Remember cottage cheese? This mild, creamy milk product was first marketed as a health food in the ’50s, and became a staple for many dieters by the ’70s and ’80s. Cottage cheese is known for being both low-calorie and high-protein, though some people find its texture or scent off-putting. Cottage cheese and fruit plates used to be a common diner menu combo; but the cheese gradually fell out of fashion, with yogurt increasingly taking its place in the hearts and bellies of the health-conscious. Now, something funny is happening: After years of cottage cheese’s association with sad low-cal lunches, the retro favorite is making a comeback amongst foodies.
While the cheese may be nostalgic for many, it has lately become a favorite of a younger crowd who weren’t around the first time it was popular (the search phrase “cottage cheese” has over 200 million views on TikTok). If you want to incorporate the cottage cheese comeback into your own meal plan, here are five fun ways to do it.
1. Make it into a dip.
A dip can instantly make any snack feel like a party, and turn vegetables from drab to delish. The creaminess of cottage cheese makes it ideal for dipping; plus, it’s lower in calories and fat than sour cream and cream cheese, both of which are often used as the base for creamy dips. A simple five-ingredient cottage cheese dip can make a healthy substitute for ranch dressing. If you like things spicy, you can also try a Mexican-inspired dip that mixes cottage cheese with jalapeno, corn, avocado, and other taco fixings. You can even do a dessert dip, like this Healthy Chocolate Cheesecake Dip that pairs well with your favorite fruits.
2. Enjoy it on toast.
Slices of toast topped with avocado or ricotta, plus other add-ons (think a perfectly runny egg, everything bagel seasoning, or a juicy tomato) have become popular snacks and lunches in recent years. Less filling than a big sandwich and often cute enough to post on Instagram, a dressed-up toast is a quick and easy way to get a healthy bite. With its spreadable texture, cottage cheese can easily be used as a toast topping. It’s easy to get creative with this dish — just add whatever additional toppings you’d like. Need inspiration? Try Cottage Cheese Toast With Salmon, Cucumber, and Dill, a Cottage Cheese, Prosciutto, and Herb Tartine, or a TikTok-famous cottage cheese/avocado fusion topped with chili oil.
3. Mix up your overnight oats.
Tired of oatmeal? Overnight oats, a nutritious treat you can easily make by soaking raw oats overnight, are a popular and tasty way to change up your breakfast routine. Adding cottage cheese to your overnight oats is a great way to boost their protein level and add a decadently creamy texture. Blueberry Cottage Cheese Overnight Oats, Strawberry Overnight Oats, or peanut butter and jelly-inspired cottage cheese overnight oats are surprisingly filling and offer satisfying sweetness without a sugar crash. (Click through to learn about the benefits of eating raw oats in a dish like overnight oats.)
4. Use it for savory muffins.
Savory cottage cheese muffins? Yep, you read that right. Cottage cheese can be used to make light, fluffy muffins to give you some much-needed midday fuel. A cottage cheese muffin with broccoli and cheddar provides a nostalgic bite reminiscent of a classic broccoli cheddar soup (but healthier!). You can also try a ham and cheddar cottage cheese muffin (much more exciting than a plain old ham sandwich) or a springy cottage cheese muffin with green onions and fresh dill.
5. Roll it into balls.
Cottage cheese can also be made into an unexpectedly elegant appetizer: Cottage cheese balls, a snack that takes minimal effort and pairs well with a glass of wine. All you need to do is roll your cheese into a ball shape and dip it in a whole bunch of spices. There are also fried and chocolate-covered variations, if you’re feeling creative. Want to try cottage cheese balls for yourself? Start with this recipe from food stylist and recipe developer Judy Kim. She says it’s perfect for Easter, and suggests serving it as part of a “deconstructed version of a meat and cheese board.” Find the full recipe below.
Herbed Cottage Cheese Bites
Ingredients (Yields about 30 balls):
- 16 ounces cottage cheese
- 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 ½ cups slivered almonds, toasted and lightly crushed, divided
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup toasted sesame seeds
- ¼ cup finely chopped chives
- ¼ cup finely minced parsley
- In large bowl, mix cottage cheese, cream cheese, ¾ cup almonds, dry mustard, garlic powder, and salt, and combine until well incorporated. Chill for 1 hour, preferably overnight.
- In rimmed sheet pan or large platter, mix together remaining almonds, sesame seeds, chives, and parsley.
- Using your hands, shape cheese mixture into bite sized balls, about 1-inch, and roll in herb mixture. Transfer to platter. Chill for 1 hour or up to a day in advance in an air-tight container before serving.
Whether you were a cottage cheese lover back in the day or you are a recent convert, we hope you’re pleased to learn how surprisingly versatile this food can be. The cottage cheese comeback is proof that diet-friendly food doesn’t have to be boring!
For more on delicious ways to use cottage cheese to improve health:
For more on how getting more protein can help you lose weight: