Does Cottage Cheese Have Lactose?

cottage cheese dry curd

Cottage Cheese and Lactose

Lactose is the primary sugar found in milk and any dairy product produced from milk. The main ingredient in cottage cheese is milk, therefore, it contains lactose. While milk-based dairy products contain lactose, they all do not contain the same amount of lactose. Fortunately for some people who have difficulty digesting dairy or lactose, cottage cheese still may be tolerated due to its lower lactose content.

Below are some examples of lactose percentage averages for a selection of dairy foods. Lactose content of 2 percent or below is considered a low lactose dairy product, which can be bearable to consume in moderation by most lactose intolerant people. Click here for an extensive list of lactose percentages for dairy products.

Dairy ProductLactose % (Average)
Nonfat Dry Milk51.3%
Sweetened Condensed Milk12.9%
Nonfat Milk 5.2%
Whole Milk4.8%
Sour Cream3.9%
Cottage Cheese (Diet)3.4%
Cottage Cheese (2%)3.6%
Cottage Cheese (1%)2.7%
Whey Protein Isolate (Dry)0.5%

You can see in the table above that the cottage cheese lactose average percentage is approximately slightly over 3 percent. This makes it tolerable for many people with lactose sensitivity or even possibly lactose intolerance to stomach. In fact, many natural cheeses (especially aged) have low to very low lactose percentages. Be cautious of processed cheeses that may have added milk and are not aged to reduced the lactose levels. For example, Velveeta contains lactose of  9.3 percent and may not be tolerated by those with lactose issues.

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Lactose Free Cottage Cheese

There is still hope if you love cottage cheese, but still cannot tolerate the lactose. LACTAID makes a low-fat cottage cheese that contains a natural enzyme called lactase. This enzyme helps break down lactose so that it is easily digestible, even for those with lactose intolerance. Be aware, this product tends to be more expensive than traditional cottage cheese so it may not be an option for those on a budget. Outside of LACTAID, there are not other known mainstream lactose free cottage cheese options available. Additionally, if you are looking for a dairy-free cottage cheese, it is nonexistent on the market that we know of. Let us know in the comments below if you know of one.


Traditional cottage cheese does have lactose, however, the percent contained is low compared to other dairy products. The amount of lactose one person can tolerate varies from person to person so we cannot definitively state the impact cottage cheese will have on a person sensitive to dairy. As mentioned above, there is LACTAID, but beyond that, choices are limited to maybe a homemade imitation cottage cheese based on a milk alternative. The key to dealing with lactose intolerance for those who wish to still consume dairy is to gradually test your tolerance and find dairy products with minimal or traces of lactose like aged cheeses.