Is Cottage Cheese Keto? How Many Carbs, Can You Eat It, Plus Bonus Recipes

Is Cottage Cheese Keto?
Daniel Thompson

on November 27, 2019

The keto diet has some basic rules — it’s not just about cutting out carbs — your diet should consist of high fat, moderate protein, and low-carb. While it’s simple enough to determine many foods’ keto compliance, cottage cheese is often a hot topic of debate among keto dieters. 

After all, cottage cheese has long been a weight-loss diet staple — it’s high in fat and protein, inexpensive, and versatile in recipes. 

The main question we’re answering here is whether or not cottage cheese is keto? 

The definitive answer is yes —as long as it’s whole fat cottage cheese. 

Whole fat cottage cheese is the only variety that’s high fat and low carb. This means that while cottage cheese can be an excellent addition to your keto diet, not all are created equal. 

Read on to understand what makes whole fat cottage cheese keto friendly, the nutritional benefits it offers, and share delicious and simple cottage cheese keto recipes. 

What is Cottage Cheese?

While the exact origin of cottage cheese is up for debate, it’s believed it was invented in the 1830s by fermenting leftover milk from butter churning. The result was a filing and cheap source of protein. 

Unlike hard cheeses, such as parmesan or soft creamy brie, cottage cheese is technically a curd — a byproduct of the cheese-making process.

Because of its mild flavor, creamy texture, and low-calorie count, cottage cheese is a popular cheese option in many parts of the world, and it’s become a favorite food for low carb diets. 

Types of Cottage Cheese

Whole Milk Cottage Cheese

The macronutrient profile of cottage cheese can vary from one brand to another. 

Always look for high-quality dairy (organic, from pasture-raised cows) that have no hidden additives or ingredients and have little to no carbohydrate content. 

Only cottage cheese made with whole milk is keto friendly — make sure you read the nutrition label before adding it to your cart. Whole milk cottage cheese must have a minimum of 3.25% milkfat.

Skim Milk/ Low Fat Cottage Cheese

Skim milk cottage cheese is the least keto-friendly option because it's low in fat and has a high carb ratio than any other type of cottage cheese. 

Low fat cottage cheese is often recommended in diet trends for its low-calorie count, which contributed to cottage cheese’s reputation as an excellent diet food. 

Dated nutrition guidelines instructed against whole milk products because of its saturated fat content that contributed to high cholesterol and heart disease. 

Recent research has debunked the correlation between saturated fat and heart disease. We now know dairy fatty acids aren't detrimental to heart health or weight gain, for that matter. 

The only benefit of low-fat cottage cheese is that it contains fewer calories — however, it is higher in carbs and you’re missing out on the fat needed to maintain a healthy keto diet. 

Dry Cottage Cheese/Cheese Curds

As the name suggests, dry cottage cheese has no liquid added to it (like milk or cream). 

Dry cottage cheese is typically made with whole fat milk, and it’s an excellent snack for those who are lactose intolerant because it’s lactose-free. The lactose from the milk separates from the curds and any remaining lactose sugars are removed in the drying process. 

Dry cottage cheese can be found in the pantry aisle of specialty grocery stores and doesn’t require refrigeration since it’s packed dry, making it perfect for an on-the-go snack option at work, before the gym, or while traveling.

Nutritional Value of Cottage Cheese

Whole fat cottage cheese may be high in fat and low in carbs, but it’s also an incredible source of protein, calcium, vitamin B, and many other essential nutrients

Here we’ll unpackage the nutritious value of full fat cottage cheese.


Protein is an essential nutritional component to our diet because it’s required to build and repair tissues.  

There are 11 grams of protein in a single serving of full fat cottage cheese. While everyone’s nutrition goals may vary, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) says we should eat about 0.7 - 0.9 grams of protein per pound of your body weight. 

Calcium and Vitamin D

One cup of whole fat cottage cheese contains 19% of your suggested daily intake of calcium.

Calcium isn’t just for your bones. 

The mineral has many essential health functions that include maintaining a healthy heart, nervous system, muscle function, and blood vessels. It also helps protect against diabetes and obesity. 

Vitamin B

Vitamin B is essential for cellular health, proper nerve function, healthy eyesight, and optimal brain function. 

It’s needed to keep energy levels up and helps create red blood cells, which helps transport oxygen to your body’s tissues in exchange for carbon dioxide. 

One cup of full fat cottage cheese gives you 40% of your vitamin B needs for the day. 


You’ll get approximately 2% of your daily magnesium needs from whole fat cottage cheese. 

Magnesium is essential for keeping your muscles, heart, and nervous system functioning optimally. The mineral helps your body better absorb calcium and is even known to help reduce the effects of PMS and migraines.


Whole fat cottage cheese delivers 18% of your daily recommended intake of phosphorus. Phosphorus is a nutrient that helps keep your bones healthy and balances the acidity in your body.

How Many Carbs are in Cottage Cheese?

Below, we break down the Keto nutrition facts per one serving (1/2 cup) of the most popular types of cottage cheese:



Fat (g)

Protein (g)

Carbohydrates (g)

Full fat cottage cheese





Low fat cottage cheese





Dry cottage cheese





Is Cottage Cheese Keto?

Cottage cheese is keto, as long as you’re eating the full-fat version in moderation. 

Whole fat cottage cheese is high in fat and protein and low in carbs and calories (depending on the brand), so eating it allows you to remain in a ketogenic state. 

With that said, cottage cheese is not the MOST keto friendly cheese out there; for example, one tablespoon of cream cheese has 5 grams of fat and only 0.8 grams of carbs, making it a much more viable option. 

So you’ll always want to be mindful of how much cottage cheese you’re eating and ensuring it’s always the whole fat version. It is, however, much more keto friendly than ricotta. Other low carb foods in the same family are Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, and sour cream.

Benefits Cottage Cheese on a Low Carb Keto Diet

Easily Accessible High-Quality Fat Source

Maintaining a high fat, low carbohydrate diet is a foundational component of staying in ketosis

When you go into ketosis, your body relies on ketones for energy instead of carbohydrates (glucose). 

Ramping up your ketone production can be as simple as increasing your healthy fats intake.

It's important to get a high-quality cottage cheese brand as not all cottage cheese is created equal. As we’ve established, cottage cheese is a low carb, high protein, and high-fat food (and one that’s easily accessible). 

Prolongs Satiety

Cottage cheese can be a filling snack or meal component for keto dieters. 

Because cottage cheese is high in protein, it can help you ward off hunger. Protein naturally reduces the hunger hormone ghrelin, which keeps you from overeating, which in turn, promotes weight loss. 

Builds Lean Muscle 

Cottage cheese is an excellent post-workout snack.

Cottage cheese is rich in protein, which is a vital nutrient in helping your body repair its muscles after a workout. Working out breaks down your muscle proteins so that your body can rebuild them stronger and healthier. Protein helps speed up this recovery process.

Reduces Blood Sugar Spikes

As many keto dieters already know, healthy fats are critical for maintaining stable blood sugar and insulin levels.

As we’ve already established, whole fat cottage cheese is a powerhouse of these healthy fats that keep your brain going throughout the workday. 

May Increase Mental Performance

As many keto dieters already know, healthy fats are critical for producing ketones. 

As we’ve already established, whole fat cottage cheese is a powerhouse of these healthy fats. Some preliminary studies have shown a correlation between elevated ketones and cognitive performance. While cottage cheese itself won't improve your mental performance, it supports a diet which just might.

Lactose Intolerance and Cottage Cheese

One of the downsides of cottage cheese is that it can cause digestive upset in some people. 

Lactose intolerance is a chronic sensitivity to dairy that occurs when a person’s body lacks sufficient amounts of lactase, an enzyme found in the small intestine. Insulin is responsible for breaking down the sugars found in dairy products. 

Issues occur when undigested (not broken down) lactose passes through the small intestine into the colon, where bacteria finally break down the lactose and creates the gases and fluids that cause symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, gas, nausea, abdominal pain, and vomiting.

5 Amazing Keto Recipes with Cottage Cheese

While we’ll always love a simple bowl of cottage cheese topped with a sprinkling of salt and lemon pepper, there are so many simple, keto-friendly cottage cheese recipes that are versatile and delicious.

1. Keto Friendly Cottage Cheese Pancakes 

Pancakes are a staple breakfast menu item, and now you don’t have to miss out on it while on a keto diet. 

This pancake recipe is fluffy, easy to make, and low carb — thanks to the whole fat cottage cheese and coconut flour or almond flour in place of whole wheat flour.

2. Low Carb Cottage Cheese Breakfast Bowl 

Cottage cheese bowls are a keto-friendly, filling, and delicious alternative to acai bowls or oatmeal bowls. 

Walnuts, flaxseed oil, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and chia seeds made for excellent cottage cheese bowl toppings that will keep you feeling full and energized all morning.

With a base of cottage cheese, you can build an endless combination of toppings to suit your diet and tastes. 

3. Keto Broccoli Cottage Cheese Balls

With the creamy cheese and savory broccoli filling, these snackable bites taste way more decadent than they actually are and a fun way to get your daily veggies.

4. Low Carb Avocado Egg Salad

Perfect for weekday lunches, this egg salad combines multiple healthy high fats (full fat cottage cheese, eggs, avocados) with simple low carb, intensely flavorful additions, including, lemon, celery, and herbs.

5. Keto Cottage Cheese Sauce

Perfect as a condiment for steak or grilled vegetables, this low carb cottage cheese sauce is also a tasty dip. You can sub Greek yogurt for cottage cheese if you're looking for more tang.

Whether it's cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, or sour cream, adding one of these nutrient-dense, keto-friendly foods into your meal plan will help keep hunger at bay and your net carb count just where you want it.

The Verdict: Full Fat Cottage Cheese Is Keto 

There you have it — whole fat cottage cheese is keto-friendly because it’s high protein and fat, low in carbs, and packed with nutrients. 

Best of all, it’s an incredibly versatile food. You can dress it up savory or a little on the sweet side with some berries. 

If you’d like to learn more about the ketogenic diet or are interested in tips and recipes for your keto diet, be sure to check out our blog for articles written by dietitians and nutrition experts. 

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