Last-Minute Ricotta Cheese Substitutes for Lasagna or Cannoli

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Ricotta cheese is popular in many Italian pasta dishes, especially filled pastas like tortellini or ravioli, dips, and salads, due to its soft texture and mild, but rich, and somewhat sweet taste. It may also be used as a dessert cheese, pairing nicely with fruits and chocolate, and can be used to create lower-fat cheesecakes and delicious cannoli!

Ricotta cheese is a whey cheese, as opposed to the curd cheeses we usually purchase. Curd cheeses are created by pressing curds or solids into molds and leaving the liquid or whey behind.

While making ricotta cheese, the whey is generally boiled with some whole milk and an acid such as citrus juice or vinegar is added after the curds have been removed for other cheeses. As a result, the curds remaining in the whey begin to coagulate and get bigger and more solid. This mixture is eventually strained through cheesecloth, and what remains in the fabric after straining is ricotta or recooked cheese.

Ricotta cheese may be prepared with any kind of milk, including goat, sheep, or buffalo milk. Nowadays, our ricotta cheese is typically made from whole milk rather than whey, much like any other cheese.

Ricotta cheese, being a soft cheese, does not store well even while unopened, and once opened, it only lasts one to two weeks. While this may restrict your recipe choices (unless you plan ahead and go to the store! ), there are a number of dairy and even non-dairy alternatives for ricotta cheese in a variety of recipes, whether you want to create a last-minute lasagna or some cannoli.

Instead, flavor ricotta cheese. Take the time to read through before deciding which alternative to use, since not all substitutions are suited for all recipes, even if a lot of the ones listed below have a similar consistency and flavor.

Firmer substitutes will generally benefit from blending before use to lighten them up, and you may want to add more dairy, such as milk, sour cream, crème fraiche, or yogurt, to help smooth them out and provide some extra creaminess.

If you’re using a ricotta cheese replacement in a savory meal and its taste is a bit different, you may alter the amount of herbs or spices to compensate.

It’s also worth mentioning that not all of these alternatives will react the same way when cooked, which is why some of them will only work as a ricotta cheese substitute in particular recipes.

1. Cottage Cheese

While cottage cheese is less creamy than ricotta cheese and has a softer and saltier taste, it is an acceptable alternative for ricotta cheese in filled pasta and other recipes that need a gentler flavor, particularly if it is a tiny curd cottage cheese rather than a large curd cottage cheese.

When using cottage cheese in a dish, strain it to remove extra whey. You may also smooth it by mixing it with a spoonful of skim milk, cream, or yogurt. You may also strain the cottage cheese through cheesecloth to eliminate extra liquid, which will help it firm up to a ricotta cheese consistency.

Allowing hot foods to remain for a few minutes before serving, depending on the recipe, can help the cottage cheese to firm up more, making it less runny when you cut into it.

Cottage cheese is likewise lower in fat, carbohydrates, and calories than ricotta cheese, but it also contains less calcium.

When replacing cottage cheese for ricotta cheese, use the same amount.

2. Cream Cheese

Cream cheese, with its softer and creamier texture, may be used in lieu of ricotta cheese in dishes such as lasagnas and cheesecakes.

Since cream cheese contains more fat than ricotta cheese, using a reduced fat cream cheese will result in a different texture and a softer taste.

When using a conventional block cream cheese, use a mixer or stick blender to add some air to the cheese and make it lighter in texture.

3. Sour Cream

Sour cream is a suitable ricotta cheese alternative in dips and certain baked products, but it is not a good ricotta cheese substitute in pasta recipes.

When using sour cream, the sourness may cut through, so combine it with additional cream cheese before preparing dips to lessen this.

Sour cream’s blandness may also be modified by adding additional spices or herbs.

4. Goat Cheese

Fresh goat cheese may be used for fresh ricotta cheese in dessert toppings. It may also be used in baked dishes, however since goat cheese melts faster than ricotta cheese, it should be put later rather than early to a cooked dish.

Fresh goat cheese is creamy and mild in taste, with a subtle tanginess, and it may be used in the same amount as ricotta cheese. While fresh goat cheese has a somewhat stronger taste than ricotta cheese, it is also a good option for individuals who are lactose intolerant.

Ricotta cheese should not be substituted for aged or hard goat cheese. Not just due of its harder consistency, but also because its taste has much improved.

5. Mascarpone

Mascarpone is a full-fat Italian fresh cheese prepared from cream that has been coagulated by an acid like citric acid to give it a somewhat sour taste. Mascarpone may be used in cannoli as well as in desserts such as tiramisu, however it may need to be blended first to lighten its consistency to that of ricotta cheese.

Mascarpone should only be used as a replacement in stronger-flavored meals, such as those with garlic, since its acidic taste varies from the gentle flavor of ricotta cheese.

Mascarpone is also significantly higher in fat than ricotta cheese, making it unsuitable as a replacement in reduced fat recipes, and its increased fat content may lead other foods to become quite greasy, such as baked dishes.

6. Tofu

Tofu, which is made by coagulating soy milk, is a similar alternative for ricotta cheese in a range of ricotta cheese pasta dishes such as lasagna, ravioli, and cannoli. It may also be used to stuff shells.

When tofu is cooked, it also loses its egg taste. Tofu is not only ideal for vegan diets, but it is also acceptable for individuals who have lactose or dairy intolerances. Tofu is likewise lower in cholesterol and fat, but richer in protein than cheese.

Regular tofu is harder, while silken tofu may be as soft as ricotta cheese. Silken tofu should be drained of excess water before use. The simplest method is to simply press it, after which it may be mixed or mashed to the consistency of ricotta cheese.

7. Other Ricotta Cheese Substitutes

A variety of alternative dairy products may be substituted in place of ricotta cheese in various recipes. While they are not as suited as the options we have previously discussed, and in some instances are more difficult to get, they are nonetheless worth mentioning.

Buttermilk cheese may be used in lieu of ricotta cheese in spaghetti and cheesecake dishes. Fromage blanc, a French cheese, may be used in lieu of ricotta cheese in desserts, while yogurt or Greek yogurt can be used in dips or combined with other ricotta cheese alternatives to create a creamier consistency.

If you’re fortunate enough to obtain quark, this soft cheese is similar to mascarpone but has more acidity and may be used in desserts in place of ricotta. The mild and fresh-tasting Indian cheese paneer may also be used as a ricotta cheese substitute in certain recipes.


If you don’t have ricotta cheese, there are many replacements you may use in its stead, whether for sweet or savory meals. While the bulk of these substitutes are dairy-based, it’s worth noting that tofu may be used in place of ricotta cheese in vegan cuisine or for individuals who are allergic or sensitive to dairy.

Therefore, the next time you want to make some filled pasta, instead of buying ricotta cheese, grab for some cottage cheese, cream cheese, or goat cheese.

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