When to Use Ricotta vs. Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese and ricotta are each recent, comparatively gentle cheeses — and each scrumptious in their very own proper — however they’re not the identical factor.

“Though each are unripened (learn: recent) cheeses, there are technical variations,” says Kathleen Serino, a nationwide coaching and curriculum supervisor at Murray’s Cheese. “From a excessive stage, it’s how the milk solids are handled throughout the cheesemaking course of.” 

Although they’re each comprised of cow’s milk, ricotta cheese is produced with leftover whey from the milk-making course of, whereas cottage cheese makes use of the curds. Ricotta and cottage cheese additionally differ in texture and taste: Ricotta is smoother and barely sweeter, whereas cottage cheese has a lumpier consistency and tangier taste.

Learn on for extra on how these dairy-aisle staples differ.

Photograph by Victor Protasio / Meals Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Kathleen Cook dinner Varner

What’s ricotta cheese?

Ricotta cheese means “recooked,” and it’s certainly typically made with leftover whey (the liquid that is still after milk has been curdled and strained) from cow’s milk. “The residual curds remaining in whey could be coagulated by acid with the assistance of regular cooking over warmth,” explains Serino. “Straightforward sufficient to make at dwelling from scratch, ricotta must be rigorously ladled right into a draining basket to keep up its delicate and fluffy texture,” she provides.

Ricotta cheese has a barely candy, milky taste and a noticeably pillowy texture, which makes it ideally suited for baked Italian-American casseroles, baked items like muffins and cookies, and candy and savory hors d’oeuvres. Ricotta salata, in the meantime, is a salted and aged model of ricotta.

To make ricotta at dwelling, begin by warming dairy (normally complete milk with a little bit little bit of cream, or with buttermilk for an additional tangy taste) on a stovetop. As soon as it begins to steam and foam, add a splash of acid (lemon juice or white vinegar works greatest) and stir repeatedly till the curds start to kind. Switch the combination to cheesecloth to pressure the whey; the remaining creamy curds turn into ricotta.

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What’s cottage cheese?

“Cottage cheese is made by coagulating milk with acid [slowly]. The solids are then reduce into curd-size items and cream is added as a seasoning,” explains Serino. Whereas ricotta is sweeter, cottage cheese has a notable tangy taste from the sluggish acid fermentation. It has a heavier, thicker consistency than ricotta, and is mostly studded with bigger curds, although it is available in small and enormous curd varieties. 

When to make use of ricotta vs. cottage cheese

Gentle, easy, and fresh-tasting, ricotta cheese is extremely versatile in candy and savory dishes alike — it may be used to make fluffy pancakes, whisked right into a breakfast frittata, blended into meatballs, or smeared on crostini for a fast appetizer. It’s additionally scrumptious in pasta dishes like Skillet Lasagna, Lemon-Ricotta Pasta, or Ricotta Gnocchi, and stars in not-too-sweet desserts like our Honey-Ricotta Mousse and Limoncello-Ricotta Cheesecake. If you happen to’re not utilizing ricotta in a baked dish, it’s greatest served chilly. 

Though barely tangy, protein-packed cottage cheese is usually loved by itself or topped with recent fruit, it’s conventional in lots of noodle dishes from around the globe like spaetzle and kugel. It can be layered with recent or dried fruit and granola for a nourishing breakfast or lunch parfait, or used as a dip for pita chips and uncooked crudités. Whilst you can substitute cottage cheese for ricotta in sure dishes like lasagna, keep away from utilizing it in recipes like cheesecake that decision for a smoother texture.

How to buy ricotta and cottage cheese

Ricotta and cottage cheese are each extensively obtainable, and could be discovered within the dairy aisle of your grocery retailer. “For ricotta, I’m searching for an Italian-style producer, or maybe natural,” says Serino. “If you happen to discover one labeled ‘hand-dipped,’ that could be a good indicator for deliciousness and delicate texture.” Higher but, search for imported ricotta made with sheep or water buffalo milk for a wealthy and creamy taste.

When searching for cottage cheese, search for manufacturers that produce complete milk, giant curd cheeses for the perfect taste and texture. “In terms of cottage cheese, I’m reaching for both a semi-local producer or an natural model — if there’s a native, natural model, all the higher,” says Serino. As with all recent dairy merchandise, take a look at the best-by date; the extra lately the cheese has been made, the higher it can style.

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