Best 7 Mascarpone Cheese Substitutes
Mamma mia, you are out of mascarpone but you want to make a tiramisu! Now what?
So the unimaginable has happened! You get the urge for a famous tiramisu and you are out of mascarpone cheese. Do you deprive yourself and your guests and prepare something else? Or do you play it smart and check your fridge for a mascarpone substitute? If you opt for the latter, we’ve got you covered.
We have some great suggestions for replacing the creamy Italian cheese and some tips and tricks on how to prepare your own mascarpone at home. In bocca al lupo!
Before spreading the cheese, let’s spread the word: all you need to know about mascarpone cheese
Mascarpone is an Italian cheese that provides a silky, sweet and creamy touch to sweet and savory dishes. It is mostly known in the US for using in tiramisu. But it also works great in cake ganaches and it can make your shrimp or shrooms risotto even creamier.
It can add a soft, sweet and yet light touch to your fruit salad. It’s quite versatile though we often only connect it with tiramisu.
This Italian cheese is a double or triple cream cheese. Originating in the region of Lombardia (Lombardy) in northern Italy, mascarpone is made from cow’s milk, giving it a high percentage of saturated fat. It’s this that makes your dishes rich, super silky, and smooth.
Mascarpone is produced by curdling acetic acid rather than using rennet (the enzyme extracted from the stomach of herbivores). The ingredients are subjected to high temperatures and the result is that creamy consistency we all loooove about mascarpone.
This spreadable cheese has a mild, sweet, rich, and quite buttery, nutty flavor. Due to its fat content (up to 75%!), this cheese melts in your mouth, which is probably the hardest thing to replace when it comes to alternatives.
If you’re looking for a proper mascarpone cheese replacement, the goal is to obtain the same smooth, airy, onctuous, and rich texture! So there’s no time to run to the store, or the market near you just didn’t have any, but you really, really want to prepare your favorite mascarpone recipe – there are ways around it.
You can even prepare your own mascarpone at home. And, yes, you can also go for a DIY vegan recipe. Discover your go-to choices below for mascarpone cheese substitutes!
The best mascarpone cheese substitutes
Before diving into the creamy richness of this topic, did you know that mascarpone cheese contains double the amount of fat toAmerican cream cheese? Also, you’ll be eating about 400 calories per 100 grams of cheese when choosing mascarpone! A simple spread of mascarpone on a bagel, a dollop of it in your cream-soup, some of it slathered on your fruit and you’ll be getting a chunky portion of cholesterol. And not the good kind!
So, maybe this is a great reason to be on the lookout for a substitute, right? Let’s not forget the velvety-creamy Italian cheese is quite expensive and hard to find. And while its rich, fatty, buttery taste and creamy, uber-soft texture can be hard to replace, it’s not impossible! So here’s what can you replace mascarpone cheese with:
1. Cream Cheese
Even if you use it in the famous tiramisu, no one will notice you ran out of mascarpone and turned to the old cream cheese. There’s one catch, though! You do have to mix in a touch of butter and some whipped cream.
The result will be as milky, sweet, and tangy as mascarpone. But while cream cheese is about 33% milk fat, mascarpone is up to 75%!
2. Crème Fraîche
Crème fraîche is the French version of mascarpone. However, there are a couple of differences. Crème fraîche is not as thick and fatty so its texture isn’t quite as rich and onctuous as mascarpone. Also it is not as sweet, is quite acidic, and has a tang to it.
But when used in cooked savory dishes such as dense soups, stews, pizzas, sauces and cheesecakes no one will ever know! And it’s half the calories and half the cholesterol! Quite the bargain!
3. Ricotta Cheese, Especially Whipped
They are both Italian cheeses and they are both spreadable, smooth, and milky-sweet. However, ricotta is way more moist and cheesy, having a grainy texture and a nice bite to it. The processes for making these two cheeses differ, after all, and ricotta forms curds when coagulated and strained, being soft, sweet and milky, while mascarpone is rich, decadent, onctuous, and not so watery.
Ricotta is made from leftover whey of mozzarella and provolone cheese and is “cooked” until curds form. Ricotta contains less fat than mascarpone and isn’t quite as buttery and velvety. So there’s a trick to making it a good mascarpone replacement.
Mix the ricotta with whipped cream and cream cheese and it will fool anyone into thinking it’s actually its fattier Italian brother.
4. Cottage Cheese
If you want a mascarpone-based recipe but want to cut back on cholesterol and calories, this is the perfect choice for you. Cottage cheese also contains more protein than its Italian cousin, being more filling and actually helpful in losing a couple of pounds.
The thing about cottage cheese is its texture: it’s really different from mascarpone as it has curds. But you can make smooth in a food processor.
5. Sour Cream
Sour cream has a similar texture to mascarpone but it’s not as creamy. It also packs a tangy punch and is less fatty. It’s best to use it as a replacement in savory dishes rather than sweets and desserts. You can use it for cake frosting but it is a perfect combo for soups, dressings, dips, sauces.
6. Full Fat Greek Yogurt
While mascarpone is harder to find and quite expensive, you can find Greek yogurt anywhere and it costs less. You should know that Greek yogurt is not so creamy and it has a tangier flavor. But it’s the perfect choice alongside fruit recipes that include mascarpone (grilled peaches, yogurt, honey and mint, anyone?).
Make sure not to cook yoghurt at high temperatures as it can curdle and create a not so pleasing look and texture.
7. English Clotted Cream
English clotted cream has a milky, sweet, buttery taste to it, is rather rich and smooth, due to its high fat content, and can be the perfect solution if you don’t have the Italian cheese around the house.
Clotted cream is made by heating unpasteurized cow’s milk in a shallow pan for several hours. The cream simply rises to the surface, thickening and clotting. It’s the perfect choice for replacing mascarpone as it has about 55% milk fat and a buttery texture and flavor.
What to use when you don’t have mascarpone cheese: prepare your own!
While there are a couple of mascarpone cheese substitutes you can try, there is one combo that will never fail.
DIY Mascarpone cheese recipe
- Cream Cheese
- Whipped Cream
And here’s how to make mascarpone cheese: allow your cream cheese to warm to room temperature and then soften it with a fork. Add it to a food processor and add whipped cream (about ¼ cup per 8 oz. of cream cheese).
Mix well to blend the ingredients and obtain a smooth paste. Add some butter to it (make sure to leave the butter to soften at room temperature too) and keep on blending until the mixture is as rich and creamy as mascarpone. Extra tip: add a touch of lemon juice to give it a delicate tang.
2. Vegan Mascarpone Cheese
While mascarpone cheese is an animal-friendly ingredient (it’s made from whole cream, citric acid or tartaric acid with no animal rennet involved) you can prepare a type of vegan mascarpone using only vegetarian ingredients. Coconut milk and cashew butter mixed together can resemble mascarpone.
Coconut cream and a touch of lemon juice can be a perfect substitute as well. But for the best vegan recipe for mascarpone cheese, you need the following ingredients:
- 1 cup of raw cashews
- ¼ blanched slivered almonds (make sure to soak them overnight)
- 3 teaspoons of lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons of white vinegar
- ½ cup of plain dairy-free yogurt
- ¼ teaspoon of sea salt
- 2 teaspoons of sugar or honey if you’re preparing a sweet recipe
All you have to do is blend all the above ingredients in a food processor and use the resulting smooth mixture in your favorite recipe.
Whether you’re preparing your own mascarpone at home, be it vegan or not, or you go for one of the mascarpone cheese substitutes presented above, make sure to cook with love and bring your family and friends together! Salud!