The best ricotta cheese is milky and flavorful and tastes like freshly made cheese. Yes, I’ve actually made fresh ricotta (cream cheese, too!), but I’m not gonna bust out a cheesecloth and separate curds from whey every time I want to make lasagna or stuffed shells. I’m Italian American, but not that Italian American, although I was raised to call it “riggut.” Anyway, that’s where the best store bought ricotta comes in.
When I was downing cheese by the spoonful for this taste test, I quickly discovered that the best ricotta brands have very different approaches to this soft curd cheese. Some are dense and sort of sweet. Some are loose and creamy (the best ricotta cheese for lasagna is this sort of ricotta, in my opinion). We tasted whole milk ricotta as well as part skim ricotta from several popular brands and found the best ricotta cheese in several categories. Here’s the best riggut for your manigut (etc).
- Galbani Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
Galbani whole milk ricotta cheese is very dense and a little bit sweet. The consistency is very different from other, higher-ranking cheeses on this list, but there is a time and a place for very dense rather than loose and curdy ricotta. See, I think Galbani is kind of a pain to use for things like stuffed shells, because you typically need to combine your cheese with eggs and herbs. Combining this with anything seems like a challenge, but I do think the hint of sweetness makes this the best ricotta cheese for sweet applications, like lemon ricotta cake or ricotta cheesecake or simply spreading on toast with jam or a drizzle of honey.
Credit: Merc / Target
- Great Value Part-Skim Ricotta Cheese
In this taste test, I gravitated toward whole milk ricotta cheeses (they’re fattier and more delicious, so duh). But this Walmart ricotta was the most flavorful and best part skim ricotta cheese we tried. It has a very fresh, milky flavor without any of the sweetness we detected in other part skim ricottas. It’s loose (certainly less dense than Galbani), but not too loose. For being part skim it really packs so much creaminess and flavor. If you’re looking to cut a little bit of fat from your homemade Italian dishes, this is the best ricotta cheese. And it’s Great Value, so you know it’s cheap as all hell.
Credit: Merc / Walmart
- Polly-O Original Ricotta Cheese
I love and grew up on Polly-O products. Their string cheese used to be the best (I’m pretty sure it’s different now than it was 30 years ago since it did not make our ranking of the best string cheese), but their ricotta is still excellent. It has two strengths: its very mild, neutral flavor and its texture. It’s just loose and curdy enough to mix with seasonings for your stuffed shells, but it’s not soupy or too much like cottage cheese. It feels very classic, and Polly-O is definitely a classic. That parrot is my ffl!
Credit: Merc / Instacart
- Organic Valley Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
Sometimes organic products—especially organic dairy products—really do taste better, and this ricotta cheese is one of them. Organic Valley uses milk from pasture-raised cows, so the ricotta has a grassy, fresh, and very creamy flavor. A lot of ricotta is very neutral, but this one actually has flavor. To me, this tastes the most like freshly made ricotta. The texture is a little chunky, but it’s not cottage cheese-y. This is the best ricotta for lasagna or manicotti or just serving on toast with some black pepper. Buy this!
Credit: Merc / Instacart
Best Part Skim
Best of the Best
Other products we tried: Mauro & Gianni Whole Milk Ricotta, Mauro & Gianni Parm Skim Ricotta, Miceli’s Whole Milk Ricotta, Great Value Whole Milk Ricotta, Galbani Part Skim Ricotta