If you’re looking for healthier and more delicious alternatives to traditional ricotta cheese, we’ve got you covered. This article discusses the best dairy and vegan alternatives to ricotta cheese.
Ricotta cheese is a soft, creamy Italian cheese made from whole and skimmed cow’s milk whey. It has a light, creamy, slightly lumpy texture and a mild taste. Ricotta cheese is a versatile ingredient that can be used for savory and sweet dishes, such as salads, sauces, lasagna, cannelloni, manicotti, stuffed shells, cannoli, cheesecakes, and puddings. A substitute for ricotta cheese should be able to replicate these qualities.
Read on to discover the best dairy and vegan substitutes for ricotta cheese. Learn more from the FAQs section.
What are the best dairy substitutes for ricotta cheese?
The best dairy substitutes for ricotta cheese are cottage cheese, fromage blanc, buttermilk cheese, sour cream, Greek yogurt, goat cheese, mascarpone, cream cheese, pot cheese, and requesón. Check out more info about each option.
1. Cottage cheese
Cottage cheese is the best dairy substitute for ricotta cheese, thanks to its similar texture and flavor. To make the switch, use a small curd cottage cheese to create a closer replica of the firm consistency of ricotta. If necessary, mix the cottage cheese with a blender or food processor. To make up for any differences in flavor, add cream, salt, and butter. Keep in mind that, due to the higher moisture content of cottage cheese, the dish may take slightly longer to bake.
2. Fromage blanc
Fromage blanc is an excellent dairy alternative to ricotta cheese, thanks to its similar taste and consistency. Originating in France, this creamy, fresh white cheese has a mild flavor and can be used in both savory and sweet dishes. It has a yogurt-like texture and a delicious buttery taste, so you can whip fromage blanc in any dish, including desserts and pasta.
Compared to ricotta, fromage blanc is healthier. While both cheeses are high in calcium, fromage blanc contains fewer calories and less fat than ricotta cheese. Additionally, it’s higher in protein, vitamins A, D and B-12, calcium, magnesium and potassium. Fromage blanc is also easier to digest than ricotta cheese because the fermentation process helps break down the lactose content.
On the downside, fromage blanc is an expensive substitute for ricotta cheese, and it’s not readily available in small grocery shops.
3. Buttermilk cheese
Buttermilk cheese is a great dairy replacement for ricotta cheese since it has a crumbly texture and sharp, tangy flavor. It is an aged semi-hard to hard yellowish-white cheese made from cultured buttermilk. Like ricotta, you can use buttermilk cheese in salads, sauces, lasagna, and other recipes.
Learn how to prepare homemade buttermilk cheese by checking out this tutorial from Martha Stewart. To replace ricotta, slice or grate the buttermilk cheese, depending on the texture required by the recipe. Next, cook the buttermilk cheese in a pan over medium heat until it melts, stirring constantly so it doesn’t stick to the pan. Once fully melted, add any ingredients, such as herbs or spices, to season the cheese. Use this mixture to replace ricotta cheese in any dish, baking or broiling as necessary.
4. Sour cream
Sour cream is a good dairy substitute for ricotta cheese, thanks to its mild, creamy texture and slightly tangy flavor. It’s a fermented dairy product made by adding bacteria to pasteurized cream, ideal for sauces, dips, and dessert toppings. Sour cream is much thicker than ricotta cheese due to its lower water content and higher fat content.
The best way to replace ricotta cheese with sour cream depends on the dish you’re making. Here are some tips:
- For lasagna and other pasta dishes, mix 1 cup of sour cream with 2 tablespoons of butter or olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Stir the mixture to combine the ingredients and let it sit in the refrigerator while you prepare the remaining dish.
- When making casseroles or filling ravioli, replace ricotta with sour cream in a 1:1 ratio and add seasonings for more flavor.
- When baking with ricotta cheese, mix 1 cup of sour cream with 1 teaspoon each of baking powder and sugar for every 3/4 cup of ricotta needed in the recipe.
- For cheesecakes, quiches, dips, or soufflés, substitute 1 cup of sour cream for each cup of ricotta cheese.
- To make stuffed shells or manicotti with a creamy texture, mix equal parts sour cream and cottage cheese before using them to fill the shells or manicotti rolls.
It is also possible to substitute sour cream with ricotta cheese in baking applications.
5. Greek yogurt
Greek yogurt is a good dairy substitute for ricotta cheese, thanks to its similar appearance, texture, and flavor. Like ricotta, Greek yogurt has a soft and creamy consistency, ideal for lasagna, stuffed shells, and savory desserts.
Greek yogurt is strained from cow’s milk to remove some of the whey and other liquid content, resulting in a thicker consistency than ricotta. It has a tart, acidic taste and is tangier than ricotta cheese. Nutritionally speaking, Greek yogurt has less fat. While ricotta cheese can be used for sweet or savory dishes, Greek yogurt is often used for savory dishes.
When replacing ricotta cheese, use plain, full-fat Greek yogurt. For a richer texture, stir in grated Parmesan or Romano cheese. If you’re making a sweet dish, you can use sweetened Greek yogurt. It has a softer texture than regular ricotta and helps keep the dessert from becoming too heavy or dense.
6. Goat cheese
Goat cheese is a decent dairy substitute for ricotta cheese, thanks to its mild flavor. It’s an Italian-style, fresh cheese made from cow’s milk whey. Goat cheese is generally ivory-colored and has a light, creamy texture. It is a versatile ingredient since you can use it in sauces, salads, sandwiches, lasagna, casseroles, or pizza toppings.
The texture of goat cheese is different. While ricotta is slightly grainy, goat cheese is smoother. Although you can use two types of goat cheese (fresh and aged), it’s best to go with fresh goat cheese since its mild flavor is closer to ricotta.
Soften the fresh goat cheese at room temperature to make it easier to incorporate into dishes without clumping. When preparing lasagna or stuffed shells, shred, crumble, or puree the fresh goat cheese to create a smoother texture. If you find its flavor too strong, experiment by adding herbs, seasonings, and spices. It’s also a good idea to reduce the amount of oil or butter required by the recipe since goat cheese has a higher fat content than ricotta.
Mascarpone is a great substitute for ricotta cheese, thanks to its similar texture and mild flavor. This soft Italian cheese is made from cow’s milk cream and has a buttery texture and a sweet, nutty flavor. Its flavor is somewhat stronger than ricotta since it uses citric acid for coagulation.
As it’s creamier than ricotta, you can use mascarpone to prepare lasagna, cannoli, or other dishes that require creamy, melt-in-your-mouth fillings. Additionally, mascarpone works well for tiramisu and other desserts. Unlike ricotta cheese, you don’t have to cook mascarpone, so you can easily incorporate it into no-bake desserts or dishes.
To make the substitution, use 1/3 cup of mascarpone for every half cup of ricotta called for in your recipe. It’s best to avoid adding another liquid to avoid making the mascarpone too thick. The best time to add mascarpone to dishes is right before adding other ingredients, such as tomatoes and herbs. It helps keep its creamy texture intact while cooking.
8. Cream cheese
Cream cheese is an excellent substitute for ricotta since they’re both spreadable cheeses with a creamy texture and mild flavor.
Cream cheese is made from whole milk and is slightly smoother than ricotta. Use it for appetizers, sauces, dips, lasagna, cannelloni, desserts like cheesecake, and spreads on toast or crackers, even with jams or jellies as a topping.
When replacing ricotta, use twice as much cream cheese. Alternatively, use equal parts cream cheese and cottage cheese or Greek yogurt to better replicate the flavor and texture of ricotta.
9. Pot cheese
Pot cheese is a good dairy substitute for ricotta, as they’re both soft, mild-flavored cow’s milk cheeses with a creamy texture. Pot cheese is a type of cottage cheese made by pressing the curds together to remove most of their moisture. Subsequently, it’s higher in fat and firmer than ricotta because it contains no added moisture.
Use pot cheese to replace ricotta in various recipes, such as baked macaroni and cheese, lasagna, spinach pie, chorizo quesadillas, stuffed peppers, and mashed potatoes.
You can buy pot cheese or make your own. For example, A Coal Cracker in the Kitchen has an easy recipe for homemade pot cheese. Start by heating and stirring the pot cheese until it’s melted and creamy. Then you can add seasonings and use the melted pot cheese like ricotta in any recipe. For a smoother texture, puree the pot cheese in a blender or food processor.
Requesón is a good dairy substitute for ricotta cheese since it’s also made from whey and has a slightly sweet flavor. Both have a soft, creamy texture, and their flavors can be enhanced with herbs or spices.
Requesón is a type of Merixan fresh cheese made from goat’s milk. It has a coarser, drier texture than ricotta cheese.
When making the substitution, start by replacing half the required amount of ricotta with requesón since requesón has a higher moisture content. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
What are the best vegan substitutes for ricotta cheese?
The best vegan substitutes for ricotta cheese are silken tofu, coconut cream, and soy yogurt. Check out more info about each option.
1. Silken tofu
Silken tofu is a fantastic vegan alternative to ricotta cheese since they are both made from milk proteins. They have a similar texture and mild flavor
Compared to ricotta cheese, silken tofu has a softer, custard-like texture and is made from soybeans. It has no distinct taste of its own but can be seasoned with spices and herbs to impart flavor.
Begin by draining the tofu and pressing out as much moisture as possible without breaking or crumbling it. Use a food processor or blender to puree the drained tofu until it becomes smooth and creamy, similar to ricotta cheese. Next, add the desired spices and herbs for flavor, such as garlic powder, Italian seasoning, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. Mix together until well combined. Use the blended silken tofu immediately or store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
2. Coconut cream
Coconut cream is a great dairy-free substitute for ricotta cheese, thanks to its similar creamy texture. It is slightly sweeter and has an underlying hint of coconut flavor. Like ricotta, coconut cream can be used for both savory and sweet dishes, particularly curries.
When replacing ricotta cheese, it’s best to use unsweetened, full-fat canned coconut milk; it should contain only coconut and water. Check the label carefully and avoid brands with added sugar or stabilizers like guar gum. Keep the canned coconut milk at room temperature overnight so that the cream and liquid parts separate. You only need the thicker cream part to replace ricotta cheese; gently spoon off any liquid floating on top before using the cream layer.
3. Soy yogurt
Soy yogurt is a decent vegan substitute for ricotta cheese, thanks to some similarities in texture, flavor, and appearance. Both contain calcium and are high in protein, although soy yogurt has more vitamins and minerals. Soy yogurt is made from an extract of fermented soybeans, and it has a slightly tangy taste.
The key to successful ricotta cheese substitution is finding the right kind of soy yogurt. Look for unsweetened, cultured varieties, preferably with live cultures, and avoid flavored yogurts or those with added sweetness.
Soy yogurt doesn’t have quite the same consistency as ricotta cheese. Thicken it by adding a teaspoon of cornstarch or arrowroot powder per cup of soy yogurt and stir until completely dissolved. Adding herbs like parsley and garlic helps mimic the more subtle flavors that ricotta brings to dishes.
Learn more about ricotta cheese and its substitutes.
What is a substitute for ricotta cheese in lasagna?
Good alternatives to ricotta cheese when preparing lasagna include cottage cheese, cream cheese, Greek yogurt, feta cheese, and silken tofu.
Can I use mozzarella instead of ricotta?
Yes, mozzarella is a good substitute for ricotta in certain recipes, such as lasagna, thanks to its mild flavor and creamy texture. The consistency of mozzarella is slightly different from ricotta, but the taste can be enhanced with other ingredients like garlic and herbs.
Can you freeze ricotta cheese?
Yes, you can safely freeze ricotta cheese to extend its shelf life and keep it fresh longer. Place the ricotta in an airtight container or freezer bag, and store it in the freezer for up to 6 months.
If you are looking for a ricotta cheese substitute, many options are available, whether you prefer dairy or vegan options. Ultimately, the best alternative option comes down to personal preference.