Basket cheese is a type of creamy and soft Italian cheese. It got its name because it is usually made in a wicker-textured basket. After being molded in a basket, the cheese is sold in circular shapes that weigh 12-18 ounces. Since it has to be individually hand created, basket cheese is hard to mass produce.
It stays good for as long as six months when refrigerated. Basket cheese pairs well with classic appetizers like pita bread, basil, and crackers, and is a staple for many dishes. Some people even like to eat basket cheese plainly because of its pungent, slightly salty taste.
There are plenty of alternatives for basket cheese that will still enhance the flavor of your recipe. Basically any semi-soft, mild cheese can be substituted for basket cheese. Some of the best options would include: mozzarella, Swiss cheese, Ricotta Salata, Greek Feta, goat cheese, cream cheese, and brick cheese.
Mozzarella is a great all-rounder substitute for basket cheese, meaning it can work well with any recipe. It is an Italian cheese made from cow or buffalo milk. It’s often sold in the form of pear-shaped balls and is white in color. The texture of mozzarella cheese is somewhat stretchy and elastic. So when pulled apart, it takes on a stringy appearance.
The flavor of mozzarella is milky and saltier than cream cheese or cottage cheese. It makes for a good basket cheese replacement in any recipe that calls for it. Most commonly, it’s used in pastas, pizzas, and other various Italian meals. It can also be melted and used as a topping, and makes for a great addition to salads, dips, and sauces as well.
2. Swiss Cheese
Swiss cheese is an aged cheese that is normally a pale yellow color. It has small holes throughout and its flavor is described as slightly earthy and nutty. Swiss cheese has a texture that is slightly grainy. It can be a basket cheese substitute for many recipes, particularly souffles and omelets.
It’s also known to pair well with wines, and for being made into fondue. Swiss cheese is readily available at most grocery stores. When buying Swiss cheese, find a wheel that is evenly colored and that feels somewhat firm to the touch. Avoid Swiss cheese that is very soft or cracked. Once you buy Swiss cheese, it can stay good in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
3. Ricotta Salata
The word “Ricotta” translates to recooked and “salata” means salted. Ricotta Salata is usually made from the whey of sheep milk. It’s salted, then aged for at least 90 days. It has a salty flavor and a somewhat firm texture, and is a milky white color.
Its salty flavor mimics that of basket cheese, so it can be an excellent replacement for both sweet and savory dishes. Ricotta Salata is most commonly used in salads and is great for crumbling, slicing, and grating.
4. Greek Feta
Greek feta is made from either sheep, cow or goat milk. It is a very popular white cheese that’s crumbly in texture and its flavor is slightly tangy and salty. Feta easily replaces basket cheese in recipes, and can also be eaten plainly. When eaten uncooked, it is best paired with fruits, vegetables, salads, and condiments.
Feta is one of the rare cheeses that may have more of an acquired taste, like blue cheese. Its flavor changes slightly depending on what milk it’s made from and tends to have a hint of lemon, but it’s not overpowering to the rest of the cheese.
5. Goat Cheese
Goat cheese, also called chevre, is creamy and soft, with a tang similar to sour cream, but it’s not as thick. It’s made from goat milk and is ideal for recipes because it melts easily when heated. When using in place of basket cheese, use the same amount of goat cheese that you would for the initial recipe.
Goat cheese has a white rind on the outside that is edible. The rind can also be scraped off if it’s not desirable to you. It can also be molded without the rind, but still in a block. Goat cheese is usually more nutritionally dense than cheese made from cow milk.
6. Cream Cheese
Cream cheese is a very versatile cheese, and one of the oldest around. It can be replaced in any recipe that calls for basket cheese. Cream cheese is best known for spreads, dips, coating on chicken and fish, or for filling crepes and pastries.
It is very soft in texture and mild-tasting with a high fat content. It contains less moisture than basket cheese and other cheeses, so it doesn’t spoil as easily. Cream cheese can be a perfect creamy twist to your basket cheese recipe.
7. Brick Cheese
Brick cheese is made from cow milk and is semi-hard. Its texture is also slightly grainy and it has a strong, sharp flavor. It’s great for shaving over food and also makes a nice substitute for basket cheese in recipes. Brick cheese can be eaten fresh or aged over the course of several months, developing a more pungent flavor and harder texture. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Brick cheese is a uniquely crafted and aged cheese. Many recipes call for it, especially in Italian cuisine. If you don’t have any brick cheese and can’t find any, you aren’t without options. There are plenty of brick cheese substitutes that can mimic brick cheese almost to a tee, or give your recipe a new taste.