Basket Cheese Substitutes

Basket cheese is a unique type of fresh cheese that is often associated with Easter and Italian cuisine.

Basket Cheese Substitutes

While delicious, basket cheese can be difficult to find outside of specialty stores, especially outside of the Easter season. So what can you substitute when a recipe calls for basket cheese but you can't get your hands on it?

There are several alternatives that can mimic both the mild flavor and texture of basket cheese. With a few simple ingredient swaps, you can still get fantastic results.

What is Basket Cheese?

Before diving into substitutions, let's take a quick look at what defines basket cheese:

  • Origin - Basket cheese has its roots in the Mediterranean region, especially Italy and Greece.
  • Milk Source - It's traditionally made from cow's milk, sometimes sheep's or goat's milk.
  • Texture - Basket cheese has a soft, creamy yet slightly rubbery texture. It's semi-soft.
  • Flavor - The flavor is mild and slightly salty.
  • Color - Basket cheese is white in color.
  • Aging - It's a fresh cheese, meaning it is not aged for long periods.
  • Uses - Its mild taste makes it versatile for both savory dishes and desserts.

Knowing these basic characteristics will help you select the best substitute that mimics the qualities of basket cheese.

Dairy-Based Substitutes for Basket Cheese

If you aren't vegan or dairy-free, these traditional dairy-based ingredients make excellent substitutes in recipes calling for basket cheese:

Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is a prime contender because of its similar creamy, soft texture. The curds also provide a comparable crumbly quality when cooked. The flavour is mild like basket cheese. For baking recipes, large curd cottage cheese works best to avoid a mushy texture.

Pot Cheese

This fresh unripened cheese made by straining cottage cheese has an even creamier consistency closer to the smoothness of basket cheese. Pot cheese is also easy to make at home by draining cottage cheese through cheesecloth overnight.

Quark Cheese

Quark is a traditional German fresh curd cheese with texture and versitility similar to basket cheese. It has a mildly tangy, creamy flavor that adapts well to sweet or savory dishes.

Ricotta Salata

Ricotta salata is a salted, dried and pressed version of ricotta cheese. It has a firmer, drier texture than traditional ricotta that mimics the density of basket cheese. The salty flavor also makes it a good substitute.

Feta Cheese

Crumbled feta works as a replacement thanks to its salty flavor, despite the tangier taste and crumbly texture. Use feta for savory recipes where its sharper flavor won't clash with other ingredients.

Queso Fresco

Queso fresco is a Hispanic-style fresh cheese with an adaptable mildness and a bit of tang. Its texture is also soft and moist like basket cheese. Both queso fresco and basket cheese share their versatility in sweet and savory dishes.

Mozzarella Cheese

Fresh mozzarella, especially when shredded or diced small, can mimic the mild milky flavor of basket cheese. Whole milk mozzarella will provide the best consistency for cooking and baking.

Key Takeaway: For dairy-based basket cheese substitutes, look for fresh cheeses like cottage cheese, quark, or ricotta salata that have a similar mild flavor and semi-soft texture.

Plant-Based Substitutes for Basket Cheese

Those following a vegan diet have plenty of options to use in place of basket cheese too:


Silken or soft tofu blended into a cream can perfectly replicate the smooth, rich texture of basket cheese. Add lemon juice and nutritional yeast to boost the tangy, savory flavor. The tofu takes on other flavors easily.

Cashew Cream Cheese

Soaked raw cashews whipped into a spreadable cream make an adaptable substitute with a neutral flavor. Add salt and acidity to taste. Cashew cream cheese can be used in both sweet or savory recipes.

Vegan Cream Cheese

There are many dairy-free cream cheese options on the market that can stand in for basket cheese thanks to their creamy consistency and versatile flavor.

Vegan Ricotta Cheese

Nut-based vegan ricotta recipes made from nuts like cashews, macadamia nuts or almonds can closely mimic the crumbly, dense texture of basket cheese.

Extra-Firm Tofu

For recipes where basket cheese is baked or used in a more solid form, diced extra-firm tofu can provide the right consistency. This works well in savory dishes or even sweet cheesecakes.

Vegan Feta Cheese

There are many vegan-friendly, nut-based feta recipes that can act as a flavor substitute in dishes where feta's saltiness and tang suits the other ingredients.

Key Takeaway: Vegan substitutes like silken tofu, cashew cream cheese, and nut-based ricotta offer great alternatives with a similar creamy texture and neutral flavor.

How to Use Basket Cheese Substitutes

Basket cheese is valued for its versatility, working well in both sweet and savory dishes. Here are some tips for seamlessly swapping in a substitute into your favorite basket cheese recipes:

  • For savory dishes, match the saltiness. Salted fresh cheeses like feta, ricotta salata, or queso fresco will help provide the salty punch basket cheese brings.
  • In sweeter dishes, avoid sharp, tangy cheeses. Substitutes like pot cheese, cottage cheese, or vegan cream cheese work better.
  • For baked dishes like Easter breads or desserts, choose a firmer texture substitute that won't melt and separate, like diced tofu or vegan ricotta.
  • Reduce moisture in the recipe if using a wetter substitute like Greek yogurt or tofu to prevent runniness.
  • For salads, soft fresh cheeses like mozzarella, feta or queso fresco crumble nicely to mimic crumbled basket cheese.
  • Adjust seasoning to balance out differences in saltiness or acidity based on your substitute.
  • When in doubt, do a test run of a recipe before making it for guests to perfect the flavors.

The key is selecting a substitute with a comparable flavor profile and texture to basket cheese that suits your specific recipe.

Key Takeaway: Pick basket cheese substitutes to match the flavor profile and texture needs of your recipe, whether it calls for the cheese baked, fried, or simply crumbled on top.


Is basket cheese the same as mozzarella?

While they share some similarities, basket cheese and mozzarella are not identical. Mozzarella has a more rubbery, elastic texture compared to the creamier semi-soft consistency of basket cheese. The flavors differ too, with mozzarella being mildly tangy vs. the neutral basket cheese taste.

Can you freeze basket cheese?

Yes, basket cheese freezes well for up to 6 months. To freeze, wrap it thoroughly in plastic wrap or foil to prevent freezer burn. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using. The texture may become more crumbly once thawed.

What kind of cheese is used in pizza gaina?

Pizza gaina is an Italian Easter pie made with basket cheese. Traditional recipes also incorporate ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan and pecorino romano for the cheese layer. Feta or pot cheese make good substitutes for basket cheese if you can't find it.

Is basket cheese healthy?

Like many cheeses, basket cheese can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a healthy diet. It provides protein and calcium. However, it can also be high in saturated fat and sodium if consumed in large quantities. Check the nutrition label and enjoy small servings.


The mild tang and subtle saltiness of basket cheese can be difficult to duplicate precisely.

However, with the right substitute choices, it's possible to achieve great results in your cooking and baking.

Opt for fresh cheeses like ricotta, cottage cheese or feta for a similar creamy texture and neutral taste.

Vegan cooks can turn to cashew creams, tofu and nut-based ricotta for plant-based alternatives.

AGAH Productions
AGAH Productions