10 Best Cream Cheese Substitutes
Have you run out of cream cheese? Don’t have a clue what to use as a cream cheese substitute without ruining the flavor or texture? You’d be surprised to know that there are multiple substitutes that you can use, and I have 10 solutions that will make your recipes just as good and flavorful.
To find the best cream cheese, you need to keep in mind a few crucial factors and the intent behind your substitute of choice.
It may sound a bit confusing, but I will clear everything up for you, and at the end of the article, you’ll have an idea of what to use and for what purpose.
1. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is full-on fresh cheese — it’s not processed for aging. This cheese is made from yogurt, and it’s less fattening than classic cream cheese.
To use cottage cheese as a cream cheese replacement for desserts and frostings, you will need to add an equal amount of heavy cream. To make delicious dips and gravies, you can blend strained cottage cheese and puree it.
Overall, cottage cheese is great on its own or as a cream cheese substitute. It is 70% protein and has 11% of the daily recommended dose of calcium. Plus, it’s a healthier choice for those who have diabetes.
If you had to pick one, probably the best substitute for cream cheese is mascarpone. This soft cheese is richer and creamier, but it can be used in a lot of the same things as cream cheese—though not the other way around. You don’t want to substitute mascarpone for cream cheese if you are making tiramisu, for example.
But if you need something to slather on toast or a bagel, it’s an upgrade. If you miss the tangy flavor of cream cheese when swapping out mascarpone, you can cut in a little bit of lemon juice or plain yogurt, or both, until the taste is closer to cream cheese.
3. Cashew/Almond Cream Cheese
Cashews are a great cream cheese substitute, and you cannot tell the difference. It is my go-to for making dairy-free, paleo desserts like Cheesecake, Fruit Pizza, tells us Lisa Jendza, chef behind FreedomKitchen. Creamed cashews can be added to soups and sauces easily, as well.
Another good alternative for cream cheese, depending on what you are making, would be Kite Hill’s dairy-free cream cheese.
It is made mostly from almond milk and a thickener to get the creamy spread and flavor without the dairy.
I would highly recommend this if you are baking, spreading on a bagel, or cooking something like a Jalapeño popper. If you are just looking for a creamy alternative that is healthier, something like Greek Yogurt should do the trick or even just a little creme fraiche.
4. Hung Curd
One of the best reasons for using hung curd as an alternative to cream cheese is the fact that it has a lower fat content. Which is always a good thing, right?
If you’re looking for a healthier option for cream cheese, hung curd is your best bet. It’s also a versatile product. You can use it to make delicious dips, for baking goods, and for cake frostings, but you will need to a bit of honey or maple syrup to make it sweeter.
5. Tofu (Soft Bean Curd)
Tofu or soft bean curd is a well-rounded substitute for cream cheese, especially if you’re looking for a vegan/vegetarian option. Tofu has a firmer texture, which means you will not be able to use it as it comes if you are substituting for cream cheese.
To use tofu as a cream cheese replacement, you will need to make a few adjustments, or you could purchase readily available options online. Here’s one great option from Tofutti.
6. Ricotta Cheese
Ricotta Cheese originates from Italy, and it’s best used when fresh. It has a milder taste than most cheeses and a milky aftertaste.
Ricotta cheese has a crumbly texture, so if you wish to use it as a cream cheese substitute, you will need to mix an equal amount of full-fat yogurt to obtain the right texture, says Rachel MacPherson, a certified nutrition who runs her own website at radicalstrength.ca.
Also, if you wish to make a cheesecake or cake frosting, you will need to mix the ricotta cheese with equal amounts of heavy cream for a better taste and texture.
Gervais is a French cheese that’s soft with a spreadable texture making it one of the best cream cheese substitutes. It also has a rich, tangy, sweet flavor. In short, it’s one of the best alternatives to cream cheese.
The only thing that might be a bit problematic is finding it at a local store. Just add an equal amount of Gervais and cream cheese, and you’ll have the perfect alternative.
8. Sour Cream
Sour cream is an extremely popular and versatile product. It’s made from coagulating cream, which means that it’s an excellent substitute for cream cheese, especially for dips or other recipes.
However, due to it being a bit acidic, it’s not the best choice for frostings. To use it as a substitute, simply make a mix of an equal amount of sour cream and cheese cream for a richer, creamier texture.
Kefir is basically a drink that’s made from fermented milk, and it’s originally from Turkey.
Kefir is a bit more watery than cream cheese, which means that it can’t hold as a cream cheese substitute on its own.
So, to use kefir as cream cheese, you will need chia seeds. Once you mix chia seeds with kefir, the extra water will fill them up, and you’ll get a richer, creamier consistency. This is best used for dips and savories rather than desserts or frosting.
10. Vegan/Vegetarian Cream Cheese
Vegan and vegetarian cream cheese is just as tasty, rich, and filling as classic cream cheese. On the plus side, it’s less fatty and doesn’t have any cholesterol, which is great if you’re following a specific health regime.
The following are some of the best dairy-based replacements for cream cheese:
- Soaked and blended cashews: soak cashews with some lemon juice overnight, stir in a little salt, and blend. Some people like to add a bit of nutritional yeast, which has a natural cheesy flavor.
- Silken tofu can stand in for cream cheese in some recipes.
- Quark is a high protein, beautiful stand-in for cream cheese.