I’m a Chef, and I Tested Cottage Cheeses for Weeks To Find the Best Brands Based on Taste, Texture, and Nutrition (You’re Welcome)
Why? Well, for the past few days, I’ve been running around town scooping up tubs of ‘em to crown the best cottage cheese brands of them all.
Cottage cheese ice cream has been all the rage on social media lately, which is interesting because cottage cheese can be... quite polarizing. So before we jump in, let's just have out with it: Cottage cheese is far from being *just* your Florida grandparents' chosen breakfast food. Fellow long-time cottage cheese stans know: The good stuff (see also: the reviews below) is god-tier.
Don't believe me? We’ve rounded up eight of the best cottage cheese brands ranked by taste, texture, and nutritional value below—and there's something to satisfy every dairy queen's palate.
The 6 best cottage cheese brands, at a glance:
- Best overall: Good Culture’s Low-Fat Classic Cottage Cheese
- Best lactose-free: Lactaid’s Lactose-Free Cottage Cheese
- Best budget: Trader Joe’s Small Curd Cottage Cheese
- Best texture and minimal ingredients: Daisy’s Low-Fat Cottage Cheese
- Best low-sodium: Lucerne’s Low-Fat Cottage Cheese
- Best crowd-pleaser: Knudsen’s Low-Fat Cottage Cheese
A ranking of the best cottage cheese brands
A couple of quick disclaimers before we dive in. I’ll preface by saying that despite having an advanced culinary degree and enjoying cottage cheese myself, I’ve never been aligned with a particular cottage cheese brand. This, I hope, lended to my ability to be as impartial as possible when tasked with choosing the best one. Next, due to the limited availability of certain products in my area, I branched out to include a variety of options, including low-fat, full-fat, flavored, and some local favorites in the mix.
And because visuals are key when it comes to any food's allure (but let's be honest, especially this one), I took the time to capsure the texture of each cottage cheese brand I tried in photos. Enjoy!
Lastly, no cottage cheese will be harmed in this test. As it turns out, opened cottage cheese can be frozen for up to three months. (It looks like... I'll be making protein-rich meals starring copious amounts of cottage cheese for the foreseeable future.)
Best overall: Good Culture’s Low-Fat, 2 Percent Milkfat Classic Cottage Cheese ($3.79)
Taste: Out of the bunch, this one was by far my favorite in terms of flavor. It has a slightly tangy taste, akin to sour cream, that’s not too overpowering. That said, it does run a bit on the savory (vs. sweet) side—which is possibly why I found that it tasted the most balanced on its own and my go-to when eating cottage cheese by itself. However, since it’s mostly neutral-tasting, it also pairs well with other added ingredients if toppings are on your mind. Say, fresh strawberries and a drizzle of honey?
Texture: The small to medium-sized, soft curds fall apart on the tongue and aren’t dense whatsoever. The texture reminds me of the inside of a ball of freshly-made burrata cheese, but with extra nooks and crannies.
Nutritional content (per half-cup serving): 100 calories, 3g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 15mg cholesterol, 340g sodium, 4g total carbs, 0g fiber, 3g sugar, 14g protein
Ingredients: Skim milk, whole milk, cream, sea salt, live and active cultures (Lactobacillus paracasei)
Best lactose-free: Lactaid’s Lactose-Free, 4 Percent Milkfat Cottage Cheese ($4.29)
Taste: I’ll be frank: I noticed this product had a slightly sour or even acetone-like flavor upon the first bite. However, it quickly dissipated after a few moments, leaving behind a pleasant and creamy aftertaste. Of course, this is an excellent choice for those looking for a lactose-free option. (Note: There aren’t many lactose-free cottage cheese products on the market, so this option didn’t have much competition in the first place.)
Texture: The packaging says small curds, but I found that the curds actually ranged in size, from small to large, rather than looking completely homogenous.
Nutritional content (per half-cup serving): 110 calories, 5g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 30mg cholesterol, 440g sodium, 5g total carbs, 0g fiber, 4g sugar, 13g protein
Ingredients: Cultured pasteurized skim milk and cream, whey protein concentrate, whey, salt, natural flavor, lactase enzyme (ingredient not found in regular cottage cheese), xanthan gum, locust bean gum, guar gum, lactic acid, sorbic acid and carbon dioxide (to maintain freshness), and enzymes
Best budget: Trader Joe’s Small Curd, 4 Percent Milkfat Cottage Cheese ($2.99)
Taste: I get the hype. This product is kind of what I imagine cottage cheese should always taste like. It’s the most neutral in flavor, meaning it’s highly versatile and pairs well with sweet or savory ingredients. In a word: Inoffensive.
“I've been getting my cottage cheese from Trader Joe's long before I started doing my grocery shopping. It was the cottage cheese my mom always got from the store, and it's the cottage cheese I now buy for myself—it truly does stand the test of time. I get the small curd, full-fat variety, which is ultra creamy, a little bit tangy, and has the perfect amount of sweetness to be eaten on its own, complement a side of fruit, or work as a savory topping for a salad or some slices of cucumbers and tomato. I've also been adding it to my scrambled eggs for extra protein, and it adds a really nice fluffy, creamy texture and taste. It's no-frills, budget-friendly, and tasty,” says Gina Vaynshteyn, Well+Good editorial commerce director.
Texture: The curds have a delicious melt-in-your-mouth consistency and are extremely uniform throughout.
Nutritional content (per half-cup serving): 110 calories, 5g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 20mg cholesterol, 320g sodium, 5g total carbs, 0g fiber, 3g sugar, 12g protein
Ingredients: Cultured pasteurized nonfat milk, pasteurized milk, pasteurized cream, sea salt, stabilizer (nonfat milk, locust bean gum, Agar), and carbon dioxide (to maintain freshness)
Best texture and minimal ingredients: Daisy’s Low-Fat, 2 Percent Milkfat Cottage Cheese ($3.29)
Taste: I love Daisy’s sour cream, and this is definitely its cottage cheese sibling. It has a similar slightly sour note that’s very palatable with a neutral aftertaste, which would pair well in most preparations.
Texture: As promised on the packaging, this product is, in fact, extra creamy and luxurious. The curds were more in the medium-sized range (instead of small), but they were so smooth it wasn’t bothersome at all.
Nutritional content (per half-cup serving): 90 calories, 2.5g total fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 10mg cholesterol, 350g sodium, 5g total carbs, 0g fiber, 4g sugar, 13g protein
Ingredients: Cultured skim milk, cream, and salt
Best low-sodium: Lucerne’s Low-Fat, 1 Percent Milkfat Cottage Cheese ($3.49)
Taste: Yes, it’s kind of bland. But it’s also the only option I found made without added salt. For those looking for a low-salt product, this one’s your best bet. It tastes like a glass of milk, and although it might not tingle your tastebuds with a punch of flavor, it does have a pleasant mouthfeel. Plus, the no-salt factor makes it perfect for whipping up a batch of, say, cottage cheese ice cream.
Texture: The mouthfeel is everything when it comes to this product. It’s creamy, has very small curds, and very minimal wateriness, which is a big selling point in my book.
Nutritional content (per half-cup serving): 90 calories, 1.5g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 10mg cholesterol, 60g sodium, 7g total carbs, 0g fiber, 5g sugar, 12g protein
Ingredients: Cultured pasteurized Grade A fat-free milk, pasteurized fat-free milk and milk, salt, cultured, Grade A dairy solids (Grade A whey, citric acid, and lactic acid culture), and dry, Grade A whey, maltodextrin, titanium dioxide (color), guar gum, citric acid, potassium sorbate (preservative), carrageenan, locust bean gum, carbon dioxide (to help maintain freshness), vitamin A palmitate
Best crowd-pleaser: Knudsen’s Low-Fat, 2 Percent Milkfat Cottage Cheese ($4.29)
Taste: By far, the highest-ranked crowd-pleaser amongst my peers, this cottage cheese brand is tried-and-true. “I grew up eating Knudsen cottage cheese with pears at my grandma's nursing home, so it's a very special food to me, and now that I'm trying to be a gym girlie again, it's really helping me hit my protein goals,” says Helen Carefoot, Well+Good lifestyle writer. Meanwhile, Well+Good fitness writer Rachel Kraus adds that she enjoys it most when it’s just-out-of-the-fridge cold and slathered on toasted wheat bread or paired with fresh cantaloupe.
That said, I tried their pineapple-flavored version—which I wouldn’t recommend, personally. The pineapple tasted like cotton candy more than tropical fruit. It was overly sweet and tasted almost artificial. Admittedly, I’d rather mix in fresh fruit than the syrupy pineapple chunks I found swimming in the tub.
Texture: The texture, however, of all Knudsen cottage cheeses are, indeed, very nice. They’re slightly dense and have a pleasant chewiness in every bite. The mixture is also somewhat watery, but the creamy curds help give this cottage cheese structure and texture.
Nutritional content (per half-cup serving): 90 calories, 2.5g total fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 15mg cholesterol, 420g sodium, 6g total carbs, 0g fiber, 4g sugar, 11g protein
Ingredients: Cultured pasteurized Grade A nonfat milk, milk and cream, whey, contains less than 2 percent of modified food starch, salt, calcium phosphate, xanthan gum, citric acid, guar gum, natural flavor, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D3
The other cottage cheeses I tried
365 by Whole Foods Market’s Organic, 4 Percent Milkfat Cottage Cheese ($3.99)
Taste: I noticed a rather funky smell when I opened the container, which made me feel the need to double-check that the tub wasn’t expired. (It wasn’t.) Although the tinge mostly went away once the container had a chance to air out for a few seconds, the smell carried over into the flavor, which I didn’t love. The curds themselves had more taste than the milky liquid they swam in, and each bite of this product left an overall acidic aftertaste on the palate.
Texture: The product has smaller, more uniform curds. However, they were chewier and denser than the rest of the options.
Nutritional content (per half-cup serving): 110 calories, 5g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 20mg cholesterol, 350g sodium, 4g total carbs, 0g fiber, 3g sugar, 12g protein
Ingredients: Cultured pasteurized Grade A organic nonfat milk, pasteurized Grade A organic milk, pasteurized organic cream, sea salt, stabilizer (pasteurized Grade A organic nonfat milk, organic locust bean gum, Agar), carbon dioxide (to maintain freshness)
Happy Belly’s Low-Fat, 2 Percent Milkfat Cottage Cheese ($2.49)
Taste: This was the most watery of the selection. The liquid-to-curd ratio was about three to one, which might suit those that aren’t fond of the texture of most cottage cheeses. In terms of flavor, it tasted very neutral, like drinking a glass of plain ol’ milk—which means it can be used in a variety of different ways. Not to mention, the price point was, by far, the most wallet-friendly of them all.
Texture: It’s very watery, with minimal amounts of curds, and more like a hybrid between yogurt and your standard cottage cheese products.
Nutritional content (per half-cup serving): 90 calories, 2.5g total fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 15mg cholesterol, 360g sodium, 5g total carbs, 0g fiber, 4g sugar, 12g protein
Ingredients: Cultured nonfat milk, milk, cream, contains less than 2 percent of: nonfat milk, whey, salt, maltodextrin, citric acid, carrageenan, mono and diglycerides, locust bean gum, guar gum, natural flavors, vitamin A palmitate, carbon dioxide (to preserve freshness), enzyme
A few additional honorable mentions
A few colleagues also recommended some additional (beloved) local options, including Michigan Brand’s Small Curd Cottage Cheese. “Michigan Brand is the best cottage cheese brand, and no one can change my mind; it’s best on some gluten-free crispy toast with chili crisp or a little honey and salt,” says Hannah Schneider, Well+Good health writer. Meanwhile, Well+Good senior food editor, Betty Gold, swears by Meijer’s Low-Fat Cottage Cheese. “Live it, learn it, love it. Sincerely, Grandma Betty, long lover of cottage cheese,” Gold says.
Regarding flavor, texture, and nutritional value, Good Culture’s Low-Fat, 2 Percent Milkfat Classic Cottage Cheese ($3.79) ranks at the top of the list. What’s more, the product features a simple list of ingredients and has the highest amount of protein out of all of the options we ranked. Not to mention, it’s neutral but highly pleasant, flavor pairs well with just about everything. And let’s take a moment for the texture: It’s ethereal, creamy, and luxurious. What more can you want?
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