I personally taste-tested a variety of feta substitutes to find the best one for every cooking occasion. Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry substitute, or want a swap that fits your diet, I’ve got the answers.
Ricotta and goat’s cheese are the best substitutes for feta, ricotta is milder while goat’s cheese has a strong flavor. Another strongly flavored cheese you can consider is blue cheese. And if you’re looking for a vegan substitute, try tofu feta.
I made several batches of Greek salad to try out different feta cheese substitutes.
Feta is a soft cheese traditionally made of either sheep or goat milk or a combination of both. But nowadays, feta produced in the US is made of cow’s milk. It’s packed in brine, so it has a tangy, salty flavor with a distinct creaminess. And when it comes to texture, this cheese is soft but crumbly and is great for cooking with.
Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:
|Ricotta/ricotta salatta||Excellent substitute for specific uses||9/10|
|Goat’s cheese||Has a tangy flavor but less salty||9/10|
|Blue cheese (Roquefort or Gorgonzola)||Very strong flavor||8/10|
|Cotija cheese||Good for raw applications||9/10|
|Cottage cheese||A basic option||8/10|
|Halloumi||Good for salads||7/10|
|Tofu feta||Vegan friendly||9/10|
|Olives/capers||Will add saltiness||7/10|
This cheese may have Italian roots, but it’s a superb feta cheese substitute in both raw and cooked dishes. It has a mildly nutty flavor and although it’s missing that tang you’d get from feta, this is easily fixed with an extra squeeze of lemon juice or a splash of vinegar. Feta is also much saltier than ricotta.
Ricotta has a low pH, which means it won’t melt into a gooey mess in the same way other cheeses do. Just like feta, it will soften and turn into a deliciously creamy sauce when you use it in pasta dishes and baked goods.
But for raw applications like salads, Ricotta salata is better. This variation has been pressed, salted, and aged, resulting in a drier, firmer texture similar to feta, allowing you to crumble it over your salads and wraps.
How to substitute: Replace feta cheese in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with ricotta.
Goat’s cheese is another stellar substitute for traditional feta.
Go with a slightly aged variety if you’re replacing feta in salads and wraps. It has less moisture than the fresh variety, giving it a semi-hard texture that’ll allow you to crumble it easily. But if you’re replacing the feta cheese in a stuffing or a pasta dish, try fresh goat’s cheese. It’ll only soften and not melt, giving you just the right amount of creaminess.
When it comes to flavor, goat’s cheese has a similar tang to feta cheese but with a pronounced gamey flavor and less saltiness. Goat’s cheese won’t be to everyone’s taste though, so check with any guests that they like it before going full steam ahead.
Psst…. Whipped goat’s cheese is delicious.
How to substitute: Replace feta cheese in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with goat’s cheese.
Blue cheese is another controversial option that not everyone will like because of its intense flavor, but it’s great if you like it.
Blue cheese has added mold called Penicillium roqueforti running through it which gives it an extra funky smell and a salty, earthy flavor.
There are different varieties to consider, but the most popular ones are Roquefort and Gorgonzola. Go for Roquefort if you can handle an extra sharp, pungent kick. It’s got a tang that lingers on the palate and a background creaminess.
But if you’re aiming to stay closer to feta’s flavor, try Gorgonzola cheese instead. It’s still got that funk, but it’s milder.
How to substitute: Replace feta cheese in your recipe with 1/2 the amount of Roquefort or Gorgonzola, adding more to taste.
Cotija cheese may have Mexican roots, but it makes for a solid substitute for feta cheese in a pinch and it’s really easy to find in most US grocery stores.
It’s a slightly aged cheese, so it boasts a salty flavor and a firm, dry texture that allows you to crumble it like feta. The only caveat with this sub? Cotija won’t even soften when heated, so this substitute option is best in raw dishes.
Psst… cojita cheese is sometimes called the ‘parmesan of Mexico’.
How to substitute: Replace feta cheese in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with Cotija cheese.
Cottage cheese may seem basic but it’s a decent substitute for feta cheese in a pinch. It’s so simple, you can even make it at home with just three ingredients: milk, salt, and vinegar.
This cheese has a slightly tangy, salty flavor that’s milder than feta, but still works.
You can use it in salads as is, but you can also strain it to reduce the moisture if you find it too wet. You can also purchase American-style farmer’s cheese instead, which is basically ready-to-use strained cottage cheese!
Psst… cottage cheese has distinct curds (or lumps) that won’t disappear when you heat it, so if you want a smooth sauce, puree the cheese before using it.
How to substitute: Replace feta cheese in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with cottage cheese.
Want to stick with feta cheese’s Mediterranean roots? Give halloumi a shot! It has the same tangy, salty flavor notes as feta, but it’s not as intense because it isn’t brined.
Arguably the biggest difference you’ll notice with halloumi is its rubbery, firm texture. You can’t crumble halloumi, and it also won’t melt at all so you can’t use it to make a sauce or as a stuffing.
But you can grill or fry it to add a smoky or crunchy twist to your salads.
How to substitute: Replace feta cheese in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with halloumi.
If you’re looking for a vegan or dairy-free substitute for feta, try feta made from tofu.
You’ll need to prepare it at least a day before, but the effort is totally worth it. Bonus: it involves no actual cooking, just some prep work. The magic is in the marinade, made with nutritional yeast, liquid aminos, lemon, vinegar, and herbs. It transforms bland tofu into salty, tangy cubes very similar to feta cheese.
This vegan sub won’t be as creamy as the other alternatives but it will bring that burst of bright, saltiness in your salads and wraps.
Pro tip: The tofu feta will last for up to a week in your fridge.
How to substitute: Replace feta cheese in a 1:1 ratio with your homemade tofu feta.
Olives / capers
Another vegan or dairy-free way you can replace feta in salads and wraps is with olives or capers. They have the same salty qualities as feta, and you can chop them up small enough that it won’t be overpowering.
If your dish already calls for olives or capers, don’t add too many more or you might end up with a very salty dish. In this case, consider using sun-dried tomatoes instead. They’re not as salty, but they have a delicious umami flavor that goes well with Greek flavors.
Another option you can consider are salted nuts, although these will add a lot more crunch than feta.
How to substitute: Replace feta cheese with a few chopped-up olives or capers.
Other substitutes to consider
The suggestions above are my top picks for feta cheese substitutes, but the list doesn’t end there. Here are more feta cheese alternatives you can try.
- Mizithra: This Greek cheese is made from whey of sheep or goat’s milk. It’s hard and saltier when aged, making it a good substitute for feta cheese in dishes that need a sharp, salty hit.
- Bryndza: This is an Eastern European sheep’s milk cheese that’s very similar to feta. It’s salty and crumbly, but it can be difficult to find in grocery stores.
- Paneer: This Indian staple is not an exact match with feta flavor-wise because it’s milder and milkier. But it’s still a solid substitute for salads and wraps. And like with halloumi, you can fry or grill this to add texture – it won’t melt!
- Queso panela: This is known for its soft, creamy texture. It has a milder flavor than feta cheese and a firm texture that you can crumble.
- Queso fresco: This is another Mexican cheese that’s crumbly, mild, and slightly acidic. It’s a decent substitute for feta in salads and as a stuffing.
Substitutes to avoid
While there are many good substitutes for feta cheese, some I found while researching just didn’t make the cut.
As much as I love cheddar, I can’t recommend it. It has a mild, creamy flavor and its saltiness doesn’t quite match feta’s flavor. I would also avoid mozzarella, especially in salads. It doesn’t carry much flavor.
Lastly, I came across a website recommending labneh, which is a soft cheese. Serious Eats doesn’t recommend baking with it, and while you could use it as a base for your dips, it can’t replace feta in salads, wraps, and most cooked dishes.
Best Feta Cheese Substitutes + 3 To Avoid
- 14 ounces extra firm tofu
- ⅓ cup white wine vinegar
- ⅓ cup water
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp white miso
- 2 tsp bragg liquid aminos
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp basil
- 1 tsp oregano
- ½ tsp thyme
- cracked pepper
- Slice the tofu into uniform cubes. Set aside.
- In a bowl, whisk the rest of the ingredients together until the miso is completely dissolved.
- Transfer the tofu cubes into an airtight container and pour in the marinade. Seal the lid and shake.
- Let the tofu marinate overnight. Use immediately or store for up a week in the refrigerator.