Cottage Cheese Comeback
Joseph Hopper, Iowa Soybean Association
The latest viral sensation on social media isn’t a dance, joke or challenge: it’s a food. Videos about cottage cheese have skyrocketed in popularity on social media platforms like Tiktok and Instagram, bringing in hundreds of millions of views. Influencers and foodies are showing off their recipes ranging from simple to exotic. From topping toast to using it as a base for pancakes, brownies and ice cream, the internet can’t get enough. There are more than 300 million views for #cottagecheese on TikTok alone.
Two words often found in viral cottage cheese videos help explain its meteoric rise in online foodie circles: high protein. Alyson Fendrick, marketing communications manager at Midwest Dairy, says cottage cheese is an easy pick for health-conscious consumers.
“One reason cottage cheese is so popular is because of its health benefits,” Fendrick says. “It's low in sugar and high in protein, making it a versatile ingredient in recipes. It can be both sweet and savory. For those with texture issues, blending cottage cheese into a smooth ingredient allows them to enjoy the savory treat in many forms.”
“With its modest amount of carbohydrates per serving, around five grams, and no added sugar, plain cottage cheese is a sensible choice for people who need to monitor their blood sugar. Again, because of its ample protein content, which slows digestion, it helps to promote blood sugar control while preventing spikes,” Fendrick adds.
Cottage cheese’s current rebirth as an online influencer favorite is just the newest chapter in the dairy product’s storied history. Fendrick says the curdled milk product, known for its mild flavor, is considered by some to be the first cheese made in America.
“The process was brought over from Europe, and by the mid-1800s, the term ‘cottage cheese’ entered the mainstream,” Fendrick says. “It wasn't until World War I that cottage cheese got its first real publicity push. It was promoted during the war effort in place of meat, and consumption grew from there. However, after the 1980s, cottage cheese took a bit of a downfall. That is, until now.”
Join the fun
How did cottage cheese go from being underrated to a darling with young people and Gen Z consumers? It started at home after consumer habits began to change during the pandemic in 2020.
“During the pandemic, we saw a rise in at-home cooking,” Fendrick says. “People are still sharing this creative outlook to connect socially. In addition to the cottage cheese craze, we continue to see an increase in cheese and butter consumption.”
With cottage cheese’s new viral title firmly in hand, what do American dairy farmers think of its online popularity? The Midwest Dairy marketing communications manager says that because farmers only make up 2% of the population, it’s a good thing when consumers become advocates.
“Anytime you garner organic engagement, it’s great for your brand,” says Fendrick. “We know the growing Gen Z population is most influenced by their peers. There is no better way to share your love for food than via gorgeous Instagram photos.”
Want to try out the cottage cheese trend for yourself? Fendrick said an easy way to start is by incorporating cottage cheese into a recipe.
“This eliminates issues for those with texture sensitivity,” she says. “Making avocado toast with cottage cheese is one of the more popular ways to add protein to your favorite breakfast dish.”
Are you already hooked on cottage cheese? Visit usdairy.com to find more delicious dairy recipes.
As foodies explore the world of cottage cheese recipes and share them with millions of others online, what will be the next big dairy product to go viral?
“It’s tough to say as we’ve had so many fun ones pop up during the pandemic and beyond, but I think going into summer, frozen yogurt will be a hot item,” Fendrick says.
Try these recipes from US Dairy that use cottage cheese.
1 banana, peeled and split lengthwise
½ cup cottage cheese, fat level of choice
¼ cup strawberries, hulled and sliced
¼ cup blueberries
¼ cup raspberries
2 tablespoons barley cereal
Mint, fresh leaves
Honey, a drizzle
Peel banana and use a knife to slice it in half widthwise.
Arrange banana on a serving plate and top with dollops of cottage cheese.
Spoon strawberries, blueberries and raspberries over the banana and sprinkle with barley cereal.
If desired, top with your favorite garnishes, such as chopped fresh mint, a drizzle of honey and a fresh cherry.
1 cup cottage cheese
4 slices 7-grain bread, toasted
Black pepper, to taste
12 slices seedless cucumber
8 ounces smoked salmon, thinly sliced
¼ cup red onion, finely chopped (optional)
4 teaspoons capers, drained
Dill sprigs, snipped
2 small tomatoes, sliced
Spread ¼ cup cottage cheese on each toast slice. Season with salt and pepper. Top with cucumber and salmon. Sprinkle with onion, if using, capers and dill. Serve with tomatoes.
1 cup graham crackers, crushed
1 cup almond meal
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
4 tablespoons butter, melted
32 ounces low-fat lactose-free cottage cheese
½ cup 2% plain Greek yogurt
1 ¼ cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 lemon, freshly squeezed (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
For crust, combine graham crackers, almond meal, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice and melted butter in food processor. Press desired thickness into bottom of an 8x3-inch springform pan; bake for 10 – 15 minutes until set. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.
Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.
Combine cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, sugar, eggs, vanilla and flour in food processor; purée until very smooth. If desired, lemon juice can then be added to the mixture.
Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until only a small area in the center of the cheesecake wobbles or jiggles in the pan.
Let cool at room temperature for 30 minutes, refrigerate for at least three hours, then remove from pan and serve.