The 9 Best Cheese Curd Substitutes for Your Recipes
Cheese curds is a byproduct of cheese making, and is made by pressing the curds into the mold to create a block of cheese. Basically, the parts of the block of cheese that are sticking out of the mold become this delicious cheese puff.
As cheese curds must be freshUnlike most other types of cheese, can be hard to find. Is there anything that can replace its fresh and unique taste? Of course. Let’s find the best substitute for cheese curds!
The Best Substitutes for Cheese Curds
To make cheese, the milk is first pasteurized and then cooked to separate the whey from the curds. During the cooking process, a starter culture is added to acidify the milk, and it then coagulates, giving rise to the curd. Finally, the liquid (whey) is separated from the solids (curds).
What gives curds its unique, cheddar-like flavor is the curdling process, which basically involves repeatedly stacking, cutting, and pressing the curds. In doing so, excess moisture is removed from the curd. The last step in making the cheese curd is to grind it into 2-3 inch chunks and salt it.
Cheese curds have quite a specific texture that can be described as rubbery, hence the term squeaky cheese. Since curd is a by-product of cheddar, the color of the curd is usually white, yellow, or orange.
There are numerous ways to eat cheese curds, but it’s important to make sure it’s fresh. You can eat them straight out of the container, season them with a little garlic, jalapeno, onion powder, and your favorite spice blends, or deep-fry them. If you like fries, you should try Poutine, a popular Canadian dish: cheese curds and gravy-laden fries.
Cheese curds can be stored in the fridge or frozen. Keep in mind, however, that this type of storage can alter their texture and flavor, so it’s best to eat them fresh.
When you think of queso fresco and rubbery texture, mozzarella naturally comes to mind. It is a perfect substitute for cheese curds, as they have very similar textures and give your dishes that deep but refreshing flavor. If you’re looking for that mild flavor, baby mozzarella may be an even better option.
Fresh mozzarella is actually a type of curd cheese, originally from Italy. Although there aren’t many types of curd (they are usually by-products of cheddar), mozzarella comes in several forms. The highest quality mozzarella is made with water buffalo milk (mozzarella di bufala), but you can also find cow and goat mozzarella (less often).
Mozzarella is a great complement to pizza and other baked goods. You’ll also love fresh mozzarella in your salads, like the famous Caprese salad. And if you prefer fried appetizers, mozzarella sticks are hard to beat in this category!
Since cheese curds are the technical part of cheddar cheese blocks or wheels, you can’t go wrong with cheddar. Cheddar cheese is a hard cheese made from pasteurized cow’s milk, and its texture is usually compact and crumbly. The longer it matures, the sharper its flavor, so be sure to avoid old cheddar if you’re looking for a substitute for curds.
Cheese lovers will simply enjoy a plate of cheddar cheese with some crackers, fruit and a glass of good wine. However, cheddar is an extremely versatile cheese that can be tossed on pizza, fried, used to stuff a burger, or used in pasta sauces. One of the most popular cheddar recipes is undoubtedly the nacho cheese sauce, and you can have it on your table in just 5 minutes.
For your cheddar cheese sauce for nachos, you will need
- 6 ounces medium cheddar, shredded
- 1 cup of whole milk
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoons of flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder.
Cream the melted butter and flour in a saucepan over medium heat for about 60 seconds, then add the milk and allow to simmer. Remove from the heat and add the grated cheddar cheese, stirring the mixture well. Add the seasonings and the nacho sauce is ready.
3. Cottage cheese
Cottage cheese is an ideal cottage cheese substitute for poutine, as it has the smooth, fresh flavor that cottage cheese offers. Although they differ in texture, you will find that the taste is quite similar. However, keep in mind that cottage cheese is slightly waterier and saltier, and has whey in it.
Like curd, cottage cheese should be purchased and used fresh, as it is not aged. It’s also a great source of protein, and a very healthy option when it comes to dairy. It’s a delicious spread, a great addition to your frittatas and omelettes, and a refreshing dip when combined with vegetables and spices.
4. Ricotta cheese
Ricotta is the creamiest, fluffiest, mild-tasting cheese you’ll find. This light cheese is actually the leftover whey left on the cheesecloth after straining the cheese mixture. However, some companies prefer to make it with whole milk instead of whey, which gives it a deeper flavor.
Ricotta has many uses, especially in Italian cooking. It makes a great addition to lasagna filling, as well as stuffed shells and manicotti. Ricotta, with the addition of your favorite herbs, can make a beautiful low-calorie sauce or spread on toast, but you can also add it to desserts like cheesecake.
5. Feta cheese
Feta is a famous salty Greek cheese, and it has a creamy, smooth, yet crumbly texture. Unlike cottage cheese, it is a soft cheese with a lot of flavor, and it has a fairly strong nutty aroma. However, feta can work well as a substitute for cheese curds, as long as you don’t add extra salt. It’s also a good substitute for other types of cheese, such as farmer’s cheese and halloumi cheese.
Feta offers great versatility in the kitchen, and the list of possible snacks and meals is quite extensive. You will love its strong and tasty flavor in your salads and tortillas. Although not as soft as cottage cheese and ricotta, it can be used as a spread on flatbreads or as a topping on your favorite pizza.
6. Cheese Paneer
Paneer cheese comes from India, and is made from curdled milk, with the addition of vegetable or fruit acid, such as lemon juice. Like cottage cheese, it is a fresh, unripened and soft cheese, and it does not melt. Also, paneer is completely vegetarian as it does not contain an enzyme called animal rennet.
If you tend to gravitate towards a smooth, milky flavor, paneer cheese is a perfect choice for you. Thanks to its neutrality, it goes well with almost any dish, since you don’t have to worry about the flavors and aromas clashing.
In traditional Indian cuisine, paneer is often wrapped in dough or served as a side dish with vegetables such as peas and spinach. Since it does not have a dominant flavor, it can also be added to desserts.
7. Fromage blanc
This French cheese has a fresh and creamy consistency similar to that of cottage cheese. If left undrained, the texture of Fromage blanc resembles that of thick yogurt or sour cream. Although originally fat-free, you’ll see some brands add cream for a thicker texture and fuller flavor.
Fromage blanc is a low-calorie substitute for cream cheese, and can also be used in desserts, pastry fillings, soups, and sauces. As it is a soft cheese, you can also use it as a spread, dip or add a refreshing touch to a fruit salad, thanks to its slightly tangy flavor.
If you want to spice up your breakfast toast, spread the desired amount of Fromage blanc on a sourdough toast, season it and top with slices of avocado or fruit.
8. Colby Cheese
Colby cheese is a popular American hard cheese that resembles cheddar in both appearance and texture. However, the process for making Colby is slightly different, as the curd is washed with water. By doing so, most of the acidity is removed from the cheese, and the flavor becomes significantly milder.
Also, there is no cheddar in Colby’s production, and the aging process is relatively short. Cheaper versions of Colby do indeed resemble cheese curds when it comes to flavor. However, original Colby cheese tastes sweeter and less spicy due to the removal of the acid.
9. Vegan Cashew Cheese
Here’s an ideal alternative to plant-based diets. Cashew cheese has a smooth and creamy texture, similar to cottage cheese, and is made with natural ingredients without any additives, making it a very healthy option, whether you are vegan or not. It is also suitable for diets that exclude lactose.
All you need to make homemade cashew cheese are
- 2 cups raw unsalted cashews
- ½ cup nutritional yeast
- ¾ cups of water
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1-2 teaspoons of salt
- 1 teaspoon of garlic powder.
Soak the cashews without salt overnight, and the next day drain and rinse them with water. Add all the ingredients on the list in a blender and process them until they are very homogeneous. Taste the mixture and add more salt/spice of your choice if needed.
How to Choose a Substitute for Cheese Curds
If you like the texture of cheese, mozzarella and paneer can match the mushy but squeaky consistency of cheese curds. These options aren’t lacking in versatility either, as they can be fried, tossed into salads, or served as a simple appetizer on a cheese board.
Fresh cottage cheese, ricotta, Fromage blanc and vegan cashew cheese have a slightly softer texture. This type of soft cheese is an ideal choice for a quick spread or dip. In addition, its neutral and mild flavor allows you to express your culinary creativity and play with flavors by adding different herbs and spices.
And if you lean toward a fuller, deeper cheese flavor, you’ll love cheddar, feta, and Colby. They offer different textures, aromas and flavors, but what these alternatives to cheese curds have in common is the ability to transform a simple dish into a true delight.
Each of the options we’ve mentioned has something unique to bring to the table. Depending on your personal preferences and the intended dish, one alternative may seem more appropriate than the other. In any case, you cannot go wrong with any of these cheeses, as they are all of a high quality and very tasty.