Feta cheese is a delicious and popular Mediterranean cheese for salads, pizzas, and other dishes, but it is not always available at the grocery store. Read on to discover the best substitutes for feta cheese.
Before researching a substitute for feta cheese, it is important to understand what it is and how it is made. Feta cheese is a soft, brined cheese made by curdling sheep’s milk, or sometimes a mixture of sheep’s and goat’s milk, into cheese. The process starts with adding natural rennet or lactic acid bacteria to the milk and allowing it to coagulate. This process separates curds from whey. Next, the curds are cut, heated, and stirred to expel moisture and form a semi-solid cheese paste. Finally, the cheese is salted, stored in brine for several weeks, and left to age.
Originating in Greece, feta cheese has a salty, tangy flavor. It is often used in salads, sandwiches, and baking recipes. But it can also be eaten alone as an appetizer. The creamy texture of feta makes it an excellent choice for dips, sauces, and toppings. A good substitute for feta cheese should be able to mimic these qualities.
This article discusses the best dairy and vegan substitutes for feta cheese. Learn more from the FAQs section below.
What are the best dairy substitutes for feta cheese?
The best dairy substitutes for feta cheese are ricotta, queso fresco, halloumi, roquefort, cotija, mizithra, gorgonzola, mozzarella, sharp cheddar, goat cheese, cottage cheese, and panela cheese. Learn more info about each option.
Ricotta cheese is a soft, creamy cheese that you can use as an alternative to feta when you need a milder flavor. It has a smooth texture with a slightly sweet taste, adding creaminess when mixed into sauces. Crumble ricotta over salads or mix it into pasta dishes to create delicious and easy meals.
When using ricotta as a substitute for feta, remember that it will not have the same salty flavor. Fix this problem by adding more seasoning, such as salt, pepper, garlic powder, or herbs.
2. Queso fresco
Queso fresco is a popular Mexican cheese that you can use as a substitute for feta cheese in salads, tacos, and burritos. It has a mild, salty flavor that goes well with many ingredients, especially tomatoes and other acid fruits. It is also crumbly, melts easily, and can be used as a topping or crumbled over dishes.
Halloumi is a great substitute for feta cheese, thanks to its salty flavor, savory texture, and ability to hold its shape when cooked. Unlike feta cheese, halloumi does not crumble or melt easily, making it the preferred choice for dishes that require the cheese to stay intact.
Use halloumi to replace feta in salads, sandwiches, or tacos. It is possible to grill and serve it as an appetizer or side dish. Compared to feta, halloumi brings some unique flavors to the table and is a good choice for those looking for something different than traditional feta cheese dishes.
Roquefort can make an excellent substitute for Feta cheese. This French blue cheese has a tangier, sharper taste than feta with a creamier and more crumbly texture. Enhance its flavor by adding herbs and spices like oregano or cracked pepper. Roquefort also pairs well with fruit such as pears, grapes, or figs for added sweetness and variety.
Cotija is an aged, crumbly Mexican cheese with a salty, sharp flavor that makes it a great substitute for feta cheese. Its texture and flavor are quite similar to feta. Use cotija in salads, sauces, dips, and quesadillas.
Mizithra is a traditional Greek cheese made from a blend of sheep and goat milk, which you can use in place of feta. It has a mild flavor and creamy texture that makes it perfect for salads, soups, and sandwiches.
Unlike feta, mizithra is not soaked in brine, so it tastes less salty and significantly richer. Additionally, mizithra has fewer calories than feta while still providing you with the same amount of protein content. This Greek cheese can easily be melted to make a delicious topping for pizzas or pasta dishes.
Gorgonzola is a great substitute for feta cheese, thanks to its creamy texture. Packed with flavor, gorgonzola has the same crumbly texture as feta. However, gorgonzola also has a blue veining that adds complexity to dishes, from salads to pasta bakes. It tastes nutty, tangy, and slightly salty.
Mozzarella can be an excellent substitute for feta cheese when the sharpness and pungent flavor is not necessary. Although it’s also made from cow’s milk like feta cheese, mozzarella has a milder flavor and softer texture, which make it more suitable for salads, pizza, and sandwiches.
Although it lacks the distinct taste of feta, mozzarella is creamy and makes a dish look inviting, thanks to its white color. What’s more, mozzarella has a longer shelf life than feta, it contains fewer calories.
9. Sharp cheddar
Sharp cheddar cheese is a great substitute for feta cheese in any recipe, thanks to its distinctively sharp taste. Like feta, cheddar has a crumbly texture, so it looks good on a plate. It brings a punch of flavor to salads, soups, pasta, and chili, especially Mediterranean-style dishes. Additionally, cheddar pairs well with ingredients like onions, garlic, tomatoes, and olives. You can also grate cheddar over salads for extra crunch and taste.
10. Goat cheese
Goat cheese, or chèvre, is a popular alternative to feta because of its tangy, slightly salty taste. It’s milder than feta, so it can be used in dishes that require a light touch instead of saltiness. In addition, goat cheese is rich in calcium and protein, making it a healthier alternative to feta. While some people may find goat cheese has an acquired taste, it’s a great choice for salads, lasagna, or quiche.
11. Cottage cheese
Cottage cheese is a good alternative to feta cheese due to its mild flavor and versatility. It has a similar texture but lacks the strong flavor of feta. Cottage cheese is also a great source of protein and calcium.
When replacing feta with cottage cheese, you can use full-fat or low-fat versions, depending on your preference. Adding herbs and spices help to replicate the sharpness of traditional feta. For extra creaminess, blend cottage cheese with Greek yogurt or add walnuts or almonds for a nutty taste.
12. Panela cheese
Panela is a semi-hard Mexican cheese that you can use as a substitute for feta in many dishes, including salads, sandwiches, tacos, and pizza toppings. It has a mild, slightly sweet flavor and creamy texture, and it can be melted. The acidity level of panela cheese is lower than that of feta, so it pairs nicely with sweet flavors like mango or pineapple.
What are the best vegan substitutes for feta cheese?
The best vegan substitutes for feta cheese are tofu, almond or cashew cheese, and nutritional yeast. Learn more info about each option.
Tofu is a fantastic vegan substitute for feta cheese, as it offers similar flavors with a fraction of the fat and calories. It is easier to find in stores than feta cheese, and its texture is more versatile.
Use tofu to replace feta cheese in salads, sandwiches, soups, casseroles, and stir-fries. It adds a light flavor without being overpowering.
When preparing tofu as a feta cheese substitute, press it to remove excess moisture. This will help it absorb any marinade or sauce better. For best results, press it under something heavy – like a stack of plates or cookbooks – for 15 minutes before use.
Tofu is high in protein and contains all nine essential amino acids, making it an excellent option for vegetarian and vegan diets. Unlike dairy-based feta cheese, tofu does not contain cholesterol or lactose, so it’s easier to digest by lactose intolerant or vegan people.
2. Almond or cashew cheese
Almond or cashew cheese is an alternative that brings forth the nutty flavor of almonds or cashews while maintaining a creamy texture similar to feta. They pair well with fruits and vegetables. These makeshift cheeses are lower in fat than traditional dairy and free from cholesterol, so they are healthier than feta. Plus, almond or cashew cheese adds texture and an unexpected twist to salads, sandwiches, and other dishes.
3. Nutritional yeast
Nutritional yeast is gaining popularity as an alternative to feta cheese due to its cheesy flavor and nutritional benefits. It is made from a single-celled organism, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, which is grown on molasses and then harvested, washed, and dried with heat to deactivate it. Nutritional yeast contains B vitamins, including vitamin B12, protein, fiber, minerals, and 16 amino acids. It doesn’t have sugar or preservatives.
When substituting nutritional yeast for feta cheese in recipes, it is important to note that the flavor will be different. Nutritional yeast has a savory, nutty flavor, whereas feta cheese tastes creamy and salty. However, when adding nutritional yeast to sauces or salads, you can still achieve a creamy texture without all the fat because nutritional yeast contains no animal products or dairy.
Learn more information about feta cheese and its substitutes.
How do you store feta cheese?
To store feta cheese properly, keep it unwrapped in an airtight container or wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil before moving it to the refrigerator. It is also possible to store it in brine in the fridge, but you must change the water daily.
Feta should not be frozen, as this will alter its texture and flavor. If you need to freeze feta, though, use it within a few months after defrosting and consume it immediately after thawing.
Is feta cheese the same as goat cheese?
No, feta and goat cheese are two different types of cheeses. They have different textures, flavors, and origins. Feta cheese is a semi-hard, brined curd cheese originating in Greece, while goat cheese is a French variety made from goats’ milk. Feta is milder in flavor than goat cheese, with a slightly salty taste due to the brine-curing process it undergoes. Goat cheese has a stronger flavor and comes in several varieties, depending on the breed of goat used to make it.
Is feta cheese healthy?
Yes, feta cheese is healthy. Here is a breakdown of the vitamins and minerals provided by feta:
- Calcium: This mineral helps strengthen bones and teeth and plays a role in cell signaling and communication.
- Phosphorus: This mineral aids in the growth and maintenance of bones and provides energy to help fuel your body’s cell processes.
- Vitamin B6: This vitamin helps regulate hormone production, the formation of red blood cells, and the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates.
- Potassium: It is important for maintaining healthy brain function, muscle control, and heart rhythm.
- Zinc: It is a key factor for building muscle tissue, supporting the immune system, maintaining bone density, and facilitating wound healing.
- Selenium: This essential antioxidant helps reduce inflammation and protect against chronic disease.
Can I use cream cheese as a feta cheese substitute?
Yes, cream cheese is a good alternative to feta cheese, with a similar tanginess and creamy texture. You can use cream cheese in many recipes, such as salad toppings, dips, lasagna, quesadillas, or stuffed mushrooms. However, it’s not as crumbly as feta.
Feta cheese is a salty, briny, dairy-rich cheese that adds flavor to many dishes. Although it’s quite unique and has a distinct taste, it can be difficult to find and expensive. Fortunately, plenty of alternative cheeses provide a similar flavor and texture, whether you prefer a dairy or a vegan option. With a bit of creativity in the kitchen and an open mind toward exploring new flavors, you can easily find the perfect alternative to feta cheese.