Blame it on its pale, lumpy texture, but cottage cheese gets a bad rap. Like the Brussels sprouts of the dairy world, this food is often overlooked and underappreciated.
But don't let the lumps make you leery. This creamy, curd-filled cheese has a ton of perks.
Relatively low in calories, cottage cheese is a solid source of essential nutrients like calcium and protein (between 20 to 28 grams per cup), says New York City-based dietitian Isabel Smith, RD, CDN. That makes it ideal for anyone counting calories or tracking their macros.
Have we got your attention? Before you race to the dairy aisle, keep in mind: not all products are made equal. Smith suggests sticking with reduced-fat cottage cheese varieties (between 2 to 3 grams per serving), steering clear of any additives (especially extra sugar) and buying organic when possible.
And always check the nutrition label for sodium content. Cottage cheese tends to be high in sodium, Smith says — 1 cup can contain as much as 900 milligrams, or more than a third of the daily amount recommended by the American Heart Association. So, compare brands and choose the one with the least salt. Eating half a serving can also help with sodium management as well, Smith adds.
And though it tastes great with fruit for breakfast or a snack, cottage cheese is way more versatile than you might think. From frittatas to oatmeal bakes and spinach-artichoke dips, Smith says there are countless ways to incorporate this creamy cheese — you can even completely hide the taste and texture among other ingredients if that better suits your taste buds.
Ready to give cottage cheese a fair chance? We guarantee these recipes — which contain as much protein as a 3-ounce chicken breast (27 grams) — will change your mind about this underrated dairy product.
1. Chocolate Peanut Butter Cottage Cheese
- Calories: 327
- Protein: 35 grams
Who doesn't love the winning combo of peanut butter and chocolate? This sweet snack piles on the protein (a whopping 35 grams per serving) thanks to a mix of cottage cheese and protein powder. And with only five minutes from prep to plate, it makes a quick and convenient post-gym, muscle-building bite, especially on strength-training days.
Get the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cottage Cheese recipe and nutrition info here.
2. Cheesy High-Protein Twice-Baked Sweet Potato
- Calories: 221
- Protein: 27 grams
If you're looking for a sweet and savory side dish, look no further than this twice-baked sweet potato. This one's got double the cheese — low-fat cheddar and cottage cheese — for twice the flavor and ooey-gooey goodness. And even though this healthier version is just as tasty as greasy loaded potato skins, it only has a fraction of the fat (a meager 4 grams for half a potato).
Get the Cheesy High-Protein Twice-Baked Sweet Potato recipe and nutrition info here.
3. Cheese and Vegetable Spread on Crackers
- Calories: 498
- Protein: 51 grams
This simple snack puts a twist on your traditional cheese and crackers, replacing your go-to cheddar and gouda with cottage cheese. Hearty enough to serve as a light lunch, this combo offers 24 grams of fiber thanks to fresh veggies and a jaw-dropping 51 grams of protein (that's the daily recommended protein intake for a 40-year-old active woman who weighs 140 pounds).
The best part? No cooking required. Simply chop up your bell peppers, carrot and celery sticks and toss them into your bowl of cottage cheese. For even more filling fiber, use whole-grain crackers for dipping.
Get the Cheese and Vegetable Spread on Crackers recipe and nutrition info here.
4. Mushroom and Tomato Omelet
- Calories: 249
- Protein: 36 grams
Loaded with meaty mushrooms and juicy tomatoes, this low-cal omelet is the perfect way to start your day. Between the eggs and cottage cheese, it packs a powerful protein punch (36 grams per serving). That's way more protein than you'd get from other cheeses like American and Swiss, which only offer 4.8 grams and 7.7 grams of protein per ounce, respectively. For reference, a half cup of low-fat cottage cheese boasts 12 grams of the muscle-boosting macro.
Get the Mushroom and Tomato Omelet recipe and nutrition info here.
5. Turkey and Cheese Scramble
- Calories: 236
- Protein: 34 grams
This simple-yet-satisfying breakfast scramble only requires eggs, cottage cheese and turkey. Low-fat and low-carb (only 8 grams and 6 grams, respectively), this high-protein meal also contains zero fiber, so make sure to pair it with a piece of whole-wheat toast or a side of fruit.
Get the Turkey and Cheese Scramble recipe and nutrition info here.
Just shy of 27 grams of protein per serving, these healthy cottage-cheese recipes shouldn't be counted out.
6. Cottage Cheese Protein Pancakes
- Calories: 306
- Protein: 25 grams
Not a fan of cottage cheese's texture? This high-protein pancake recipe is for you. Cottage cheese gets camouflaged when blended with rolled oats, eggs and vanilla extract to make a smooth pancake batter. So, you get all the protein and calcium without the lumpy curdles. Plus, at six flapjacks per 300-calorie serving, these good-for-you griddle cakes give you a great bang for your caloric buck.
Get the Cottage Cheese Protein Pancakes recipe and nutrition info here.
7. Lean Lasagna
- Calories: 274
- Protein: 26 grams
Fat-free cottage cheese works as a stellar substitute for ricotta in this carb-controlled, low-cal lasagna. Compared to a serving of Olive Garden's Lasagna Classico, which has seven times the fat and quadruple the sodium, this lighter homemade version still has all the staple ingredients you love — ground meat (turkey), tomatoes and mozzarella — plus a few extra healthy add-ins like spinach and mushrooms.
Get the Lean Lasagna recipe and nutrition info here.
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