The Best Simple Ricotta Cheese Substitutes

Ricotta Cheese Substitutes
Looking for an alternative to Ricotta Cheese? You’re in the right place! Keep reading for my favourite simple Ricotta Cheese substitutes both dairy and dairy-free.

What is Ricotta Cheese?

Ricotta is a soft white Italian cheese made from the whey of other cheese production. It can be made from cow, sheep or even buffalo whey. The flavour is sweet and milky and it is used in both savoury dishes and desserts.

There are three types of ricotta:

1. Traditional firm ricotta which is sold in delis or in a basket. This has a firmer dryer texture which is slightly crumbly.

2. Smooth ricotta which is sold in tubs has a similar flavour but a slightly softer creamier more spreadable texture similar to thick whipped cream. Because it has a higher moisture content it will give a softer, runnier result so may not be the best choice for recipes liked baked ricotta where the firmer ricotta from the deli will be preferable.

3. Ricotta Salata is a different type of ricotta that has been salted, pressed and aged so it is much harder with a texture similar to Parmesan cheese.


The Best Ricotta Cheese Substitutes – Dairy

1. Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is an excellent match for smooth ricotta in a tub – 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.

Cottage cheese will also work in place of ricotta cheese for traditional firmer ricotta just be aware that the end result will be softer – especially for dishes like baked ricotta or ricotta cheesecake or other ricotta based cakes.

2. Cream Cheese

An excellent flavour match, cream cheese has a similar texture with a denser creamier mouthfeel. It will work in cheesecakes, as a filling or in a baked ricotta recipe.

3. Queso Fresco Cheese

This soft fresh white Mexican cheese with a slightly tangy flavor is an excellent substitute for ricotta in all its forms. The French fromage blanc will also work.

4. Feta

Saltier, dryer and more crumbly than ricotta – feta can work well as a firm ricotta replacement in savory dishes like frittatas, ravioli, dips or pies. It can be baked. And for some desserts if you are happy with a sweet and salty vibe, feta can be a surprisingly good substitute. I once saw a recipes for feta cookies which I’ve been wanting to try.

5. Greek Yoghurt

For recipes using smooth ricotta from a tub Greek yogurt will be a great substitute with a slightly more tangy flavor. But for dishes where a firm ricotta texture is required it will be too runny. Don’t try and bake your yogurt!

6. Mascarpone

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 ricotta but adds a similar cheesy goodness. The slight ‘goaty’ flavor may not be the best choice for ricotta based desserts.

Aged goat cheese will be more crumbly and drier so not as close a match as fresh goat cheese.

8. Paneer

The soft Indian cheese will work really well as a substitute for firm ricotta on pizzas

9. Mozzarella Cheese

This Italian cheese is firmer and more rubbery than the creaminess of ricotta. It has a higher fat content and more calories but it can work to provide cheesy flavour and substance. Don’t use mozzarella in sweet desserts.

10. Labneh

This creamy ‘cheese’ made from yoghurt is thicker than Greek yoghurt so will be a close textural match to smooth ricotta from a tub. And may pass for some firm ricotta recipes.

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 a ricotta cheese cake.

12. Parmesan Cheese

Parmesan has a dryer texture and more intense salty cheesey flavor profile to ricotta. The color is more yellow. For savory dishes where you want a burst of cheesy flavour Parmesan can work as long as you are happy to miss the creamy texture.

13. Bechamel Sauce

Bechamel – the classic cheese sauce used in lasagna can work as a ricotta substitute in recipes like lasagna or where the ricotta is being used as a sauce or filling.

Macadamia Ricotta


The Best Dairy-Free Ricotta Cheese Substitutes

Here are the best substitutes for vegan or plant-based diets:

1. Macadamia Ricotta

When I was avoiding soft cheeses during my pregnancy, my Macadamia ‘Ricotta’ (recipe below) was a life saver. As you can see from the picture above it looks surprisingly close to actual ricotta. And while the flavour doesn’t have the cheesy notes of ricotta, it is pleasantly sweet and creamy. It works really well in most applications (apart from baked ricotta). I especially love it on toast with a drizzle of honey.

2. Cashew ‘Sour Cream’

This simple 2-ingredient sauce made from cashews and lemon juice can be an excellent plant-based ricotta alternative. For a firmer texture you can make it with less water. 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 firm ricotta from the deli. Puree silken tofu for a smooth ricotta alternative. 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 ricotta, add some nutritional yeast flakes.

4. Coconut Yoghurt, Soy Yoghurt or Almond Yoghurt

All these dairy-free yoghurts like soy yogurt will work as a smooth ricotta substitute in a similar manner to Greek yogurt. But for dishes where a firm ricotta texture is required they will be too runny.

5. Hummus

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 ricotta cheese. Works really well as an alternative to ricotta 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 ricotta dishes.

6. Whipped Coconut Cream

Can work as an alternative to smooth ricotta in a tub but will be too soft and runny to work in firm ricotta applications.

7. Avocado

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.

8. Babaganoush

Works in a similar way to hummus.


Macadamia ‘Cheese’

Prep Time 10 minutes
soaking time 6 hours
Servings 1 cup


  • 200 g macadamia nuts
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • sea salt


  1. Place macadamias in a ceramic or glass bowl or jug and cover generously with water – about 2 cups but no need to measure.
  2. Soak nuts for at least 6 hours (and less than 48).
  3. 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.

  4. Taste and add more salt and/or lemon as needed.

Variations for Macadamia ‘Ricotta’

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 Ricotta 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 Ricotta

YES! Ricotta can be frozen for 6 months or longer.


Ricotta Cheese Goes with…

  • Honey & Ricotta
  • Basil & Ricotta
  • Spinach & Ricotta
  • Lemon & Ricotta
  • Pesto & Ricotta
  • Tomato & Ricotta
  • Olives & Ricotta


More Ingredient Substitutes

Also see see the Simple Ingredients Substitutes Index.

Have fun in the kitchen!

With love,
Jules x