Protein-Packed Cottage Cheese Makes a Comeback

Karen Solomon
by Karen Solomon
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Protein-Packed Cottage Cheese Makes a Comeback

Retro it may be, but there’s no need to mess with a classic. My fridge is never without cottage cheese. Some may consider it a throwback to the dieter’s plate at best or the curds and whey that frightened many away at worst. To the haters I say this: cottage cheese is a delicious, lean protein and a versatile low-fat dairy option. Today there are many brands that put flavor first, capable of knocking the canned pineapple ring right off your grandmother’s dieting block. It’s time for cottage cheese to have its due.

Nutritionally, cottage cheese is your friend. One cup has 28 grams of lean protein, more than twice as much as the same amount of plain yogurt. Calorically they’re about the same; cottage cheese has 160 to yogurt’s 150. It also has less sugar: 3 grams compared to yogurt’s 10. Oh, and don’t be fooled into thinking that cottage cheese is only a mealtime pursuit. It, and other casein-based dairy, can also help you catch your ZZZs. Our curdled queen is not without her drawbacks, however: Cottage cheese has a lot of sodium —about twice as much as yogurt — meaning it might not be right for every diet.


Cottage cheese has more chew than yogurt, which I think makes it feel less like a slurp and more like a meal. On its own, cottage cheese is sublime. But it cannot be beat with cinnamon and sugar or sprinkled with garlic salt. It also adds creaminess and protein when tossed with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers and black olives, or just about any other combination of salad vegetables. While it is delicious with any sweet, acidic fruit (peaches and pineapples, we’re talking to you!), it is ethereal scooped into the center of half a cantaloupe — a simple dish far more than the sum of its parts.

Big cottage cheese has taken note of yogurt’s portability and flavors, and the market is starting to update this long-lost cousin. If you were forced to eat cottage cheese as a child, know that its flavor, texture and self-identity have come a long way. Small, regional brands like Cowgirl Creamery, Traders Point, Nancy’s, Kalona SuperNatural and Muuna offer delicious, well-crafted and often organic options that taste great. Single-serving cottage cheese containers are not new, but they are looking for more mass appeal in grab ‘n go snacking. Hood offers single-serving containers in flavors like honey and pear or cucumber and dill. Good Culture’s brand offers single cups flavored with kalamata olive or blueberry acai chia.


In the kitchen, yogurt’s flavor is either sweetened or sour, limiting its play with other foods. But cottage cheese’s wild-by-mild properties make it a cooking ninja, able to play the role of a number of other more high-fat foods. Use it instead of mayonnaise in tuna or egg salad. Try it atop a bagel in place of a cream cheese schmear. Cottage cheese can happily take the place of ricotta, too, drained or as-is, stuffed into pasta, centered into omelets, or stirred into pancakes. Use less butter and sour cream on your baked potato and replace it with — you guessed it — cottage cheese to add some moisture and creaminess. Even cheesecake is a welcome home, as cottage cheese can take the place of the cream cheese in the mix.

No matter how you scoop it, cottage cheese makes a tasty, nutritious mark.

About the Author

Karen Solomon
Karen Solomon

Karen is the author of Asian Pickles; Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It; and Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It (Ten Speed Press/Random House). Her writing and recipes have appeared on, in Fine Cooking, Prevention, Men’s Health, Every Day with Rachael Ray, Yoga Journal and the San Francisco Chronicle. You can also find her leading food tours for Edible Excursions through her neighborhood in San Francisco’s Mission District.


15 responses to “Protein-Packed Cottage Cheese Makes a Comeback”

  1. Avatar Debbie says:

    I like small-curd cottage cheese with a little salt and pepper. It is a good source of protein, but I will never buy it now because carrageenan is added to it. I refuse to eat carrageenan—I believe it is harmful and causes inflammation. And I would certainly never buy cottage cheese with a bunch of flavors and additives thrown in. If you know of a brand that is made with only organic ingredients and there is no added carrageenan, please LMK.

  2. Avatar April says:

    I enjoy my serving of cottage cheese with honestly granola with ancient grains the coconut chia flavor sprinkled on top and my with my cup of coffee for brackfast

  3. Avatar Steve says:

    Surprised you didn’t mention adding it to smoothies. I don’t really like cottage cheese but do sometimes add it to smoothies for the protein and cream cheese flavor it adds.

  4. Avatar Milda says:

    In Eastern European countries cottage cheese has always been very popular – everyone happily eats it as a sweet snack or uses while cooking other meals. Supermarket shelves are filled with all kinds and flavours of cottage cheese. We love it!

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  5. Avatar Alatariel75 says:

    I eat it for breakfast 5 days a week, mixed with a tin of flavoured tuna.

  6. Avatar Leslie Napolitano says:

    Why screw it up w/more salt or sugar? Organic Valley is the best.

  7. Avatar Jude Pilsworth says:

    One of my favourite, “go to’ snacks. Line a muffin tin with wafer thin ham slices (I use 2 ) then finely chop red yellow and orange peppers, a couple of spring onions, beat 4 eggs, add 100 g cottage cheese with chives, add the peppers , salt and pepper. I grate 25g Parmesan cheese. Pour the egg mix into the ham “shells” top with a little of the Parmesan cheese place in the oven 180 for around 10/15 mins, or until egg mix is set.

    Remove from oven place on a wire to cool. Eat on their own as a high protein snack. Or serve warm or cold with salad. Tasty, and moreish!

  8. Avatar John Q. Public says:

    There are lower sodium offerings out there, but honestly Daisy 2% Cottage Cheese is simply the best out there IMHO.

  9. Avatar elks says:

    I had forgotten about cottage cheese! I used to eat it all the time. I would even order it out with a hamburger. I would tell them to hold the bun and get a side of cottage cheese to eat with it. It’s a great combination with loads of protein.

  10. Avatar ezehkef says:

    I was taught cottage cheese is only a partial protein – missing some amino acids. What changed?

  11. Avatar Mary says:

    Daisy Cottage Cheese for the win here. Read the ingredients compared to other brands. My fave!

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