Can You Freeze Ricotta Cheese?
We've all been there before — a recipe calls for a few tablespoons of ricotta cheese, but all you can find at the grocery store are large tubs of it. This happened to me when I made Chef John's One-Pot Chicken and Sausage Orzo. I used ricotta to garnish (totally worth it by the way), but I was left with a nearly full tub of ricotta cheese afterwards, and no idea what to do with it.
What if I told you that you can freeze ricotta cheese to save for the next time a recipe calls for it? Well, I'm telling you that now. You can freeze ricotta cheese without altering the flavor, although the texture will likely be affected. Keep reading for our tips on how to freeze and thaw ricotta cheese the best way.
Can You Freeze Ricotta Cheese?
Ricotta is actually listed among the worst cheeses to freeze on our guide to freezing cheese. But just because it's not ideal doesn't mean it's impossible. You can freeze ricotta cheese, but just know that previously frozen ricotta cheese is only going to work for certain recipes.
Because ricotta has a high moisture content, the water in it will become ice once it's frozen, causing the texture to change. As the curds and whey are divided by the ice, the cheese will become more dry and crumbly in texture.
To make this texture difference less noticeable in your dishes, only use previously frozen ricotta in cooked dishes. If your recipe is uncooked, or specifically calls for fresh ricotta cheese, it's best to not use previously frozen. But you can use previously frozen ricotta in dishes like this Spinach-Ricotta Quiche or this Baked Ziti with Sausage.
How to Freeze Ricotta Cheese
If the container is unopened (and unexpired) you can freeze it in the plastic container that you generally find store-bought ricotta in. But for most of us, we're going to be dealing with leftover ricotta, and that changes things a little. Here's how to freeze leftover ricotta step-by-step:
- Stir the ricotta with a spoon so that the cheese will freeze more evenly.
- Remove the cheese from the container and press it down with a layer of paper towels to drain.
- Wrap the cheese in plastic wrap, either as a whole or in individual portions using an ice cube tray (the latter is easier for thawing).
- From here you may either transfer the cheese to a freezer-safe bag or an airtight container ($13, Amazon). If using a bag, be sure to press out as much air as possible before sealing.
- Mark the container with the date. Place in the freezer for up to two months.
How to Thaw and Use Ricotta Cheese
The best (and safest) way to thaw ricotta cheese is simply by leaving it in the fridge for several hours, about five to six. If you exceed more than eight hours in the fridge, the texture may deteriorate even further. And never thaw ricotta at room temperature, as this can put the cheese at risk of bacterial contamination.
When you're ready to use the cheese, stir it up with a spoon to reach the best possible consistency. Previously frozen ricotta will last for up to three days in the fridge. Don’t bother refreezing, as this will completely ruin the texture. This is why you may want to consider freezing the ricotta in individual servings — silicone ice cube trays are great for this purpose ($13, Amazon). Use previously frozen ricotta cheese in any cooked dish of your liking. Refer to our entire collection of ricotta cheese recipes for inspiration.