Cottage Cheese is Back—Here’s How to Eat It

Last Update: May 5, 2023

When you think about cottage cheese, what comes to mind? For some, it may read as a ‘90s fad diet food; for others, it’s a culturally significant staple snack. 

This savory, slightly tart dairy product is certainly unique: made from curdled milk, it has a texture unlike just about any other food. And while it can be divisive, many people love cottage cheese for its protein-boosting nutritional properties and its yogurt-like flavor—and as of late, if you take a scroll through TikTok, you’re sure to find thousands of trending cottage cheese recipes. 

Whether you love it or hate it, cottage cheese could be the ingredient you’re missing in many of your favorite recipes. Here are a few reasons why you may want to try it. 

What is Cottage Cheese? 

Cottage cheese is cheese made from curdled milk, which is milk that has undergone a chemical reaction causing the proteins to clump together and separate from the whey (the liquid in milk). The result is a mild-tasting, soft, lumpy cheese that can be made with different fat levels. 

While it’s technically a cheese, most people eat cottage cheese more like a yogurt because of its soft, creamy (albeit lumpy) texture. 

Health Benefits of Cottage Cheese

Though cottage cheese’s “fad diet” days are long gone, it is a very nutritious, protein-rich food that makes it both a healthier snack option and a smart alternative ingredient in dessert recipes. Here are a few of the health benefits of cottage cheese: 

  • It’s a good source of protein. Cottage cheese contains about 23 grams of protein per cup. Since people should get between 45 and 60 grams of protein per day (depending on things like age, weight, and activity level), one serving of cottage cheese will give you a significant portion—and for some people, nearly half—of your daily recommended amount of protein. 
  • It offers Vitamin B12. You can only naturally get Vitamin B12 from animal sources, like meat or dairy; while cottage cheese contains significantly less B12 than meat, it’s still a source of this essential vitamin, which supports blood and nerve cells
  • It’s a good source of calcium. Calcium helps to build strong bones at any age, but it’s particularly important as you get older. Cottage cheese offers 176 milligrams of calcium per cup; since the average person needs between 1,000 and 1,200 milligrams of calcium per day, it makes a significant source of calcium. 
  • It’s lower in calories than other dairy options. If weight loss or maintenance is your goal, cottage cheese may be a healthier alternative to similar dairy products. At about 100 calories per cup, it’s a lower calorie, nutrient-dense snack. 

How to Eat Cottage Cheese 

Cottage cheese has been considered a better-for-you option in American diets for generations, as well as a popular ingredient in other cultures (such as Russian Syrniki pancakes or many other Eastern European dishes). Here are a few classic ways to incorporate cottage cheese into your diet.

  • By itself. If you like the flavor, you can (and many people do!) eat cottage cheese on its own, whether with other foods or as a simple snack.
  • Topped with fruit. One of the most common ways to eat cottage cheese is by topping it with fresh fruit, like strawberries, blueberries, or kiwi. 
  • Topped with salt and pepper. If you’re a cottage cheese purist, a bit of salt and pepper is all you need to add a savory touch. 
  • Mixed with honey. Stir in some honey for a healthier, protein-rich breakfast.
  • With a salad. Many people like to add a scoop of cottage cheese on the side of a salad bowl for an added boost of nutrients. 

New Ways to Eat Cottage Cheese (According to TikTok) 

In the spirit of cottage cheese’s newfound TikTok virality, we explored some of the most creative, clever, and yummiest cottage cheese recipes we found on the platform. Here are some of TikTok’s favorite new ways to eat cottage cheese. 

As “nice cream”

Perhaps the most viral cottage cheese use on TikTok is cottage cheese “nice cream” (the Internet’s favorite way to describe better-for-you ice cream recipes). There are thousands of variations of this recipe, but we recently tried a strawberry graham cracker version that’s like a healthier strawberry cheesecake. 


If you’re not a fan of the texture of cottage cheese (or you’re just looking for new ways to use it), try whipping it in a food processor until it’s smooth, creamy, and fluffy.  

On toast 

Just like avocado toast, cottage cheese toast makes a savory, filling breakfast or snack that makes a sturdy vessel for other toppings, spices, and even a drizzle of honey

In pasta 

Some have even suggested a controversial swap to add cottage cheese instead of cream in vodka sauce—but with around 112 grams of protein, it may be a worthwhile swap.

As a Middle Eastern-style breakfast bowl 

Try a cottage cheese bowl topped with cucumbers, kalamata olives, and tomatoes and sprinkled with za’atar.

In pancakes 

Make any pancake recipe a protein pancake recipe by adding cottage cheese.

As a mousse 

In the form of a sweet, fluffy chocolate mousse, cottage cheese packs all the protein *and* satisfies that chocolatey dessert craving. 

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before changing your diet or healthcare regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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Amy Roberts

Amy Roberts is Thrive Market's Senior Editorial Writer. She is based in Los Angeles via Pittsburgh, PA.

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