Few ingredients combine so well with so many meals as ricotta cheese does. This soft white cheese is one of the Italian favorites and gets along well with everything from chicken to cheesecake. Still, what to do when preparing one of these meals and realizing you don’t have ricotta cheese in your fridge? Well, I usually use a substitute — but the trick is to use the right one for the right dish. So, which are the best ricotta substitutes?
Cottage cheese, pot cheese, goat cheese, mozzarella, sour cream, Greek yogurt, and buttermilk cheese are dairy products that can substitute ricotta in numerous meals.
With so many choices available, why should you stick solely to ricotta? In the following lines, I will present some exciting substitutes for this Italian cheese that can make your dishes even tastier. And you may even start using some as permanent substitutes!
Ricotta Cheese Substitutes for Lasagna
Lasagna is a type of pasta that you don’t necessarily have to prepare with ricotta cheese. Some recipes for this Italian meal include other types of dairy, such as mozzarella, cottage, or pot cheese. Still, if you wish to make it with a soft, white, non-homogeneous cheese with a similar texture as ricotta, try cottage or pot cheese.
Mozzarella is one of my favorite pizza and sandwich toppings, but it can also replace ricotta in lasagna. This cheese is soft and easy to handle – you can either shred it or cut it into slices. If you are making lasagna with it, use fresh mozzarella. Since it has a neutral taste, I like to combine it with meat and spicy lasagna sauce.
Cottage cheese comes with fewer calories and has a flavor similar to ricotta, which makes it a good substitute for Italian delicacy in lasagna. In fact, curd cottage cheese is almost a perfect match because it has a similar texture. However, it can be saltier than ricotta, so you should use less salt when preparing lasagna with this dairy.
Pot cheese is a variation of cottage cheese that is a bit more crumbly but still creamy. It has a high content of proteins and a more distinct flavor, so it is the best option for lighter versions of lasagna.
Ricotta Cheese Substitutes for Ravioli
In ravioli, ricotta cheese is usually a part of the filling. However, to make a subtle twist in classic ravioli with cheese, you can use ingredients with a distinct flavor, such as goat cheese or Mexican queso fresco.
Unaged, high-fat goat cheese can make an amazing ravioli filling. Though it has a strong taste, it contains various enzymes that make it a good choice. However, even fresh, this cheese is not as soft as ricotta, so I usually process it a little before adding it to the ravioli filling.
Queso fresco is a white, unaged Mexican cheese product that shares many similarities with ricotta. It is a white cheese with many variations across different nations. The production of this cheese is pretty simple, and since it doesn’t require careful handling, you can easily make it yourself.
Ricotta Cheese Substitutes for Stuffed Shells
Stuffed shells are a meal that requires more patience than regular pasta, but it is worth the trouble, even more so if you use high-quality, creamy cheese for stuffing. Ricotta, combined with a pinch of salt, olive oil, and oregano, works very well as a stuffing for pasta shells. However, if you want to try something different, Fromage Blanc or cream cheese will make a wonderful substitute.
Fromage Blanc is yet another variation of white cheese. It is a homemade dairy you can easily make with fresh, high-fat milk. Fromage Blanc is clunky and gooey cheese you can combine with chives, parsley, egg, and meat to create a lovely stuffing for your pasta shells.
Cream cheese is a welcome addition to numerous meals. As it is buttery and smooth, it is a simple and delicious solution for stuffing pasta shells. The great thing about it is you can mix it with other types of dairy and create a rich stuffing that agrees with meat and tomato sauce.
Substitutes for Ricotta Cheese in Manicotti
Manicotti stuffed with cheese is a pasta meal you shouldn’t miss out on! You can make the stuffing with various cream and soft cheeses, like mozzarella, as well as some hard dairy products, such as parmesan and pecorino cheese.
Mozzarella and Pecorino Cheese
Shredded mozzarella and pecorino cheese will give your manicotti authentic Italian flavor. Usually, you would add ricotta to this combination to make three-cheese manicotti. But, if you are missing it from your fridge, use these two, and you can still have a delicious meal.
Though parmesan is a hard cheese, it melts easily. If you enjoy creamy pasta stuffing, this cheese could be a perfect match. Mix it up with chicken meat and make Chicken parmesan manicotti, or combine it with prosciutto and sweet cherry tomato and enjoy their flavors.
Ricotta Cheese Substitutes for Baked Ziti
Baked ziti is another simple-to-make and tasty Italian dish. Its recipe includes soft cheese, such as ricotta; still, it leaves a lot of space for improvisation. Since you will use the cheese to cover ziti before baking and give it a beautiful crust, you can use any type of dairy that melts well. I suggest either parmesan, cheddar, or cream cheese.
Parmesan is an ideal solution for any sort of dish that requires a cheesy, golden crust. If you would rather use a cheese with a distinct flavor rather than neutral or mild while making ziti, you can add it instead of ricotta. Parmesan will melt over ziti, complimenting the red sauce with meat that lays under the crust.
Same as parmesan, cheddar cheese melts pretty well, which makes it suitable for baked ziti crust. This cheese can sometimes have a sharp taste. I recommend combining it with other, more neutral dairy products. Still, it will make a delicious ricotta substitute for baked ziti and make an English twist on this meal.
Ricotta Cheese Substitutes in Desserts
Creamy cheese, such as ricotta, is one of the main ingredients for tasty desserts such as cheesecake, ricotta pudding, almond ricotta cake, and even some easy keto sweets.
Mascarpone is probably as close a match to ricotta cheese as it can get. You can use it to make no-bake cheesecake, lemon cake or lemon blondies, trifle desserts, and one of the most popular Italian sweets — tiramisu.
Greek yogurt is a good replacement for ricotta in fruity desserts. It is best suited for cupcake frostings, tart filling, and pudding. I especially like to layer it over ladyfingers soaked in strawberry juice and add some fresh strawberries, and I have myself an amazing dessert in no time. Yum!
Brie is a cream cheese that can be a dessert on its own. It gets along well with fruit and different sorts of jams. As a substitute for ricotta, you can use it in blueberry pie, pear tart, or cheesecake. It will add a certain tang and delightful creaminess.
Ricotta Cheese Substitutes That Goes With Chicken
Chicken meat gets along with almost every type of cheese. However, if you are planning to make a chicken sandwich or sauce for your chicken file, you might reach out for some softer options that spread easily. Ricotta cheese is one of these options, yet if you don’t have it at the moment, sour and clabber cream will do it justice.
Sour cream is a great addition to every white sauce, especially if you are looking for an ingredient that can replace ricotta cheese. The sour cream sauce is lighter, and it comes with fewer calories than ricotta, yet it compliments chicken meat equally well.
Clabber cream is a good choice if you wish to substitute ricotta in a chicken sandwich or a dip for chicken wings. You can combine it with a wide range of spices — from chives to paprika, cayenne, pepper, oregano, olives, and olive oil.
Fontina is a semi-soft cheese that has been around since the Middle Ages. It is an amazing replacement for ricotta in grilled chicken sandwiches, but you can also use it in a regular sandwich and some baked dishes. Fontina is an Alpine cheese with a buttery taste, high in fat, so consume it moderately.
Ricotta Cheese Substitutes for Salad
Ricotta is almost an indispensable ingredient in summer salads. You can add it to a salad with tomato and pesto sauce, arugula, olives, nuts, cucumber, or winter mixtures with citruses and beetroot. Still, if you are tired of the ricotta taste and are willing to try out some new combination, I suggest starting by replacing this cheese with either feta, farmer’s cheese, or paneer.
This Greek delicacy is a soft white cheese and outstanding ricotta substitute for any salad. You can mix it with arugula, oregano, cucumbers, almonds, or cashews. It also makes a good addition to the beetroot salad, zucchini ribbon salad, as well as quinoa, red onion, and spinach salad.
The crumbly and somewhat moist texture of farmer’s cheese makes it a suitable substitute for ricotta in every salad. I like to add it to grilled chicken and asparagus, avocado, arugula, or creamy salad with vegetables — you will be surprised by its resemblance to ricotta!
Paneer is a fresh white cheese from India. Though it has a spongy, cohesive texture and a slightly nutty taste, it is a suitable replacement for ricotta for some of the lighter salads. Combine it with fresh herbs, cucumbers, green salad, paprika, or citrus fruits.
Vegan Substitutes for Ricotta Cheese
In case you would like to avoid dairy in its entirety, ricotta has a large number of vegan substitutes. Your choices range from plant and nut-based cheeses to completely dairy-free, gluten-free, and nut-free. The best vegan substitutes for ricotta are usually homemade. They are affordable, easy to make, and beneficial for you in many ways.
Soy Milk Ricotta
Soy milk ricotta is one of the safest and most affordable choices, and the option I usually go for. To make this cheese, you will need only four ingredients: unsweetened soy milk, vinegar, and salt. You can use it to make pasta sauce, salad, or in baked dishes.
Tofu ricotta may have more ingredients, yet it is equally easy to make as soy milk ricotta. It is made with tofu, yeast, garlic, tahini, lemon juice, onion powder, white miso, and pepper, and it makes a savory addition to ravioli, pasta shells, manicotti, and other pasta meals.
Cashew Ricotta Cheese
A specific, somewhat milky cashew flavor makes this nut an excellent base for numerous vegan meals, and the ricotta cheese substitute is one of them. Producing this sort of cheese doesn’t take more than 15 minutes.
To make it, you will need cashews, vinegar, lemon juice, and spices, and all you have to do is let nuts sit 5 minutes in cold water and another 5 in hot water, drain them, mix them with the rest of the ingredients, and blend it in a food processor. It is a nutritious ricotta substitute you can add to pasta sauces, salads, and sandwich spreads.
Which ricotta substitutes do you usually use? I’m excited to read about your kitchen experience in the comments below!