Many people have wondered the difference between cottage cheese vs cream cheese. Yes, they are both cheese products, made from milk, and are sometimes easy to mix up when making a grocery list. However, if you look at the two side-by-side and do a taste test, you will realize how different the two are despite being made from similar ingredients. As you will see, one of the products is much better nutritional than the other.
How They Are Made
Cottage cheese is made using milk as the main ingredient. Cottage cheese gets it chunky texture by curdling the milk. This is done by adding heat and an enzyme like rennet to the milk which starts the curdling process. An acid like white vinegar or lemon juice can be used instead of rennet. After the curds form, what if left are the curds and a liquid known as whey. The whey is drained away leaving the curds. Cream, buttermilk, or milk is added to the remaining curds to give it that classic cottage cheese texture. There is also dry curd cottage cheese, allow not common, which is just the curds without the added cream, buttermilk, etc.
Cream cheese starts with a mixture of cream and milk. Lactic acid is then mixed with the cream and milk mixture to help begin the thickening process. A precise heating process takes place which thickens the milk/cream into that classic cream cheese texture. Stabilizers like guar gum are often added to cream cheese to help it maintain the texture. Regular cream cheese is required to contain 33 percent milkfat in the United States, making it a higher fat food than cottage cheese as you will see below.
Most people know there is a clear texture difference between cottage cheese vs cream cheese. Cottage cheese is chunky with a creamy wetness while cream cheese is smooth and spreadable like cake frosting. But what about the taste?
Cottage cheese has a milky or creamy taste depending on the milkfat percentage used in manufacturing. Typically, the higher the milkfat the creamier the cottage will be. The nonfat or lower fat versions of cottage cheese can have a slight sour taste as a secondary flavor. Notably cottage cheese typically has a lot of sodium added when it’s made so a salty taste is evident when consumed.
Cream cheese is often described as being mildly tangy. Because of its higher fat content, it is creamier than cottage cheese. It also has a nice sweet taste that makes it great for many desserts.
The serving size listed below is one cup. While many people eat a one cup serving size of cottage cheese, most people are not snacking on a cup of cream cheese. We only used the cup serving size so that there could be a direct comparison between cottage cheese vs cream cheese. There is clearly a big difference in calories and fat content between the two products. The difference comes from the milkfat percentages of standard or regular cottage cheese vs cream cheese. Regular cottage cheese has no less than 4 percent milkfat (almost all near 4%) whereas cream cheese has 33 percent as required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.