One of the most fundamental skills in cooking is knowing which ingredients combine effectively. This includes an understanding of which ingredients can be substituted for one another to achieve a similar end result.
In this article, we’re evaluating the top substitutes for one of the most popular cheeses in the world – goat cheese.
What is Goat Cheese?
To understand how to effectively substitute for goat cheese, you first must have an understanding of goat cheese itself.
In simplest terms, goat cheese is cheese made from goat’s milk. Because any cheese made from goat’s milk is considered goat cheese, there are actually a wide variety of goat cheeses on the market.
Goat cheese is most commonly known for its unique texture. Popular goat cheese varieties range from crumbly, to smooth, to quite creamy. This texture will be a worthy consideration when you are deciding the best cheese to substitute.
Taste-wise, goat cheese is known for its tart, woodsy, sweet, and mildly bitter flavor (with different flavor profiles depending on the type of goat cheese). Its taste might also be influenced by additives, such as herbs, nuts, leaves, etc.
When substituting for a goat cheese, you want to look for a cheese that closely mimics the taste and texture.
Goat Cheese Alternatives
Speaking of spreadable cheese, why not just use good old fashioned cream cheese? It’s thick, creamy, and easy to spread. Cream cheese has become a popular baking ingredient for these reasons.
Taste-wise, cream cheese is milder in its flavor profiles, and also quite a bit sweeter than goat cheese.
Think of mascarpone like an “Italian cream cheese”. It’s smooth, spreadable nature makes it a great goat cheese substitute in many situations. It’s also quite sweet, which makes it a popular dessert and baking cheese.
It lacks most of the “tartness” found in goat cheese, but might be a worthy substitute for those that are looking for a cheese with milder flavor profiles.
Feta cheese has a similar flavor profile to goat cheese. Both have strong, unique flavors, which are tart and savory. While the difference is noticeable, they are both strong cheeses that make a noticeable addition to almost any dish.
Texture-wise, feta is crumbly and firm. However, there are also variants of goat cheese which are quite crumbly, so feta would stand-in admirably in any recipe that calls for this.
Ricotta cheese is a very suitable taste-substitute for goat cheese. Both cheeses have that aged, sharp, tart flavor that stands out in any dish. Ricotta is typically made from sheep’s milk, which is known to make cheeses with similar flavor profiles to goat’s milk.
Texture-wise, the cheeses are pretty similar but it’s not an exact match. Ricotta is known for its firmer, crumbly texture when compared to goat cheese. Goat cheese is usually quite a bit smoother and more spreadable than ricotta.
Cotija is another strong flavor option that can make a bold statement similar to goat cheese. Cotija is quite a bit saltier than goat cheese, but the two contain similar “aged” flavor profiles. Cotija is most popular for its usage in Mexican cuisine.
In terms of texture, Cotija is quite a bit more “crumbly” than most goat cheeses. It works best as a substitute when the cheese is used to top the dish (such as in salads, sandwiches, tacos, etc.). Cotija won’t “spread” like goat cheese, so it’s best used as taste substitute.
Camembert has a consistency more similar to a traditional cheese. However, if your dish requires melting the cheese, then camembert can stand-in in a pinch. It has flavor profiles similar to goat cheese, with both cheeses sporting a stronger, sharper taste.
The texture is very different from traditional goat cheese, which really only makes this a suitable substitute if you plan to melt the cheese into the flavor of the dish.
Another Mexican cheese that is great as a substitution for goat cheese. Queso fresco has strong flavor profiles. Like many Mexican cheeses, it is very salty, but it also has a sharpness that is quite similar to goat cheese.
The texture is what really makes it a great goat cheese substitute. It has that mildly and crumbly, yet still smooth and spreadable texture, which makes it able to substitute for goat cheese in almost any situation. As long as you don’t mind that high salt-content, this one makes a great substitute.
Our first goat cheese substitute is blue cheese. Blue cheese is great because it has that similar, spreadable consistency to many types of goat cheese. For many, the texture is the deciding factor for how they enjoy a cheese. Because it effects how it can be utilized in different dishes, or even on its own.
Taste-wise, blue cheese is quite similar to goat cheese as well (in fact, some types of blue cheese are made with goat cheese). Blue cheese does have a stronger flavor, and is quite a bit more tart and bitter than goat cheese. It’s one of those “love it or hate it” cheeses.
We’ll round out our list with Manchego cheese. There’s no denying that Manchego’s texture is quite a bit different from goat cheese. It is firm, and definitely not spreadable.
But what it lacks in texture it makes up for in taste. Manchego has that age, sharp taste that is surprisingly similar to goat cheese. So if taste is your primary concern, then Manchego is a great choice!
What’s the Best Alternative?
As you can see, there are a lot of goat cheese alternatives. There are many cheeses that have similar flavors to goat cheese, many cheeses that have similar textures, and some cheese that have both!
Therefore, the determining factor for the best goat cheese substitute will largely be a personal decision. You need to consider your own tastes, and also consider the recipe for which you are needing the goat cheese. For example, if you need a spreadable cheese, some examples on our list simply won’t do!
Our favorite goat cheese substitute has to be blue cheese. It so closely mimics the light, mildly crumbly, and spreadable nature of goat cheese.
It makes a worthy substitute in almost any recipe. Both cheeses have that sharp, “aged” taste, but blue cheese is quite a bit more intense. Blue cheese tends to be divisive among cheese lovers, but we can’t get enough!
If you’re looking for a milder substitute, then go with our runner-up – cream cheese! Cream cheese is a great substitute because it’s just so simple.
It is spreadable, firm, and delicious. It’s milder than goat cheese, but also quite a bit sweeter. If you’re looking for a cheese that is more accessible for the average person, then cream cheese always makes a safe choice.
That being said, it’s your call! Read through our list to find the best goat cheese substitute for you.