Ricotta is an Italian cheese made from whey, a liquid remaining after milk has been curdled and strained. Processing this leftover substance that comes from the production of other cheeses then produces ricotta. Now, if you’re not a fan of this cheese or you would like to consider other options for your recipes, we’ve got it covered in this article. To find the best substitute for ricotta cheese, you have to consider what dish you’ll be needing it for.
Light, fluffy, and moist, this cheese is a staple in a huge variety of dishes but is especially popular in lasagna, pasta, and pastries. Its creamy richness gives texture to recipes while its mellow-flavored sweetness blends well with other tastes. Consider these attributes when you’re looking for the next closest thing to ricotta.
1. Cream cheese
Cream cheese is as versatile as ricotta. If you need an alternative for ricotta in sweet and savory recipes, this is a great choice.
Made with milk and cream, cream cheese has a creamier and denser consistency than ricotta. If you’re trying to achieve the same airy, fluffy texture as ricotta, you have to make some adjustments to your recipe with this. Also keep in mind that cream cheese is more prone to melting in hot dishes so be careful when cooking.
In terms of taste, its sweetness and milkiness work great for pastries and desserts. Like ricotta, cream cheese tastes good as a spread and dip. You can use it to top fresh fruits, mix in pastas, and make cakes and other desserts.
Requeson, otherwise known as the Hispanic ricotta, is very similar in taste and texture to ricotta cheese. This salty, spreadable Mexican cheese is made by mixing milk with leftover whey and tastes like a creamier, more acidic version of ricotta.
After adding and mixing about 10 percent milk to whey, the mixture undergoes heating, skimming, and draining which results in a lumpy, off-white cheese. Its texture is soft and moist like ricotta, but is a bit grainy. Overall, its taste and smooth consistency is a very good substitute for ricotta in toppings, dips, and dessert recipes.
Chevre or goat cheese is another tasty alternative to ricotta. Fresh goat cheese has a similar texture to the popular Italian whey cheese. Don’t use aged products because those have stronger flavor and denser consistency.
The creaminess and distinct tarty, earthy flavor of chevre is best added on salads, crostinis, sandwiches, and tarts. It also works with pizza and meat dishes.
With its light consistency and mellow flavor, goat cheese is a great replacement for ricotta. You can use the same measurements in your recipe.
4. Cottage cheese
One of the closest replacements to ricotta is cottage cheese. Due to their similarities, many use the two interchangeably in various recipes.
Many health conscious cooks prefer to go with cottage cheese instead of ricotta because it has fewer fats and calories. While it is healthier, its texture is not as smooth and soft as ricotta’s.
Cottage cheese tends to be less creamy, a bit more lumpy, and can get runnier. If you’re hoping to get that smooth, soft, and creamy consistency of ricotta then you have to blend and mix cottage cheese with other ingredients.
In terms of taste however, cottage cheese is one of the best alternatives to ricotta. It is a delicious replacement for recipes like lasagna, pasta, and pizza.
Mascarpone is an Italian triple-creme cheese made from heavy cream and citric or tartaric acid. It has a rich mouthfeel with a loose, velvety texture. It works for many dishes requiring ricotta cheese but note that this cheese has a stronger flavor.
With a heavier tarty taste, mascarpone is a flavorful addition to recipes. Its texture is soft like ricotta’s but this cheese requires some blending to achieve the same smooth, fluffy consistency of the latter.
This Italian cream cheese goes well in both sweet and savory dishes. You can use it instead of whipped cream to top cakes, cupcakes, or a bowl of fruit. You can also swap sour cream for this cheese on muffins and breads. Feel free to replace ricotta with mascarpone in spreads, lasagna, pizza, and pastas. It works best in desserts like cheesecake and tiramisu.
6. Fromage Blanc
Fromage Blanc is of French origin and the name translates to white cheese. This fresh cheese is made with any type of milk but commonly with cow’s milk. It’s a pricey alternative to ricotta but it is a healthier option.
This white cheese has a soft, rich texture that is sometimes compared to yogurt. It shares the same mild but tangy flavor as ricotta and also has a versatile use in cooking. With a distinct buttery taste and smooth consistency, it gives your recipe an added richness and tang.
Fromage Blanc is best used for pastry fillings, baked recipes, dessert toppings, salad dressings, sauce, and base. Specific recipes you can use this for include cheesecake, pizza, quiche, parfait, souffle, and smoothies.
A white whey cheese like ricotta, Brousse is another tasty replacement for the latter. It comes from Provence, Corsica, and north-western Italy and is processed from cow, sheep, or goat milk.
Brousse has similar flavor notes to ricotta cheese. It’s mild, milky, a bit salty and sweet. Its texture is soft, tender, creamy, and quite lumpy. Its consistency and taste works for many recipes needing the much more known Italian whey cheese.
Feel free to use this alternative in baked recipes, some uncooked dishes like salads or fruits, and desserts.
Known as Indian cottage cheese, Paneer can also work as a substitute to ricotta. This fresh cheese shares a lot of similarities in texture and flavor as the whey cheese.
Paneer also has a milky flavor with creamy consistency. It is not as soft or fluffy as ricotta and tends to be denser. To achieve a similar texture as ricotta, you have to crumble and blend paneer first.
This cheese goes well with savory or spicy dishes like many Indian recipes. Still, it tastes great for pastries, pasta, pizza, or lasagna.
Another uncommon but great alternative to ricotta is quark. This fresh dairy product is made from soured milk that is warmed, curdled, and then strained.
Quark, also known as quarg or topfen, is very spoonable, soft, and creamy. It has a mild taste which makes it a versatile ingredient in a variety of dishes. With its inoffensive flavor that is not too sweet or sour coming in with a smooth and creamy texture, it’s a hearty replacement to ricotta.
Some quarks tend to taste a bit more tangy and almost similar to sour cream or yogurt so you have to choose a brand that suits your palate. You can use this as a low-fat substitute to ricotta or other cream for sweet desserts. It’s also used in pastas, pizzas, and lasagna.
10. Bechamel Sauce
Bechamel sauce is not a cheese but a sauce traditionally made from milk and white roux. It is popular in French, Italian, and Greek cuisine. Some recipes for this sauce include salt and nutmeg for seasoning but overall, it’s a straightforward creamy sauce.
This French “mother sauce” serves as a base or alternative to cheeses or creams to lessen the amount of calories and fat in a dish. It can provide a rich, smooth consistency to recipes without affecting the flavor so it’s a handy base ingredient.
Bechamel is best used in dishes like baked pots, soups, chowders, souffle, macaroni cheese, and lasagna.
Vegan Substitutes for Ricotta Cheese
If you are following a vegetarian lifestyle or you simply want to lessen your calorie intake, you can opt for the following vegan alternatives to ricotta cheese.
Tofu tastes a tad sour but is mostly bland. It is also very soft which can mimic the same mouthfeel as some cream or cheese. These points make tofu an excellent vegan replacement for ricotta.
This bean curd is made from soy milk that is curdled and formed into white blocks of varying softness. Depending on the brand or how it is prepared, the texture of tofu can be silky, soft, firm, or extra firm. This makes tofu a versatile replacement from cheeses to meat.
You can replace ricotta with tofu in savory dishes or baked recipes like lasagna.
2. Cashew Ricotta Cheese or Cashew Cheese
This vegan cheese purportedly tastes just like ricotta. It’s dairy-free and soy-free, perfect for those with diet restrictions.
Cashew cheese or cashew ricotta has many varied recipes but is mainly made from cashew and nutritional yeast.
You can use cashew cheese for pretty much any recipe that needs cheeses like ricotta. Feel free to try it with pizza, vegan lasagna, salads, and desserts.
3. Almond Ricotta Cheese
Another nut-based vegan alternative to ricotta, almond ricotta cheese has the same texture and a taste that blends well with other ingredients.
Vegan almond ricotta is soft and fluffy much like the whey cheese. It’s smooth creamy consistency is perfect for spreads, pastries, and desserts. Much like cashew ricotta, this almond cheese can also be used for your favorite Italian dishes like pastas, pizza, and lasagna.
4. Coconut Cream
With its sweetness and creamy texture, coconut cream is another good alternative to ricotta. While it cannot imitate the same cheesy flavor, this can still provide a delicious rich flavor to your recipes.
It is best to use this option in dips, shakes, smoothies, and desserts.
5. Soy Yogurt
If you are up for exploring more vegan options to ricotta, try yogurt. Many parts of the Middle East and Mediterranean use yogurt to make sauces or add in recipes on which others would use white cheese for.
Soy yogurt has a sweeter and milder taste than regular yogurts. You can use it as a topping or ingredient in limited recipes like some desserts and dips.
Some Answers to Related Questions that You Should Know:
Can I use Greek yogurt instead of ricotta?
Just like soy yogurt, Greek yogurt can also work as a replacement for ricotta if you’re in a pinch. Yogurts tend to have a more liquid texture so its consistency is not that similar to ricotta. Still, it shares the same softness profile so it can work in certain recipes.
Also, Greek yogurt may pair well with other ingredients but it has a distinct tang much like sour cream that is different to ricotta. It’s great for dips and desserts.
What can I substitute ricotta cheese for in lasagna?
Cottage cheese is the most popular alternative to ricotta. This cheese probably hits around 85 percent in the similarity index to the Italian whey cheese. So, for a recipe like lasagna, this would be a good choice.
How to replace ricotta cheese with cream cheese?
Cream cheese has a thicker and richer texture to ricotta. If you want to achieve the same consistency to ricotta for your recipe, try to add a tiny amount of water to cream cheese in order to make it less dense.
When choosing substitutes for ricotta cheese, consider the recipe that you want to use it for. If you’re after the texture and don’t care for the cheesy flavor, you can opt for bechamel sauce. If you want the closest taste, consider cottage cheese or requeson.
Apart from the recipe, your preferences would also be a factor to which option would be best. For instance, if you are vegan, you can try cashew cheese or almond cheese in place of ricotta.
Ricotta has so many uses so there are still other cheeses, creams, or yogurt that can replace this white cheese. The 15 choices above are what we deemed as the best and closest possible alternatives to ricotta that you can use.