Having a ricotta substitute on hand if you have run out, can’t find any in the grocery store, or you and your guests have some dietary restrictions can be helpful. There are some easy and creative alternatives for you to try.
What is Ricotta?
Ricotta is a fresh cheese made from the whey leftover after the production of other cheeses like mozzarella and provolone. The whey is heated and acidified with vinegar or lemon juice, causing the proteins to coagulate and form curds.
The curds are then strained, resulting in the soft, slightly sweet cheese that is ricotta.
Ricotta Nutritional Facts
One cup of ricotta cheese made from whole milk contains the following nutrients:
- Calories per cup: 428
- Total fat content per cup: 32 grams
- Saturated fat content per cup: 20 grams
- Carbs per cup: 10 grams
- Cholesterol per cup: 125 mg
Ricotta cheese is a good source of protein and is relatively low in fat. It also provides around 20% of the daily recommended intake of calcium in only 100 grams.
Not only does ricotta offer an adequate amount of phosphorus, a mineral essential for healthy bones and teeth, but it is alsolow in lactose, making it a suitable cheese for those with mild lactose intolerance.
Common Uses for Ricotta
- Lasagna – Ricotta cheese is a common ingredient in traditional lasagna recipes.
- Stuffed Shells -Ricotta cheese is often used as a filling for stuffed shells.
- Cannoli – Ricotta cheese is a key component in the creamy filling of this Italian dessert.
- Cheesecake – Instead of using cream cheese, ricotta cheese can be used to make lighter, fluffier cheesecakes.
- Pasta Sauce – Ricotta cheese can be added to pasta sauces for a creamier texture.
- Pizza Topping – Ricotta cheese can be used as a topping for pizza, either on its own or mixed with other cheeses.
- Dip – Ricotta cheese can be blended with herbs and spices to make a tasty dip for crackers or vegetables.
Why You May Need a Ricotta Alternative
If you’re lactose intolerant, you may need to find a dairy-free alternative to ricotta cheese. Ricotta
If you follow a vegan diet, ricotta cheese is off the menu.
Depending on where you live, it may be difficult to find ricotta cheese in your local grocery store, or you simply have run out.
If you have specific dietary restrictions, such as a low-fat or low-sodium diet, you may need to find an alternative to ricotta cheese.
Some people simply don’t like the texture of ricotta cheese and prefer a different alternative.
If you don’t enjoy the taste of ricotta cheese, you may want to try an alternative that better suits your taste buds.
15 Best Ricotta Substitute Options
Ricotta Substitutes for Dairy
1. Cottage Cheese
Blend cottage cheese in a food processor until smooth for a texture similar to ricotta. It is slightly saltier than ricotta, Taste of Home explains the difference between the two kinds of cheese in detail.
2. Cream Cheese
Mix cream cheese with a little milk or cream for a smoother texture to use in a recipe where you want a richer flavor. Does It Go Bad has a full overview of when to substitute cream cheese for ricotta.
This Italian cheese has a similar texture to ricotta but has a slightly sweeter taste and a bit more tanginess. Use it in dishes where you want to use aromatics, such as garlic or Italian seasoning, as it adapts well to strong flavors. Epicurious has 20 ideas on how to use Mascarpone.
4. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt can be a good substitute for ricotta in dips and sauces, it is best if you use full-fat Greek yogurt, as the consistency is better to use. Yogurt has almost 4 times less cholesterol than ricotta, according to Souper Sage, making it a healthy alternative to ricotta.
5. Sour Cream
Sour cream can be used as a substitute for ricotta in many dishes, such as All Recipe’s lasagna, using sour cream instead of ricotta. The texture is usually much smoother than ricotta, but it works well in most recipes due to the thickness of the cream.
Mozzarella is a mild cheese that works well if you need a mild cheese flavor to substitute for ricotta, but it does not have the same consistency. Use it in dishes where you want the cheese to melt. Fresh mozzarella is best to use. Dark Cheese compares the two kinds of cheese.
7. Parmesan Cheese
Grated parmesan cheese can be used as a substitute for ricotta in certain recipes, particularly those that call for a small amount of ricotta or where it will be blended into soups or sauces. Souper Sage compares the nutritional information for both.
Burrata is similar to mozzarella, it is a ‘pouch’ made from mozzarella stuffed with cream-soaked stracciatella, making it ideal to use as a topping or fresh with toasted bread. Eataly shows you exactly how to serve and use this delicious cheese.
9. Goat Cheese
Since you sometimes see ricotta made from goat’s milk, you can use fresh – not aged – goat’s cheese to replace ricotta. It has a much stronger taste than cow’s cheese, so start off with small quantities and add more as you need. Food Struct compares the nutritional information for both kinds of cheese.
Paneer is a full-fat cheese often used in Indian cuisine and is made almost identical to ricotta cheese, except that the rennet used in ricotta is omitted when making paneer. It does not melt easily but can be used like ricotta. Swadeshi VIP highlights the difference between the two kinds of cheese.
Dairy-Free Ricotta Substitutes
Silken tofu or soft tofu can be blended with lemon juice and salt for a creamy, dairy-free ricotta substitute. If you follow Sweet Simple Vegan’s recipe, you can have a tasty ricotta-style dip to use in many dishes.
Soaked cashews can be blended with water and lemon juice for a creamy, nut-based ricotta alternative. Simple Veganista shows you exactly how to make this dairy-free ricotta alternative.
13. Coconut Cream
Coconut cream has a thick and creamy consistency that can be used in sauces and soups to replace ricotta. It is slightly sweet, so ensure you use it in dishes that cater to that. You can also follow Not Not Nutritious’ recipe to make a ricotta alternative using coconut cream.
14. Soy Yogurt
Soy yogurt can be used as a substitute for ricotta in dips and sauces just like you would use Greek yogurt. The Vegan 8 also uses vegan yogurt, such as soy yogurt to make a ricotta alternative.
15. Nutritional Yeast
This deactivated yeast can be blended with tofu or cashews for a dairy-free ricotta substitute that provides a cheesy flavor, or sprinkled over and into dishes to add a cheesy flavor. Pop Zero Popcorn teaches you everything you need to know about nutritional yeast.
Tips for Ricotta Substitution
- Consider the recipe – when substituting for ricotta, consider the recipe and what role the ricotta plays in it. Does it provide flavor or texture? Does it need to be smooth or lumpy? And choose an appropriate substitute accordingly.
- Experiment – don’t be afraid to try different substitutes and see what works best for you and your recipe.
- Adjust the seasoning – depending on the substitute used, you may need to adjust the seasoning in the recipe, especially when it comes to salt.
- Use the right texture – make sure the substitute has a texture that is appropriate for the recipe. For example, a smooth substitute like cream cheese may work better in a dip than a lumpy substitute like cottage cheese unless you blend it first.
- Be mindful of allergies – if you or someone you’re cooking for has food allergies, make sure to choose a substitute that is safe for them to eat.
- Melting points – if you need the ricotta substitute to melt, ensure the cheese or non-dairy alternative can melt as you need it to.