Is Cottage Cheese REALLY Keto? (Here’s What You Need To Know)

Cottage cheese is a great healthy protein with virtually NO fat...but is it also keto?

While cottage cheese is not the MOST keto friendly cheese to snack on while doing keto, a single serving size shouldn’t be too difficult to fit into a keto diet. So, if you’re looking to venture out for a treat away from your fully planned and taken-care-of keto meals, just remember… 

Table of Contents 
What’s in Cottage Cheese? 
Cottage Cheese Varieties and What They Mean 
Which Cottage Cheese Works Best for Keto  
Nutrition and Benefits 

What’s in Cottage Cheese? 

Cottage cheese is essentially just curdled milk, made from milk.  

The Little Miss Muffet rhyme actually refers to cottage cheese in the beginning! “Curds and whey” describe the solids (curds) and liquidy (whey) parts of cottage cheese. 

During the cheese making process, an acid like lemon juice or lactic acid is added to pasteurized skim milk to make its solids separate from its liquids. The solids are then cooked and developed into what we know as cottage cheese. 

Curds in a bowl, wrapped in cheesecloth, and whey in a clear glass mug sitting on top of a small wooden paddle.

Although cottage cheese is in part made thanks to milkfat, it is relatively low in fat. It actually has a much higher protein content because the proteins in milk are what clump together during curdling process and make up a large part of cottage cheese. 

Unfortunately, curds and whey tend to be pretty bland on their own, so manufacturers often add lots of salt in addition to the natural salts in milk, to enhance its flavor and texture. This is why cottage cheese tends to be so high in sodium.  


Cottage cheese is made from curdled milk protein, which is made by separating the curds from the whey in skim milk.

Cottage Cheese Varieties and What They Mean 

Breakstone's brand 2% low fat cottage cheese container sealed and isolated on a black background.

There are different types of cottage cheese sold in stores – 1%, 2%, 4% (or “creamed”), nonfat, low fat, cultured, small curd, large curd, no salt added, those with added fruit and even lactose free. Whew! 

The type of cottage cheese you buy will change the nutritional content. 

2% cottage cheese and similar ones refer to the percentage of milkfat content. 4% is typical and is also referred to as the “creamed” variety. The higher fat cottage cheese will keep you satiated longer but can also be high in salt. Lower fat options tend to compensate for the lack of flavor by adding more additives and artificial flavorings and sugar.  

Grocery store shelves filled with lots of varieties of cottage cheese, angled so you can see the length of the refrigerated aisle.

The size of the curds also determines how much fat there is in the cottage cheese. Large curds mean more milkfat, and a thicker, sweeter taste. Small curds mean more whey, which means the cottage cheese will be more watery and sour tasting. Smaller curd cottage cheese will also have slightly more carbohydrates

What this all basically boils down to is which works for your health goals. Would you rather have a higher carb cottage cheese that has better flavor, one with less salt but higher fat, or one with a creamier texture but more sugar? 


The nutritional value of cottage cheese changes based on the amount of fat it has. The less curds a product has, the carbs increase. Consider the nutritional qualities that fit your keto diet’s needs.

Which Cottage Cheese Works Best for Keto 

All in all, your best bet for keto will be a cottage cheese that is full fat, to keep you fuller longer, which also gives you the fat you need for energy while doing keto. In fact, lower fat options tend to have MORE net carbs per serving! 

Serving Size  Net Carbs   Total Fat   Sugar   
½ cup full fat (105g) 3.6g 4.5g 2.8g 
½ cup low-fat (113g) 4.9g 2.6g 4.6g 
½ cup nonfat (72.5g) 4.9g 0.2g 1.3g 

Low fat and fat-free options are still, of course, a valid option even if they do have lower fat content because the carb content of these types of cottage cheeses are still relatively low. Sometimes you just have to indulge!  

Brands that remove salt or fat from their products sometimes replace them with fillers to make them look and taste more appealing. Consider looking for brands that don’t use thickeners like guar gum, xanthan gum, or carrageenan which have ongoing health debates over health risks or are known to cause gastrointestinal issues and inflammation


Full fat cottage cheese has the lowest amount of carbs, but low and nonfat are other valid keto options. Try to avoid ingredients like guar, xanthan, and carrageenan which may have health issues.

Nutrition and Benefits 

Keto cottage cheese dish with nuts and fruit.

As we’ve mentioned, cottage cheese is high in protein (about 12g per half cup). Research has shown that eating cottage cheese is ideal for losing weight loss because of its high protein content and lower calorie count. The protein in cottage cheese keeps you satiated, which means you eat fewer calories.  

This makes cottage cheese a great option when you need more energy and are trying to keep full throughout the day. Perfect for keto! But what else? 

Well, a half cup of non-flavored, full fat cottage cheese is also a great source of calcium (about 8% of the daily total value) and vitamin B12

The dairy queen. She is eating a whole bowl of cottage cheese.

Researchers found that cottage cheese helped the most with reducing blood sugar in a high protein study. Combined with the benefits of other minerals like selenium and vitamin B12 also found in cottage cheese, it can also help with insulin resistance and overall heart health.  

The calcium in cottage cheese can promote better bone health, including the health of your teeth. Eating moderate amounts of calcium also reduces your chances for developing osteoporosis.  

Some studies have also found that eating dairy products like cottage cheese may help in preventing some cancers, like prostate and kidney cancers. 


Cottage cheese is high in protein, which helps keep you more satiated and aids with weight loss. It is also high in calcium which benefits bone health and can help prevent cancer. It also has other minerals and vitamins which keep insulin and blood pressure in check