Cottage cheese on a blue background vs Greek yogurt on a teal background
Nutrition

Cottage Cheese vs. Greek Yogurt—Which Is Healthier?

How these protein-packed dairy favorites stack up in nutrition, probiotics, and more.

Our product recommendations are selected by editors, tested first-hand, or expert-approved. We may earn a commission through links on our site.

When it comes to quick, easy, high-protein breakfasts, Greek yogurt reigns supreme. The creamy, tangy yogurt is high-protein, probiotic-rich, and serves as a good base or mix-in for just about anything. Recently though, cottage cheese has been all the rage on social media—which is interesting because cottage cheese can be *quite* polarizing (you either love it or detest it). Still, cottage cheese fans argue that the good stuff is packed with protein, and can do way more than spice up your grandma’s bowl of fruit. 

Is it worth giving in to the cottage cheese craze? Or is Greek yogurt actually healthier? To find out, we put cottage cheese and Greek yogurt head-to-head. Here’s how the two popular high-protein dairy products compare.

What Is Greek Yogurt?

Greek yogurt is thicker, tangier, and more protein-rich than regular yogurt. That’s because Greek yogurt is made by straining regular yogurt to drain off some of the liquid—whey, to be more precise—resulting in a thicker dairy product. The straining process requires more milk to achieve the same volume of yogurt. It also concentrates the protein and tangy flavor. Some companies may use thickening agents or other dry ingredients to achieve the same effect—these yogurts are typically labeled as “Greek-Style.”

What Is Cottage Cheese?

Cottage cheese is considered fresh cheese, because it’s not aged or ripened the way hard cheeses like Parmesan, gouda, and cheddar are. It’s made by adding an acid compound or acid-producing culture to milk, which begins the process of separating the liquid whey protein from the milk solids, or curds. The curds are washed, then cream and salt are typically added. The result is a low calorie cheese with a mild flavor, and lumpy texture. It’s often available with different milk fat levels and curd sizes.

Cottage Cheese vs. Greek Yogurt Nutrition

Because the nutrition facts vary by brand, flavor, and levels of fat, it’s hard to give a hard and fast comparison of cottage cheese and Greek yogurt that encompasses everything you’ll encounter in the dairy aisle. To even the playing field we went with plain, low fat (2%) versions of each. 

Here’s how an average one-cup serving of plain, low-fat Greek yogurt and cottage cheese compare, according to the USDA (12).

*For ease of comparison, we rounded most decimals to the nearest whole number.

Calories

One cup of low-fat plain Greek yogurt contains 179 calories, while one cup of low-fat cottage cheese contains about 180 calories—a virtual tie.

Protein

Cottage cheese and Greek yogurt are also evenly matched for protein—both raking in 24 grams of high-quality protein per one-cup serving. For most adults, a meal should have at least 20 to 30 grams of protein, especially if you’re trying to build muscle (3). If you eat a cup of either Greek yogurt or cottage cheese, you’ll easily meet the mark. 

Greek yogurt and cottage cheese are a combination of whey and casein protein—but both are mostly casein (around 80%), since most of the whey is strained during production. Casein digests slower than whey. The slow, steady release of amino acids makes it ideal for staving off hunger and providing slow and steady nutrition, such as before bed or a morning packed with non-stop meetings. One review suggests that eating casein-rich foods before bed could help preserve and build muscle while you sleep (4).

Fat

Both low-fat Greek yogurt and cottage cheese deliver nearly identical (and relatively low) amounts of total fat and saturated fat. You’ll get more fat in full-fat varieties, and less in fat-free products. Which variety you choose comes down to your goals. 

Fat-free and lower-fat varieties will save you a few calories, which may be beneficial if you’re looking to lose weight. Full-fat varieties tend to be more satisfying and filling. Low-fat—which is typically 2% milk fat—is a happy medium that’s still filling and flavorful without going too heavy on saturated fat.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends keeping saturated fat intake (which is mainly found in red meat and full-fat dairy) under five to six percent (5). However, emerging research suggests that full-fat dairy products might not raise the risk of heart disease and early death like eating fatty meats (67).

In fact, full-fat dairy may be protective against the risk of hypertension and metabolic syndrome (8). This might be due to the nutrient synergy in dairy including quality protein, beneficial fats, and numerous vitamins and minerals.

Sugar

Plain, low-fat Greek yogurt and cottage cheese deliver roughly the same amount of sugar: nine grams per one-cup serving. This sugar mainly comes from naturally occurring lactose and doesn’t pose the same health risk as the added sugar found in most flavored options like vanilla Greek yogurt or fruit-on-the-bottom cottage cheese.

For instance, a ¾ cup serving of Chobani Vanilla Nonfat Greek Yogurt packs 11 grams of added sugar. The AHA suggests that adult men limit their intake of added sugar to no more than 36 grams (9 teaspoons) a day (9). Your best bet to keep added sugars at a minimum is to stick with plain versions and add fresh fruit for sweetness.

Sodium

Cottage cheese tends to have significantly more sodium than Greek yogurt. One cup of cottage cheese can pack upwards of 700mg, while a cup of Greek yogurt has just 83mg. The USDA recommends limiting sodium to 2,300mg per day (10). A sodium-heavy diet has been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease (11). 

Interestingly, one study suggests that cottage cheese is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (12). But more research is needed. To keep sodium in check, scan cottage cheese labels for lower sodium options.

Calcium (and other micronutrients)

Like most dairy products, both cottage cheese and Greek yogurt are considered good sources of calcium—a mineral most people need more of (13). However, Greek yogurt does have a slight edge. One cup of Greek yogurt contains 282 mg of calcium, while a cup of cottage cheese has 227 mg. 

Greek yogurt also comes out slightly ahead in other important vitamins and minerals, including phosphorus, potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin B12—which plays an important role in energy production. Cottage cheese has a slight advantage on selenium, a nutrient that helps make DNA, and protects against cell damage (14). 

Still, these differences are small, and both cottage cheese and Greek yogurt can make important micronutrient contributions to your daily diet.

Probiotics

Since Greek yogurt is fermented, it’s more likely to contain probiotics—the beneficial bacteria that support immune and digestive function. Some cottage cheese is fortified with live and active cultures to provide the same gut-boosting benefits as yogurt, but this is a rarity not a rule. 

That said, not all Greek yogurts at the supermarket are probiotic superstars. Some yogurt is heat treated, which ends up killing off the live bacteria. To determine if a Greek yogurt or cottage cheese has probiotics, look for labels that list colony-forming units (CFUs) or the live bacteria per gram. If the label says “Live and Active Cultures” it means the product contains a minimum of 1,000,000 CFUs of probiotics (15).

Nutrition Winner: Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt wins by a slight margin. It tends to consistently contain more probiotics and calcium, and less sodium than cottage cheese. Still, both Greek yogurt and cottage cheese are healthy high-protein snacks and are good sources of several important micronutrients.

MORE DAIRY

The Healthiest Greek Yogurt

Want to load up on the good stuff? There are a dizzying array of Greek yogurts to choose from. We’ve rounded up the best options below that have no added sugar, short ingredient lists, and avoid artificial ingredients, stabilizers, and thickening agents that add calories and have little nutritional value.

Chobani Lowfat Greek Yogurt, Plain

3/4 cup serving: 120 calories, 15g protein, 3g fat (2g sat), 7g carb (0g added sugar), 60mg sodium

This thick, tart, creamy Greek yogurt is the perfect base for just about anything: Smoothies, pancakes, a sub for sour cream—you name it. We love that it contains just one ingredient: Cultured low fat milk. Each serving also delivers six different probiotics: S. Thermophilus, L. Bulgaricus, L. Acidophilus, Bifidus, L. Casei, and L. Rhamnosus. Plus, you’ll find this brand anywhere yogurt is sold.

Stonyfield Organic Whole Milk Probiotic Yogurt Plain

3/4 cup serving: 150 calories, 16g protein, 6g fat (3.5g sat), 7g carb (0g added sugar), 65mg sodium

When you want to go with full-fat, Stonyfield is one of the better picks. It’s packed with probiotics, USDA certified organic, and made with milk from pasture-raised cows. It’s not quite as thick as the others on this list, and is on the tart side—which could be a good or bad thing depending on how you prefer your yogurt.

Fage Total 2%

3/4 cup serving: 120 calories, 17g protein, 3.5g fat (2.5g sat), 5g carb (0g added sugar), 55mg sodium

Fage is a favorite for protein seekers, with 17 grams of protein per ¾ cup serving. Its thick, creamy texture and tangy, neutral taste makes it good for just about anything—from tuna salad to yogurt bowls loaded up with berries. Plus, the ingredients list is as simple as it gets: Milk and live cultures.

The Healthiest Cottage Cheese

If you’re open to giving cottage cheese a chance, scan the dairy aisle for short ingredients lists (milk, cream, salt, and probiotics), lower sodium (less than 400 mg for a half-cup serving), and no added sugar. Here are our top picks for taste, texture, and nutrition.

Breakstone’s 2% Low Sodium Small Curd

1/2 cup serving: 100 calories, 13g protein, 2.5g fat (1.5g sat), 7g carb (0g added sugar), 200mg sodium

Low-sodium cottage cheese can be a little sad, to say the least. But this low-sodium pick from Breakstone’s is creamy, rich, and tasty. The small, soft curds make it the perfect addition to scrambled eggs, layered on toast, or gussied up with fresh fruit or veggies. You’ll find this budget-friendly cottage cheese at most grocery stores like Walmart and Kroger.

Good Culture Organic Low-Fat Cottage Cheese

1/2 cup serving: 80 calories, 14g protein, 2.5g fat (1.5g sat), 3g carb (0g added sugar), 340mg sodium

Don’t knock cottage cheese until you’ve tried Good Culture. This pick wins in the flavor and texture department by a landslide. You simply can’t go wrong with the small and medium curds that are reminiscent of fall-apart burrata—just with more nooks and crannies. This cottage cheese is also one of the few on the market that contains live and active cultures, making it just as gut-friendly as yogurt.

Daisy Low-Fat 2% Cottage Cheese

1/2 cup serving: 90 calories, 13g protein, 2.5g fat (1.5g sat), 5g carb (0g added sugar), 350mg sodium

Daisy has been a mainstay in the dairy aisle for decades for a reason. You won’t find a cleaner cottage cheese nutrition label for the price. This wholesome product is made with just cultured milk, cream, and salt. That means it’s free of thickeners or stabilizers that you find in most big-brand cottage cheese. It’s also consistently creamy and delicious.

References
  1. U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2019) Yogurt, Greek, Low Fat Milk, Plain.
  2. U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2019) Cheese, Cottage, Lowfat, 2% Milkfat.
  3. 3Schoenfeld, B. et al. (2018) How Much Protein Can the Body Use in a Single Meal for Muscle-Building? Implications for Daily Protein Distribution.
  4. Snijers, T. et al. (2019) The Impact of Pre-Sleep Protein Ingestion on the Skeletal Muscle Adaptive Response to Exercise in Humans: An Update.
  5. American Heart Association. (2021) Saturated Fat.
  6. Mente, A. et al. (2023) Diet, Cardiovascular Disease, and Mortality in 80 Countries.
  7. Alexander, D. et al. (2016) Dairy Consumption and CVD: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.
  8. Bhavadharini, B. et al. (2019) Association of Dairy Consumption with Metabolic Syndrome, Hypertension, and Diabetes in 147,812 Individuals From 21 Countries.
  9. American Heart Association. (2021) How Much Sugar Is Too Much?
  10. U.S. Department of Agriculture (2020) Dietary Guidelines For Americans 2020-2025.
  11. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023) Sodium Intake and Health.
  12. Pozzobon, V. et al. (2019) Cottage Cheese in Diet
  13. National Institutes of Health. (2024) Calcium.
  14. National Institutes of Health. (2021) Selenium.
  15. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. (2019) Yogurt.