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Best Substitute For Feta Cheese + Dairy-Free And Vegan Alternatives

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Topping your salad and other healthy dishes with cheese is always a good idea, so knowing a good substitute for feta cheese would be convenient.

close up of Feta cheese in a wooden bowl.

Tons of delicious recipes call for feta cheese, and it would be a bummer to be in the mood to try one of these recipes and find that there’s no feta cheese left in the fridge.

So keep reading to discover some of the best feta cheese substitutes you can use.

Looking for a vegan or dairy-free option? Don’t worry, this list has some amazing options for you, too!

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What Is Feta Cheese?

Feta cheese is a well-known Greek cheese made from a mixture of milk from sheep and goats. This mixture is what gives feta cheese its distinct tangy flavor. 

With thousands of years of history, “Feta” cheese has earned the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) in Europe since 2002.

There are also policies in place protecting its authentic flavor. In Greece, feta cheese has to be made of at least 70% sheep’s milk and not more than 30% goat’s milk.

But unless you live in Greece or anywhere in Europe, there’s a good chance that many of the “feta” cheese products you find in stores contain a good amount of cow’s milk.

Why It’s Good to Know a Substitute for Feta Cheese

The sharp and rich flavor of feta cheese goes well with many dishes. It also helps elevate the deliciousness of healthy recipes, so you’ll look forward to them more.

A bowl of feta cheese with tomatoes, olives and basil.

However, you might also find this intensity to be more than what you prefer. You may be looking for cheese options that can provide a more subtle saltiness and tanginess, so knowing a substitute for feta cheese would be helpful.

Sometimes, you might have to tweak the recipe because one of your kids is lactose-intolerant and doesn’t do well with dairy products. It’s an even bigger reason to know great cheese substitutes to allow your kiddos to enjoy scrumptious, cheesy meals as well.

Best Substitutes for Feta Cheese

Cottage Cheese

What makes cottage cheese an excellent substitute for feta is its texture. I like that this substitute is crumbly and has a similar flavor to feta. Although cottage cheese tastes milder, it also has a tangy flavor with just enough hint of saltiness. 

cottage cheese on a wooden board, garnished with parsley.

You can make cottage cheese taste more robust by adding spices and seasonings to it, especially when using it for pasta sauce, soups, and omelets. Like feta, cottage cheese is also a great topping on fresh salads because of its lower fat content. 

Goat Cheese

Feta cheese is traditionally made with up to 30% goat’s milk, so it’s not surprising that goat cheese makes an ideal substitute for feta.

Goat cheese with walnuts on a wooden table.

In terms of flavor, goat cheese will remind you of feta because goat’s milk is what gives both these ingredients their tangy flavor. However, goat cheese is more tangy than feta cheese.

Goat cheese can also be a crumbly topping for your fresh salad and pasta dishes, although it tends to have a more creamy texture than feta.

You can replace feta cheese with the creaminess of goat cheese in this Buffalo Chicken Bites recipe.

Ricotta Cheese

Some recipes with feta cheese will also taste amazing with a slight hint of sweetness. If that’s the reason you’re looking for a feta substitute, then this popular Italian cheese would be an excellent choice.

A bowl of ricotta cheese with basil and tomatoes on a wooden table.

It’s slightly crumbly, but ricotta is better known for its creamier and softer texture. Instead of a salad topping, you can use it in salad dressings. 

Ricotta is also a staple in many Italian dishes so it can be an amazing feta cheese substitute in this Instant Pot Tomato Feta Pasta recipe.

Like most feta cheese substitutes, ricotta has less salt content, so you may have to adjust its flavor to achieve the same salty taste you get from feta.

Panela Cheese

It’s a semi-hard cheese that originated in Mexico. It will remind you of feta’s intense salty taste, but the rest of its flavor notes are relatively milder than feta cheese. 

Panela cheese on a wooden plate.

Panela cheese is a good ingredient used as a topping on salads and pasta dishes, although it has a firmer texture than feta. So I find it easier to slice, grate, or dice this cheese before serving.

This is one versatile cheese due to its high melting point, so it’s an amazing addition to tacos, soups, and sandwiches.

Pro tip: You can grill evenly sliced panela cheese before adding it to sandwiches for a more enjoyable melty texture.

Cotija Cheese

Here’s another popular Mexican cheese that can be an excellent alternative to feta cheese. 

Cotija and feta cheese share the same crumbly texture and comparable salty flavor. However, cotija cheese lacks the rich, tangy taste of traditional feta cheese.

Cotija cheese on a wooden board serves as a substitute for feta.

That’s not surprising since cotija cheese is made from cow’s milk. But if you’re used to “feta” cheese made with cow’s milk, then this alternative might be exactly what you need.

Go ahead and try using cotija to replace feta cheese the next time you make Chicken Tostadas with this recipe!

Halloumi Cheese

Halloumi cheese is also traditionally made with a mixture of sheep and goat milk, so it only makes sense for it to be a good feta cheese substitute.

Sliced halloumi cheese on a wooden cutting board.

In terms of flavor, halloumi has a distinct, slight sweetness. But it also offers hints of tanginess and saltiness, although less intense, quite similar to feta cheese. That makes halloumi cheese a nice alternative when you need to stay as close as possible to the original taste of the recipe.

There are easy-to-spot differences in the texture, though. While feta cheese is crumbly and grainy, halloumi cheese is firmer and a tad rubbery.

Like panela, halloumi cheese is known for having a high melting point, so it’s also famously served as grilled or fried cheese by itself. As an add-on, halloumi goes well in pasta dishes as well.

Vegan and Dairy-Free Substitutes for Feta Cheese

Nutritional Yeast

Anyone maintaining a vegan or vegetarian diet needs to keep a stock of nutritional yeast in their kitchen. You can tell by its name that it’s not cheese, but its flavor will remind you of the salty, savory taste of most types of cheese — including feta!

Nutritional Yeast in a wooden bowl with wooden spoon in it.

It’s incredibly low in sodium, but it tastes rather salty, so you can use it as a vegan feta cheese alternative. Start by adding a smaller amount than you normally would if you use feta. It’s commonly sold as powder or flakes, making sprinkling on top of salads and vegan appetizers easy.

You can also easily incorporate this vegan substitute in dressings. Try it in place of feta cheese in this Sweet Corn and Watermelon Salad with Citrus Dressing recipe!

Cashew Cheese or Almond Cheese

These dairy-free, vegan alternatives share several similarities: subtle flavor, nutty taste, and crumbly texture as feta.

Even lactose-intolerant kiddos can enjoy yummy appetizers thanks to these feta cheese substitutes. Just ensure no one has any nut allergies before using these substitutes.

Cashew and almond “cheese” can be used as a feta substitute in salads and fruit mixes. Cashew cheese crumbles just like feta cheese, while almond cheese is somewhat similar to ricotta. 

These surprising feta cheese substitutes will go well with bite-size savory dishes like this Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Phyllo Cup appetizer.

How to Choose a Feta Cheese Substitute for Your Recipe

Flavor and texture are two main things you must consider when choosing a feta cheese replacement.

Thankfully, a few cheese options can provide a more subtle tanginess to remind your taste buds of the taste of feta cheese. Substitutes with milder flavor may even be a better option because they tend to have less sodium (hence, less salty) than feta cheese.

Nopal cactus salad with panela cheese on a white serving plate.

Firmer feta cheese substitutes like halloumi and panela will not require too many adjustments. You can slice, grate, or even crumble them on top of tasty dishes.

However, you have to be more mindful of the texture of other feta cheese alternatives because they could alter the consistency of sauces, soups, and dressings. This applies to the creamier goat cheese and to ricotta, which has a higher moisture content than feta.


Does feta cheese melt?

Feta cheese doesn’t melt because it’s typically acidic. However, you can apply some heat to it and it will get slightly gooey.

When not to eat feta cheese?

Like other cheese types, feta can be made with unpasteurized milk making it potentially unsafe for pregnant women. Nowadays, however, many manufacturers of “Feta” and “feta-style” cheese products use pasteurized milk.

Can I substitute mozzarella cheese for feta?

Yes, especially if you want to add an extra gooey layer of cheese on top of pasta, soups, and pizza. Just keep in mind that mozzarella also has a milder flavor compared to feta.

Keep the Pleasant Tangy Taste in Your Dishes Even Without Feta Cheese

The sharpness of feta cheese’s tangy and salty flavor makes it a memorable ingredient in many dishes. So it’s something that you will certainly miss if you leave it out.

A plate of salmon salad with ricotta cheese.

The good news is several feta cheese alternatives can deliver the same tanginess and mild hint of saltiness to your dishes. Some of them might even add a lovely taste of sweetness and creaminess to your recipes.

Have fun experimenting once you find the right substitute for feta cheese!

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