10 Ways To Substitute Quark in Your Recipes
Quark is a soft, pure white dairy product that isn’t always defined as cheese but is used in various cheese-like applications.
Freshly made Quark is most similar to a very thick Greek yogurt in its consistency and texture, but can also be spreadable like mascarpone or cream cheese, but can be firmer and resemble Cotija or Queso Fresco.
Like these cheeses, Quark is pure white in color and unaged, meaning once Quark is made it is ready to eat. However, Quark is unique in two ways. First: Quark is made from uncooked, chilled milk (whole or skim.)
Most cheeses are made by heating or scalding milk (as is the case with Ricotta or Queso Fresco) and then adding some sort of coagulation or curdling agent such as lemon juice or vinegar, and then the curds are separated from the whey. Then the cheese is either strained or strained and pressed, salted, and then aged or enhanced with flavorings or rennet.
Quark, on the other hand, is made from milk that is soured with lactic acid bacteria. It is not heated and typically, Quark does not contain any salt. Quark is also not often pressed but instead is strained through cheesecloth.
The duration of straining affects the final outcome of this soft, white, mild-flavored cheese, and can result in a cheese that is anywhere between 0.2% to 10% fat. If it is strained through cheesecloth for just a few minutes or an hour, the result will be a thin, liquid cheese that is used primarily to replace ricotta or yogurt.
Quark is not salted, it is ideal for desserts
If it is stained a little longer, it becomes thicker and spreadable, and it can also be strained overnight in the fridge, often suspended to hang over a large bowl to catch the whey, and it will then become sliceable, as with Queso Fresco. Because Quark is not salted, it is ideal for desserts! Also, because it contains no rennet, vegetarians are often very fond of this product!
Occasionally called farmers cheese, or sometimes Quarg, this cheese may be tricky to find outside of Europe… but don’t panic! There are plenty of cheeses on the market that makes great replacements for Quark. Here are a few that are affordable, easy to find, and equally delicious!
Ricotta is made in a similar way to Quark in that the curds of whole milk are separated from the whey and then strained, but Ricotta is always made from cooked milk and typically does not contain lactic acid but rather citrus or vinegar.
Ricotta’s final texture is also slightly different as it will be lumpier rather than completely smooth. Keep this in mind if you decide to use Ricotta as a direct replacement for Quark, that the texture may impact your recipe depending on what it is.
Also keep in mind that although Ricotta doesn’t contain a lot of salt, it certainly does contain some, so if using Quark in a sweet recipe, you will want to consider this.
2. Cream Cheese or Vegan Cream Cheese
Cream cheese is very similar to a medium-thick Quark in the sense that it is spreadable, mild in flavor, and pure white.
Cream cheese is used as sandwich spreads and for fillings, but its primary use is for baked cheesecakes which are very popular in Europe and the west.
The super creamy texture and mouth-feel of cream cheese will make for excellent cheesecakes like Quark and the only main difference is the slightly tangy flavor of cream cheese, and also the richness of this cheese because cream cheese is made from milk and cream.
Its fat content can be double or even triple that of Quark, so be sure to consider this if using cream cheese as a replacement for Quark! Vegan cream cheese is becoming increasingly easier to find as more folks adopt a plant-based diet or have dairy allergies, so if you’re looking to make your Quark recipes more vegan-friendly, try a store-bought vegan cream cheese (often soy-based.)
This silky smooth, spreadable, soft cheese is probably the closest cheese to Quark in terms of flavor, texture, and consistency. Like Quark, mascarpone often comes unsalted, as it is often served as a dessert.
Mascarpone is made from pure heavy cream and is considered much richer than Quark, so depending on the application, it might be the best substitute you will find!
It is made using a very interesting process called denaturation, which is similar to Quark in that the cream is raw before it is curdled, but other than that, mascarpone and Quark are very closely made!
4. Sour Cream
Sour cream is a cultured dairy product that is not technically a cheese and won’t be right for all your Quark recipes, but if you are using Quark in its soft form, sour cream is actually an excellent alternative because it is pure white, super creamy and contains little to no salt.
Sour cream however might be tangier than you are looking for, so keep this in mind when using it as a direct replacement for Quark.
5. Cottage Cheese
Similar to Ricotta, cottage cheese makes a good alternative to Quark but has a different texture entirely, so keep this in mind depending on what recipe you are creating. Cottage cheese has larger curds that can be anywhere from mealy to gritty to chewy, so if you’re looking for a smooth texture, this may not be the best alternative.
Cottage cheese is however super nutritious and goes great with a lot of the same foods Quark pairs well with including fresh or dried fruit, cereals, muesli, and honey.
6. Yogurt, especially plain Greek yogurt
Dairy lovers rejoice! Yogurt is an excellent alternative for all things Quark in the same ways that cottage cheese is. Yogurt is often bland and not too tangy and shares the same consistency as a soft, fresh Quark.
Yogurt also goes great with breakfast foods and is highly nutritious! Some yogurts might be too thin to replace Quark, so find a good quality greek yogurt with high-fat content.
7. Créme Fraiche
Similar to sour cream or yogurt, this will be a good substitute for Quark because of its color, smooth texture, and thickness, but it will be substantially more tangy than Quark so if you’re looking for something more neutral in flavor, it might not be the best fit.
Créme Fraiche is made in the same way as sour cream but is made from pure cream that is fermented for a short amount of time and often hung to strain through cheesecloth. It is basically a very thick buttercream, so if this is not a flavor you’re going for, try one of the other substitutes listed here instead.
8. Soft Tofu
By placing soft tofu in a blender and adding a very small amount of lemon juice, you are basically left with an awesome vegan Quark replacement!
You can use this interchangeably with Quark recipes, but keep in mind, it will have that certain flavor the soy products often have. Soft tofu will work as a replacement if you’re making baked dishes.
9. Labneh (or Lebnah)
This is a specialty dairy product popular in Lebanon and the Middle East and also easy to make at home. Basically, you take a full-fat plain yogurt and strain it overnight in cheesecloth, and the result will be very, very similar to Quark.
The only main difference is that yogurt is fermented as opposed to curdled which gives it a more tangy flavor and slightly different mouth-feel. You can definitely try making your own Labneh at home, or you can purchase it at specialty food markets.
10. Fromage Blanc
This French version of Quark is basically indistinguishable except in its fat content. Fromage Blanc is almost always made from skim milk, making it less creamy and thick than Quark and some of its alternatives, but Fromage Blanc is easy to source (in Europe) and affordable, making it an excellent substitute for Quark.
Quark is often made at home but is also sold in supermarkets, especially in Europe. In Germany, Quark is served all day in the form of Quark and muesli, Quark and fruit, sliced on sandwiches, served whipped, with bread, on salads and savory dishes, and probably its most popular usage is in the form of a baked cheesecake.
Quark is also used as a filling in various pastries, and the thicker versions can come battered and fried in the form of a savory or sweet doughnut. Quark is very popular in Germany, the Baltics, Czechia and Slovakia and we think once you give it a try, you will love it too!