarella cheese processing. If you are planning on using this cheese, make sure you taste it first and measure how much you may need because it will change the end product’s texture.
#3. Goat Cheese
This is considered a great choice if you are looking for a similar texture, as goat cheese is also creamy. However, the flavor is very different and could overpower your recipe, so make sure to try it before you use it.
Goat cheese has been used as part of spreads and cheese boards for centuries, but it is rich and creamy, so it can be an ingredient for your next recipe. You can try using this cheese in pasta dishes, like ravioli, or as part of your summer salad.
Another Italian classic, mascarpone is made by mixing cream with citric acid or tartaric acid. This process gives mascarpone a sour flavor that could be useful in certain recipes but alters others too much. Consider then using mascarpone when you are cooking with garlic or herbs.
Traditionally, this cheese is used in making sweet dishes or desserts like tiramisu and cheesecake but can be part of risottos and other more acidic dishes. The texture is similar to ricotta’s, but it is denser, so try adding a bit less as to not overpower the dish.
#5. Cream Cheese
Cream cheese is a good option in terms of flavor and texture. This cheese is much higher in fat, so consider the extra calories before adding it to your dish. Unlike ricotta, cream cheese is made from both cream and milk, and it is usually found as a spread in baked goods or as a part of cheesecakes.
Now you can find cream cheese in low-fat and low-calorie options, but these versions can change the flavor profile and the texture, so full-fat may be the smart choice.
A great substitute if you are cooking for vegetarians, this “cheese” is made from coagulated soy milk and forming the curds into blocks. While the consistency is almost the same, tofu can be tough and dense. You can find tofu as part of Indian dishes, as a vegetarian choice in Asian dishes, and as a main dish in vegan restaurants.
Tofu packs a lot of water, so you may have to dry it out before using it. You may even want to break it up in pieces and blending it together so it has a softer and creamier texture. This choice is low in fat and high in protein content.
#7. Fromage Blanc
Although an expensive option, this white cheese is a soft and yogurt-like substitute that can be used in desserts and pasta dishes. This traditional French cheese can be found as a spread for breakfast bread or as a side dish with fruit, but it is versatile and doesn’t have a strong flavor.
Because it is thicker than the normal cheese, you may want to mix it with some citric juice, and you can whip it to make it creamier. You may consider using this alternative in preparing sauces, or dense desserts.
Yes, ricotta cheese is a good substitute for feta cheese because it crumbles. However, ricotta is sweeter than feta, so you may want to add more salt or consider another cheese if the feta flavor is the desired one.
We already mentioned tofu, and it is by far the best choice. You should consider mixing it with olive oil and blending it to a more similar texture. Tofu is a good option for when you are trying to stay dairy-free.
Ricotta cheese, as has been mentioned, is made from whey instead of curd. What makes it unique is that it doesn’t melt, unlike other cheeses. You can even heat this cheese and eat it straight from the pan if you want some snacks.
You may be surprised at how many choices you have for when you run out of ricotta cheese. Always keep in mind that the flavor and consistency varies, so you should taste first and cook later. These are just 7 of the various cheeses and substitutes that can help you when you need a second choice. What are you waiting for? Let’s get cooking!
*Featured Photo by RenataA/depositphotos