Chatelaine Kitchen

Pantry 101: Ricotta vs. Cottage Cheese

While similar in appearance and taste, there are a few key differences that set these versatile cheeses apart.

Image of ricotta and cottage cheese

Known for their versatility, fresh unripened cheeses are a staple in many cuisines of the world. Typically very mild and moist, ricotta and cottage cheese are both popular fresh cheeses that can be enjoyed for breakfast, as a snack or even for dessert. While both are delicious, there are a few significant differences that set them apart.

Ricotta is a traditional Italian cheese made from the leftover whey from the production of hard cheeses (such as Romano). Part of the Brocciu family of cheeses (a group of fresh, whey cheeses), ricotta was originally made from sheep’s milk or water buffalo milk whey, however North American ricotta is typically prepared using cow’s milk. The ricotta cheese we know and love has a milder and sweeter flavour than Italian Ricotta. This creamy and smooth cheese is undrained of its whey and is characterized by a pleasant tartness.

Did you know? Ricotta is technically a dairy by-product, not a cheese. It was created as a solution to the large amounts of whey created during the cheese-making process.

Why we love it: The neutral and sweet flavour of ricotta makes it a versatile ingredient that works well in both sweet and savoury dishes. Ricotta can be found in varieties ranging from slightly gritty in texture to extra smooth varieties and from full fat to light.

Try it:
Ricotta oat-bran pancakes
Lidia’s easy pasta with penne, ricotta and mushrooms
Classic lasagna

Related: Plain yogurt vs. Greek yogurt

Cottage cheese
Cottage cheese is a fresh, unripened cheese with a mild, slightly acidic flavour, made from curds (created when milk or cream is separated into curds and whey). Unlike ricotta, which is made from whey, cottage cheese features noticeable curds, giving it a lumpier texture, as the individual curds remain loose.

Did you know? Cottage cheese can be interchanged for ricotta in dishes like lasagna (drain it first) and ricotta pancakes (blitz it in the blender a bit before making substitution).

Why we love it: This low-fat, high-protein cheese is very nutritious and a source of calcium, making it a great healthy option for snacking.

Try it:
Vanilla bean cheesecake
Cottage cheese pancakes with crème fraîche and jam
Kale and spinach hand pies

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