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Ricotta vs Cream Cheese: 10 Differences You Need to Know

Soft cheese does not come in one size fits all.

This category includes a variety of cheeses.

Ricotta and Cream cheese are included.

These two are used in various recipes, including pasta and soups.

However, it is not always possible to have both ricotta and cream cheese in your refrigerator.

So, you will start wondering if you can replace one with another.

To know more about this possibility, you must get more insight into these two kinds of cheese and their differences.

So, keep reading this blog to understand more about Ricotta vs. Cream Cheese.

Ricotta vs. Cream Cheese
The main differences between Ricotta and Cream Cheese are their origin, history, making method, milk source, fat content, moisture level, texture, taste, uses, and nutritional value. Both are smooth, but Ricotta is softer, while Cream cheese is denser.

What is Ricotta Cheese?

Ricotta falls into the category of Italian cheese.

It is famous for its creamy taste and fluffy texture. 

Aside from its decent quality and great flavor, ricotta is highly prized for being affordable.

The Italian word ricotta is translated as “recooked.”

This name can describe how this cheese was made.

Generally, natural cheese is made when rennet is added to milk.

This addition leads to turning milk into solid curds that later become cheese.

But then, some liquid left after the curds’ formation is called whey.

This whey is often disposed of or turned into other products.

So, this is how you get this beloved, creamy cheese.

It is a dairy byproduct that results from processing milk whey.

Making ricotta cheese out of whey results in a very smooth cheese, but it is not as fatty as most types.

However, this reduced fattiness does not make the cheese less tasty.

Still, it won’t be high in protein and calcium like cheese made from curds.

With its creamy taste and grainy, moist texture, ricotta is mainly used in various pasta recipes.

It can be used as a topping for pizza as well.

However, it can be sweetened and used as a base for different desserts.

Ricotta cheese is flexible to prepare, as it can come from any milk.

For instance, ricotta can be extracted from the milk of cows, goats, sheep, or buffaloes.

What is Cream Cheese?

Cream cheese belongs to the soft and moist cheese category.

It comes from pasteurized cow’s milk.

Cream cheese is easy to spread over different types of dough.

Cream cheese is not made to age; you should consume it fresh.

Cream cheese can be made from 100% milk.

You can also make it from a combo of milk and cream.

This means that cream cheese has an acceptable amount of dairy fat.

Cream cheese comes from processing cheese curds.

According to the FDA, cream cheese must contain 33% or more fat. 

Its moisture level should be around 55%. 

The history of cream cheese dates back to the late 1870s.

Cream cheese was invented in the U.S., particularly in New York.

The primary use of cream cheese is to top and frost various pastries.

You can find it stuffed into bagels or on top of carrot cakes.

Cream cheese is also commonly used in cheesecake frosting.

What are the Differences between Ricotta and Cream Cheese?

The white color and smooth texture of Ricotta and Cream cheese may give the impression that they are similar.

However, Ricotta and Cream cheese are different.

They are made from various sources and used for different purposes.

1. Origin

When you compare ricotta and cream cheese, you will find they come from different countries.

As the name implies, ricotta is an Italian cheese.

Cream cheese, on the other hand, is American cheese.

2. History

There is no clear historical evidence on the exact date of the birth of ricotta cheese.

However, it is believed that ricotta has been around for many centuries, particularly since the 1500s.

This makes cream cheese a modern invention.

Cream cheese has been around since the late 19th century.

3. Making method

The preparation method is a cornerstone in the Ricotta vs. Cream cheese comparison.

Ricotta is made from the whey that is left after the formation of cheese curds.

Cream cheese, on the other hand, is made from fresh cheese curds.

Also, you can make it by mixing dairy cream and milk.

4. Milk source

Ricotta comes from a variety of sources.

It can be made from any dairy animal. 

Cream cheese, on the other hand, is mostly made from pasteurized whole cow’s milk.

It is best if made with fresh milk.

5. Fat content

There is a vast difference between these two types of soft cheese in their fat content.

Ricotta has less fat as it is made from whey.

Cream cheese has a higher fat content, which is not less than 30%.

6. Moisture level

While ricotta and cream cheese are somehow moist, they are not on the same level.

Ricotta is moister than cream cheese.

Making ricotta won’t require any straining or pressing.

So it maintains its natural moisture.

7. Texture

Indeed, ricotta and cream cheese fall into the category of “soft cheese,” but ricotta is softer and grainier

This is due to its high moisture levels compared to cream cheese.

The latter is thicker and firmer than ricotta.

8. Taste

Ricotta has a neutral taste and a mild flavor that won’t affect the food experience.

Cream cheese has a stronger character due to its natural tanginess and saltiness.

9. Uses

While both can be substituted for each other in some recipes, cream cheese has more uses.

The multiple uses of cream cheese come from its thick texture.

It allows for using it in many sweet and savory recipes.

Cream cheese is excellent for thick sauces and cake filling.

However, ricotta is commonly used in Italian recipes like pizza and lasagna.

10. Nutritional value

As you already know, Ricotta has less fat than cream cheese.

Finally, it lowers cholesterol levels.

It also provides you with fewer calories.

So it’s perfect for those on a diet.

As for vitamins and healthy minerals, ricotta can provide you with more potassium, zinc, and phosphorous.

Cream cheese has more fat, calories, carbs, and cholesterol.

However, it can give you more calcium, protein, vitamin B5, and vitamin A.

Ricotta vs Cream cheese: are they the same?

Ricotta and Cream cheese are not the same cheese.

They come from different countries and have different textures.

Furthermore, they are created from other sources.

Also, both have a short shelf life and are vulnerable to mold if not stored properly.

Additionally, ricotta and cream cheese have similar tastes but are richer and creamier.

No need to mention that cream cheese is naturally saltier than ricotta.

So, if you want to substitute ricotta for cream cheese, mind the saltiness and softness issues in the recipe.

However, many recipes won’t accept such a substitution.

For instance, you can’t use ricotta in the cream of cheesecakes.

Also, you can’t use cream cheese on pizzas or lasagnas.

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