Everyone is in love with cheese! We sprinkle and let it melt everywhere to make the dish several times more flavorful. Did you know that you can make cheese at home, and that’s by using a material called cheesecloth?
Primarily, cheesecloths are used in squeezing out all the unnecessary moisture in making cheese. Other than that, some people also use it for separating liquid from a solid. It’s an essential item you can’t miss when cooking, especially if your recipe calls for a particular texture. No one wants a crumby soup or fruit drinks with leftover seeds!
If you love using cheesecloth in your cooking applications, you probably will find it hard to use other filtering tools. We’ll share with you what’s the best substitutes that work just like your favorite cheesecloth!
17 Best Substitute For Cheesecloth
Basically, anything made out of cotton fabric can work as an excellent alternative for the missing item. Like cheesecloth’s material, cotton is also woven loosely like gauze.
Many people even regard cheesecloth as a variant of cotton fabric due to its similarities.
As long as the cotton fabric that you are using is not tightly knitted, it will surely make the best option as a substitute for cheesecloth.
Cotton items such as scarves and handkerchiefs are some examples of the best choices you can find around the house.
Fine Mesh Bag
A fine mesh bag is a very versatile home item that you can use for chores, including cooking. If you are one of the people who find using cheesecloth a chore as you have to squeeze it, you would love a fine mesh bag as the solids will be filtered out by seeping through the bag.
Moreover, it is also different from cheesecloth as it doesn’t stain and it can maintain its quality.
Pantyhose or Stockings
Pantyhose resembles cheesecloth as both have fine textures that make the straining possible. Its knitted nylon quality will ensure that your dish will have the best texture, as it will leave no solids behind.
To use the stocking as an alternative, cut out the feet part. You can stretch it over the bowl you are using and proceed to strain. Other than that, many people use this substitute when making a spice herb pouch. It is an environmental-friendly option as a cherry on top, as you can wash and reuse the pantyhose for another cooking session.
Unbleached Coffee Filters
For a reason, coffee filters are called filtersâ€”they filter out coffee grounds. They can work the same with filtering other cooking ingredients. These filters are also ordinary among households who love drinking coffee or tea, so you wouldn’t break a sweat in trying to find these!
For coffee filters, you can either use disposable filters or reusable filters. If you have a coffeemaker at home, you can even use the filter that comes with it. Just make sure to clean it thoroughly so there would be no coffee aroma left!
Muslin fabric will work well as a cheesecloth substitute as it has a similar weave to cotton, the best replacement. The material allows the liquid to pass through, preventing the big particles you don’t want to pass by.
Like cheesecloth, its neutral color will make sure that no dye will stain the ingredient that you are straining.
What’s the sole reason why it’s placed farther down the list? Because you would find it harder to search for muslin fabric than cheesecloth itself. However, if you happen to have this at home, it excellently works as a stand-in!
Like pantyhose, socks are also a unique suggestion that actually works as a good option for an absent cheesecloth. However, it’s only recommendable if it is not yet used, or as your last hope, a clean washed sock.
Without thinking that you are using something for your feet on your food, socks are actually a great strainer that will filter out all the lumps away from your liquid.
After using, put it straight back into the wash or just throw it away.
If you have a first aid kit at home, look for sterile gauze and use it if you don’t have cheesecloth at the moment. Sterile gauzes are very thin, so you will need to stack up layers for them to work like the cheesecloth.
It also has a loose weave, unlike the cheesecloth, that is knitted tight enough for straining. What’s good is that it wouldn’t break apart, so you wouldn’t have random threads in your food.
For gauzes to work as a good alternative, use three to four layers of the gauze, depending on how much food you are straining.
A medical gauze is an option if you are looking for a cheap alternative for cheesecloth.
Flour sacks are typically made from cotton, making it another option to look for when you are currently missing cheesecloth.
Those who love buying from independent retailers will indeed have at least one of these from their homes. You need to thoroughly clean the sack before using it, as it might have some flour leftovers.
What makes flour sack a great alternative is the thread used is very similar to the ones used in cheesecloth. It will be the best option if you use cheesecloth for draining or straining.
Unlike the fine mesh bag, a mesh strainer has bigger holes, earning a lower spot in this list. It is not made from cloth which is why there are larger gaps.
Although it is a standard tool you can easily find, it’s not the most recommended item to use as a substitute as it can’t achieve a fine strain in one go. You would probably need to run your liquid through the filter more than once until every solid is sieved.
All in all, it would take a while to finish straining using a mesh strainer, but it works too.
Linen is an absorbent material as it is made from the fibers of the flax plant. Different types of linen are usually weaved thin, so it’s ideal for soft cheese applications.
Aside from cotton, handkerchiefs can also be made from linen and it’s relatively easy to locate.
As long as you’re using a not dyed cloth, linen can be used repeatedly and is the closest substitute for cheesecloth.
Thick Paper Towels
Paper towels have long been used in absorbing any excess liquid from food, such as oil, after deep frying. This same reason makes it effective in separating liquid from solid.
However, if you need to strain out the crumbs and leave the liquid behind, you will be losing a bit of it as it can get absorbed in the paper towel.
Another option that you can literally just pick up somewhere from your house is a pillowcase. It possesses a similar weaving pattern to cheesecloth. The only difference is that the missing item is tighter knitted than the pillowcases’ fabric.
If you pick this alternative, you need to use at least two layers of pillowcases to make it work like a cheesecloth. After that, you can proceed with squeezing it to remove the excess moisture from the food you are working on.
Don’t forget! The pillowcase must be clean and not just something you freshly took out from your pillow!
This alternative is pretty explanatory. The sheer material will allow the liquid to pass through, but bigger solids will be separated away from the liquids since it is fabric.
Nut Milk Bag
Nut milk bags are another eco-friendly alternative for cheesecloth. You can rewash and reuse it again and again.
Besides being an eco-friendly alternative, the original purpose of a nut milk bag is to drain liquid from nuts to produce nut milk. Its use is the same as a cheesecloth when making cheese.
However, nut milk bags are also difficult to find in the market, and you will probably have better luck in encountering a normal cheesecloth than a nut milk bag. Well, that’s unless you already have one at home!
Kitchen towels are usually weaved like a cheesecloth. The most significant disadvantage of a kitchen towel is that it is usually dyed as it is used for decorating the kitchen.
If you have a kitchen towel that doesn’t transfer dyes and is safe enough to use for food, you can go for it! Moreover, kitchen towels absorb more moisture than cheesecloth. Make sure to rinse it thoroughly before and after using it.
New Cloth Diaper
Like socks, you are probably confused to see a diaper on this list of alternatives for food processing. Cloth diapers are actually sturdy and can be your last resort if you’re missing the cheesecloth. Just make sure that you are using a new one, of course!
Take note that not all brands will work great as an alternative. Look for something that is made from cotton or cloth to make sure it works. Gerber cloth diapers are one of the best options in this case.
What makes cloth diaper a good substitute is their ability to filter out every crumb of solid from the liquid. We all know it holds a baby’s discharge well, so that alone vouches for its ability in straining cheese or yogurt.
Many people use their cheesecloths for tying their bouquet garnish. If that’s the case for you, Butcher’s twine (or any clean yarn) is an easy alternative string that can hold tiny branches of herbs and spices together.
Cheesecloth Substitute Related FAQs
I don’t have clean socks or towels on hand. What should I use?
Any cotton, linen, or muslin fabric will work as an alternative for cheesecloth, considering that you are using the cheesecloth for squeezing out extra moisture.
These three almost have the same texture and weave as the cheesecloth, making it effective as a stand-in for the said missing item.
How do I choose the best substitute among these options?
First of all, analyze your recipe. Do you need something that needs to filter even the littlest bits? Or is it okay to leave a few crumbs behind? After knowing what your recipe calls for, choose the most suitable option.
For example, the mesh strainers have bigger holes, so it’s unsuitable for recipes that give attention to the texture.