Cheese is undoubtedly one of the most versatile and widely used ingredients in the world, with a history spanning centuries. Among the wide array of cheese options available, cottage cheese and cream cheese are two popular choices.
Anyone who has tasted cottage cheese and cream cheese would argue that they are two completely separate ingredients, but they have more in common than you would think despite their differences.
It is the lumpy texture of cottage cheese that not only makes it off-putting to some people but also makes it so distinct from the super smooth cream cheese.
What is Cottage Cheese?
Known for its mild tangy flavour, cottage cheese is a soft and creamy cheese that can be used as a topping and accompaniment for salads or to add some cheesy goodness to a sandwich.
Though the cheese itself is creamy, the overall texture of cottage cheese is lumpy with bits of cheese curds, putting a lot of people off of the taste of cottage cheese.
Part of the reason that cottage cheese has such a creamy consistency once you get past the curd lumps is that it is a cheese that is not aged at all. It is packaged up and sold fresh when the cheese reaches its desired consistency.
But cottage cheese can develop its mild tanginess despite having no ageing time because of the acids added to the raw cow’s milk that help curtail the milk. It is this acidic element of the cheese that gives cottage cheese its signature tang.
How I Use Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is wonderfully versatile. I enjoy it straight from the container, mixed into salads, or as a lighter alternative to ricotta in lasagna. It can also be blended into smoothies for a protein boost, or used as a topping for baked potatoes.
What is Cream Cheese?
Cream cheese is exactly what its name suggests; it is made from milk and cream – typically cow’s milk in both instances.
The cream in cream cheese gives the cheese a rich and velvety texture, making it highly spreadable. There are not supposed to be any lumps in cream cheese (if there are, then you should throw the cheese away), so the creamy texture of cream cheese is even more prevalent.
When the cream is mixed with raw cow’s milk, the lactose in the milk ferment, causing a slight tanginess. Though because of the cream and the creamy texture of cheese, that tanginess comes across as a pleasant sweetness.
Enough so that cream cheese is used a lot in the dessert world and as a typical spread for sandwiches or crackers.
While cream cheese is a soft cheese, not all soft cheeses are cream cheese. Soft cheese is a broad category that includes cheeses like brie, camembert, ricotta, and cream cheese. Cream cheese is a soft, mild-tasting cheese with a high-fat content.
How I Use Cream Cheese
Cream cheese is great for both savory and sweet dishes. I often spread it on bagels, mix it into creamy pasta sauces, or use it as a base for dips. It’s also a key ingredient in desserts like cheesecake or frosting for carrot cake.
Similarities Between Cottage Cheese and Cream Cheese
At first glance, cottage cheese and cream cheese seem as different as mozzarella and Swiss cheese. However, they do have some obvious similarities
As their names would suggest, cottage cheese and cream cheese are types of cheese that derive from milk.
If you go to a speciality store, you may be able to find sheep’s milk cream cheese or goat’s milk cottage cheese, but both types of cheese are most commonly made from cow’s milk.
Soft And Spreadable
They may have a different overall texture, but cottage cheese and cream cheese are extremely soft types of cheeses. So soft in fact that they are often more regarded as spreads than types of cheese.
Cottage cheese and cream cheese, unlike harsher cheeses like blue cheese, have far more than one use.
As spreads, the cheeses can be used on crackers, sandwiches or even used as dips. In different ways, cottage cheese and cream cheese are also used a lot in various sweet and savoury baking recipes.
Differences Between Cottage Cheese and Cream Cheese
The great thing about cheese is that though some are so similar that they might as well be related, each cheese is different with its own unique taste and texture. Cottage cheese and cream cheese are no different.
Here are the key differences that separate cottage cheese from cream cheese:
There is no way around the lumpy texture of cottage cheese. While it is true that the consistency of cottage cheese and cream cheese is creamy and velvety, the actual texture could not be more different.
Cream cheese is defined by its silky smooth density while cottage cheese is well known for its odd lumpiness.
Considered one of the lowest-fat types of cheese commonly available, cottage cheese does not typically have a lot of fat.
Of course, it does come in various levels of fat content so you can get higher or even lower fat cottage cheese, but in comparison to cream cheese which gets a lot of fat from its added cream, cottage cheese has a very low-fat content.
Though that makes cream cheese taste more luxurious.
Cottage cheese and cream cheese both possess a mild, slightly tangy flavour.
The tanginess in cottage cheese is milder than that of cream cheese, making it closer in taste to a savoury cheese, while the tangy taste of cream cheese is more apparent thanks to the cream fermenting the lactose in the cow’s milk. Though this tanginess is better interpreted as sweetness.
Uses In Cooking
You could use either cottage cheese or cream cheese in an array of sandwiches and as dips. But because cottage cheese has such an odd texture and leans more towards the savoury side, it does not have as many uses in cooking as cream cheese.
The creamy smooth taste of cream cheese makes it easy to add to sauces, baked goods or as a simple spread.
All of the differences listed above are in part due to how cottage cheese and cream cheese are made.
Cottage cheese drains separated curds from the whey, leaving behind a lumpy cheese. Cream cheese relies on the lactose in milk fermenting when cream is added to develop its taste and texture.
While both are types of cheese, cream cheese and cottage cheese have different textures and flavours. In some recipes, like dips or lasagna, you might substitute them, but the result will be different. Always consider the recipe and the role the cheese plays before substituting.
Cottage Cheese vs Cream Cheese: Which Wins?
Now it’s time to pick your favourite. Which are you voting for when we put cottage cheese vs cream cheese in front of you:
Do You Prefer Cottage Cheese or Cream Cheese?
Acacia may be a freelance writer by day, but they are a food fanatic by night. They are always trying out new recipes or finding different ways to elevate classical dishes. But their biggest culinary aim is to educate others on the basics of the kitchen so that they too can enjoy delicious food.