The Taste of Cottage Cheese Explained

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Last updated on March 12, 2023


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Cottage cheese is a tasty, nutritious, and versatile ingredient used in various food preparations.

What exactly is it, and what does it taste like?

This unique cheese gets its flavor and texture from the manufacturing process, and is actually quite simple to make at home.

Below, we explain everything you need to know about cottage cheese and the many ways you can use it. 

Let’s jump in!

What is Cottage Cheese?


Essentially, cottage cheese is milk curds and cream that has a mild flavor and silky smooth texture.

It is made by draining curds, retaining some whey, and keeping some of the curds loose.

It's high in nutrients and is excellent for bulking up muscle and losing weight. It has a surprising amount of protein and healthy fats, which can be great for certain diets, such as Keto.

What distinguishes cottage cheese from other cheeses during the manufacturer’s process is that it is not aged, and a “dressing” is added in the form of cream, which is where the unique taste comes from.

Cottage cheese is comparable to yogurt in terms of flavor and versatility and is added to various dishes like granola, fruit, salads, and various savory and baked goods.

For a comprehensive guide to cottage cheese, see our article, Cottage Cheese-Everything You Need To Know.

What Does Cottage Cheese Taste Like?


Cottage cheese is slightly salty and slightly sour, with a mild overall flavor.

The flavor can be inconsistent, depending on how it’s made, but it should be clean with a slight tanginess.

The flavor will vary from cheese to cheese. If it was made with a high milk content, it will taste creamier, whereas if it has a low-fat content, it will be more sour, like sour cream.

If you don't like the flavor of plain cottage cheese, check out some of these delicious breakfast bowls, all filled with flavor and nutrients to get your day started on the right foot. 

How Long is Cottage Cheese Good For?

Once opened, cottage cheese generally lasts five to seven days in the fridge.

Like other cheeses, cottage cheese can be frozen and will last up to three months if already opened and up to six months if still sealed.

However, freezing cottage cheese is not recommended, as it changes the flavor and texture.

For a detailed guide about storing cottage cheese, check out our article Can You Freeze Cottage Cheese? 

What Does Bad Cottage Cheese Taste Like?

Like other dairy products, cottage cheese will gain a sour odor and change colors once it turns.

This is due to bacterial growth and loss of moisture, and the cheese will have a sour and spoiled taste.

If it has mold, the entire package should be discarded.

How is Cottage Cheese Made?


Cottage cheese is made by adding acid to pasteurized milk to separate the milk solids from the whey, similar to making buttermilk.

When acid, like lemon juice, is added to milk, it curdles and causes the milk to separate.

At this point, the solids are strained off, and the whey is drained.

You are then left with pure cottage cheese, which will taste slightly sour due to the acid used. 

Does Homemade Cottage Cheese Taste Different? 

You can make homemade cottage cheese with three ingredients: milk, lemon juice, and salt, which will have the taste of pure cottage cheese, which a lot of people don’t prefer.

The good news is that cottage cheese can be flavored in several ways.

To make cottage cheese at home, you will need the following:

  • 2 qts of pasteurized milk
  • 4 tbl lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt


Step 1 

Boil the milk without letting it evaporate; remove it from the heat and stir in the lemon juice once it bubbles. 


Step 2 

Within a few minutes, you will see the milk solids separate from the liquid. Keep stirring until all the solids are clumped together.


Step 3 

Now, using a cheesecloth, filter the solids from the whey (the clear liquid).

Hold the cloth so the cheese forms on the bottom, and squeeze the excess liquid from the cheese ball.


Step 4 

Place the cheese on a wire rack, set a heavy weight, like a wooden cutting board, on top of the cheese, and refrigerate for five hours.

Congratulations! You made your first batch of cottage cheese!


Step 5

You can season your homemade cottage cheese by mixing it with spices, herbs, fruit, nuts, and honey, to name a few!


Cottage cheese is made similarly to buttermilk, so it has a slightly salty and sour flavor in its purest form.

What makes this cheese unique is that cream is added, which gives it its unique flavor and texture. 

This versatile ingredient pairs well with savory and sweet dishes and can be seasoned in many ways.

There are many brands to choose from, but the best way to try cottage cheese is by making it from scratch!


About the author, Jason

Jason Phillips is a recipe developer, culinary arts graduate, and coffee connoisseur. After culinary school, he cooked professionally for a while and published a cookbook his chef instructor advised him to write. Jason has a passion for culinary arts and coffee and is always looking for new, innovative recipes. He loves creating chef-quality meals that are also simple to make so that any home cook can do the same.

Jason’s cookbook is The Sea Cook: Recipes and Tales From The Galley. The book chronicles his journey as a cook onboard offshore tugboats and the places he has traveled.