Looking for an alternative to Cottage Cheese? You’re in the right place! Keep reading for my favourite simple Cottage Cheese substitutes both dairy-free and milk based.
What is Cottage Cheese?
Cottage Cheese is a chunky soft white cheese made from skim milk where the curd is mixed with some whey. The flavour is sweet and milky with a beautiful creamy texture studded with little pebbles of curd. It is used in both savoury dishes and desserts.
From a nutrition perspective it’s an excellent high-protein food and a great source of minerals like phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and vitamins like vitamin B12
The Best Cottage Cheese Substitutes – Dairy
1. Ricotta Cheese
Ricotta is an excellent match because the texture has a similar creamy consistency. Although cottage cheese has more bumpy curds as opposed to the smooth texture of ricotta in a tub, the flavor is very comparable.
Traditional firm ricotta from the deli that comes in a basket can also work but it will be firmer and less bumpy than cottage cheese.
2. Greek Yoghurt
Greek yogurt is a great substitute for cottage cheese with a slightly more tangy flavor. However the texture won’t have the interesting curd pieces of cottage cheese.
3. Queso Fresco Cheese
This soft fresh white Mexican cheese with a slightly tangy flavor is an excellent substitute for Cottage Cheese. The French fromage blanc will also work.
Saltier, dryer and more crumbly than Cottage Cheese – feta can work well as a replacement in savory dishes like a white omelet, a frittata, ravioli or dips.
5. Cream Cheese
An excellent flavour match for cottage cheese, cream cheese it’s not super close on the textural front because it has a completely smooth texture with a denser creamier mouthfeel.
This Italian cream cheese can be substituted in a similar manner to yogurt. It’s excellent for dishes where you’re looking for maximum creaminess.
7. Goats Cheese
Fresh goat cheese is tangier than Cottage Cheese but adds a similar cheesy goodness. The slight ‘goaty’ flavor may not be the best choice for Cottage Cheese based desserts but will be superb in an omelet.
Aged goat cheese will be more crumbly and drier so not as close a match as fresh goat cheese.
The soft Indian cheese will work really well as a substitute for Cottage Cheese.
9. Mozzarella Cheese
This Italian cheese is firmer and more rubbery than the creaminess of Cottage Cheese. It has a higher fat content and more calories but it will provide cheesy flavour and substance. Don’t use mozzarella in sweet desserts.
This creamy ‘cheese’ made from yoghurt is thicker than Greek yoghurt so will be a close textural match from a consistency perspective but will be lacking the little curdy chunks.
11. Persian Feta
Persian feta has a similar texture to goats cheese, but it tends to be marinated with other flavors so it definitely won’t work in desserts but can be a nice flavour boost in savoury dishes.
12. Parmesan Cheese
Parmesan has a dryer texture and more intense salty cheesey flavor profile to Cottage Cheese. The color is more yellow. For savory dishes where you want a burst of cheesy flavour Shaved parmesan can work especially in salad as long as you are happy to miss the creamy chunky texture.
The Best Dairy-Free Cottage Cheese Substitutes
Here are the best lactose-free substitutes for plant-based diets or anyone looking for vegan cheese:
1. Macadamia Cheese
When I was avoiding soft cheeses during my pregnancy, my Macadamia ‘Cheese’ (recipe below) was a life saver. As you can see from the picture above it looks surprisingly close to actual Cottage Cheese. And while the flavour doesn’t have the same cheesy notes of Cottage Cheese, it is pleasantly sweet and creamy. It works really well in most applications. I especially love it on toast with a drizzle of honey.
2. Cashew Cheese
This simple 2-ingredient sauce made from cashews and lemon juice can be an excellent plant-based Cottage Cheese alternative. For a firmer texture you can make it with less water. For a chunkier texture you can stir in chopped cashews at the end. And if you want to use it in sweet recipes, just cut back on the lemon juice. See my Cashew Sour Cream Recipe here.
3. Tofu + Salt
Firm tofu either grated or crumbled or pureed in the food processor can be a surprisingly good plant-based substitute for Cottage Cheese. Of course the flavour of tofu is super bland, so be generous with the salt. If you want to boost the cheesy flavours to get a closer match to Cottage Cheese for savory recipes, add some nutritional yeast flakes.
4. Coconut Yogurt, Soy Yogurt or Almond Yogurt
All these dairy-free yoghurts like soy yogurt will work as a Cottage Cheese substitute in a similar manner to Greek yogurt. But for dishes where a firmer texture is required they may be too runny.
This is a bit of an unusual idea but adding a big dollop of creamy hummus can add the substance and flavor hit you’d otherwise get from Cottage Cheese. Works really well as an alternative to Cottage Cheese as a spread for toast or as a sauce component for pasta or lasagna. With the garlic, however it won’t be a good choice for desserts or sweet Cottage Cheese dishes.
6. Bean Purees
A bean puree similar to hummus made with cooked cannellini beans or other beans and a little lemon juice are another great cottage cheese replacement.
6. Whipped Coconut Cream
Can work as an alternative to Cottage Cheese and will give the bonus of that lovely sweet coconut flavour.
Chunks of avo will add creamy goodness and substance to your dish. But a completely different appearance. For an even closer match add in a squeeze of lemon or lime and some sea salt flakes or herbs.
Works in a similar way to hummus.
Place macadamias in a ceramic or glass bowl or jug and cover generously with water – about 2 cups but no need to measure.
Soak nuts for at least 6 hours (and less than 48).
Drain, discarding soaking water. Place nuts in a food processor. Add lemon juice, a good pinch of sea salt flakes and 1/2 cup water and process until as smooth as you can get it. Scraping down the sides a few times.
Taste and add more salt and/or lemon as needed.
Variations for Macadamia ‘Cheese’
short on time – skip the soaking time – the results won’t be as creamy but will still be good. Soft nuts like cashews or pine nuts are fine without the soaking.
different nuts – best to use raw (unroasted) nuts. Cashews are good but you could also use almonds. I probably wouldn’t try pecans, hazelnuts or walnuts because the flavour would be a bit weird. If money is no object, pine nuts are another possibility.
sweet cream – skip the lemon juice and add a little of your favourite sweetener such as maple syrup, honey or stevia.
extra ‘cheesey’ – blend in a teaspoon or two of nutritional yeast.
thicker – add less water to the food processor.
more tangy – replace the lemon juice with apple cider vinegar.
more runny / thinner – add more water. Once refrigerated, it does thicken up a little.
macadamia ‘yoghurt’ – add an extra tablespoon or two of lemon juice and the powder from 2 probiotic capsules. Stand at room temp to help the culture ferment for 8-12 hours before refrigerating.
nut-free – use regular ricotta! Or you could try sunflower seeds… not sure how they’ll go but worth a shot.
no food processor or blender – use almond butter or tahini instead of the whole nuts. Stir with half the water and lemon until you get a creamy sauce. Add more water until you’re happy with the texture.
How to Store Cottage Cheese
Ricotta can be stored for months in the refrigerator. I generally ignore the best before date and eat it even weeks after it is out of date. As long as there’s no mold growing on it.
Can you Freeze Cottage Cheese
YES! Cottage Cheese can be frozen for 6 months or longer.
Cottage Cheese Goes with…
- Honey & Cottage Cheese
- Basil & Cottage Cheese
- Spinach & Cottage Cheese
- Lemon & Cottage Cheese
- Pesto & Cottage Cheese
- Tuna & Cottage Cheese
- Olives & Cottage Cheese
More Ingredient Substitutes
- Blue Cheese
- Crème Fraîche
- Double Cream
- Greek Yoghurt
- Goats Cheese
- Gruyere Cheese
- Feta Cheese
- Halloumi Cheese
- Parmesan Cheese
- Pecorino Substitutes
- Sour Cream
Also see see the Simple Ingredients Substitutes Index.
Have fun in the kitchen!