Cottage Cheese Is Making a Comeback

The long villainized dairy snack is sneaking back into savory bowls and sweet treats everywhere.

trending line chart cottage cheese
Design by Maggie Rossetti for Thrillist
Design by Maggie Rossetti for Thrillist

There’s nothing particularly sexy about cottage cheese. The texture averse has long been put off by its gloopy, curd-like form. A fad diet staple of the ’80s, cottage cheese carries a legacy of restriction. It’s got that sanitized look often associated with hospital food—bland and flavorless. Somehow, somewhere, it was Greek yogurt that rose to the top as the silky white vehicle of choice.

But a recent trend has shown that cottage cheese is simply a victim of bad marketing. Thanks to a few food influencers on TikTok, among other movements in the curd zeitgeist, surely, the humble milk product is making its rightful comeback as a ricotta-like, protein-rich snack. Wellness girlies on the social platform shout from the rooftops: “If you haven’t tried cottage cheese with pineapple, you’re missing out”; “This is your sign to whip your cottage cheese”; “She [cottage cheese] is the moment.”

The creator of the viral Green Goddess Salad, Melissa Ben-ishay (@bakedbymelissa), often spreads cottage cheese alongside chopped vegetables on olive-oil-fried toasts. Danielle Zaslavskaya (@dzaslavsky), who has turned the internet on to caviar-topped Doritos and Joe & The Juice Tunacados, likes to snack on cottage cheese with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and onion salt. Both Emily Eggers (@legallyhealthyblonde) and Brittany Arnette (@toasted.table) have created a series showcasing the many different ways you can dress up cottage cheese, using everything from za’atar chili crisp and pistachio dukkah to salmon roe.

This trend makes complete sense, given the gradual shift back to real dairy. Plus, there’s the obsession with protein, and one cup of cottage cheese boasts as much as 28 grams, in addition to other nutrients like B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, and selenium. Compound this all with Millennial bowl culture, and it’s surprising that cottage cheese hasn’t re-entered the conversation even sooner.

What Others Are Saying About Cottage Cheese

“A 3rd-grade field trip to Cabot Creamery launched my love affair with cottage cheese. Over the years, I’ve seen it relegated to ‘diet’ food, given minimal shelf space in grocery stores, and generally ignored in favor of yogurts. But my youthful love of it never dwindled. I packed it in my kids’ lunches when they were young, always layer it in my lasagna (thanks Aunt Becky for that trick), and still keep a 16-ounce tub on the top shelf of my refrigerator for drive-by unadorned spoonfuls when I’m feeling snacky.” —Carrie Honaker, freelance food writer and pastry chef

“I honestly find it puzzling that more people aren’t obsessed with cottage cheese. It’s delicious and very versatile! I use it sometimes in baked goods, and it’s a satisfying snack on its own or with a few grinds of black pepper.” —Emily Saladino, food & drink editor at Thrillist, Wine Enthusiast, and more

“Growing up in Armenia in the 1990s, we used to bake mostly at home, since bakeries were not very popular and there weren’t many to start with. My mother baked these soft and fluffy cookies filled with cottage cheese lightly crusted on the top because of the egg wash. Returning home from school and noticing the white enameled pot out on the counter, we already knew that our favorite cookies were ready! Now, I am continuing to bake the same cookies in the U.S. for my children.” —Ani Duzdabanyan, freelance writer

Ways to Enjoy Cottage Cheese

Think about any familiar flavor profile—a Mediterranean salad, smoked salmon bagel, or honey-roasted figs—and turn it into a cottage cheese bowl. Or incorporate it into more complex recipes, in place of ricotta in a lasagna, or blended into a frittata. The curdled milk’s got a kiss of savory, allowing it to masquerade as both a chip dip and a fruit and granola situation.

On its own, cottage cheese is best served chilled—reach for it when you’re craving something refreshing, but don’t want to settle for a leafy salad. And if the non-homogenous texture puts you off, try blending it or opting for a whole milk, small curd option. Good Culture is a favorite on TikTok. If you’re still not inspired, here are a few other ways to hop on the cottage cheese trend.

  • Spread it on rice cakes or crackers with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and crushed, black pepper for a simple snack.
  • Add it to pancake batter or scrambled eggs for a protein-rich breakfast.
  • Pair it with last night’s roasted vegetables, adding a sprinkle of fresh herbs, for a 3-minute lunch.
  • Use it in place of heavy cream when you need to thicken a pasta sauce.
  • Channel a cheesecake by blending it with eggs, a sweetener, and greek yogurt. Bake, then pair it with graham crackers or jammy fruits.

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Jessica Sulima is a staff writer on the Food & Drink team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram