Do you like feta cheese but have to cut down on calories or sodium intake? Maybe you have turned vegetarian. In any case, I have a list of great feta cheese substitute options!
As a nutritionist, I try to educate people on how to eat healthily and make smarter food choices. However, it is very hard to eat smart when you are working an 8-10 h shift and spend most of your day away from your home. It is even harder to give up your favorite food.
You can see now how my work is often challenging, and this is why I prefer to make small changes in people’s eating habits rather than force sudden great cuts.
I, therefore, mostly start by offering substitutes for the food that is high in calories or sodium content, and most often people readily accept these small changes and gradually commit themselves to the healthier diet plan.
For today, I have chosen to discuss feta cheese substitute. Although nothing will quite replace the dominant tangy taste of feta cheese, there are options that are worth exploring.
The taste might not be 100% same, but you will be happy to know that all the feta cheese substitutes I will list hereafter have fewer calories and lower sodium content than the real thing. If that is not worth sacrificing some taste for, I don’t know what is.
You might want to read about the best asiago cheese substitute as well.
A Little Bit about Feta Cheese
Feta is traditional Greek cheese made from either pure sheep’s milk or a mixture of sheep’s and goat’s milk. The Greek word “feta,” actually comes from an Italian word “fetta” that can be translated to “slice.”
When it comes to taste and texture, feta is a soft brined cheese with no holes in it, and a strong, distinctive tangy and salty taste. It has no skin and crumbles rather easily.
Feta cheese is nutrient-rich, and an excellent choice for people who suffer from cow’s milk allergy or are generally sensitive to dairy products. It is easier to digest, and the sheep and goat milk combo give it a flavor that is hard to resist.
It is hard to be precise when talking about feta cheese nutrition values as that will greatly depend on the type or brand of feta cheese you buy. However, I can tell you that feta is a full-fat cheese with a very high sodium content (around 260 milligrams of sodium per serving).
This Greek cheese is not unhealthy by all means but should be eaten sparingly. Unfortunately, if you have to mind your sodium, saturated fat or calorie intake, you should avoid feta cheese altogether.
Be cautious not to eat feta if you suffer from histamine intolerance as well. Namely, feta cheese contains the histamine protein which can cause allergy-like symptoms in people who suffer from this condition. Therefore, if you try feta and experience some symptoms such as sweating, swelling or hives, stop eating and visit the doctor right away!
Do not let all of these things disappoint you though, as the feta cheese substitute suggestions that follow will make up for the loss!
Extra Tip: Try to find and buy feta cheese made from raw milk rather than the pasteurized one. It will not only have a much richer flavor but also be more nutritious!
Top 5 Nutritious and Healthy Feta Cheese Substitute Options
- The closest substitute for feta cheese in terms of flavor is the ricotta cheese. Of course, it is by far less salty than feta. It also has a sweet undernote that will be, I am sure, appreciated by some of you and despised by others. After all, we all have a different taste!
- You can always add some salt, but that would eliminate one important benefit of using the ricotta cheese in the first place- the low sodium content.
- In terms of texture, there will not be much difference as both ricotta and feta have the same crumbly consistency. For this reason, ricotta will be an ideal feta substitute in your salads or pasta.
- Unfortunately, ricotta is not perfect either. This soft cheese is rather high in calories as well. It can brake havoc in your body if you suffer from high cholesterol too. For this reason, you should consume it sparingly as well and enjoy its taste and numerous vitamins and minerals it contains reasonably.
Interesting Fact: Ricotta is actually a dairy by-product as it is made from the whey or, to say it plainly, the residue left from cow, sheep or goat cheeses.
Related: Find a Ricotta Cheese Substitute
2. Queso Fresco
- Queso Fresco is a Mexican type of cheese that can be a great feta cheese substitute mostly due to its tangy and salty taste which is quite similar to the original feta flavor. It is made from unpasteurized cow’s milk, so mind that if you have used feta due to the cow milk related allergies.
- Queso fresco is not an only milder substitute for feta cheese due to the significantly lower sodium content but also has a lower fat content as well. This Mexican delight features a deliciously fresh and mild taste which is best combined with eggs or salads. It will make some mouthwatering enchiladas too!
- As far as the texture goes, queso fresco is a bit creamier than feta. It will not melt when you heat it, but rather just turn softer. Do not store it for longer than a day or two as it quickly alters its flavor and texture, rather buy as much as you plan to use and eat that the same day!
- The mozzarella was traditionally made from water buffalo’s milk, but as you can already anticipate, nowadays this milk is rather hard to come by, and everyone switched to making mozzarella from cow’s milk instead.
- It is loved worldwide thanks to being a perfect match with one of the most popular dishes in the world – the pizza. However, mozzarella is much more versatile and makes a great addition to your meats, salads, and seafood too.
- Mozzarella cheese has quite a different texture from feta – it is a soft and moist curd cheese that can be sliced to perfect cubes if needed. Therefore, replace feta cheese with mozzarella only if you are comfortable with a change of texture.
- Mozzarella is not as salty either and is appreciated for its high content of fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, and E. However, similarly to feta, it has a high amount of saturated fat that can be a serious problem for people suffering from cardiovascular diseases.
- The good news is that the market is overflowing with healthier varieties of mozzarella including low-fat, low-moisture and affumicata. You can easily make fresh mozzarella at home as well.
If you have recently turned vegan and miss the feta cheese flavor, or you are completely lactose intolerant, tofu might be your number one choice for the feta cheese substitute.
It is dairy free, but also has numerous additional benefits such as low saturated fat content and few calories. It is also known to reduce bad cholesterol.
As tofu is made by curdling raw soy milk and is quite tasteless, it has an amazing ability to absorb flavors and become whatever you want it to be. This means that you can make tofu feta rather easily too!
Tofu Feta Recipe
You will need:
- Around 10 ounces of pressed tofu
- Half a cup of water
- Half a cup of apple cider vinegar
- Two tablespoons of lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon of oregano
- First, press the tofu by taking it out of the package, draining it, placing it on a kitchen towel and pressing it with something heavy. Leave the tofu this way for about half an hour, or until it becomes noticeably firmer.
- Next, make a marinade. Mix water, lemon juice, cider and oregano in a large bowl.
- Cut tofu into small cubes and add it into the marinade. Cover the bowl and leave it in the fridge for at least two hours. (My tip: the longer you leave it, the better it will taste!)
- Use the feta tofu to prepare your favorite greek salad!
You May Need: A Ceramic Knife
5. Goat Cheese
- As feta is usually made of 30% goat’s milk, it is only logical that goat milk can be a great feta cheese substitute. It will be less salty, and you will reduce the calorie intake too.
- The texture of goat cheese will be somewhat different though, as it is softer, but the good news is that you will be able to spread it on bread or your favorite crackers too. If you want a firmer texture, opt for older goat cheese as it hardens with time.
- Goat cheese can be both mild and strong tasting – so you are able to choose your preference. Make sure to store it properly though because it dries out quite quickly! For best results wrap each piece in a plastic wrap before refrigerating it.
You might also enjoy our guide to fontina cheese substitute.
Whatever your reasons might be, it is good to know that there are many feta cheese substitutes that can live up to the original.
My list is sure to help you, but I am eager to hear your ideas as well! First of all, do tell me whether you have liked my ideas! Do you know more good substitutes for feta cheese?
Feel free to comment! Our team would love to hear from you. 🙂