How to Make and Buy the Best Vegan Ricotta

How to Make and Buy the Best Vegan Ricotta

People have been producing and eating ricotta cheese since the Bronze Age (yes, you read that right). But these days, more and more people want to ditch dairy for health, ethical, and environmental reasons. Enter: vegan ricotta.

Data released by The Good Food Institute (GFI) and the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA) found that the vegan cheese category grew by 39 percent in the past year, whilst the conventional dairy sector stayed flat.

Whether you’ve been on the vegan train for decades and are eager to level up your cooking skills or you’ve just jumped on board, there’s no need to give up the foods (or cheeses) you love.

Vegan Ricotta
Ricotta is a whey cheese traditionally made from animal milk.

What Is Ricotta?

Ricotta is a whey cheese which was first crafted in Italy. It’s white, fresh, mild, and slightly sweet with a soft, fluffy texture.

Ricotta is typically made from cow, sheep, goat, or water buffalo milk whey. Traditionally, the whey used to make ricotta was obtained from the production of other cheeses.

To make most cheese, milk is separated into curds and whey. The curds are pressed into cheese and the leftover liquid (whey) can be used to make ricotta. The whey is sometimes combined with some whole milk and vinegar or citrus juice. It’s then heated and the small number of curds left in the whey begin to coagulate. The curds grow and solidify and are strained.

Today, ricotta is usually made with whole milk instead of whey.

What Is Vegan Ricotta Made From?

Dairy-free ricotta can be made with cashews, almonds, tofu, and coconut yogurt. Ingredients like nutritional yeast, lemon juice, garlic, and herbs can also be used in vegan ricotta recipes.

Vegan Ricotta
Ricotta can be used to make pancakes.

How Do You Use Ricotta?

You can find ricotta in a variety of dishes. It can be used to make dips, fluffy pancakes, and low-fat cheesecakes. You can add a dollop of ricotta to pizza, mix it into a pasta sauce, or stuff it into the pasta itself (hello, gnocchi, ravioli, and tortellini).

Ricotta can be used to make panna cotta, an Italian dessert made of sweetened, thickened cream. The cheese is combined with powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt and processed in a blender. The mixture is poured into a pan and left to chill for a few hours. The dessert can be topped with tangerines, melon, berries, or whatever your heart desires.

You might find ricotta in manicotti — pasta tubes stuffed with cheese and coated in sauce — or cannelloni, a similar pasta dish but the tubes are filled with cheese and vegetables or meat. It can also appear in lasagne recipes. Fluffy ricotta can be combined with spinach to make a smooth, cheesy layer in your lasagne.

Vegan Ricotta Brands

If you’re looking to cut your dairy intake but can’t let go of the sweet taste and feel of ricotta, these brands are here to help. These three brands make ridiculously realistic, vegan ricotta cheese.

Vegan Ricotta
Kite Hill makes vegan spinach and ricotta tortellini. | Kite Hill

1. Kite Hill

Plant-based dairy purveyor Kite Hill offers almond milk yogurt, Greek yogurt, dips, cream cheese, and — you guessed it — ricotta. Kite Hill’s ricotta is made from creamy almond milk. The company describes it as “silky” and recommends it for lasagne or instead of mascarpone in desserts.

The ricotta contains no GMO ingredients, artificial preservatives, or gluten. It boasts 5 grams of protein per serving and since it contains no animal products, it has no cholesterol.

Kite Hill also offers packaged vegan spinach ravioli, mushroom ravioli, and vegan tortellini.

You can find this product here.

Vegan Ricotta
This vegan ricotta is made with tofu. | Tofutti

2. Tofutti

Tofutti has been crafting dairy-free food since the ‘80s. The New Jersey-based brand has roots in vegan ice cream but now offers various cheeses, too. The company’s vegan ricotta — aptly called “Better than Ricotta” — is made with tofu, soy protein, brown rice, and olive oil.

You can find this product here.

Vegan Ricotta
New Roots makes vegan ricotta out of cashew milk. | @pascaleamez

3. New Roots

Switzerland-based New Roots is behind “Free-the-Goat,” a “light and airy” vegan ricotta cheese. It’s made from curdled organic cashew milk and it packs 8.1 grams of protein per 100 grams. The company produces its dairy-free cheese with the same techniques of fermentation and ripening used in traditional cheesemaking processes. As well as ricotta, it offers vegan camembert and cream cheese.

New Roots recommends the cheese with olive oil, fresh herbs, and garlic on crackers or bread. It also works well in lasagne, pasta dishes, and salads. The company also offers an Olive oil, Thyme & Lavender ricotta flavor. As an added bonus, New Roots donates 1 percent of its profits to animal sanctuaries.

You can find this product here.

How to Make Vegan Ricotta

Making your own cheese at home comes with its benefits. It can be cheaper than choosing store-bought, it’s more fun, you don’t have to leave your house (keep that dressing gown on!), and you get the bragging rights of creating a delicious, melt-in-your-mouth vegan ricotta cheese. Here are some recipes to get you started and inspired.

Vegan Ricotta
This vegan recipe delivers creamy, nut-free ricotta. | Delicious Everyday

1. Nut-Free Vegan Ricotta Cheese

We get it. You’re a busy person and you can’t be slaving away in the kitchen all day. That’s where this 5-minute recipe comes in. This dairy-free cheese has the same creamy consistency and slightly tangy flavor of ricotta. It’s high in protein (13 grams, to be precise) and contains vitamin A, vitamin C, and B vitamins. It’s nut-free; made with tofu, nutritional yeast, lemon, and garlic.

Find the recipe here.

Vegan Ricotta
This dairy-free ricotta is thick and creamy. | Simple Veganista

2. Soy-Free Cashew Ricotta Cheese

Sick of soy? This recipe uses cashews, nutritional yeast, and onion. It only takes 10 minutes and can be stored in the freezer for up to two months. This thick and creamy plant-based cheese tastes just like the real thing.

Find the recipe here.

Vegan Ricotta
This almond ricotta is super satisfying. | Minimalist Baker

3. Whipped Almond Vegan Ricotta

Creamy. Tangy. Cheesy. Satisfying. These are just some of the words this recipe creator uses to describe their vegan ricotta. Gather up some almonds, basil, oregano, and nutritional yeast and get prepping.

Find the recipe here.

Vegan Ricotta
| The Vegan 8

4. Dairy-Free Yogurt Ricotta

Fool your dinner party guests with this vegan cheese. The authentic, rich, and thick ricotta pairs perfectly with pizza or can be stuffed into pasta shells with spinach. You’ll need coconut or soy yogurt, almonds, and white vinegar. This recipe packs 7.4 grams of protein and 4.5 grams of fiber.

Find the recipe here.

Vegan Ricotta
You can use macadamias and cauliflower to make vegan ricotta. | Frugal Nutrition

5. Macadamia and Cauliflower Ricotta

Upgrade your lasagne, take your cheese sauce to the next level, or up your manicotti game with this dairy-free ricotta. The recipe calls for macadamia nuts, steamed cauliflower, and seasoning. It’ll offer vitamin C and B vitamins, too, so you can snack soundly knowing this cheesy, guilty pleasure isn’t harming your health.

Find the recipe here.