Ricotta is an Italian cheese believed to be originally made from the goat, cow, sheep or Italian water buffalo leftover whey of Provolone and Mozzarella cheese by the traditional Italian cheese-makers. Hence, the name "Ricotta", which means "re-cooked." Today, some companies are already producing Ricotta cheese using other ingredients and methods. One example is Organic Valley's Ricotta, which is produced by pasteurizing whole non-fat milk, adding an organic salt, then a bit of salt for the formation of its curd.
You can also buy Ricotta cheese online. There are various choices of companies that produce Ricotta cheese, such as Organic Valley which was mentioned above, Walmart, and so on.
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What are the Nutrition Facts of Ricotta?
If you love Italian dishes such as lasagne, pizza, or cannoli, it's a must that you should know the health benefits and drawbacks of Ricotta cheese, which is a common ingredient in said dishes. If you do not want too many calories, you might want to use semi-skim or fat-free Ricotta. Numbers don’t lie; here are the other nutrition facts about Ricotta:
- One cup serving of Ricotta will gain you approximately 28 grams of Protein and 7.5 grams of carbs. This means that Ricotta is a great choice if you need energy for the day. Using low-fat Ricotta such as semi-skim or fat-free Ricotta will give you even more carbohydrates, which means even more energy!
- As a dairy product, Ricotta also contains a significant amount of calcium. A one cup serving gives you 0.52 grams of calcium, which is around 52% of your daily recommended value. Happy tastebuds, happy bones.
- A cup serving of Ricotta is a good source of Vitamin A (12% of daily value), Riboflavin (14% daily value), and Vitamin B12 (7% daily value)
- Ricotta is also rich in minerals. A half-cup serving provides 20% of your daily recommended Phosphorus, 10% of your daily Zinc, and 26% of your daily Selenium.
- Most importantly, Ricotta cheese contains Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. These fatty acids help to reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer and are very healthy for the body in general. A cup serving of Ricotta provides 0.28 grams of Omega-3 and 0.68 grams of Omega-6 fatty acids.
People often avoid adding cheese to their dish because of the calories, fat, and cholesterol, which is why it is recommended for you to use fat-free or semi-skim Ricotta cheese if you're after a lower fat content and calorie count.
Is Ricotta Underrated?
With so many types of cheeses to choose from, Ricotta is unfortunately often overlooked. Take a look at this list of dishes that you could make with Ricotta cheese to see why you should be paying more attention to this underrated gem of a cheese.
- Eggplant Rollatini
- Spaghetti Squash Meatball Casserole
- Italian Ricotta Easter Bread
- Warm Apple & Pistachio Spinach Salad
- Arugula & Mushroom Breakfast Pizza
- Cornmeal Towers with Strawberries n’ Cream
- Hazelnut Pear Cake
- White Seafood Lasagne
- Cheese Manicotti
- Orange Chocolate Ricotta Pie
If you're craving for a tasty Italian dish such as lasagne or a delicious creamy cheesecake, these dishes will be right up your street.
The 10 Best Replacements for Ricotta
Now that you know all these great things about Ricotta, you might be thinking "this is the cheese for me!”, but maybe your local shop doesn't sell it. If this is you, don't worry! Here's a list of possible substitutes for your favorite Ricotta cheese just for you.
Cottage cheese can be a great substitute for Ricotta because of its light taste that makes their taste quite similar to each other. Another great piece of news is that this cheese is also low in fat and calories which also makes it even better substitute for Ricotta. It is available in two forms, namely small-curd and large-curd, but if you’re looking for similarity with ricotta cheese, you should go for the small-curd form of cottage cheese.
Cottage cheese is a great source of essential nutrients because it is high in iron, folate, calcium, and vitamin A. It is also a very good addition to your diet if you really want to lose some weight and also control your cholesterol and saturated fat intake. You could also find low-sodium or sodium-free cottage cheese if you want to restrict your sodium level.
If you’re preparing a recipe for lasagne and you don’t have Ricotta, you should definitely give cottage cheese a try - you won't regret it! If you can, you should make sure to get a high-quality cottage cheese for it to be really similar to Ricotta. Cottage cheese is a bit bumpier than Ricotta because it is produced using the curd of milk, whereas, Ricotta is produced from the whey. That is why it requires to be sieved first when using it as a substitute.
This one’s a pricey, yummy, buttery, yogurt-like, fresh cheese that can be pretty hard to find. Being a low-fat substitute for Ricotta, many health conscious people use Fromage Blanc as a dessert topping. Its flavor can be either mild, tangy or sweet. Other than toppings, it is also used as a cheese spread. Fromage Blanc’s name also translates to “white cheese” from French.
Besides being a Ricotta substitute, it can also be used as a cream cheese replacement. Some people eat this with fruits, use it for cooking, use it in whipped cream, and also while making dips with herbs, spices for main courses. It wasn't very well known until recently, probably because, as mentioned, it can be rather expensive and rare to find. But as its fans say, it’s worth the search!
Its consistency is somewhat similar to cream cheese but has a fraction of the calories and cholesterol. Its texture can be compared to a thick drained yogurt or cream cheese. Just like other cheeses, Fromage Blanc comes in both whole-milk and skimmed varieties.
Mascarpone is another cheese that originated in Italy, specifically in the Lombardy Region in North Italy. It is produced by coagulating cream with citric, acetic, or tartaric acid. It is a white-colored cheese that is great for desserts such as tiramisu, zabaglione, or risottos. It has a touch of tart flavor unlike from Ricotta’s mildness which is why it is recommended to use this as a substitute for Ricotta in strong-flavored recipes like dishes that use garlic.
Another dish that suits Mascarpone as an alternative to Ricotta is for Cannoli. When it comes to the consistency, you may need to blend Mascarpone first for it to have the same consistency as Ricotta because Mascarpone is denser in comparison. Its texture is very smooth and contains no lumps or grains. It's also great to use when making pasta with or without mixing it into the sauce. It makes a perfect addition to lasagne, mac n' cheese, and baked rigatoni because of its rich, creamy flavor.
Mascarpone has a high fat content and can be difficult to find in certain places. Therefore if you want to limit your fat intake, you're probably better off using a different substitute for Ricotta.
Sour cream is one of the best Ricotta substitutes out there. It is produced through a process known as souring wherein natural cream is fermented by lactic acid bacteria. Sour cream is usually used as a Ricotta alternative when making vegetable, crackers, or potato chip dips. Sour cream has been a popular dip option for quite some time now, especially with chips.
Some people also customize their sour cream by adding herbs and spices to boost its flavor. Many people only know sour cream as a dip, but it also can be utilized as a cookie topping, cake topping, baked potato topping, and also as a filling. Some say it's also like yogurt because of its ability to soften and tenderize baked goods.
For people with allergies, you might want to check the contents of sour cream before you try it. Some sour cream contains flavoring agents, gelatin, rennet, sodium citrate, salt, and vegetable enzymes. For your safety, you could just make your own homemade sour cream to avoid allergy issues.
Tofu is made through the coagulation of soy milk, which then forms curds of tofu blocks. A great example of a tofu alternative for Ricotta is the Silken tofu. It is made from coagulated soy milk, but without the process of forming the curds. It's a good Ricotta alternative because you don't have to worry about the consistency since it already has a similar consistency to Ricotta.
Traditional tofu as a substitute for Ricotta would be very different from Silken tofu. Regular tofu is much thicker and sturdier which makes it off from Ricotta's consistency. Tofu is popular among vegans who avoid dairy products and also for people who are hypersensitive to dairy products. You could add herbs and spices that effortlessly combine with ricotta when using tofu. Tofu can be a filling for lasagne, making cannoli, ravioli, manicotti and a variety of other dishes, but keep in mind to remove the egg-like flavor of tofu when you use it for the purposes of baking.
Tofu as a substitute to Ricotta cheese is higher in protein, while being lower in fat and cholesterol content. It is also sodium free and contains no saturated fat. Keep in mind that you should always add spices and flavoring to it because it has little flavor, but it will easily absorb any spices and flavor that you add into it.
When it comes to pasta fillings, buttermilk cheese is one of the go-to substitute cheeses for Ricotta. It also boasts great feedback from those using it for cheesecakes. Do keep in mind that this cheese is not available at many convenience stores, but don't fret - it's very easy to prepare at home.
Buttermilk is produced using the liquid leftover from the making of butter. Its flavor can be a mild sour taste that is often used to tenderize meats. People also use this kind of flavor to add moisture to baked goods, increase the creaminess in different sauces and soups. Another piece of good news is that buttermilk is low in fat unlike regular butter or whole milk. You should also note that while buttermilk provides key nutrients, it also contains saturated fat, which lessens its nutritional value.
Buttermilk contains 8 grams of fat, and 4.5 grams of those are saturated. Consuming buttermilk daily can be detrimental to your health due to this high saturated fat content, which increases your cholesterol levels and can increase the chances of suffering from heart disease. Other than that, it could also cause type 2 Diabetes, so beware of the health risks before using this as a substitute. On the other hand, it is a good source of calcium to support and make your bones grow healthy and strong. It is also a great source of Vitamin D which is essential for absorbing calcium and also helps in supporting your bones.
If you’re going with goat cheese as an alternative for Ricotta, it is advisable for you to use fresh goat cheese rather than aged goat cheese. When it comes to consistency, aged cheese is much firmer than Ricotta. In terms of flavor, it has a stronger flavor compared to Ricotta. However, fresh goat cheese is milder and somewhat tart in taste. It is also creamier and richer compared with its aged counterpart.
If you’re going to use goat cheese as a replacement, you should make sure that you use it fresh, like using it for fresh fruits and toppings for dessert. Also, keep in mind that you should just use the same exact amount of goat cheese as when you're using Ricotta. You should also know that goat cheese has the same consistency as Fromage Blanc. Fun fact - people who are sensitive to cow milk that avoid using cow milk Ricotta often use goat cheese as a substitute.
Goat cheese is a dairy product that is enjoyed all around the world, so it’s a must to know what health benefit it provides for those who consume it. Goat cheese is rich in magnesium, selenium, and Vitamin B3. One serving of goat cheese is a good source of essential nutrients such as calcium, phosphorus, copper, and protein. Another interesting fact from goat cheese is that it also has medium-chain fatty acids—a type of healthy fat— which is great news if you're trying to lose weight because it improves satiety when consuming it. It also contains more probiotics, is easier to digest, and has many other characteristics of great cheese. It is definitely worth a try!
When talking about good ricotta cheese substitutes, you simply can’t leave cream cheese out of the equation. It has a creamy and soft texture just like Ricotta, but the only problem is that it is higher in fat amount. The reason behind this is because cream cheese is produced out of cream and milk, while Ricotta can be produced out of pure milk.
The texture of cream cheese is soft, mellow, and fresh. It is widely known in America. It is mostly used as a substitute for Ricotta in the production of cheesecakes and lasagne. Other common dishes where you can use cream cheese instead of Ricotta is for the making of desserts, bagel spreads, dips, and nut breads. It can be purchased in non-fat or low-fat version, but you should know that there could be a change in flavor of cream cheese when you’re using it for cheesecakes.
Cream cheese is identified as a fresh cheese because it is un-aged. It also means that it has a short shelf life the moment you opened it. To avoid it from being spoiled, make sure to keep it refrigerated even if it is still not yet opened. It has a fresh, mild, sweet but pleasing slight tang of flavor. If you're using it for a spread, you might want to keep it at room temperature for a creamy and smooth texture. In fact, many cream cheeses are now available in a variety of flavored versions that already included herbs, fruits, and even salmon!
Queso Fresco, from the name itself, is a fresh Mexican cheese that has a flavor of milk, mild, and salty. The texture of this cheese is a bit dry, breakable, grainy, and fit for crumbling and grating for dishes like soups, chile stuffing, casseroles, or enchiladas. It is also easy to slice Queso Fresco, and it lightens enough without being runny when it is heated.
Since it is a Mexican cheese, it can be mostly found in Mexican grocery shops. It is also recommended to use it for dishes that need to have fresh cheese when you're using it as a substitute for Ricotta. Examples of those are fruit toppings that have honey and fillings. You should also know that Queso Fresco has a higher calorie, fat, protein and sodium content compared with Ricotta. If you're looking for a Ricotta substitute without any fat or calorie restriction, then Queso Fresco could already be a good replacement for your Ricotta.
Queso Fresco is known for its salty and sour flavor and creamy texture due to its freshness, but it's not that good in terms of richness nor buttery taste. There are various dishes wherein Queso Fresco is a great fit such as egg dishes or used as a garnish for chilled summer soups. One of the best ways to use Queso Fresco is for watermelon and mint as an appetizer or dessert. You could also try to serve it with corn and cob, lime, or butter.
Requeson is a lumpy fresh cheese from Mexico that has a yellowish-white color, making it look almost identical to Ricotta. Requeson is produced from leftover whey with the addition of milk. After mixing those, you heat them, skim, and then drain them in baskets. Some people also call it "The Hispanic Equivalent of Ricotta Cheese."
The flavor of Requeson ranges from mild to salty. People also use this cheese as a filling for bolillos, tostadas, or tacos and can be used along with beans. It also has various flavors like salted or sweetened; it depends on how you will use it. Other than tacos, it could also be a great replacement for Ricotta for desserts and dips. Its consistency varies from solid to creamy and has a strong and salty taste. It also has a Brazilian version which is more creamy and mild compared to the original version.
Requeson is a cheese that is low in fat and high in protein, which is good news for you health buffs out there. It is definitely one of the substitutes that you should choose when finding a replacement for your Ricotta cheese if you’re conscious about your health. Requeson amplifies the flavor of your dishes such as salad, pasta, enchiladas, desserts, and so on. When using it as a filling for taco, you could add herbs, peppers and roasted garlic. You could use it to stuff lasagne, pasta shells, and for baked goods and desserts when sweetened.
Two of the most important factors that you should consider when looking for Ricotta substitutes is the consistency and flavor. You must make sure that it matches with the texture and taste that Ricotta offers. There are some cheeses mentioned above that are a bit tougher compared to Ricotta, which is why it is essential first to blend them for the cheese to be creamier.
When it comes to flavor, you could modify it by adding different kinds of spices or herbs for it to really achieve the Ricotta cheese offers on your favorite recipe. You might also consider adding yogurt to the substitute cheese if you want to improve its taste and luster. So try something new, and start checking out the mentioned cheeses above!