Those fresh curds are a staple ingredient in many households. But what is cottage cheese, anyway? Here you'll learn all about cottage cheese, including its health benefits and some delicious ways to enjoy it.

By Katlyn Moncada
July 16, 2021
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Almost all of the fond memories of visiting my great grandmother as a kid included her going to the fridge to pull out a container of cottage cheese. This, of course, was usually accompanied by some straight-from-the-freezer strawberries served out of a reused frozen whipped topping container. Cottage cheese had its glory days as a healthy food staple between the '50s and '70s, so you can see why I (and maybe you, as well) might only associate those little cheese curds with a grandparent. I can proudly say I've developed my own appreciation for cottage cheese again along with many across the country. In fact, nearly 163 million Americans consumed cottage cheese last year. Since I'm all about cottage cheese at the moment, I thought I'd get a little more info on this nostalgic ingredient in my fridge. Read on to learn about cottage cheese benefits as well as what to eat with it (beyond fruit).

Cottage Cheese bowl with fresh fruit and chia seeds
Credit: Carson Downing
Try Our Cottage Cheese Breakfast Bowl

What Is Cottage Cheese?

Cottage cheese is a fresh cheese made of curds and cream. It has a mild, milky flavor and its texture is soft and creamy. According to Jesse Merrill, co-founder and CEO of Good Culture, the process starts by fermenting milk with gut-friendly live and active cultures which form curds. "Once the curd is made and the whey is drained, cream is added to finish off the ridiculously good, thick and creamy cottage cheese we know and love," he says.

Cottage Cheese Benefits

As I mentioned earlier, cottage cheese first gained popularity in the '50s as "diet food," but what are the health benefits of cottage cheese? "With cottage cheese, you are getting a high nutritional bang for your buck," says Leah Johnston, RDN and Wellness Communications Specialist at SRW. She notes cottage cheese is packed with protein and as a bonus, the lower-fat versions aren't too high on the calorie count either (1 cup of 2% cottage cheese has 24 grams of protein and 180 calories).

So, should you add cottage cheese to your meal plan? The short answer is yes. "If you are a dairy eater, the nutritional profile of cottage cheese is second to only cow's milk itself and comparable to Greek yogurt," Johnston says. "The protein, vast nutrient profile, and sodium electrolyte make it an ideal workout recovery snack."

Honey Lemon Cottage Cheese Pancakes
Credit: Jason Donnelly
Cottage Cheese Recipes You'll Actually Crave

What to Eat with Cottage Cheese

Like yogurt, cottage cheese is an incredibly versatile food and can be enjoyed alone or in sweet or savory dishes. If you want to go beyond the classic cottage cheese with fruit, you can also use it as a tasty veggie dip. Johnston says pairing cottage cheese with your morning avocado toast and some everything bagel seasoning is a popular combination (I've tried this, and trust me, it's a gamechanger). For more ideas, get inspiration from some of our favorite cottage cheese recipes featuring pancakes (pictured above), lasagna, and more.

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