What Is Ricotta? How Does The Cream Cheese Taste?

The Italian cream cheese made from whey is soft to crumbly and, with its slightly sweet taste, can be used in a variety of ways in the kitchen. We explain how ricotta is made, what dishes it can be used in, and give tips for alternatives.

This is what ricotta tastes like

Delicately sweet with a touch of sourness – this is the best way to describe how the Italian specialty tastes. Depending on the degree of maturity of the whey used, however, the sour aromas can be more pronounced, especially in small productions, and less so in industrially manufactured goods. Especially if you value a low-calorie or low-fat diet, whey cheese is simply ideal: It has significantly fewer calories and fat than, for example, double cream cheese or cream.


The cream cheese originally comes from the area around Rome and is not made from milk, but from whey resulting from the production of other types of cheese. In industrial production, whey from cow’s milk is usually used, but sheep’s whey can also be used – the cheese then has the additional designation “Salata”. The name of the cheese specialty means “recooked” in German, as the milk is not only heated once when making the cheese but a second time when making the ricotta – then in the form of whey. Acidified whey and citric acid are added. This is how the albumin contained in the whey coagulates, the solid components of the whey rise to the top and are skimmed off with special baskets. The cream cheese is ready to eat after just a few hours.

Use of ricotta

You can do a lot with this delicious cheese specialty in your kitchen. It is suitable for sweet and savory dishes and you will find it mainly in Italian dishes. Our suggestions are sure to have the right ones for you:

  • Gnocchi, where the cheese is worked into the potato mass
  • Pasta sauces, for example, are based on tomatoes
  • Pesto with walnuts and the cream cheese specialty
  • Fillings for sweet and savory pancakes
  • savory quiches, for example, chanterelle quiche with sour cream and ricotta
  • Cannelloni stuffed with cheese and spinach

Are you more on the sweet side? Then try the Italian cream cheese specialty as a base for fruity desserts – a combination with blackberries and vanilla, for example, tastes really heavenly.

Tip: Everyone who wants to eat low in calories and fat will like a dessert with delicious whey cheese.

Ricotta alternatives

Do you want to prepare a recipe with the Italian cheese specialty but don’t have it at home? Don’t worry, you can also use the following alternatives depending on the recipe:

  • Quark: It is very suitable for baking recipes, but should be drained thoroughly in a cloth before use so that the dough does not become too runny.
  • Cottage cheese: It is comparable in taste and consistency. In addition, cottage cheese is significantly cheaper – a plus point if your budget is on the small side.
  • Mascarpone: Also an Italian cheese specialty, mascarpone has a significantly higher fat and calorie content.
  • Silken tofu: The alternative for vegans with a very similar consistency.
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Written by John Myers

Professional Chef with 25 years of industry experience at the highest levels. Restaurant owner. Beverage Director with experience creating world-class nationally recognized cocktail programs. Food writer with a distinctive Chef-driven voice and point of view.

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