Is Cottage Cheese the Ultimate Healthy Snack? We Analyze TikTok’s Favorite Food


One nostalgic dairy product has had a major comeback thanks to #FoodTok: cottage cheese. And there are no signs of it going anywhere. While cottage cheese once had a bad rap as a bland diet food, it has proven itself to be a versatile dairy staple (not to mention, a high-protein snack standby), converting even the most curdled-milk cynics into fanatics. Aside from its health benefits (more to come on that), TikTokers are redeeming the once-overlooked snack by transforming it into endless recipes—from mac and cheese to toast and pancakes to ice cream (yes, you read that right). But is cottage cheese in fact good for you? I asked dietitians what they think of the viral ingredient, plus I break down the health perks of adding it to your diet and the must-try recipes to give a whirl.  

Mary Sabat MS, RDN, LD, Nutritionist and Founder of BodyDesigns Ltd.

For the past 21 years, Mary Sabat has combined her passion in nutrition and exercise to help people transform their lives with diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes to achieve optimal wellness.

edibel quintero is cottage cheese healthy

Edibel Quintero, Registered Dietitian and Medical Advisor at HealthInsider

Edibel Quintero specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage, and post-operative rehabilitation. Her goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness, and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.

What exactly is cottage cheese?

First, a little history lesson on cottage cheese. While it’s unclear when it made its debut (people have supposedly been eating variations of the dairy product for thousands of years), cottage cheese is believed to be the first cheese made in America. It came about as an economical way to make use of excess milk from the butter-making process. Fast forward to the 1970s when it gained popularity as the “it” diet and health food.  

So what is cottage cheese really? “Cottage cheese is a type of cheese made from the curds of cow’s milk,” described Mary Sabat MS, RDN, LD, a nutritionist and ACE personal trainer. “The curds are formed by adding an acid or rennet to milk, causing it to coagulate and separate into curds and whey. The curds are then drained and often rinsed to remove the whey, resulting in the creation of cottage cheese.” Stroll down any dairy aisle and you’ll see that the product comes in three varieties based on its milk fat content: nonfat, reduced-fat, or full-fat. Whatever floats your boat, just beware of any with flavors—they’re likely laden with additives. 

While cottage cheese has a mild, slightly sweet and salty flavor (making it an ideal complement to countless dishes without compromising taste or flavor), its lumpy texture is often what puts people off. If you were once apart of the won’t-touch-cottage-cheese-with-a-ten-foot-pole camp or you’re hesitant to jump on #FoodTok’s viral sensation, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it because there’s major FOMO to be had (spoiler: the recipes are that good). 

What are the benefits?

With the resurgence of retro food, you’ve got to wonder if there are cottage cheese benefits to back it up or whether it’s just another food fad that we’ll be saying see ya! to in a week. The final verdict? Dietitians give it a thumbs up for its high-protein, low-glycemic-index, probiotic-rich, and vitamin B-packed profile.

It’s high in protein and other nutrients 

“Cottage cheese is a good source of high-quality protein, containing all the essential amino acids necessary for the body,” Sabat conveyed. “Protein is essential for building and repairing tissues, supporting immune function, producing enzymes and hormones, and providing a feeling of satiety.” Help yourself to a one half-cup serving of low-fat (1% milk fat) cottage cheese and you’ll rack up 14 grams of protein (more than what two eggs serve up!). BTW, to pack more protein into your diet, check out these hacks.

Cottage cheese also provides essential nutrients like phosphorus (regulates the normal function of nerves and muscles, including the heart) and selenium (boosts immune function, improves hair and nail health, and supports a healthy thyroid) that help ensure your body systems are fine-tuned.

It keeps blood sugar levels balanced

Following a low-GI diet may help you lose or manage weight, balance blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure, decrease total cholesterol levels, and lessen the risk of diabetes and heart and blood vessel diseases. “Cottage cheese has a low glycemic index, which means it does not cause spikes in blood glucose levels compared to other dairy products,” explained Edibel Quintero, a registered dietitian and medical advisor with HealthInsider.

It can help improve gut health

The curdling process used to make cottage cheese adds beneficial bacteria that can promote better gut health. Some cottage cheese brands also include fermented or live cultures (read: probiotics). Consuming probiotics, or living microorganisms that support gut health, can help maintain a healthy gut microbiome, thereby improving digestion and gut function.

It may aid in reducing inflammation and boosting energy 

“Cottage cheese is also packed with B vitamins, especially vitamins B2 and B12,” Quintero stated. “Vitamin B2 helps with reducing inflammation and oxidative stress, whereas vitamin B12 is required for the healthy functioning of the nervous system, the formation of red blood cells, and DNA synthesis.” What’s more, vitamin B12 helps the body metabolize the food you eat into glucose, which gives you energy. Translation: The old-school provision just might give your body a leg up in maintaining tip-top shape.

It reinforces strong bones 

It turns out milk does do your body good. “Cottage cheese is a rich source of calcium, making it highly beneficial for maintaining stronger bones and teeth,” Quintero affirmed. For that reason, she cited that cottage cheese may be a nutritious addition to a healthy eating routine for those with osteoporosis or who want to prevent bone-related disorders.

Is cottage cheese actually healthy?

The short answer? Yes, but it also depends on your own body and lifestyle (i.e. whether you are lactose-intolerant, have a dairy allergy, or follow a vegan diet) and how the cottage cheese is made. “Whether or not cottage cheese is considered healthy depends on an individual’s dietary needs and preferences,” Sabat pointed out. “As a protein-rich food, it can be beneficial for those looking to increase their protein intake or maintain muscle mass. Of most concern is that cottage cheese is an animal-based product and should always be organic.”

If there are other ingredients such as flavoring, additives, or other artificial preservatives present, or if it’s high in sodium, cottage cheese can quickly go from a nutrient-dense snack to a not-so-healthy option. Sabat also mentioned taking into consideration that many people have trouble digesting the sugar in dairy while some have issues with the casein in dairy being inflammatory. Bottom line: If dairy tends to give you digestive drama (ahem, bloating), it may be best to exclude cottage cheese from your grocery list. Otherwise, it can be a healthy way to stay satiated and load up on essential nutrients in all its forms: a nibble eaten solo, dip, topping, substitution, or addition to your favorite fare. Consider it a food chameleon. 

Recipes you need to try

There’s no shortage of food influencers and wellness girlies alike showing mad love for cottage cheese on #FoodTok, but don’t just take their word for it. Try these cottage cheese concoctions for yourself. 

1. @rachlmansfield‘s Cottage Cheese Blender Pancakes

2. @bakedbymelissa‘s Cottage Cheese Toast 

3. @thecarolinalifestyle‘s Cottage Cheese Wrap

4. @healthylittlepeach‘s Cottage Cheese Flatbread

@healthylittlepeach

The viral cottage cheese flatbread blew my mind. It grossed me out when I first saw it, but now that I’ve tried it, it’s AMAZING! Thanks @healthymumway for creating this amazing recipe. I also sqw @Shredhappens version. 10/10! 1 cup cottage cheese 2 eggs 1/2 tsp garlic powder 1/2 tsp onion powder 1.5 tsp Italian seasoning -Add to a blender or food processor. Blend well. Line a small baking pan with parchment paper. Pour the cottage cheese mixture in and spread out evenly. -Bake on 350F for 40 minutes! -Use as bread and build a sandwich! I am using Tzatziki, chicken, tomatoes, arugula and red onion! #cottagecheese #cottagecheeseflatbread #healthyrecipes #lowcarbrecipes #viralrecipe

♬ original sound – Mac

5. daphne_rill‘s Cottage Cheese Pizza

6. @carolinagelen‘s Cottage Cheese Bread Loaf

7. @nutritionbykylie‘s Cottage Cheese Dip 

8. @brittanyraetoday‘s Cottage Cheese Pasta Sauce

9. @feelgoodfoodie‘s Cottage Cheese Ice Cream





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