Top 7 Best Basket Cheese Substitutes

Best Basket Cheese Substitutes

Has your recipe ever called for that delicious yet elusive basket cheese, only to find yourself scouring every store in town with no luck? You’re not alone; this creamy cultured cheese can be tricky to track down sometimes. But never fear; there is no need to ditch your dish altogether! As any true food lover knows, with a bit of creativity, you can almost always find a tasty substitute to save the day.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best basket cheese substitutes that will keep your meal plan on track. From mild mozzarella to tangy feta, I’ll give you the lowdown on alternatives that melt, crumble, or slice just right so your dish comes out basket cheese-approved. Let’s get cooking!

best basket cheese substitute

1. Mozzarella

When it comes to swapping in for basket cheese, mozzarella is one of the most versatile options. With its soft, supple texture and mild flavor, it blends seamlessly into everything from pastas to pizzas to salads.

With a background as a fresh cheese in Italian culture, mozzarella has wide availability in most grocery stores. You can find it packed in brine or fresh balls. For substituting basket cheese, either work well as long as you gently squeeze out excess moisture.

The stringy texture of torn mozzarella mimics the way basket cheese pulls apart. It melts oh-so-smoothly, making it a no-brainer for baked dishes. The milky sweetness also stands up to bold sauces without overpowering other ingredients.

Nutritionally, mozzarella boasts more protein than its bassket cheese counterpart. It also provides richness from milk fat without too much tang.

Whether shredded, sliced or torn, mozzarella fits seamlessly in any recipe with a request for basket cheese. Fans of the latter will appreciate mozzarella’s melt-in-your-mouth quality and mild personality. So next time basket cheese is unavailable, let good old mozzie take the wheel instead.

2. Swiss cheese

With its pale color, hole-filled interior, and subtle nutty savor, Swiss cheese makes an ideal substitute for basket varieties. With a texture that’s smooth and soft yet hints at crunch, it delivers complex flavor in everyday meals.

With centuries of heritage behind it, Swiss cheese originated in Switzerland and France from cows’ milk. Now widely available, it comes in rectangles, circled disks or pre-sliced cubes. Swiss cheese doesn’t freeze well so grab pre-sliced for easy access.

While enjoying a semi-firm texture, Swiss cheese retains enough suppleness to shred, slice or cube as needed in recipes. The signature holes add visual appeal and irregular bites of seasoning. Its mild yet robust profile pairs with everything from salads to sandwiches.

One secret to Swiss success is its ability to melt fantastically without separating or greasing out. This means Swiss cheese acts like a dream in au gratin dishes, fondues, and cheese sauces. Take advantage of its versatility for breakfast strata or weekend mac and cheese.

3. Ricotta Salata

If you’re looking to replicate basket cheese’s signature salty tang, ricotta salata is the substitute for you. Produced from whey left over from other cheesemaking, this Italian specialty brings both texture and flavor to the table.

With its white, crumbly texture and crystalline crunch, ricotta salata resembles a softer feta. But its flavor profile is milder, letting the natural saltiness shine through. Enjoy it as-is for a nutritious snack or allow its salty notes to enhance other ingredients.

Unlike soft cheeses, ricotta salata maintains its shape when baked, broiled or added to salads. Its moderate salt content and lack of overwhelming tang means it pairs beautifully with veggie, grain or pasta dishes without overpowering other flavors.

As the whey-based cousin of ricotta, this cheese contains fewer calories and more calcium and protein. Look for it rolled or packed in brine at Italian markets. If unavailable, a premium feta makes a tasty substitute.

4. Greek feta

For basket cheese recipes that benefit from a hit of tang, reach for a block of creamy Greek feta. Made from sheep’s milk that’s been curdled with rennet and strained, feta offers a briny backdrop with a melt-in-your-mouth texture.

Unlike soft french feta, Greek varieties packed in brine have a semi-firm yet crumbly consistency. Their robust flavor comes through whether eaten plain or crumbled into other dishes. Look for firm, white blocks of feta without dry seams or pools of oil.

Feta’s saltiness enhances the natural flavors of vegetables, grains and salads without overwhelming them. It shines particularly in Mediterraneaninspired meals from Greece, Turkey and Italy. Try tossing feta into pasta salads, blended veggie dips or grain bowls for an instant savory punch.

As an age-old staple used in everything from appetizers to mains, feta adds complexity wherever you crumble it. Whether baked, broiled or added raw, its briny zing mimics basket cheese’s unique taste.

Next time a Balkan touch is wanted, feta proves itself a tangy troubleshooter. One sprinkle enhances everything from simple snacks to hearty meals.

5. Goat Cheese

When a recipe calls for something creamy yet tangy, reach for a log or spread of mellow goat cheese. Also called chevre, this soft-ripened specialty brings its own unique flavor to stand in for basket varieties.

Versatile chevre comes in several forms, from pale logs and discs to spreads and crottins. Its mild tang and subtle grassy notes result from curdling goat’s milk. Look for cheese with a soft ivory rind and pliable interior.

Goat cheese spreads easily and blends into mixtures with a silky-smooth texture. Dollop it onto crackers, toss it into pastas or blend it into sauces. Its zippy yet mellow taste acts as a perfect counterpoint to robust flavors.

Chevre also bakes up beautifully, whether topped on flatbreads or mixed into strata. Nutritionally, it packs more calcium, phosphorus, and protein than cow’s milk cheeses. Its mild flavor profile appeals to both kids and adults alike.

6. Cream Cheese

When you need a silky-smooth texture without a sharp flavor, look no further than a tub of creamy Philadelphia-style cream cheese. As one of the oldest processed cheeses around, it spreads, mixes and bakes seamlessly.

Made from pasteurized cream and milk, cream cheese boasts a luscious tang that’s milder than basket varieties. Its plush creaminess results from higher butterfat content. Choose regular or low-fat varieties for baking or enjoy extra-strong cream cheese as a spread.

In recipes, cream cheese blends effortlessly thanks to its soft, spreadable texture. Swirl it into sauces, fold it into vegetable dips or fill pastries. It mixes well into everything from cheesecakes to chicken recipes.

Cream cheese also holds its shape when baked, so feel free to layer it into casseroles or pan pizzas. Its mild tang never overwhelms other components. Nutritionally, it provides calcium, protein, and immunity-boosting probiotics.

7. Brick Cheese

For basket cheese recipes where a firmer, sharper tang is preferred, reach for an aged wheel of brick cheese. Originating in Wisconsin but now produced worldwide, brick cheese boasts robust, complex flavors.

Aged for at least six months, brick cheese develops a flavor profile ranging from mild and savory to sharp and piquant. It hardens to a consistency perfect for slicing, shaving, grating or snacking.

While firm, brick cheese retains enough moisture to melt beautifully when heated or baked. Layer it into casseroles, pan pizzas or homemade mac and cheese for an ooey-gooey finish. Its assertive savor stands up to robust accompaniments.

Nutritionally, brick cheese offers protein, calcium, vitamins, and minerals galore. Enjoy it as a stand-alone snack or paired with crackers, fruit, or wine. When substituting brick cheese, start with less than called for and adjust to taste.

Choosing and Storing Substitutes Like a Pro

Now that you’re familiar with the best basket cheese alternatives, it’s important to select and handle them properly. Following some best practices will keep your substitutes at their flavorful best.

When shopping, choose fresher cheeses that are firm, moist, and free of mold or dry spots. Smell for clean, mild aromas without ammonia notes. Hard cheeses like ricotta salata and brick will last months, so you can stock up. More perishable options like chevre, mozzarella and cream cheese enjoy maximum freshness within 1-2 weeks.

For longer storage, hard cheeses can live in the cheese drawer or crisper. More delicate varieties like goat cheese or cream cheese prefer the main refrigerator body, where it’s a touch cooler and more humid. Always wrap cheeses tightly in parchment or wax paper, then stow in an airtight container or ziplock bag.

To extend shelf life, submerge fresh mozzarella balls in a fresh water solution, changing the water every other day. Hard cheeses like Parmesan can be frozen for 4-6 months with minimal texture change. Avoid freezing softer varieties which won’t regain their original mouthfeel.

When packaging, allow a small space between cheeses to avoid mold growth. Mark wrappers with dates to use firmer cheeses before softer ones. Don’t forget to enjoy from youngest to oldest! Stored properly, most substitutes can age up to several weeks.

Proper wrapping and storage allows your basket cheese stand-ins to shine for several recipes to come. With a few simple practices, you’ll keep your cheese drawer well stocked for any impromptu cooking adventures.

When to Reach for Which Substitute

Now that you’re well-versed in the best basket cheese swaps, here are some general guidelines for when each shines:

  • Mozzarella is versatile any time you need a mild meltability. Reach for it in baked dishes, on pizzas or when a creamy texture is key.
  • Swiss cheese delivers nutty flavor to sandwiches, salads or apps. Its holes also make it a top choice for fondues and sauces.
  • Ricotta salata adds just the right salt crunch to vegetables, grains or pastas where a soft tang is needed.
  • Feta crumbles perfectly into pasta salads, veggie dips or grain bowls calling for a briny punch.
  • Goat cheese spreads, mixes or bakes beautifully wherever a tangy creaminess would enrich flavors.
  • Cream cheese blends effortlessly into cheesecakes, sauces or dips needing silkiness without sharpness.
  • Brick cheese brings sophisticated savor when grating atop roasts, gratins or pizza. Its assertiveness also pairs with robust wines.

Trust your taste buds and experiment to see which stands shine in specific recipes. With this lineup of swaps in your fridge, you’ll always have backup for when basket cheese is nowhere to be found. Now get cooking!


Can I use a combination of substitutes?

Yes, feel free to experiment with combining different substitutes depending on the flavors and textures called for in the recipe. For example, you could mix feta for tanginess with cream cheese for creaminess.

What if the recipe needs shredded cheese?

Harder cheeses, like ricotta salata and Swiss can be shredded or finely grated. For softer options, freeze them briefly then use a box grater or food processor attachment to chop. You can also slice or crumble cheeses and break up the pieces further as needed.

Can I substitute something dairy-free?

For vegan/dairy-free versions, try things like nutritional yeast for savory umami flavor, cashew cream or tofu for creaminess, or marinated baked or roasted tomatoes for acidity. Seasoning and texture will differ from dairy cheeses.

Feel free to use your favorite mild melting cheese instead. Good alternatives could be Monterey Jack, cheddar, provolone or semi-soft cheeses like Brie or Camembert depending on the recipe. Adjust seasonings if needed.

Can these substitutes be used in cooking applications other than baking?

Yes, most of the substitutes mentioned can be used wherever the recipe calls for basket cheese, whether raw in salads, melted in sauces, or baked into casseroles. Just adjust amounts and texture as needed for each preparation method.

Can I freeze cheese substitutes?

Harder cheeses like Parmesan, ricotta salata and Swiss can be frozen for 4-6 months with little quality loss. Softer cheeses may get grainy, so use within a few weeks of thawing. Wrapping tightly in foil or plastic first helps prevent freezer burn.

Some of these are more expensive than basket cheese. Any tips?

Check store brands for cheaper options of mozzarella, cream cheese, etc. Buy in bulk at warehouse stores if possible. Ricotta salata and Parmesan can be rinds for grating. Feta is often on sale.

What if a recipe only calls for a small amount of cheese?

For 1/4 cup or less, feel free to substitute pre-shredded cheese blends even if they contain non-melting cheeses like cheddar. The flavors will still meld well together.

Can these be used when cooking at high heats?

Some stand up better to high heat than others. Hard cheeses like Parmesan are best for baking/grilling. For sauces, add soft cheeses like goat off heat or toward the end of cooking. Stir constantly.

Are some substitutes healthier than others?

In moderation, all provide calcium, protein and other nutrients. Lower fat options include part-skim mozzarella, ricotta salata and Parmesan. Goat cheese and cream cheese are higher in calories from fat.


With this overview of the best basket cheese alternatives, you now have a versatile lineup to substitute seamlessly in any recipe. Whether you need a melting, crumbling, or tangy addition, these options cover all the bases.

Don’t let a missing ingredient stop your cooking in its tracks. With some experimentation, you’ll discover new favorite flavor combinations using the substitutes. And best of all, keeping your pantry stocked with these dairy workhorses means you’ll always be prepared when that basket cheese craving hits. Bon appétit – enjoy substituting like a pro.

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