This High-Protein Cheese Hack Will Elevate Your Mac-and-Cheese Game

Cottage cheese gets a bad rap. Maybe it's the curd-like texture, or maybe it's the smell. However, not only is cottage cheese packed with nutrients, high in protein, and low in fat, it also generally tastes good — so good, in fact, that one TikTok content creator is touting it as a high-protein cheese hack.

In the TikTok, which has more than 745,000 page views, Tom Walsh (@stealth_health_life) shows off a creamy fettuccine alfredo and macaroni-and-cheese dish that, yes, he made from cottage cheese.

Walsh used an immersion blender to get rid of the curds and create a creamier base — similar to what a Greek yogurt would look like. (So to all my texture people out there, don't worry — you can't even tell it's cottage cheese.) Walsh notes in the video that he uses blended cottage cheese for dips and high-protein sauces, too, saying that it's delicious, high protein, low fat, and creamy. But since you can't trust everything on the Internet, we asked a nutritionist about all things cottage cheese to see if it's worth making the swap.

Is Cottage Cheese Good For You?

It sure is, nutritionist Vanessa Liu confirms. Not only is cottage cheese high in protein, but it's a "good source of probiotics, which are healthy gut bacteria that can improve your digestion and immunity." Compared to other cheese options, it's also often higher in protein and lower in fat for its serving size. Liu uses cheddar cheese as an example: "Cheddar cheese usually has 5 to 7 grams of protein per serving, while cottage cheese has 15 to 20 grams." But other fresh cheeses like ricotta "generally have small differences in protein comparisons."

Liu recommends looking for cottage-cheese brands that have at least 15 to 20 grams of protein per cup. You'll also want to read labels and look for brands that say "live cultures" or "probiotics" for all that good gut health. If you want some recommendations, Liu recommends Good Culture (the cottage cheese featured in the TikTok), Nancy's, and Cowgirl Creamery as solid options.

Is Using Cottage Cheese in Dips and Other Recipes a Good Option?

If you're looking to hit higher-protein or lower-fat macros, absolutely. Plus, "cottage cheese has a pretty neutral taste, so you can make it sweet or savory. You can dress it up with any ingredient or flavor to meet your taste preferences," Liu says. (Think: dips, sauces, smoothie bowls, etc.)

Blending cottage cheese is an especially good hack if you don't like the texture of the curds. But again, if you'd rather stick with a standard cheddar or gouda, no problem. It's fine to trust your taste buds.

This Hack Helps With Protein. Why Is It Important to Prioritize Protein in Your Diet?

Three big reasons: fullness, fat loss, and muscle building. "It's a good idea to prioritize more protein in your diet, because protein is the most satiating macronutrient — meaning protein will keep you feeling fuller for longer," Liu says.

High-protein foods like cottage cheese can also help with fat loss. "Protein is the building block of muscle, and by eating sufficient protein, you encourage your body to pull energy from your fat stores instead of breaking down your muscle for energy," Liu says. This means you wouldn't lose any muscle you've built. Cottage cheese also contains calcium, which studies suggest may aid in fat loss. Lastly, Liu notes that as we age, our muscle mass decreases, and we become more at risk for muscle strains or broken bones. For that reason, "we especially need protein to continue building and maintaining muscle to stay strong and healthy," she says.

Any Dairy-Free Options for People Who Don't Eat Cottage Cheese?

Liu recommends white beans, cashews, and tofu, all of which are "great vegan ingredients to use, since they can easily be blended or put through a food processor." If you're looking for some recipe inspo, you can start with this creamy mac and cheese made with cashews.