6 Best Ricotta Cheese Substitutes

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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Being able to find and use ricotta cheese substitutes is crucial for certain recipes when you run out of this unique ingredient.

Ricotta Cheese Substitutes

Ricotta cheese substitutes can often mimic the effect that this cheese has as such a staple in Italian cooking. Ricotta cheese is a soft, creamy, fresh cheese that is made by cooking whey until it curdles. It is used in both sweet dishes, like cannoli and cheesecake, as well as savory recipes, like lasagna.

Ricotta cheese is available at most grocery stores, but if you find yourself without, don’t fret. There are several different alternatives you can use that will closely match the taste and consistency of ricotta.

Cream Cheese

Cream cheese is a popular American cheese that usually finds itself on the breakfast table. However, it is also a great substitute for ricotta, easy to work with and has the same consistency. It is also very mellow in terms of taste. Cream cheese does tend to be denser than ricotta, because of the high fat content, but it will work well in baking and desserts.

A bowl of ricotta cheese placed on a blue-checked cloth with a spoon.

Tangy, creamy and tasty ricotta cheese. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese has a flavor like ricotta, but is thinner in consistency. The lower fat content makes this a good substitute if you’re trying to watch your calorie intake. Buy the small curd cottage cheese, drain it, and give it a quick blend to get a thicker consistency.

Sour Cream

Sour cream is a good replacement for ricotta in savory dishes, especially savory dishes where the tanginess won’t interrupt the dish, or in dips. It may not hold up as well in pasta dishes. If you have both sour cream and cream cheese, try blending the two together to cut the sour aspect.

Tofu pieces on a wooden counter

If you are cutting down on meat and trying to include plant-based protein in your diet, then tofu is a great alternative. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Goat Cheese

Cottage cheese has a flavor like ricotta, but is thinner in consistency, although it can be pricey. Make sure to use fresh goat cheese, (chevre), which is still creamy and bright tasting. Fresh goat cheese works with most dessert recipes, dips, and spreads. It goes particularly well with fresh fruit or crusty bread.

Mascarpone

Mascarpone is another soft Italian cheese, but it is tangier than ricotta. It is higher in fat, and therefore has a denser texture, but giving it a quick blend will get it closer to ricotta’s consistency. Mascarpone is a good choice for cannoli, desserts, and strongly-flavored savory dishes.

Tofu

Silken tofu, the softest tofu, is an excellent replacement for ricotta if you’re cooking for a dairy-free crowd. Press, drain, and blend the tofu to make it creamy. The mellow flavor will serve as a base to soak up any herbs or spices. It’s also full of protein, while being lower in fat and cholesterol.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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