With all the baking going on these days, you may have thought about a tasty cheesecake. If that is the case you know that cream cheese is an essential ingredient.
Now, you may have also been baking bread, including bagels, and what better topping than cream cheese? And some of the best dips are made with this deliciously creamy cheese along with herbs or citrus.
As you can see, it is a very important ingredient to keep in your fridge. However, if you don’t have any cream cheese or can’t find any at the time, there are some substitutes you can pick that will still render similar results and taste. If the case is about allergies or lactose intolerance, then some of these choices will be suitable as well.
What Exactly Is Cream Cheese?
This mild and soft cheese is made from cream and milk, which renders it very versatile, and that is why it can be used in dips, spreads, baked goods, and more.
The flavor is tangy and rich, so it can be used in savory and sweet dishes alike. While it is high in fat, there are low-fat versions, but the fat is part of what gives this cheese its properties.
What Can I Replace Cream Cheese With?
If you are ready to get baking or cooking, these are the best cream cheese substitutes you can use:
#1. Neufchâtel Cheese
This soft white cheese is originally from France, and it is made from cow’s milk as well. When aged longer, this cheese becomes more pungent, but when it is fresh, the texture and flavor are very similar to cream cheese. Neufchâtel is used in salad, spread, or desserts, particularly in sweet and savory ones.
You can find Neufchâtel cheese in the deli section of the grocery store, but you can also try specialty stores or liquor stores. You can pretty much replace cream cheese for equal parts of Neufchâtel.
This triple cream cheese is also very soft and high in protein, but it is a bit different from regular cream cheese in that the flavor is saltier and the texture is richer.
Originally from Italy, this cheese has been used for centuries because it is easy to make and very tasty. Mascarpone is used in many desserts, including tiramisu, and also in pasta dishes, and salads.
Mascarpone is found in almost all grocery stores, usually by the dairy section, but if you can’t find it there, you can try a delicatessen or specialty store. Because this cheese is richer, you can add about ⅔ of a cup for every cup of cream cheese that your recipe calls for.
#3. Coconut Cream Cheese
This is a vegan choice, so it is suitable as well for those who are lactose allergic or intolerant. Coconut cream cheese is made using coconut milk, coconut butter, and nutritional yeast.
The great deal about this is, it is nut-free too. The flavor is sweeter than regular cream cheese, but the texture is very similar – creamy and smooth.
This type of cream cheese can be used in vegan and dairy-free desserts and ice creams, but it has now become popular as a replacement for cream cheese, so you can probably find it by the milk alternatives at your local grocery store.
#4. Greek Yogurt
If you go with this option, we recommend you pick the unflavored or natural options, as the sweetened ones can be too much for your recipe. Greek yogurt is low in fat and very high in protein, which is why many use it as an alternative in breakfast foods, dips, and creamy sauces.
Drain the yogurt if you are planning to use it as a spread, and consider adding salt and acid too.
Greek yogurt can be found in every store, but if you want a particular kind, such as lower-fat or unflavored, you may want to try your grocery store or organic supermarket. You can replace cream cheese with equal parts of Greek yogurt, though you may see that you need less since it is denser.
#5. Cottage Cheese
This may be the healthiest cheese on this list, as it is high in protein and very low in fat. This cheese is also high in vitamins and minerals, which is why many consider it a superfood and consume it daily. Though usually reserved as a breakfast meal, you can sometimes see cottage cheese as an addition in salads or bowls.
You can find this cheese by the dairy or yogurt section in your grocery store, but sometimes it is easier to get it at organic supermarkets, which carry more variety. You can substitute cream cheese for the same amount of cottage cheese, but you may find it to be a bit too soft and liquid for certain dishes.
If you want to try other vegan options, you can use almond or soy cream cheese, though the flavor is a bit different.
Some people also use tofu, especially if they find a cream cheese one, and that is because tofu is more moldable and doesn’t have a sweet flavor. If you want other cheeses, you can try ricotta or Petite-Suisse cheese.
If you’re making dessert recipes, you can sometimes use sour cream in the place of cream cheese in some recipes.
In some cases, you can, but keep in mind that sour cream is lighter, more liquid, and sourer. There are cases, like when making cheesecake, that this option doesn’t work, but if you’re making a dip or sauce you can try adding more sour cream and a thickener. It’s easier to replace sour cream with cream cheese, as all you need is to beat the cheese and add acid.
We suggest that you use an alternative cream cheese, like coconut or almond, since the texture needs to be similar. If you don’t have this choice, then you can try using cottage cheese with butter, or ricotta cheese, and as a last option, try plain Greek yogurt.
Although a bit challenging, it’s possible to replace cream cheese with milk. Make sure to choose one with almost the same consistency as cream cheese as it might alter the texture of your recipe. Heavy cream, for example, has almost the same texture with cream cheese so it may be a good choice depending on the recipe you are working on.
Picking a substitution for cream cheese depends on what you need it for and the flavor you want. You can try any of these choices, but make sure that you adjust the amounts and the liquid.
There is no need for you to stop your baking or cooking plans. All you need to do is choose one of these tasty alternatives.
*Photo by rafer76/depositphotos