Skip to Content

Top 5 Substitutes for Ricotta Salata: Ranked by Experts!

When you’re perusing an Italian recipe and come across ricotta salata, your taste buds might leap with anticipation. This versatile and flavorful cheese — a beloved sibling of the creamy ricotta we all know — enlivens dishes with its salty tang, crumbly texture, and ability to soften the edges of bold flavors.

But what happens when your local grocer is fresh out of this delectable ingredient? Don’t worry, I am here to introduce you to five remarkable alternatives that can step in as your culinary consiglieres.

Here’s your culinary roadmap for navigating the cheese aisle with confidence, ensuring the utmost satisfaction in your dining endeavors.

Top 5 Substitutes for Ricotta Salata

1 – Feta Cheese

Feta cheese is a staple in Mediterranean and Greek cuisine, but its versatility extends beyond these regions.

Made from sheep or goat’s milk, feta has a tangy, salty flavor and crumbly texture that adds depth to any dish it’s used in. In addition to being a delicious substitute for ricotta salata, feta can also stand on its own as a flavorful topping or addition to salads, soups, and even desserts.

Feta’s crumbly nature and briny undertones blend seamlessly into Mediterranean or Greek inspired cuisines. Imagine it gracing the tops of salads, sprinkling over roasted vegetables, or folded into a baked pasta.

With an equal amount of feta standing in for ricotta salata, you’re ready to serve up a truly authentic experience. Or, elevate your salad game by using feta cheese as a flavorful alternative to the usual croutons.

2 – Pecorino Romano

Pecorino Romano is a hard, salty cheese originally from Sardinia, Italy. Made from sheep’s milk, this cheese has a sharp and robust flavor that makes it perfect for grating over pasta dishes or adding to salads. It’s also commonly used as an ingredient in traditional Italian sauces like cacio e pepe or carbonara.

While Pecorino Romano is often compared to Parmesan cheese, they are not interchangeable. Pecorino Romano has a stronger flavor and saltier taste, which can overpower dishes if used in large quantities. However, when used sparingly, it adds a delightful umami kick to any dish.

Aside from being a fantastic substitute for ricotta salata, Pecorino Romano also shines as a topping for pizza or added into risotto. Its sharpness and saltiness make it an excellent complement to other ingredients in savory dishes.

3 – Cotija Cheese

Originating from Mexico, Cotija is the crumbly, salty cheese that’s often used in popular dishes like street corn and enchiladas. Made from cow’s milk, this aged cheese has a bold flavor that pairs well with the spices and flavors found in Mexican cuisine.

Cotija is typically sold in either block or crumbled form. The block version can be grated, sliced, or crumbled over dishes for added texture and flavor. The crumbled version, also known as Cotija cheese powder, is a popular topping for street corn and adds a savory kick to any dish it’s used in.

Beyond its use in traditional Mexican dishes, Cotija can also be incorporated into Italian-inspired recipes as a substitute for ricotta salata. Its saltiness and crumbly texture make it a fantastic replacement for sprinkling over pasta dishes, salads, or even grating into savory baked goods.

4 – Queso Fresco

It’s in the name — “fresh cheese” — and freshness is the hallmark of Queso Fresco. Its mild saltiness and creamy, yet crumbly, texture make it a perfect stand-in for ricotta salata in a light and flavorful context. The cheese is made from cow’s milk and has a subtle tang that adds depth to dishes without overpowering them.

Queso Fresco is commonly used in Mexican and Latin American dishes, such as tacos, enchiladas, and salads. Its mild flavor makes it a great accompaniment to spicy foods, balancing out the heat with its creamy texture.

One unique way to use queso fresco is by grilling it. The cheese holds its shape and develops a crispy exterior while maintaining its creamy center. It’s perfect for topping grilled meats or adding to quesadillas for an extra layer of flavor and texture.

5 – Halloumi Cheese

When the recipe calls for ricotta salata to be used as a garnish or topping, halloumi cheese is an excellent alternative. This semi-hard, brined cheese originated in Cyprus and is made from a blend of sheep’s, goat’s, and cow’s milk.

Unlike most cheeses that melt when heated, halloumi has a high melting point and instead becomes crispy on the outside and soft on the inside when cooked. This makes it perfect for grilling or frying, adding a unique texture to dishes.

Halloumi’s salty flavor and firm texture make it an ideal substitute for ricotta salata in recipes like salads, pastas, and pizzas. It can also be used as a stand-alone topping or served alongside fruits as a savory-sweet appetizer.


As you can see, there are plenty of delicious options to choose from when it comes to substituting for ricotta salata. Whether you opt for feta’s tangy bite, Pecorino Romano’s sharpness, Cotija’s bold flavor, queso fresco’s creaminess, or halloumi’s unique texture, you’re sure to create a delectable dish that will impress and satisfy.

So next time your local grocer is out of ricotta salata, don’t panic. Embrace the opportunity to try one of these delicious alternatives and elevate your cooking game to new heights.