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Why You Should Cook With Cottage Cheese, According To Cookbook Author Jake Cohen

by HexClad Cookware

cottege cheese dinner with Jake Cohen
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You may have stopped stocking your fridge with cottage cheese circa 1995, but the dairy aisle staple is having a big moment. Skeptical? Cookbook author Jake Cohen says it’s time to give it a chance. “As a community, I think we’re moving back to dairy from plant-based alternatives,” he says.

While some people might skip dairy for health reasons, he advocates for keeping a tub of cottage cheese in your fridge at all times for pasta sauces, scrambled eggs, and more. Though cottage cheese was never niche—Cohen cites everyone from rural Americans to Ashkenazi Jews in metropolitan areas as longtime cottage cheese lovers—there is no doubt that it’s having a moment. People are excited to find new ways to play around with this old ingredient. Thankfully, there’s no need to splurge on cottage cheese. A standard tub of cottage cheese from your regular supermarket will work for any recipe (though if you are curious, there are specialty cottage cheese brands coming onto the scene).

Cohen has an unexpected take on why cottage cheese is at home in so many dishes: Cottage cheese is an unexpectedly great seasoning ingredient. “It’s creamy and luxurious, but adds a lot of acidity,” he says. Don’t worry if there are some haters in your vicinity. Cohen stresses that you can sneak it into things and not do much else.

Four Incredible Ways To Cook With Cottage Cheese

Pasta Sauce

Using cream cheese in pasta sauces works well because it’s low-calorie, yet high-protein. Purée cottage cheese in a high-speed blender and use it where you would heavy cream. Because it’s so high protein, it can get gritty over too much excessive heat. This means that it’s best added just before serving, or off the heat. In Cohen’s Cottage Cheese Vodka Pasta recipe, he purées a quick onion-y tomato sauce with a full pound of cottage cheese, which plays off the acidity of the tomatoes. Cohen loves the addition of cottage cheese because it adds a generous dose of protein, but still keeps pasta lovers happy. 

Cottage Cheese Scrambled Eggs

There’s a reason that scrambled eggs with cottage cheese has become such a popular dish. A scoop of cottage cheese adds the same luxurious texture that cream, creme fraiche, or ricotta do. “You get these beautiful little curds,” says Cohen, who loves how they play off the texture of a soft scramble. This is the dish you can make the most for people who hate cottage cheese and they’ll never know.

Grilled Cottage Cheese

Cohen’s recipe for Grilled Cottage Cheese Sandwiches combines equal parts shredded mozzarella, grated cheddar, and cottage cheese. Cottage cheese adds an interesting texture to the classic recipe, thanks to its increased moisture, which helps melt the cheese a lot faster. Usually people burn their bread before the cheese actually melts. “Cottage cheese adds that gooeyness that you’re looking for in a great grilled cheese and plays well with the stringiness of mozzarella and the flavor of the cheddar.” Cohen adds what he calls “an Eastern European chic twist” with minced fresh dill.

Cottage Cheese Edible Cookie Dough

For those looking for a sweet treat, Cohen recommends his edible cookie dough recipe, which he says isn’t really cookie dough by any means—you can’t bake it—but is a great pick-me-up when he wants something sweet. To make it, he blends cottage cheese with maple syrup, almond flour, and protein powder, and then adds in chocolate chips. You can find his recipe for cottage cheese cookie dough on TikTok.

Jake Cohen’s 3 tips to help anyone fall in love with cottage cheese:

  1. Play with the texture. “Too often, when people are afraid of cottage cheese, they’re imagining they’re eating it with a spoon. Juxtapose the textures—we eat so many things that we wouldn’t eat just plain—no one’s eating onion soup mix with a spoon, you’re eating it with chips. It’s the same concept. Even really good cottage cheese on a beautiful piece of sourdough toast with honey, fruit preserves, chopped nuts, and flaky salt—that is, to me, perfection. You get a little bit of the curdiness matched with sweetness matched with crunch from the toast, which will help you get into it.”
  2. Cottage cheese does wonders for oatmeal. “Stir a scoop of cottage cheese into savory or sweet oatmeal. It adds protein but creaminess, the curds kind of melt but kind of stay intact.
  3. It’s great for people who want to boost protein. “Dairy is an answer to people who don’t like plant-based protein like lentils, quinoa, and chickpeas. Diversification of sources is important.”

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