Ricotta is a fresh, creamy cheese that is perfect for pasta, desserts or enjoying on its own. If you are having trouble deciding what to eat with homemade ricotta, here are 30 of my favorite suggestions!
Ricotta cheese is a delicious, creamy, fresh cheese that has a subtle flavor perfect for just about any dish, savory or sweet. It’s also surprisingly easy to make at home and enjoy fresh!
The only bad news about making your own fresh ricotta cheese is once you make it (and fall in love with it), you then have to make the difficult decision of how to use it all. You could eat it alone with a spoon, topped with honey and fresh fruit, bake it into a cake or even mix it into some pancakes.
If you’ve come here looking for some inspiration and a great way to avoid (or encourage?) eating it all in one sitting, you are in the right place. Whether you are looking for great pasta dishes or preparing for a dinner party, I adore the creamy, delicious flavor of ricotta cheese and have several suggestions of how to make the most of any leftover ricotta.
Cottage cheese is often used as a substitute for ricotta in recipes because the two cheeses are very similar. But there are some key differences between the two when it comes to the texture and flavor. While both are soft and white, cottage cheese uses more salt than ricotta cheese to create a stronger flavor.
Ricotta has a slightly sweeter, mild flavor with smaller curds that create a more grainy texture. Ricotta cheese is slightly drier than cottage cheese, though both are soft enough to eat with a spoon. Ricotta tends to have more fat and calories than cottage cheese but it is much better for baking purposes.
Traditionally ricotta cheese is made with cow’s milk but you can use goat’s milk or almost any milk as a substitute. Of course the higher fat in the milk, the creamier your cheese will end up. See my suggestions below for a vegan ricotta cheese recipe.
Homemade ricotta cheese can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to five days. Ricotta is not a cheese that needs to age, and if it sits too long it will spoil. You can also freeze ricotta, but be aware that the texture may change when it is thawed and it may not work as well for some recipes.
Ricotta cheese is considered a healthy cheese because it doesn’t contain much salt. When you make it at home it’s made with simple ingredients like milk, white vinegar or lemon juice and it’s always nice to know exactly what is going into your food.
If you are not a fan of ricotta cheese, there are several popular substitutions. Which you choose will depend on the recipe you are making.
Cottage cheese and cream cheese are the most popular substitutions, but in some cases, sour cream will also work. Before using any of these, you should consult your recipe, which may list suggestions.
If you have made your own ricotta cheese at home and it turned out too runny, try to release more liquid. Place the cheese inside a cheese cloth and place your cheese cloth inside a strainer. Apply some pressure to the cloth to release some of the liquid.
Make sure as you do this that the liquid has somewhere to go and isn’t just sitting in the bottom of your strainer. Do not set the strainer inside a bowl that traps the liquid.
If you are making ricotta at home, the excess water that escapes from your cheese is called whey. It has plenty of protein and is great to use in smoothies or as a replacement for the water in bread or pizza dough. If you managed to save some, put it to good use!
Favorite Ricotta Recipes
- This Homemade Ricotta cheese is surprisingly easy to make and is one of the best ricotta cheese recipes
- If you are looking for a vegan alternative, try this Vegan Ricotta Cheese recipe from The Plant Based School.
- Whipped Ricotta made in a food processor makes an excellent dip. Try this whipped ricotta from Fork in the Kitchen.
- The temperature of your ricotta cheese is very important. Use a thermometer to make sure it reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit for the best results. Any hotter and it may burn.
- The more fat in the milk you use, the creamier your cheese will be. I’ve seen recipes for ricotta that call for cream, but whole milk and even 2% will work just fine. Do not use 1% milk or skim milk as these do not have enough fat. You also do not want to use Ultra-Pasteurized milk as the texture will not turn out right.
- You can control the consistency of your cheese by straining it more or less. For softer cheese, let it strain for less time. If you want drier cheese, let it strain for longer and apply some pressure. If you want to use ricotta or baking, you may need to let it dry out a little more. Softer cheese may be better for pasta or pizza.
- Ricotta toast is an amazing treat to try. Just spread some creamy ricotta cheese on a piece of toast and top it with your favorite toppings. You can make it savory with herbs, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil or sweet with honey, fruit and nuts.
- You can make ricotta cheese on the stove top or in an instant pot. Just monitor the heat carefully!
- You can reuse cheesecloth several times. Just rinse it out with a little bit of bleach and let it air dry.
What to Eat with Ricotta:
Entrees: Manicotti, pizza, ricotta toast, Stuffed Shells, Shrimp and Ricotta Pasta Bake, lasagna, ravioli, pancakes, Lemon Ricotta Pasta, casseroles
Appetizers: Charcuterie board, drizzle your ricotta with olive oil and cracked pepper and spread it on crackers, add fruit and honey to your ricotta, baked ricotta dip, whipped ricotta dip,
Sweet dishes: Cannoli, cake, cookies, tart, Sicilian ricotta pie, ricotta mouse, cheesecake
Toppings for Ricotta Toast: chocolate chips, fresh basil, maple syrup, red onion, peanut butter, red pepper flakes, arugula
Recipe to Make Using your Ricotta
Blackberry Balsamic Vinaigrette
Spread creamy ricotta on a crostini with a drizzle of homemade blackberry balsamic vinaigrette (from Love From the Table) for a delicious and simple appetizer.
Air Fryer Pita Chips
Top creamy ricotta with a drizzle of honey and pistachios, and serve with homemade air fryer pita chips (from Love From the Table).
Berry Granita with Whipped Ricotta
This berry granita (from Champagne Tastes) is made with fresh or frozen berries and lavender simple syrup, and is served with whipped ricotta. No ice cream maker needed!
A drizzle of Hot Honey (from The Short Order Cook) with ricotta is simply amazing. Sweet, spicy, creamy, & savory all in one amazing bite.
Sicilian Ricotta Pasta
Pasta with ricotta (from The Pasta Project) is one of the simplest of Italian pasta recipes. My Sicilian hubby says it was one of his favourite dishes when he was a child. In Southern Italy, ricotta with pasta is a popular go-to recipe when mothers don’t know what to cook or haven’t had time for shopping. Kids love it! I’m sure you and your family will love these Sicilian ricotta pasta recipes too!
Gluten-Free Savory Crepes Recipe
This gluten-free savory crepes recipe (from Natasha’s Home) is a great healthy dinner idea for a Sunday evening! Mushrooms, fried with garlic and spinach, are mixed with creamy ricotta and seasoned with a good amount of salt, then wrapped into a delicious gluten-free savory crepe.
Gluten-Free Seed Bread
Try serving ricotta on seed bread (from Cinnamon + Kale), drizzled with honey for the perfect healthy breakfast!.
Homemade Cannoli with Campari Flavoured Filling
There is no better way to use ricotta cheese than in a beautiful campari-flavoured cannoli filling (from Somebody Feed Seb)! Crispy and bubbly deep-fried pastry is one of the best things Sicilian cuisine can offer!
Orange Cardamom Whipped Ricotta Bowls with Roasted Pears
These whipped ricotta bowls (from Running to the Kitchen) are infused with orange and cardamom flavor then topped with roasted pears and cranberry granola for a fall treat!
Garlicky Butternut Squash Noodles with Spinach and Ricotta
These garlicky butternut squash noodles (from Running to the Kitchen) are tossed with wilted spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, toasted pine nuts and dollops of fresh ricotta and parmesan for a wintry, one-pan, comforting vegetarian meal.
Tender spaghetti noodles coated in a flavorful basil pesto sauce and topped with a rich lemon ricotta cream (from I Heart Naptime). This spaghetti pesto is the perfect way to get a fresh taste of summer using winter ingredients during colder months!
Ricotta Honey Toast
This easy ricotta honey toast (from The Littlest Crumb) is a simple 5 minute breakfast or fancy appetizer. Crispy toast, with a spread of creamy ricotta topped with walnuts, sliced almonds, fresh strawberries and a drizzle of warm honey.
Banana Bread with Ricotta
This banana bread with ricotta (from The Littlest Crumb) is the most delicious banana bread you will ever have! Made with ricotta, olive oil and ripe bananas for a rich, moist breakfast bread that you’ll eat right out of the oven.
Banana Ricotta Muffins
These banana ricotta muffins (from The Littlest Crumb) are a delicious and healthy breakfast or snack. They are made with ripe bananas, creamy ricotta and chocolate chips and then baked until the tops are golden.
Roasted Cauliflower Steak with Red Pepper Sauce
This roasted cauliflower steak with sauce made from red peppers and garlic (from Hurry The Food Up), served with roast potatoes and ricotta, is straight up the best cauliflower steak recipe on the market.
Some recipes just sing out to us. This ricotta bake (from Hurry The Food Up) is one of those recipes. It’s such a quick recipe – so quick it surprises me every time. Literally just FIVE MINUTES of throwing everything together and into the oven it goes.
Savoury Ricotta Muffins
If you’re looking for an easy on-the-go breakfast or snack idea, then this savoury ricotta muffins recipe (from Hurry The Food Up) is just what you need!
High-Protein Ricotta Pancakes
High-protein ricotta pancakes (from Hurry The Food Up). Even just writing that sentence makes me happy. We love pancakes, and when they’re simple, tasty and packed with protein we love them even more.
Classic Italian Meatballs
Serve this traditional Sicilian meatball recipe (using beef, pork, and veal) with a big dollop of ricotta on the side (from Coley Cooks)!
Soft Scrambled Eggs with Ricotta
This easy recipe for Soft Scrambled Eggs with Ricotta (from Coley Cooks) only takes 10 minutes and 3 simple ingredients to prepare. They’re rich and creamy while also being delicate and light as a cloud.
Tuna Ricotta Frittata
Great for keto breakfast or lunch – and even dinner! – this tuna frittata (from Like Hot Keto) is creamy and custardy, filled with ricotta cheese and packed full of flavor with arugula and capers.
Italian Ricotta, Raisin and Chocolate Doughnuts
Who doesn’t love light and airy, deep fried puffs of dough, especially when there’s chocolate, jam, cream or some sort of liqueur involved? Well, dear readers, I have another incredibly delicious doughnut recipe for you, and this one is made with ricotta, chocolate, and Grand Marnier soaked raisins! As you can see from the photos, they’re rather spectacular (from Christina’s Cucina).
Ricotta Dumplings in Tomato Sauce
Ricotta dumplings (from Christina’s Cucina) are a delicious meal for cheese lovers and vegetarians. Quick and simple enough for a weeknight meal, you’ll have these on a regular dinner rotation in no time.
Smoked Salmon Crostini with Dill Ricotta
This gluten free Smoked Salmon Crostini (from the Rustic Foodie) is an easy appetizer recipe! It’s made with lemon dill ricotta spread on toasted garlic baguette.
Asparagus Omelette with Ricotta
Fresh spring asparagus, creamy cheese, and perfectly cooked egg come together in 15 minutes to create a fantastic asparagus omelette (from Yummy Addiction). Enjoy the bite of crisp-tender asparagus while it’s in season as a fantastic, filling breakfast for one.
Healthy Mango Crepes with Maple-Lime Ricotta Filling
Feeling bored with the usual breakfast and brunch options? Step up your morning with the classic tropical combination of mango and lime – in crepes (from Yummy Addiction). You’ll get your healthy whole grains and vitamin C, but you sure won’t be thinking about health while eating these tasty mango crepes.
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