Are you planning to make a special dinner for your sweetheart, with their favorite lasagna on the menu? But there is no ricotta cheese in the fridge or the closest grocery store? You are doomed! Or not.
Don’t worry, of course, you are not doomed. There are alternatives. I am here to help you find the best substitute for ricotta cheese. And believe me, there are a lot of great options!
So, what do we know about this amazing type of cheese? “Recooked”, yes! That is exactly what it means. It is an Italian cheese, or to be more precise, it’s a dairy product and it is made of something called whey.
Whey, or it can be called curd, presents a byproduct of the manufacturing of cheese or casein. Also, this type of cheese contains a great amount of proteins and a very low amount of fat content, so it is considered a low-fat cheese.
It is a very smooth type of cheese with a creamy mild flavor and thick texture, and it is an excellent choice for both sweet and savory dishes. It is an ideal option for cheesecake, and as a filling in lasagna, or in cannoli.
This type of cheese can be made from goat milk, sheep milk, water buffalo milk, etc. But the most common is cow milk.
15 Options Competing As The Best Substitute For Ricotta Cheese
When choosing a substitute for ricotta cheese, it is important to choose wisely in terms of texture, taste, and consistency. For this reason, it is important to know that ricotta cheese has moist, soft, and grainy texture; a sweet taste with a mild aroma and a smooth consistency.
1. Cottage Cheese: Ricotta’s Best Replica
When it comes to similarities with almost all characteristics of ricotta cheese, this cheese has no equal.
Although the texture is much more lumpy and less creamy, the thing that connects them is definitely the taste and similar flavor which is quite sweet and mellow.
I also have to mention that cottage cheese has fewer calories, and that is the reason why it will be someone’s first choice to use cottage cheese before ricotta.
When there is no ricotta cheese for lasagna, cottage cheese is the ideal substitute, and also for some savory recipes such as pasta, pizza, and spreads.
2. Cream Cheese: Sweet And Creamy Pleasure
Ricotta is made just with milk, and you get cream cheese when you add cream. That same cream creates the main difference between these two kinds of cheese.
This creamy cheese has a milky flavor and a sweet taste. It has a silky texture, and is also a bit smoother than ricotta cheese. It is the best option for warm pasta dishes.
It is more tart than ricotta cheese. For that, you may need to adjust other ingredients to balance out the tanginess. If your recipe, for example, calls for lemon juice, you can dial that back slightly.
Also, you can use a smaller amount of cream cheese if it’s needed.
The biggest advantage of cream cheese is its versatility. It can be used in spreads, and in sweet or savory recipes.
3. Sour Cream: A Slightly Rarer Alternative
The main difference is in the textures of sour cream and ricotta cheese. They are obviously quite different. Consistency is not similar either.
Despite this, sour cream may work in some recipes as a ricotta cheese alternative, because it is similarly sweet and milky.
It is best used in vegetable and fruit dips, but it is also recommended in lasagna, for example. In case you need it, here’s how to microwave sour cream properly.
4. Greek Yogurt: Healthy And Nutritious Option
Greek yogurt is very popular among people who follow a healthy diet or those who like to limit overly processed food.
It is a dairy product extremely rich in proteins, and a number of nutrients that can offer many health benefits.
It also has a variety of culinary uses, and one of them, of course, is as the culinary substitute for ricotta cheese.
When it comes to taste, Greek yogurt is very similar to sour cream because they are both tart. Although, sour cream is much more so since it is super tart.
If you are planning to make lasagna, don’t use Greek yogurt. It is better to use cottage cheese if you have it. Greek yogurt is a much better deal for sweet and savory dips.
Greek yogurt is also used with toast, salads, fruit, eggs, and shakes.
5. Fresh Goat Cheese
It is not a surprise that this nice cheese got its place on the list since we already know that ricotta cheese is sometimes made with goat milk.
But, you also have to know that there is a big difference between the two states of this same cheese. That is why the adjective “fresh” is not accidentally included in the title of this paragraph.
Fresh cheese is a much better choice than aged because it has a lighter and fresher flavor. And light and fresh are ricotta’s trademarks.
But you also have to know that even a fresh version of goat cheese has a very strong flavor, much stronger than ricotta. This is because goat cheese is much more acidic than ricotta cheese.
So if you plan to make a sweet dish with goat cheese, you have to remember that it is necessary to add some extra sweetness.
But to avoid complications, it is a better option not to use goat cheese for this type of dish. Goat cheese is much more suitable for savory dishes like lasagna, pasta, or pizza.
6. Mascarpone: Soft Creamy Italian
A cheese that was born in the Lombardy region of northern Italy in the midst of the Renaissance, it is indispensable in many culinary procedures. And also as a very worthy substitute in place of ricotta.
This is one creamy and soft cheese with a similar texture to ricotta. The main difference between these two is their flavor. Mascarpone has a much stronger flavor than ricotta, with a bit of tang.
So, it is best to use it along with other strong flavor seasonings, especially if it is garlic or other Italian seasonings.
This leads to the conclusion that mascarpone is the best to use in savory dishes. But you cannot forget that it is also an essential ingredient in some of the most famous sweets like tiramisu, or in mascarpone chocolate mousse and Italian coffee.
7. Parmesan: Another Italian Classic
When you open the fridge, one of the most common ingredients that you will find in some form, is certainly parmesan. At least that’s how it is in my case 🙂 But I think that’s the case with most of you too.
Just like mozzarella, it has its origins in Italy. This fact alone tells us that it is quality, considering the Italian culinary tradition.
Parmesan is made from unpasteurized cow milk. As I already mentioned, ricotta cheese is usually obtained from cow milk. And that is what connects them to a great extent.
It is a hard cheese, with a stronger flavor than ricotta. But, the most relevant point is that it melts very well, just like ricotta.
Because of that, it is very suitable when you have to replace ricotta in some kind of sauce.
8. Mozzarella Cheese: Pasta Filata Product
The first thing that is important to mention here is that ricotta cheese is made from the whey of mozzarella cheese. That alone is enough to show how much they are related.
They both have a mild and sweet taste.
What differentiates them is their consistency and texture. Mozzarella cheese has a solid texture that won’t work for cold dishes and desserts. Also, you should be careful when freezing mozzarella so that it doesn’t lose its original texture.
When it comes to savory dishes where the cheese will melt, it is a good bet. Good examples are baked dishes, sauces, soups, or even toppings.
9. Sweet And Creamy Buttermilk Cheese
This one is a little rarer, in comparison to others on the list, and you won’t find it that easily in the grocery store. But that is not a reason for not saying a little about it.
It is curdled and moist like ricotta cheese, but it has an acidic taste and a little zing to it.
It is at its best in sweets and in pasta.
6 Rarer, But No Less Valuable Substitutes For Ricotta Cheese
I will go through a list of lesser-known, but no less interesting and exciting types of cheese that can be a good alternative for ricotta cheese.
1. Queso Fresco
This is a type of Mexican cheese that is becoming more and more well-known in recent times, but most people are not familiar with it yet. Its time is yet to come.
Its texture is crumbly, and its flavor is mild, and that is the perfect combination for baked dishes, or as a topping, or dessert topping.
2. Fromage Blanc
This is that type of cheese that you will use only on special occasions. The reason is its heavy price. But, of course, that is also an indicator of its unquestionable quality.
It has a similar texture and taste to ricotta. It is best to use it in cooking.
3. Pot Cheese
It is soft and crumbly. It can be a good substitute for ricotta, but with one condition. Since it is drier than ricotta, it needs more moisture.
The solution is in cream or yogurt, or in eggs that can be used in cooked recipes.
You’re more likely to find ricotta than paneer in your fridge, that’s for sure. But it is not out of place to briefly get to know this rare type of cheese.
It is known as Indian cottage cheese, but it is more firm and dry than ordinary cottage cheese. It has a crumbly texture, and it is made from cow milk or buffalo milk.
As for the cooking, it doesn’t melt so easily, so it needs higher temperatures for cooking.
5. Clabber Cream
Clabber cream is a thick and sour cream that can be used as a cold topping or it can be used with fruit or vegetables.
When it comes to baking, it really isn’t a good choice as it is ideal for cold dishes or desserts.
It also has a very overpowering taste.
Another Mexican cheese. It is made from whey, but unlike ricotta, it contains milk as well.
It has a nice milky taste and moist texture, and it is sweet and creamy. The main difference is in consistency because ricotta is lumpier and drier than the Mexican cheese which is rather spreadable.
It is best used in dips, desserts, baked dishes, or spreads.
Let’s Not Forget Our Vegans and Vegetarians
When it comes to a vegan diet, this type of diet represents a rapidly growing trend today. So, it would be unwise not to mention a few options for people who are searching for vegan ricotta substitutes and dairy-free alternatives. So, I listed a few options below:
1. Silken tofu
2. Coconut cream
3. Soy yogurt
And The Final Thoughts
What I can definitely say, when it comes to the best substitute for ricotta cheese, is that no matter how many times you don’t have it at hand, given this number of alternatives, you can always replace it in a decent way.
The best ricotta alternative is the one that most closely matches all the necessary factors and what you actually want to get from your perfect dish.
But none of these options can definitely be bad, and you certainly won’t go wrong with any of them.