Ricotta cheese is effortlessly one of the best cheeses that exist.
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It is incredibly versatile and a guaranteed way to improve any dish that you add it to, which is great when you take a look at all the different dishes that include ricotta cheese in their recipe.
But what do you do when you’re mid-way through baking something and go to grab the ricotta cheese from your refrigerator only to find that you have none left? The answer is simple, substitute it.
You might think it would be difficult to find a replacement for ricotta cheese because of its unique texture, but there are a lot of alternatives that you can use instead.
What are these substitutes you ask? Well, we’re going to tell you all about them in this guide where we’re giving you 13 excellent substitutes for ricotta cheese.
But before we take a look at these substitutes, let’s take a look at exactly what ricotta cheese is.
What is Ricotta Cheese?
Before we take a look at some of the different things that you can use instead of Ricotta Cheese should you not have any at hand, let’s take a quick look at what Ricotta Cheese is.
Ricotta cheese is, of course, cheese and it comes of Italian origin. Unlike some other cheeses, ricotta cheese is not restricted to milk sourced from a single animal, and instead, it utilizes cow, goat, sheep, or even Italian Water Buffalo milk whey.
The production of ricotta cheese uses so many different types of milk as it is often made with leftover ingredients from the production of other cheeses.
Ricotta cheese does not have a hard consistency, instead, it has a texture that is similar to other whey cheeses, such as mozzarella cheese.
This texture is achieved through the production of the cheese as whey cheeses are made through the coagulation process of proteins.
It is because of this unique texture that ricotta cheese is such a popular ingredient in so many different recipes. But that’s enough about what ricotta cheese is, now let’s take a look at its history.
The History of Ricotta Cheese
As we have already established, Ricotta cheese is an Italian cheese of the Whey variety. Ricotta is a very historic cheese and it can be traced back to the days when Italy was in the Bronze age.
During the second millennium BC, Italians began to produce devices known as ‘milk boilers’ which were ceramic vessels used to boil milk to produce fresh acid-coagulated cheese.
Cheese that would one day become known as Ricotta cheese.
Over the years, ricotta cheese continued to exist in Italy as it was produced by the ancient Romans.
The production of ricotta cheese is rarely spoken about by those who wrote about the Roman times, but this is probably because ricotta was not a profitable cheese, and instead, it was normally produced by those who wanted to consume it.
Over the centuries, ricotta cheese continued to play a big part in Italian culture, and it was made by Apennine shepherds in the 19th century.
Throughout the years, ricotta cheese has been a staple in Italy, and it is still produced using milk boilers like it was during the second millennium BC.
The rich history that ricotta cheese has in Italy proves what an excellent ingredient it can be in so many different dishes, but what do you do if you run out of ricotta cheese?
Let’s take a look at some of the best substitutes for ricotta cheese which are just as good as the real thing.
The first substitute that you could use instead of ricotta cheese is Fromage blanc.
This is quite a pricey alternative to ricotta and is more difficult to find than some other alternatives, but it has a consistency that is great for replacing ricotta cheese.
Fromage Blanc has a texture that is more like yogurt than cheese as it has a buttery taste, but it is a much healthier alternative than ricotta.
As you have probably guessed by its name, Fromage blanc is of French origin, and it has a mild yet tangy flavor. It is a great alternative to ricotta cheese because it is also very versatile.
Fromage blanc can be cooked without going runny, and can also be whipped for use in other dishes. So if you have some Fromage blanc lying around, you can easily use this in place of ricotta cheese.
But if you do not, let’s take a look at a more accessible alternative.
Another excellent alternative that you can use is cottage cheese. Cottage cheese is also a lot more accessible than Fromage blanc which we previously looked at which is why it might make a better alternative.
Cottage cheese is also an excellent replacement for ricotta cheese as they taste pretty much identical to one another, but cottage cheese is a little more solid than ricotta in terms of consistency.
Despite this, it is still an excellent substitute.
Cottage cheese is also a healthier option than ricotta cheese is, and as long as you purchase it in small curd form then it will be very similar to ricotta.
While it can be off-putting initially because it is slightly thicker than ricotta, all you need to do is blend it lightly and then you will find a texture that is similar to the ricotta which is perfect as a substitute.
Alternatively, you could substitute the ricotta cheese with tofu.
This might seem like a strange thing to use in replacement of ricotta as tofu isn’t actually a type of cheese, but thanks to the way that it’s built it has a similar texture and consistency to ricotta.
This means that you can easily replace the ricotta cheese in your recipe with tofu if you have some in the house.
Tofu is commonly used as a replacement for ricotta cheese, even if you have easy access to ricotta cheese, and that is because it contains no dairy products.
In recent years, there has been a massive increase in the number of people who follow a vegan diet, and that is why tofu has become so popular.
So if you want to avoid dairy, tofu is an excellent replacement for ricotta cheese.
You can also use buttermilk cheese instead of ricotta cheese. In particular, this substitute is excellent if you want to replace ricotta cheese in a pasta recipe or when making a cheesecake.
Buttermilk cheese is not generally available in most stores, but you can easily make it to replace ricotta cheese in your recipe.
To do this, all you need to do is pour some buttermilk into a colander that has been lined with cheesecloth. You should then put the colander into a large container and allow it to drain while storing it in the fridge.
After spending time in the fridge, the buttermilk will take on a consistency that is similar to cheese which can then be used in your recipe in place of ricotta cheese. A great alternative if you have buttermilk at home.
Additionally, you could use sour cream instead of ricotta cheese. This is another substitute that might seem odd, but sour cream is a suitable alternative for some dishes that would traditionally contain ricotta cheese.
Sour cream is formed when natural cream is fermented by lactic acid bacteria, and it is this fermentation process that gives sour cream its sour taste.
Due to the slight tang in its taste, sour cream is a suitable alternative for ricotta in dishes such as cakes, cookies, and even as a filling in a baked potato.
It can also be used to create a dip for crackers, vegetables, and potato chips. So if you were going to use ricotta cheese to make a dip, consider using sour cream instead.
Another brilliant substitute is goat’s cheese, which is an alternative that might seem unsurprising when you consider the fact that goat’s milk is commonly used in the creation of ricotta cheese.
However, please note that you should only ever use fresh goat cheese as a substitute and never aged goat cheese.
Aged goat cheese is tough and has a very strong taste which is something that you do not want in a substitute for ricotta cheese.
Before it is aged, goat cheese has a lighter consistency and less flavor which is why this is a great replacement for ricotta.
It can be used in the same measurements as ricotta cheese and is incredibly similar to it, so if you have fresh goat cheese at home, you can replace the ricotta in your recipe with goat cheese.
Next, let’s talk about queso fresco. This cheese is, of course, of Mexican origin and it has a mild flavor that is very similar to the taste of ricotta cheese.
This is another substitute that is more difficult to find, but it is a great way to change up your recipe.
In particular, queso fresco is an excellent substitute for ricotta cheese when you want to use it in dishes such as soups, casserole dishes, and Mexican meals such as enchiladas.
It is great for use in dishes that require cooking as it can soften in the heat without becoming runny. So if you happen to have queso fresco in your fridge, or you simply fancy a change, this is an excellent replacement for ricotta cheese.
You could also replace your ricotta cheese with mascarpone. Similar to ricotta, mascarpone is an Italian cheese except this cheese uses citric acid in its coagulation process.
Due to this, it has more flavor than ricotta cheese but as long as you only use it as a substitute in certain dishes, the flavor will not be a problem.
In particular, we would only recommend using mascarpone as a substitute in dishes that are naturally strong in flavor. Especially in dishes that include garlic, as the strength of this will balance out the flavor of the cheese.
To use mascarpone instead of ricotta, you will also be required to give it a quick blend to achieve the right consistency. But once you have done this it is a great replacement for ricotta cheese in dishes that are packed with strong flavors.
Another great replacement, due to the similarities in taste and texture, is cream cheese.
Cream cheese is incredibly soft and creamy, just like ricotta cheese, with the only difference in its design being the fact that cream cheese contains both milk and cream.
Cream cheese is a huge favorite in America, and because of this, it can be found in most grocery stores.
Cream cheese is already used in a variety of recipes where it needs to be cooked which is why it is an easy substitute for ricotta cheese.
It is also available in both full fat and low-fat options, so if you want to make a meal healthier by avoiding ricotta cheese, using cream cheese could be a great choice.
You may also choose to use Paneer which is an Indian cheese produced through the heating of cow or buffalo milk with citric acids.
Paneer is a great replacement for ricotta, but it will require a higher cooking temperature should you use this substitute.
While Paneer is a suitable substitute for ricotta cheese, we would mainly recommend using this as a substitute if you are looking to cook Indian dishes that are originally made with ricotta.
That being said, it is always a suitable substitute for ricotta, so if you have some Paneer at home, you can easily replace the ricotta cheese in your recipe with this.
Alternatively, clabber cream is a great replacement for ricotta cheese, but it is a very acquired taste.
Clabber cream is actually produced by allowing milk to go sour which is why a lot of people are put off of these ingredients.
That being said, it is a brilliant replacement for ricotta cheese in pasta dishes.
Just like buttermilk cheese, clabber cream is a great choice if you want to produce your ricotta substitute yourself.
However as clabber cream requires milk to go sour, you would need to produce it in advance. But if you fancy a change to ricotta cheese, clabber cream is a great choice if you are making pasta.
Another ricotta substitute that you might choose is pot cheese. Pot cheese is very similar to cottage cheese, but it has a drier consistency due to the method that is used to produce it.
Pot cheese gets its name from its production method as it is made using a pot on a hot stove.
This is another choice that is similar to clabber cream in the way that it is difficult to find in a grocery store.
However, it is easy to produce at home and is ready for use immediately. So if you haven’t got any ricotta cheese at home, pot cheese might be the perfect substitute.
The final option that you have is requesón. This is another Mexican cheese, and it is pretty much identical to ricotta.
Requesón is produced using leftover whey, similar to ricotta, which is why it is the perfect substitute for ricotta cheese.
Due to the incredible similarities in its taste and texture, requesón is one of the few ricotta cheese replacements that is suitable for use in all recipes.
So if you are bored of using ricotta cheese in your meals and fancy a change, requesón could be the perfect substitute for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I substitute cream cheese for ricotta cheese?
There’s nothing worse than starting to make a recipe only to realize that you don’t have one of the ingredients. However, sometimes you may already have something in your refrigerator or pantry that you can use instead…
The good news is that cream cheese can make an excellent substitute for ricotta cheese in most recipes.
Sure they’re made with different ingredients, with cream cheese containing both milk and cream, but when it comes to both taste and texture, ricotta cheese and cream cheese are very similar. This is because cream cheese is incredibly soft and creamy, much like ricotta cheese.
Better yet cream cheese is very easy to get hold of - it’s such a big hit in America that it can be found in most grocery stores.
But that’s not all, cream cheese is also available in low fat versions, so it could make for a healthier, lower calorie substitute for your ricotta cheese!
Can I substitute Greek yogurt for ricotta cheese in baking?
We are pleased to report the good news that in many cases, you can substitute Greek yogurt for ricotta cheese in your baking. (You can even use it in lasagna!) This is because Greek yogurt delivers a very similar taste and texture to ricotta cheese…
However, Greek yogurt is more liquid than ricotta cheese, so if you do want to substitute it for ricotta cheese, you will need to strain the yogurt of liquid in order to get the right consistency.
If you do have some ricotta cheese to hand, we recommend using 1/2 Cup Ricotta Cheese and 1/2 Cup Greek Yogurt for every 1 cup required of ricotta.
Can you substitute mozzarella for ricotta?
We are pleased to report the good news that in many instances you can substitute mozzarella cheese for ricotta cheese, and we’ll be giving you some tips on that very shortly.
Both mozzarella and ricotta are excellent soft Italian cheeses, but they are not without their differences. Mozzarella is made from cow's or buffalo's milk and is most commonly used as a pizza topping. Ricotta cheese on the other hand is an unsalted whey cheese resembling cottage cheese.
As for what this means when substituting mozzarella for ricotta, the mozzarella cheese does not have as strong a flavor as ricotta.
Moreover, mozzarella cheese has a tendency to become clumpy and therefore is much stringier than ricotta cheese.
In order to avoid any problems with this, we recommend that you for as creamy a brand of mozzarella as possible to lessen the chances of it being clumpy and stringy.
Or alternatively, you could try adding a mix of different cheese to replace the ricotta.
But we’re going to level with you here, mozzarella cheese is not the best substitute for ricotta, if it was it would have made our list earlier. While ricotta and mozzarella are quite sweet cheese, they are very different in terms of texture.
Can you substitute yogurt for ricotta cheese?
Yogurt is quite a popular substitute for ricotta cheese, and this is due predominantly to the health benefits. Yogurt is packed with potassium, vitamin B12 and probiotics. And better yet, it's significantly lighter in calories and fat than almost all cheeses.
But you need to bear in mind the differences between yogurt and ricotta cheese when substituting it. Yogurt's taste and texture exists somewhere in the gap between mayonnaise and cream, and as such it does not adequately replace ricotta’s flavor. But you might decide it's worth it for the health benefits.
If you do decide to replace your ricotta with yogurt, be sure to use a plain yogurt.
In short, there are lots of different options that you have if you are looking for a ricotta cheese substitute.
The most important thing to look for is a consistency that matches the texture of ricotta cheese, the flavor is also important but this can be masked in certain recipes.
If the texture of the substitute cheese is wrong then the consistency of the overall dish will be affected