Cream Cheese vs. Cottage Cheese

Cream cheese and cottage cheese are two popular types of soft, fresh cheeses. At first glance they may seem quite similar - they are both white, spoonable cheeses with a creamy texture.

Cream Cheese vs. Cottage Cheese

However, there are some significant differences when it comes to their nutritional profiles, ingredients, uses in cooking, and more.

Manufacturing and Ingredients

Cream cheese and cottage cheese both start with curdled milk. The curds are then processed differently to produce the final products:

  • Cream cheese is made by mixing milk and cream, curdling it by adding an acid like vinegar or lemon juice. The curds are then blended with salt, stabilizers and sometimes flavorings to form a smooth, creamy texture.
  • Cottage cheese curds the milk then drains off much of the liquid whey, leaving some moisture behind. The curds may be rinsed before adding salt, stabilizers or cream to alter the taste and consistency.

So while both curdle milk, cream cheese retains more moisture and fat, while cottage cheese is drained, leaving lumps of curd in the final product.

Appearance and Texture

Appearance and texture are key differences between the two cheeses:

  • Cream cheese has a perfectly smooth, thick and creamy texture. It is white in color and easily spreadable.
  • Cottage cheese has a bumpy, irregular curdled appearance. The curds tend to separate from the liquid whey, resulting in a lumpy consistency. It varies from very dry and firm to spoonable and moist.

So cream cheese is ideal when you want something you can blend or spread evenly, while cottage cheese offers a chunkier mouthfeel and appearance.

Taste and Flavor

While both have mild, fresh flavors, there are some taste differences as well:

  • Cream cheese tends to taste subtly sweet and tangy. It has a rich, creamy dairy flavor.
  • Cottage cheese is mildly salty and sour. Higher fat versions taste creamier and milkier, while low fat cottage cheese is more acidic.

So cottage cheese provides more of a fresh, bright sourness, while cream cheese is sweeter and richer tasting. Of course, flavorings like herbs, garlic, fruits or vegetables are often mixed into both types of cheese as well.

Nutrition Comparison

Cottage cheese and cream cheese nutrition differ quite a bit since their ingredients, processing methods and moisture contents vary. Here’s how they compare:

NutrientPer 1 CupCottage CheeseCream Cheese
Saturated Fat1g51g
Calcium10% DV26% DV
Sodium21% DV29% DV

So in a nutshell:

  • Cottage cheese is very high in protein, relatively low in carbs and fat, and moderately high in sodium.
  • Cream cheese offers lots of calories and fat - mostly coming from saturated and trans fats. It is low in protein for a cheese.
  • Both provide a good amount of calcium.

As far as micronutrients:

  • Cottage cheese has more phosphorus, selenium, B vitamins (especially B12)
  • Cream cheese is higher in vitamins A, D, E and K

So cottage cheese prevails as the healthier choice - it’s a leaner, nutrition-packed cheese. But what about their nutritional impacts?

Key Takeaway: Cottage cheese is higher in protein and lower in fat and calories compared to cream cheese.

Health Benefits

Both cottage cheese and cream cheese offer some benefits:

Cottage Cheese Health Benefits:

  • Building muscle and improving body composition due to its high protein and low fat
  • Strengthening bones, as it’s rich in calcium and phosphorus
  • Boosting immunity thanks to minerals like selenium
  • Aiding digestion - it’s easy to digest compared to other cheeses

Cream Cheese Health Benefits:

  • Vision health - it’s high in Vitamin A
  • Higher in probiotics than cottage cheese, benefitting gut health

Research also indicates that dairy products like cottage cheese and cream cheese may reduce inflammation and risk of metabolic syndrome when eaten as part of a healthy diet.[1]

However, those with lactose intolerance may struggle to digest these cheeses. Overall, cottage cheese offers more nutritional bang for your buck.

Potential Downsides

A few words of caution regarding cream cheese and cottage cheese:

  • They are high in sodium - so limit intake if you have high blood pressure or kidney issues
  • Weight gain is likely if you overindulge - cream cheese is very high in saturated fat and calories
  • Possible increased risk for certain cancers (especially prostate cancer) when high dairy diets are coupled with high calcium intake[2]

As with most foods, moderation is key when incorporating these cheeses into your diet.

Key Takeaway: Both cottage cheese and cream cheese offer some nutritional benefits, but should be eaten in moderation and balanced with a healthy diet overall.

Best Uses in Cooking & Baking

Cottage cheese and cream cheese differ quite a bit when it comes to cooking applications:

Cottage Cheese:

  • Dips
  • Topping for fruit, toast or baked potatoes
  • Mixed into eggs or oatmeal
  • Salads
  • Lasagna and pasta bakes
  • Pancakes or breads

Cream Cheese:

  • Cheesecakes
  • Frostings and fillings
  • Dips
  • Bagel topping
  • Cream sauce
  • Stuffed peppers or pastas

The bottom line - cottage cheese adds protein, moisture and texture to dishes like eggs, salads, and bakes. Cream cheese provides creamy richness and body to things like dips, sauces and desserts.

They generally can’t be substituted for each other since the consistency and mouthfeel differ so significantly. But both certainly have their place in a well-stocked kitchen!

Storage and Shelf Life

Proper storage is important for maximizing how long your cream cheese and cottage cheese last. Here is a comparison:

  • Unopened shelf life: Cream cheese lasts 1 month; cottage cheese lasts 1 week from the sell-by date when refrigerated
  • Opened shelf life: Cream cheese lasts 2 weeks; cottage cheese lasts 5-7 days

So cream cheese has a longer shelf life overall. But once dairy products are opened, their shelf lives diminish quickly since exposure to air and bacteria reduces freshness.

For optimum safety and freshness, keep both cheeses well-sealed and stored at 40°F or below. Discard either if mold develops or you notice an unpleasant sour smell.

Cream Cheese vs Cottage Cheese: Which is Better For You?

So when it comes down to cottage cheese vs cream cheese, which one wins out? Here’s a quick recap:

  • Cottage cheese is the clear winner nutritionally - lower in fat and calories, but higher in protein
  • However, cream cheese tastes richer and has a smoother, more versatile texture
  • Cottage cheese tends to be more budget-friendly than cream cheese
  • Both play a role in cooking, but excel in different areas based on their consistency
  • Moderate intake of both as part of a balanced diet is perfectly healthy

At the end of the day, incorporate both into your eating pattern based on your nutritional needs, taste preferences, and how you plan to use them!


Is cottage cheese healthier than cream cheese?

Yes, cottage cheese is much healthier overall. It contains significantly more protein and less fat, carbs, and calories compared to cream cheese. Cottage cheese is high in minerals that boost immunity, bone health and digestion.

Is cream cheese good for you?

In moderation, cream cheese can have a place in healthy diet. It provides calcium for bone health as well as probiotics for digestive function. However, it is very high in saturated fat and calories, so portions should be monitored.

Can you substitute cottage cheese for cream cheese?

It's not recommended. While they are both fresh cheeses, their consistency and taste differs too much. Cream cheese has a smooth, creamy texture that cottage cheese can't replicate. They work best used as intended based on the recipe.

Is cottage cheese good for weight loss?

Yes! Cottage cheese is fantastic for weight loss diets. With impressive amounts of protein, low carbs, and few calories, it boosts metabolism, rounds out meals, and helps preserve or build lean muscle mass. The protein also leaves you feeling full.

Does cottage cheese taste like cream cheese?

Not really. Cream cheese has a subtly sweet and tangy flavor with a rich, fatty mouthfeel. Cottage cheese is mildy salty and sour - more of a fresh, bright dairy flavor closer to milk. They differ quite a bit texturally as well.


Cream cheese and cottage cheese make great additions to any well-stocked kitchen.

While nutritionally they differ quite a bit, their tastes and uses also vary tremendously.

Cheese Lover Chloe 🧀
Cheese Lover Chloe 🧀

I'm a total cheese fanatic! When I'm not busy studying to be a cheesemaker, you can find me scouring local farmers markets and specialty shops for new and exciting cheeses to try. Brie is my all-time fave, but I also love exploring aged goudas, funky blues, and rich creamy camemberts. Looking forward to sharing lots of melty, gooey cheese pics and reviews!