6 Easy-to-Find Ricotta Cheese Substitutes
Ricotta cheese is a wonderfully versatile ingredient that works in both sweet and savory dishes. Ricotta is a key player in quality lasagna, but the cheese makes a great addition to cheesecake and pancakes, too. If you are in the midst of preparing a recipe that calls for ricotta and you realize you don’t have it in your fridge, or if you can’t find it at your local grocery store, there are few common options you can use as a quick substitute. (You can also easily make homemade ricotta if you prefer to go that route!)
While nothing quite matches the taste and texture of classic ricotta cheese, there are other ingredients at your local grocery store that come close. If you’re able to substitute ricotta cheese with an ingredient that successfully embodies the notable characteristics — creaminess, thickness, and just the right amount of saltiness — you’re in business. While some of the substitutes below might vary slightly in tanginess and texture, you can almost always add other ingredients here and there to get the exact result you’re going for. Try one (or a combination!) of the ricotta substitutes below — you might be pleasantly surprised at how far experimenting in the kitchen can take you!
Read more: How to Make a Buttermilk Substitute
6 Ricotta Substitutes to Try
1. Cottage Cheese
While cottage cheese has long had a reputation for being a rather bland “health” food, it’s actually incredibly versatile, just like ricotta, and can be used to add moisture (and protein) to recipes like these pancakes and this quick bread. Cottage cheese, which is made from acidified milk that has turned into curds and separated from the whey, is slightly chunkier than ricotta cheese. With that said, you can use cottage cheese in pretty much the same way you might ricotta cheese, including in lasagna, dips, and pancakes. Try it in the skillet lasagna pictured above.
2. Cream Cheese
Cream cheese is a bit thicker (and smoother) than ricotta cheese but can be used in many of the same dishes. Just like ricotta, cream cheese works well in many warm pasta dishes — especially ones that allow it to melt into the sauce, like this creamy baked cavatappi. As well as being slightly thicker than ricotta, cream cheese is a bit more tart in flavor, so you may need to adjust the other seasonings to balance out the tanginess (for example, if your recipe calls for lemon juice or zest, you can dial that back slightly). Depending on the recipe, you can simply use a smaller amount of cream cheese.
3. Greek Yogurt
Another tangy option, Greek yogurt is creamy and easy to spread on toast, and can also be used in some dips in place of ricotta. Again, Greek yogurt is rather tart, so keep that in mind when working it into recipes that call for ricotta — it’s a better bet for sweet and savory dips than cooked dishes like lasagna.
4. Sour Cream
Perhaps the tangiest substitute on this list, sour cream can work as an alternative to ricotta on some occasions. Since it is super tart, sour cream should be used in moderation compared to ricotta. Like Greek yogurt, sour cream is best used in place of ricotta in recipes like dip — we wouldn’t recommend layering it into your lasagna unless the recipe specifically calls for it, like in this taco lasagna recipe.
5. Crème Frâiche
You can think of crème frâiche as a French equivalent of sour cream. But because crème fraiche is not quite as sour as sour cream, and is creamier and richer, thanks to a higher fat content, it can work as a substitute for ricotta in dishes where the main thing you are going for is a luscious, creamy consistency. Try combining equal parts crème frâiche and cottage cheese for a ricotta substitute in lasagna, dips, desserts, and spreads.
Tofu is a go-to for meat substitutes, but it can also be good for those in search of a vegan ricotta replacement, too. Tofu on its own wouldn’t be a good alternative to ricotta cheese, but many recipes call for blending tofu with ingredients like tahini, nutritional yeast, and olive oil to create a vegan ricotta substitute that can be used in lasagna, dips, and more.
Read more: A Quick Guide to Ingredient Substitutions