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The 12 Best Substitutes for Ricotta Salata

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A bowl of grated italian pecorino romano or ricotta salata cheese

Ricotta Salata is not a cheese we commonly have in our kitchens, yet it is fairly common in recipes. The good news is that there are several viable substitutes.

The best substitute for ricotta cheese is cottage cheese. The other substitutes you can use include clabber cream, mascarpone, fresh goat cheese, and cream cheese. Tofu is a great substitute if you’re making a vegan dish. 

If you don’t have ricotta cheese on hand and you want to make stuffed shells from scratch, stick around. This article will give you 12 great substitutes for ricotta cheese.

1. Cottage Cheese

Many people consider cottage cheese a bit bland, but when you want to stuff your pasta shells and don’t have any ricotta, it’s the perfect substitute. It also contains less fat and fewer calories, making it a healthier choice than ricotta.

Cottage cheese is made from curdled skimmed milk and has loose curds and quite a lot of whey. It brings a lot of moisture to the dish, so make sure to drain it out in a sieve or cheesecloth before you use it. Since it’s a bit clumpy, you can blend it a bit before you stuff the shells with it to get a smoother texture, if you don’t like the clumps. 

Besides using it as a ricotta replacement, you can use cottage cheese in many sweet or savory dishes, such as in lasagna or stuffed crêpes.

Plate of stuffed shells made with cottage cheese

2. Clabber Cream

Clabber cream is a type of firm cream made from soured milk. Although somewhat less thick than ricotta, clabber cream is great for stuffing pasta shells. And the best part is that you can make it yourself by completing the following steps:

  1. Ferment the fresh raw milk at room temperature for a few days in a pasteurized glass jar. 
  2. If you don’t have access to raw milk, you can also use pasteurized milk. 
  3. If you’re using pasteurized milk, add some buttermilk or sour milk to it before you leave it to ferment, which can take one to five days, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.
  4. Wait until the milk sets and solidifies, then strain it. The best way to do that is in a colander lined with cheesecloth.
  5. After draining it until it stops dripping (12 to 24 hours), transfer the clabber cream to the refrigerator.

If you want a dairy-free and vegan-friendly version of clabber cream, you can make one with soy milk. The process is the same, but instead of buttermilk or sour milk, add 2 tsp (9.9 ml) of lemon juice or white vinegar per cup (0.24 L) of soy milk.

Clabber cream has a slightly acidic, sour taste similar to yogurt and the consistency of a somewhat thicker créme fraîche. 

It can be used for cooking as a replacement for ricotta or sour cream, and since it has a leavening effect, it can also be used for baking goods instead of baking soda or baking powder.

Related The 10 Best Substitutes for Ricotta Cheese in Stuffed Shells.

3. Maquée 

Although maquée is the most expensive substitute for ricotta on this list, it’s well worth it. Maquée, or fromage blanc, is a luxurious and creamy French cheese that’s buttery, mildly sweet, and tangy, and is the perfect choice for stuffing shells because it doesn’t run when cooked. 

The best thing about it is the extremely low-calorie count, as one cup (0.24 L) has only 100 calories, even less than non-fat yogurt, according to New York Times.

4. Pot Cheese

Pot cheese falls in the category of cottage cheese. It’s a soft, dry cheese with a crumbly texture and mild taste, and the consistency falls in between cottage cheese and farmer’s cheese. 

Stuffed shells made with pot cheese

It can be made from cow, goat, or sheep milk.

Since it’s a bit drier and has larger curds than ricotta, if you decide to use it as a substitute, add a spoon of sour cream to it and blend it well, which gives it better consistency and a bit of a tang we associate with ricotta.

This cheese is also a great option when you don’t have ricotta because you can easily make it at home: 

  1. Combine milk and sour cream and cook the mixture on medium heat.
  2. When the milk separates into curds, remove it from the heat and leave it to set for a few hours.
  3. Cut the curds in the bowl with a knife to make them smaller, then drain the cheese in a colander covered with cheesecloth.
  4. Let the cheese drain for 30 minutes.

5. Recuite 

Recuite, or recuècha, is the name for whey cheese, and because ricotta is also a whey cheese, recuite is a perfect replacement option. 

The most famous recuite cheeses are: 

  • Brocciu: A Corsican whey cheese made from sheep milk.
  • Sérac: A French cheese from the Alpes made from cow, goat, or sheep milk.
  • Brousse: A lumpy whey cheese made in Corsica and Provence.

6. Quark

Quark is a soft cheese from Germany, often compared to ricotta and cottage cheese. It’s sometimes called Germany’s Greek yogurt, but the comparison is not really accurate, as quark is a lot denser and has a milder taste. 

The best comparison would be a mix of cottage cheese and yogurt.

It’s easily spreadable and versatile, so it’s often used in stuffed pasta dishes. With its mild taste, it’s great for preparing savory and sweet dishes. As a matter of fact, German cheesecake is prepared exclusively with quark. 

7. Mascarpone

Mascarpone is a soft Italian cheese with a slightly more tart flavor than ricotta, so it’s a good option for stuffed pasta shells in combination with garlic. To counteract the tartness, a little sugar will do the trick. 

It’s also thicker than ricotta, so a little time in the blender will take care of that for you.

Besides using it as an alternative for ricotta in stuffed shells, mascarpone is often used as an ingredient in many desserts, the most famous one being tiramisu. It’s also often used in lasagna and to add creaminess to risotto.

Related The 5 Most Suitable Substitutes for Pecorino Cheese.

8. Requeijão

Requeijão, or requesón, is often called the Hispanic ricotta that’s made in Mexico, Brazil, and Portugal and in a similar fashion to ricotta. The cheese is creamier and slightly more acidic than ricotta and can be quite salty.

It has a low-fat content and a high protein content, so if you decide to substitute ricotta with requeijão, make sure to choose a firmer version. 

Also, if you want a milder taste, opt for the Brazilian version since it is milder.

9. Fresh Goat Cheese

Fresh goat cheese, or fresh chevre, is a cheese made from goat milk. 

But unlike aged goat cheese, fresh goat cheese has a smooth texture and a mild, milky taste. It’s soft and easily spread, and as an alternative to ricotta cheese, it has fewer calories and a lot of protein and calcium, making it not only delicious but also healthy.

It’s also a fantastic option for people who have difficulty ingesting cow milk and cow milk products since it contains less lactose and is easier for the human digestive tract to digest. When filling your pasta shells with fresh goat cheese, keep in mind it does have a somewhat sharper taste than ricotta, and it pairs wonderfully with thyme and oregano.

10. Cream Cheese

Cream cheese, a soft, mild cheese, is made from milk and cream. With a mild flavor and similar water content as ricotta (55%), cream cheese is great for stuffing pasta shells. However, it has a higher fat content than ricotta, 33% to ricotta’s 10%, so keep that in mind when you use it. 

Cream cheese stuffed shells

It’s slightly thicker, saltier, and more tart than ricotta, so if your recipe calls for the use of citrus, feel free to forgo it. Besides being a perfect substitute for ricotta in stuffed shells or lasagna, it’s also great for making spreadable dips when combined with spices.

11. Paneer

Paneer cheese is a fresh Indian cheese made from buffalo milk or cow milk. It’s made by curdling milk with acid, and the finished product is mild and spongy. Like ricotta, paneer cheese doesn’t melt, so it is the perfect substitute for stuffing your shells.

With its spongy texture, it soaks up flavors well, and its high nutritional value and high protein content make it an excellent option for vegetarian dishes. Because of its texture, paneer cheese is often used as grillable cheese because it holds its shape and doesn’t melt when heated.

12. Tofu

This dairy-free and vegan-friendly plant-based cheese substitute is made from condensed soy milk. To choose the best type of tofu to substitute ricotta cheese in any Italian dish, it’s important to look for the tofu with the highest water content, which happens to be silken tofu. 

This Japanese-style tofu is silky and creamy and brings perfect richness and moisture to your recipe. It also has a very mild flavor and is an excellent vessel for infusing with flavorful herbs and sauces.

Healthiest Substitute For Ricotta Cheese

The healthiest substitute for ricotta cheese is fromage blanc. It has only 75 kcal per 100g (3.53 oz) compared to 174 kcal in ricotta cheese. It also has 3.1 g (0.11 oz) of fat, while ricotta has 13 g (0.46 oz), and fromage blanc comes in a fat-free version without the loss of creaminess. 

Another healthy alternative to ricotta is cottage cheese, which has 98.5 kcal per 100 g (3.53 oz) and 4.3 g (0.15 oz) of fat.

Best Non-Dairy Substitute For Ricotta Cheese

The best non-dairy substitute for ricotta cheese is silken tofu, which is made from coagulated soy milk. Silken tofu has a high water content because it isn’t drained after the milk coagulates. This gives it a texture on par with ricotta.

Silken tofu is also known as Japanese tofu, which is soft and creamy, so it’s often used as a substitute for spreadable cheese in vegan recipes.

Best Ricotta Substitute For Lasagna

Hands removing lasagna from an oven

The best ricotta substitute for lasagna is cottage cheese, which is mild and carries flavor well. It also pairs well with tomatoes, an important ingredient of lasagna. However, if you use cottage cheese as a substitute for ricotta, drain it well because it is a high-moisture cheese with 79% water. 

Best Substitute For Ricotta Cheese In Cannoli

The best substitute for ricotta cheese in cannoli is cream cheese with a small amount of cottage cheese. This combination will give you the right texture, and ricotta-like taste, both of which are important factors when making cannoli.

If you don’t have cream cheese, sour cream with a little bit of lemon juice is also a good substitute for ricotta in this case. Mascarpone is also an option since it is perfect for making desserts, but keep in mind it is a lot thicker than ricotta, and your cannoli will be harder to fill with it.

Can I Substitute Cream Cheese for Ricotta Cheese?

You can substitute cream cheese for ricotta cheese. Remember that since cream cheese is made from milk and cream, and ricotta is made only from milk, ricotta is less creamy. It’s also grainier and slightly sweeter, while cream cheese is smooth and a bit salty.

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For more, don’t miss 8 Most Suitable Substitutes for White American Cheese.

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