What is the Difference Between Ricotta and Mascarpone

The main difference between ricotta and mascarpone is that ricotta has a grainy texture and a slightly tangy flavor, whereas mascarpone has a smoother texture and a sweeter flavor.

Ricotta and mascarpone are two types of soft Italian cheese that are useful in many Italian recipes. We can use them in savory dishes as well as in sweet desserts. In fact, we sometimes use them as substitutes for each other.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Ricotta  
     – Definition, Features, Uses
2. What is Mascarpone
     – Definition, Features, Uses
3. Difference Between Ricotta and Mascarpone
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Cheese, Ricotta, Mascarpone

Difference Between Ricotta and Mascarpone - Comparison Summary

What is Ricotta

Ricotta is a fresh, soft, moist unsalted cheese. Ricotta has Italian origins but is now popular all over the world. In fact, it is widely available all over the world and is comparatively inexpensive. You can make it from the milk of cows, sheep, goats, and water buffalos. Commercially produced ricotta mostly comes from cow’s milk. We can also describe it as a byproduct of cheese. This is because it is made by reheating the whey left over from producing other cheese types like mozzarella and provolone. Its manufacturing process includes acidifying the whey by natural fermentation or by adding an acid like vinegar or lemon juice. When acidified whey is heated close to boiling, the whey proteins clump together to form curds. When these curds are cooled and strained, they become fluffy ricotta. We can even make ricotta at home.

Ricotta vs Mascarpone

Ricotta has a texture similar to grainy and thick sour cream. It has a rich, creamy flavor. When compared to other cheeses, ricotta is naturally low in fat. Ricotta is an ingredient in various Italian recipes like lasagna, ravioli, and manicotti. You can also use it in omelets and quiches. In deserts, it can be used like mascarpone in cheesecake or cannolis.

What is Mascarpone

Mascarpone is a soft Italian cream cheese. It generally has a 60-75% fat content, which gives it a silky, spreadable consistency. Mascarpone cheese has two ingredients: heavy cream and an acid like citric acid or tartaric acid. The addition of this acid solidifies the cream. Then this mixture is strained through a cheesecloth to remove excess liquid. Mascarpone cream is made by adding eggs and sugar to mascarpone cheese and whipping it. Mascarpone cream makes the top layer in the popular Italian dessert tiramisu. Some also serve this cream with pound cake, espresso drinks, and fresh berries.

Compare Ricotta and Mascarpone - What's the difference?

Mascarpone has a similar taste to cream cheese and ricotta. But it is a little bit sweeter. Mascarpone cheese can be made with both savory and sweet dishes, while the cream is mainly used with desserts.

Difference Between Ricotta and Mascarpone


Ricotta is a fresh, soft, moist unsalted cheese, while mascarpone is a soft Italian cream cheese.


Ricotta is made from the whey left over from cheese production, whereas mascarpone is made by adding an acid to heavy cream.


Mascarpone is slightly sweeter than ricotta, which makes it better for desserts.


Ricotta tends to have a grainy and fluffy texture, whereas mascarpone is softer. Therefore, mascarpone is more spreadable than ricotta.


Ricotta is more suitable for savory dishes, whereas mascarpone is more suitable for sweet desserts.

Popular Recipes

Moreover, you can use ricotta in lasagna, ravioli, manicotti, and Italian casseroles. Meanwhile, you can use mascarpone in tiramisu, and pound cake, espressos.


Both ricotta and mascarpone are two soft Italian cheeses. The main difference between ricotta and mascarpone is their texture and flavor. Ricotta has a grainy texture, whereas mascarpone has a smooth texture, and ricotta has a tangy flavor, while mascarpone has a sweet flavor.


1. Peggy Trowbridge Filippone. “Ricotta Cheese.” The Spruce Eats.
2. Kelly Vaughan. “What Is Mascarpone? Find Out What Sets It Apart From Other Cheeses.” Real Simple. 

Image Courtesy:

1. “Food, cuisine, dessert, dish, trifle, ingredient, mascarpone, cream..” (CC0) via Pxhere
2. “Banana bread with ricotta cheese” By Marco Verch Professional Photographer (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

About the Author: Hasa

Hasanthi is a seasoned content writer and editor with over 8 years of experience. Armed with a BA degree in English and a knack for digital marketing, she explores her passions for literature, history, culture, and food through her engaging and informative writing.

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