Mizithra Cheese Substitutes

Mizithra cheese is a delicious Greek cheese made from sheep's milk. It has a sweet, creamy flavor when fresh and becomes saltier and more crumbly as it ages.

Mizithra Cheese Substitutes

Mizithra is a specialty cheese that can be difficult to find outside of Greece.

If you don't have access to mizithra, don't worry! There are several excellent mizithra cheese substitutes you can use instead.

What is Mizithra Cheese?

Mizithra is a whey cheese made from the liquid leftover from making cheeses like feta or kefalotyri. Sheep's milk is used to make traditional mizithra in Greece, but goat's milk can also be used.

There are two main varieties:

  • Fresh mizithra is soft, moist, and sweet with a mild tang. It has the texture of cream cheese or ricotta. Fresh mizithra is used in desserts or served with fruit and honey.
  • Aged mizithra is allowed to dry out over several months. It becomes firm and crumbly in texture with a sharper, saltier flavor. Aged mizithra is grated over pasta, vegetables, meat, etc.

Both versions of mizithra have a distinct creamy, milky richness. The aged variety is especially useful for adding a savory depth and texture to various dishes.

Key Takeaway: Mizithra is a Greek whey cheese made from sheep's milk. There is a sweet fresh version and a salty aged version used for grating.

Best Substitutes for Fresh Mizithra Cheese

When a recipe calls for soft, fresh mizithra that hasn't been aged, these alternatives make good substitutes:

1. Mascarpone

Mascarpone is an Italian cream cheese made by curdling cream with an acid like lemon juice or vinegar. It has a rich, subtly sweet flavor and ultra-smooth, spreadable texture.

With its high fat content, mascarpone is the perfect substitute for fresh mizithra in terms of flavor and richness. Use it in baked goods, cheesecakes, frostings, fillings, etc.

2. Manouri

Manouri cheese originated in Greece and comes from the same family as mizithra. It's made by draining sheep or goat milk yogurt to concentrate the curds.

Like fresh mizithra, manouri has a mild, milky taste and creamy texture. It spreads beautifully and works nicely baked into phyllo dough pastries or dolloped onto savory foods.

3. Feta

Brined feta cheese is another iconic Greek ingredient. Compared to mizithra, feta is saltier with a crumbly texture when crumbled.

To soften feta up, you can mash it into a paste. The salty, tangy notes make it an acceptable replacement for fresh mizithra in dips, fillings, etc. Just avoid baking feta because it doesn't melt smoothly.

Key Takeaway: Replace fresh mizithra with smooth and creamy options like mascarpone, manouri or softened feta cheese in baking recipes.

Best Substitutes for Aged Mizithra Cheese

For grated aged mizithra that is hard and crumbly in texture, use these alternatives:

4. Parmesan

Parmesan is one of the most popular and readily available aged cheeses. It works wonderfully grated onto pasta and pizza with its sharp, nutty, salty flavor.

While more expensive, Parmigiano-Reggiano offers an even closer match to the taste and granular texture of aged mizithra. But regular Parmesan makes an excellent budget-friendly substitute in most recipes.

5. Pecorino Romano

Like mizithra, Pecorino Romano is a hard grating cheese made from sheep's milk. It has a rich, bold flavor with a slight piquancy and makes an ideal substitute.

Pecorino Romano is also usually cheaper and easier to find than imported Greek mizithra. Keep some of this grated cheese on hand for Mediterranean recipes.

6. Kefalotyri

Here's another Greek cheese that mimics mizithra beautifully. Kefalotyri is made using sheep or goat's milk.

This hard, crumbly cheese has a sharp, salty bite similar to aged mizithra. Kefalotyri may be easier to source if you have access to specialty Greek ingredients.

7. Cotija

Cotija is sometimes referred to as the "Parmesan of Mexico". It's a cow's milk cheese with a dry, crumbling texture.

Dry, salty Cotija doesn't have quite the depth of flavor that mizithra has. But it melts well and makes a handy substitute thanks to its widespread availability.

8. Ricotta Salata

To make ricotta salata, fresh ricotta cheese is aged, pressed and salted to produce a drier texture. It becomes firm enough for grating over foods like pasta.

Ricotta salata has a mild milky flavor that tastes different from mizithra. However, the crumbly texture when grated makes it a practical substitution.

Key Takeaway: Replace aged mizithra by grating hard, crumbly cheeses like Parmesan, Pecorino Romano, Kefalotyri or salted ricotta over dishes.

SubstituteBest Use
MascarponeFresh alternative
ManouriFresh alternative
FetaFresh alternative
ParmesanAged alternative
Pecorino RomanoAged alternative
KefalotyriAged alternative
CotijaAged alternative
Ricotta SalataAged alternative

What if You Want a Non-Dairy Substitute?

If you need a non-dairy, vegan mizithra alternative, nutritional yeast flakes are the way to go.

Nutritional yeast is grown on sugars and fortified with vitamin B12. It has an umami, cheesy flavor thanks to glutamic acid.

Nutritional yeast makes an excellent substitute for sprinkling over pasta, soups, salads, etc. The flaky texture and savory taste mimic grated aged cheese.

While not identical to sheep's milk mizithra, nutritional yeast adds a similar savoriness without using any dairy.

Key Takeaway: For a vegan choice, use nutritional yeast flakes to replicate the salty, savory qualities of mizithra cheese.


What does mizithra cheese taste like?

Fresh young mizithra is mildly tangy and sweet, similar to cream cheese or ricotta. Aged mizithra becomes firmer and saltier in flavor with a pungent aroma.

What kind of milk is used to make mizithra?

Authentic Greek mizithra is made from sheep's milk. Goat's milk may also be used. The milk is curdled and drained without aging to produce the fresh cheese.

Is mizithra a soft or hard cheese?

It comes in soft and hard varieties:

  • Fresh mizithra is soft with a moist, creamy texture.
  • Aged mizithra dries out to become a harder grating cheese.

How do you use mizithra cheese?

  • Fresh mizithra is great in desserts like cheesecake or served with fruit and honey.
  • Aged mizithra is grated over pastas, baked dishes, salads, etc.

What's a good mizithra cheese substitute?

See the recommendations above! Mascarpone or manouri works for fresh mizithra. Aged/grating mizithra can be replaced with Parmesan, Pecorino Romano or salted ricotta.


Mizithra cheese is certainly a specialty ingredient. But there are accessible alternatives to recreate a similar texture and flavor in your cooking.

To substitute fresh mizithra, use creamy cheeses like mascarpone, manouri or feta. For the salty hard grating-style mizithra, replace with Parmesan, Pecorino or Kefalotyri.

AGAH Productions
AGAH Productions