Recipes that use cottage cheese as a secret ingredient

Fresh with a mild flavor, cottage cheese is way underrated. Its reputation for being a diet food means it doesn’t always get all the credit it deserves. Moreover, lumpy cottage cheese curds obscure the fact that this type of cheese can have many faces, transforming itself to make any dish creamier and richer without adding lots of calories and tons of fat. Bonus? Cottage cheese is a terrific source of protein to keep your energy levels up for long periods. Whether you use it to lighten up your go-to cheesy casseroles, blend it into creamy desserts, or turn it into guilt-free dressings, I urge you to embrace a happy fact I’m only starting to discover: cottage cheese is a powerful secret ingredient for any cook.

Mac and cheese

Stay healthy by eating mac and cheese? Yes, I realize the idea may sound crazy, but I assure you, I’m going somewhere with this. Using moderate amounts of nutritious cottage cheese can help regulate your blood pressure and up your calcium intake. Improved cardio health and stronger bones while you eat hot cheesy carbs seems like a win-win situation. While cottage cheese curds may not be a natural choice for classic mac, they transform during cooking, rendering the pasta extra creamy and delicious. With this secret ingredient, you can enjoy a nourishing meal without sacrificing taste. Let these recipes convince you of the powers of cottage cheese to change up your relationship with mac and cheese.

This recipe from The New York Times is one of my favorite mac and cheese recipes, as it uses cottage cheese to great effect.

For a healthy and tasty twist on mac and cheese, try this recipe from 24 Carrot Life. Baked with cottage cheese and skim milk, this dish is high in protein and low in fat.

By blending cottage cheese, this recipe from Cooking Light manages to stay on the lighter side of dinner while still rendering the creamiest pasta imaginable.

Pancakes

While pancakes are normally a weekend indulgence, using cottage cheese in the batter turns them into a nutritious breakfast worthy of everyday play. One of my favorite fluffy pancake ingredients is ricotta, and cottage cheese is the perfect low-fat substitute for that. Even though it has long been associated only with diet and weight loss, cottage cheese is not only delicious on its own, but like protein-rich Greek yogurt, it works splendidly in a variety of dishes. Try adding it to your pancake batter in a pinch and you’ll discover its magical ways for yourself. Still not sure about how to use cottage cheese to turn decadent pancakes into a healthy treat? Check out these on-point recipes for wonderfully light, fluffy ones you can enjoy at your next casual breakfast.

This recipe from Smitten Kitchen keeps it simple yet scrumptious with a stack of pancakes that’s secretly good for you. Oh, hello, cottage cheese.

Try this easy and foolproof recipe from Weelicious for pancakes aimed to please adults and children alike.

This cottage cheese pancake recipe is all about making a nourishing, delicious breakfast as quickly and easily as possible. Did I mention it uses just three ingredients? Mission accomplished.

Frosting

Lighter, healthier cake frosting is possible when you throw cottage cheese into the mix. Put aside your preconceived notions about cottage cheese because icing made with it tastes amazing and nothing at all like the ingredient itself. If you think cottage cheese only works as a diet-driven dip or savory cheese swap, think again. It’s just the perfect thing in desserts, too. Once you blend cottage cheese to a smooth, pureed consistency, it transforms into a light mixture that works amazingly well as a main ingredient in frosting. Unlike butter or cream cheese, cottage cheese lends creaminess without adding a ton of calories or fat — plus it’s chock full of protein to keep you sated. If you’re skeptical, try it out and see.

This recipe from In Good Flavor makes a strong case for always making your cake frosting with cottage cheese. Maybe you really can have your cake and eat it, too.

If you’re making carrot cake or red velvet, try this recipe from Food24. It’s creamy, luxurious, and almost healthy.

Since everyone should have a reliable and easy chocolate frosting recipe in the back pocket, why not use this surprisingly tasty one from Brianna Thomas? It’s smooth, rich, and made with cottage cheese.

Cheesecake

Yes, you can and should use cottage cheese to make cheesecake. While its lumpy curds and health food rep doesn’t elevate it to the top of the list when bakers go to make cheesecake, cottage cheese is a light and creamy choice, I swear. It lends tons of cheesy oomph and smooth creaminess without adding too many calories or loads of fat. As such, you can combine it with other ingredients to make the cake taste lighter and more approachable. If you think the texture will throw you off, understand that pureed cottage cheese is a whole different story. Use these recipes when you want lighter versions of classic cheesecake without losing out on that trademark creamy factor.

This recipe from Country Life City Wife combines cottage cheese and cream cheese for a perfectly balanced cheesecake you’ll want to make every time Friday night rolls around.

The Worktop’s recipe for healthy cheesecake has me all flustered in a good way. With a filling made of cottage cheese and Greek yogurt, this dessert might be low in calories, but it certainly doesn’t taste that way.

This recipe from The Pancake Princess is delicious. I love the way it holds together, tastes unashamedly decadent, and doesn’t make me feel totally guilty afterward.

Meatballs

I’m always in search of ways to cook up healthier meatballs that I can eat all the time and feel good about. Alas, there is a way. When you use leaner meat to cut down on calories and fat, you might end up with dry meatballs. To counteract that sad outcome, try adding cottage cheese to the mixture. I swear it keeps everything moist and juicy while imbuing the meatballs with the most subtle cheese flavor. If you’re fan of rich ricotta meatballs, you’ll totally go for the cottage cheese substitute. Whether you’re fixing meatballs for sliders or enjoying them atop lettuce wraps, incorporating cottage cheese is one easy way to make them a whole lot more nutritious. These recipes should be able to help you out.

This recipe from Gay Lea makes delectable meatballs that are big on taste and low in fat. Now that’s a dreamy scenario.

For mouthwatering pork meatballs that are simple, unfussy, and ideal for feeding a crowd, try this recipe from Big Food Small World.

This recipe from iFood TV is one you should keep handy when you want classic meatballs that taste light, fluffy, and moist. Ah, the magic of cottage cheese.

Mashed potatoes

You need to add cottage cheese to your mashed potatoes ASAP. If you’re a fan of smooth, rich, melt-in-your-mouth helpings of mashed potatoes year-round, then you owe it to yourself to innovate this culinary art. In attempts to achieve maximum creaminess, I find that many recipes call for way too much butter and cream, which seems decadent and great but actually tends to overwhelm the taste of the actual star ingredient: potatoes! Whether you skip the butter and cream overload altogether or simply add less of the fatty ingredients, by incorporating some cottage cheese, you’ll be able to get that desirable velvety texture for fewer calories. These recipes can help you experiment with proportions.

This recipe from Martha Stewart uses a moderate amount of butter, skim milk, and cottage cheese to create a heap of light yet satisfying mashed potatoes that highlight the starchy tuber itself.

Protein-forward mashed potatoes from Cubit’s Organic Living is made with cottage cheese and totally speaks to my secret desire to be healthy and still be able to eat lots of mashed potatoes on the reg.

This recipe from The Picky Eater is openly garlicky (don’t make this for date night) and alluringly herbaceous. Made with cottage cheese, it’s also light and guilt-free.

Coleslaw

When the air becomes more temperate, I start thinking about longer days, backyard cookouts, pulled pork sandwiches, and (naturally) piles of coleslaw. Born in the summer, my birthday month of July is basically constructed around the various opportunities to eat this crunchy yet creamy shredded cabbage salad. The only problem? Most coleslaw dishes are made with tons of mayo, rendering them fatty and caloric. By using cottage cheese to give coleslaw its renowned creaminess, I get to have my warm-weather salad and feel zero pangs of guilt. I highly recommend you give this a try.

This coleslaw recipe from Kara Lydon skips the mayo and uses a good helping of cottage cheese instead. As a result, the dish is loaded with protein, tastes delicious, and you can feel good about eating it to boot.

This creative twist on standard coleslaw from Farmgirl Fare combines nutrient-rich Swiss chard, cabbage, hearty garbanzo beans, broccoli, and cottage cheese. The result is a salad that focuses on healthy proteins but still tastes creamy.

Try this light and healthy recipe from The New York Times for coleslaw that fills you up without weighing you down. Broccoli, kohlrabi, and cabbage mingle with quinoa in a delightful yogurt dressing. Serve with cottage cheese for extra creaminess.

Paneer

Paneer, a fresh cheese commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisines, is an unaged variety that’s rich and flavorful. It’s especially delicious in stew-adjacent Indian preparations and bold curries. Consider paneer the Indian version of cottage cheese. If you can’t get your hands on paneer, try using standard cottage cheese in your favorite Indian dishes. You’ll love the lightness and consistency of the curds as they meld with traditional ingredients and flavors.

This recipe from The 99 Cent Chef is a streamlined version of saag paneer, a wildly popular Indian dish of spinach and paneer. By incorporating cottage cheese, you render the dish low in calories and fat, while retaining all the tasty qualities of the classic dish.

Try this recipe from Cook Republic for a warming palak curry that combines spinach, cottage cheese, and fragrant spices.

This recipe from The Veggie Indian is easily adaptable. Use cottage cheese for ease when you whip up this version of restaurant favorite tikka masala.

Cookies

For light, fluffy, indescribably addictive cookies, try incorporating cottage cheese into the dough. While you might be skeptical, I urge you to give it a go, as this secret ingredient lends desserts delicacy and complexity. In addition to the added levity, cottage cheese gives sweets a subtle, savory flavor that complements the sweetness instead of overpowering it. The result? Cookies with a unique texture and nuanced flavors. Cookies made with cottage cheese tend to be perfect for tea time. Just saying. If you want to give cottage cheese a chance, try adding them to cookie dough using these delicious recipes.

This recipe from Natasha’s Kitchen makes small, crisp cookies with a tender crumb. Sweet but not overly so, they are great little things to nibble on.

Chocolate crinkle cookies just got a major makeover. This recipe for chocolate cocoa cookies from The Better Baker uses cottage cheese to help keep the cookies perfectly moist and tender.

This recipe from Little Miss Celebration makes a batch of soft, tender, chewy lemon cookies reminiscent of the classics. The secret? Cottage cheese, of course.

Scrambled eggs

Whenever I make scrambled eggs, I try to find ways to make them lighter, fluffier, creamier, and overall more effervescent. I am a fan of soft, French-style eggs, not the harder, drier varieties you sometimes see out there. While there are countless hacks to help you make a plate of scrambled eggs you can be proud of, one of the easiest ways involves unsexy-yet-reliable cottage cheese. The soft curds in cottage cheese naturally blend into the eggs, creating pillowy lightness throughout the mixture. If you haven’t tried adding cottage cheese to your scramble, please do! Here are a few simple recipes to get you excited about the prospect of better eggs in the morning.

This recipe from Kitchen Stewardship is pretty, nourishing, and ideal come breakfast time. Scrambled eggs get a texture upgrade when cottage cheese and spinach are thrown into the mix.

Try this recipe from The Kitchn for the fluffiest eggs imaginable. Simple and versatile, this take on cottage cheese scrambled eggs is all about deliciousness and ease.

This recipe from The Two Bite Club uses cottage cheese to double your protein intake first thing in the morning. These scrambled eggs cook up soft and ridiculously moist.

Grab that neglected tub of cottage cheese and start incorporating it into some unexpected dishes. You won’t be sorry.