Are you a fan of Italian food? If yes, I am sure you must like lasagna. Whether vegetarian or non-vegetarian, lasagna is definitely soul food. However, have you ever wondered what cheese gives lasagna that fresh taste? It’s ricotta cheese!
Although I am sure, you must have been in a situation where you really want to make lasagna but seem to be all out of ricotta cheese. Instead of buying some ricotta, why not use a substitute? This article will help you find the best ricotta cheese substitute for lasagna.
So what are some good substitutes for ricotta cheese in lasagna? The best ricotta cheese substitutes in lasagna are cottage cheese, cream cheese, mascarpone, tofu, and paneer.
But, before I get to the substitutes, let me tell you a little more about lasagna and ricotta cheese. This will give you a better understanding of the dish as a whole. So, let’s get started with the same!
Quick Peek: Ricotta Cheese And Lasagna
This section will help you understand all about ricotta cheese. You will get to know what it is, its flavor and texture profile, uses, and nutritional information.
However, before I talk about ricotta cheese in particular, let me give you an overview of lasagna itself.
What Is A Lasagna?
Lasagna, as you might know, is a type of pasta of Italian origin made of very wide and flat sheets. The term is mainly used for a dish made with stacked layers of lasagna sheets.
The layers in lasagna are generally alternated with a tomato and meat sauce which is known as ragu. It has vegetables, cheese, and various Italian seasonings and herbs.
The dish generally has some grated cheese on top that melts while baking in the oven. It is usually served as the main dish in square portions.
What Is Ricotta Cheese?
Ricotta is a soft Italian cheese made from sheep, cow, goat, or water buffalo milk. However, most commercial ricotta comes from cow’s milk. It is a type of whey cheese.
It is made by coagulating proteins that remain after casein has been used to make cheese. The term ‘ricotta’ actually means re-cooked in Italian.
This is because the process of making ricotta involves heating the whey that is left behind while making other types of cheese, such as mozzarella.
Describing Ricotta Cheese: Flavor And Texture
The texture of ricotta is soft, thick, and grainy. It almost looks like a grainy sour cream. There is another variation of ricotta called ricotta Salata.
Ricotta Salata is made by pressing, drying, and salting ricotta cheese. The texture of ricotta salata is firm and more crumbly.
Ricotta has a fresh, moist, milky flavor when I talk about flavor. It is quite neutral in flavor and hence does not overpower a dish. It also has a low salt content which makes it a great cheese to use in desserts too.
Uses Of Ricotta Cheese
Ricotta cheese is, of course, used to make lasagna. However, its uses are not limited to that! Ricotta cheese makes a great addition to various savory and sweet recipes. It is used to make desserts like soft ricotta cheesecake.
Moreover, ricotta is also used to stuff various types of pasta. On the other hand, Ricotta Salata does not work too well as a filling for pasta or desserts.
This is because it has a salty flavor as compared to fresh ricotta. However, it can be used by grating it on top of various dishes.
Ricotta Cheese On The Health Radar | Looking Through The Wellness Telescope
Ricotta cheese is generally available in low-fat and full-fat varieties. The full-fat variation generally tends to have some saturated fats and cholesterol as compared to the low-fat version.
However, it is still lower in fat content than various other types of cheese. Ricotta cheese is generally a good source of vitamin B12 and calcium.
Around 129 grams or half a cup of full-fat ricotta cheese contains 204 calories. Most of these calories are from fat. Ricotta cheese also has minute amounts of proteins, carbohydrates, and sugar.
Why Use A Substitute For Ricotta Cheese In Lasagna?
I am sure this question must have come to your mind. It is a valid question, for sure. However, I can give you a few reasons as to why you could use a substitute for ricotta cheese in lasagna.
First off, if you are bored of the milk flavor of ricotta and want a cheese with a sharper flavor, using a substitute would work out wonderfully in your recipe. Ricotta is usually widely available.
However, in certain places, it might not be too readily available. In this case, there are various substitutes to the rescue!
Lastly, why would you want to rush to the store in a hurry? Quite a lot of the options given for substitutes are mostly already in your pantry! So, using them as a substitute would definitely save you a lot of time!
I think I have given you ample information on ricotta cheese. Now, let me directly take you to the main attraction of this article, which is the best ricotta cheese substitute in lasagna. Read on to know all about them!
9 Best Ricotta Cheese Substitutes In Lasagna
This section has all the best substitutes you could use in place of ricotta cheese in lasagna. Moreover, you will also be able to understand how to use each substitute.
1. Cream Cheese
Cream cheese is a soft, fresh cheese made with milk and cream. It has a silky smooth texture and works as a great substitute for ricotta cheese in lasagna.
The smooth texture of cream cheese is because of the extra fat content that the cream adds. However, cream cheese is available in low-fat and nonfat versions.
Moreover, certain brands of cream cheese have the same available in different flavors. You can try a flavor of your choice, in case you want to experiment!
Cream cheese has a thicker consistency, so you might need a little more than the amount of ricotta in your recipe. However, you could use the same amount by thinning it down with some milk.
2. Goat’s Cheese
Goat’s cheese is a soft cheese made with goat’s milk. It has a consistency that is quite similar to that of ricotta cheese and can be used as a substitute for the same.
While using goat’s cheese, it is important to remember to use fresh goat’s cheese. Fresh goat’s cheese has a milder flavor and softer texture that works better for lasagna.
If properly balanced, goat’s cheese tastes quite similar to ricotta, especially in lasagna. Goat’s cheese also comes in various different flavors.
However, if you are new to using goat’s cheese, the best thing to do is to stick to using the plain version. Goat’s cheese can be used as a substitute in a 1:1 ratio.
3. Mascarpone Cheese
Mascarpone cheese is another variant of soft Italian cheese. It has an extremely creamy texture which works well in lasagna when used in place of ricotta cheese.
Mascarpone cheese is, in fact, quite similar to cream cheese. It is, however, creamier than cream cheese. Like cream cheese, mascarpone is used in savory and dessert recipes.
Mascarpone does have a more tart flavor than ricotta. So make sure you use it in lasagna recipes that do have other overpowering flavors. Similar to cream cheese, mascarpone can be thinned down with some cream and then added to lasagna.
4. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is the closest in consistency to ricotta cheese. It has a mild flavor that works extremely well in lasagna and hence can be used as a ricotta cheese substitute in the same.
Cottage cheese is, in fact, made in the same way as ricotta. However, cottage cheese is wetter than ricotta since it contains more liquid.
In case the cottage cheese you buy seems too wet to you, you can pack it in a cheesecloth and hang it for some time.
This way, all the excess liquid will drip out, giving a more concentrated product. Cottage cheese also comes in various flavors. You can stick to plain cottage cheese or indulge in some flavors, depending on your recipe.
5. Fromage Blanc
Fromage blanc is a type of French cheese. It is a yogurt-based cheese with a fresh and slightly tangy flavor. It works well as a substitute for ricotta cheese in lasagna.
Fromage blanc is made in the exact same way as ricotta and cottage cheese. The only difference is that it uses yogurt instead of milk as the base. Moreover, it has a great spreadable consistency and a mild flavor.
This cheese also does not become too runny when heated, making it great for lasagna. However, the only problem is that it is not too easily available. However, if you do find some, it can definitely be used in place of ricotta cheese.
Tofu is a vegan and dairy-free alternative to ricotta cheese. Silken and soft tofu varieties work really well as substitutes for ricotta cheese.
Tofu is a great substitute to use if you want to avoid too much dairy intake. Tofu comes in various varieties and textures. However, when wanting to use it as a substitute for ricotta, try using silken or soft tofu as it works best.
Tofu has a neutral flavor and will easily blend well with the rest of the ingredients in the lasagna. You might have to blend the tofu a little bit before using it in case it is too firm to be used.
Paneer is also referred to as Indian cottage cheese. It has an extremely mild flavor and can be used as a substitute for ricotta in lasagna.
Paneer is made in the same way as cottage cheese. However, the only difference is that instead of handing the cheese, it is pressed down into blocks. This does not make the paneer dry; it just makes it firm.
However, paneer has a drier consistency as compared to ricotta cheese. So, you might have to blend it before using it as a substitute for ricotta cheese in lasagna.
8. Queso Fresco
Queso fresco is a fresh Mexican cheese with a mild flavor. Though not very conventional, queso fresco can be used as a substitute for ricotta in lasagna.
The consistency of queso fresco is dry and grainy. So, you will have to blend it with some milk or cream before using it as a substitute for ricotta cheese. However, its mild flavor works quite well with other ingredients.
However, Queso fresco is higher in fat content compared to ricotta. So, it might not be the best choice for you if you are trying to watch your weight. You can use queso fresco as a ricotta substitute in a 1:1 ratio.
Requeson is a delicate and creamy cheese, similar to ricotta. It has a mild to strong salty flavor and can be used as a substitute for ricotta in lasagna.
Requeson is also known as the Hispanic ricotta cheese. Due to its similar consistency to ricotta, it could work very well. However, it can be a tad bit saltier than ricotta.
To balance the flavors, you could reduce the overall salt content of your lasagna. You can use requeson as a substitute for ricotta in a standard 1:1 ratio.
I am sure that by now, you must have gone through the list and decided which substitute would work best for your recipe. However, in case you are still confused, there is no need to worry!
I have broken it down further for you to make it easier to choose your substitute. Have a look!
Most Suitable: The most suitable substitute for ricotta cheese in lasagna is cottage cheese.
Easily Available: Cream cheese is the most easily available substitute for ricotta cheese.
Best Flavor Profile: Fromage blanc will give a great flavor profile when used in place of ricotta in lasagna.
As we have reached the end of this article, I hope it has helped you find the best substitute for ricotta cheese in lasagna. All the cheese options given above can work very well in place of ricotta cheese if the flavor is well balanced in the recipe.
Similarly, in case you want to try a different approach to making lasagna, you can try using a bechamel cheese sauce instead of the standard ricotta and egg mixture. That will definitely give out a similar texture and taste to your lasagna!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Do you have to add egg to ricotta in lasagna?
It isn’t necessary to add egg to ricotta. You can easily skip it. However, skipping the egg might give a runny texture to the cheese.
Is cottage cheese better for lasagna than ricotta?
Ricotta is definitely the best cheese to use in lasagna. However, cottage cheese also works equally well.
Does ricotta cheese melt in lasagna?
When mixed with egg, ricotta cheese does stay intact in the lasagna.
Is ricotta like mozzarella?
They are both types of Italian cheese. However, mozzarella has a stringy texture whereas ricotta has a soft texture.
Does ricotta salata melt well?
Ricotta salata has a firmer and drier texture and does not melt as well as plain ricotta.
How do you make ricotta cheese smooth?
You can blend the ricotta to give it a smoother texture.