Neufchatel vs Cream Cheese: What’s the Difference?

Last Updated on January 17, 2024 by Aaron

If you’re a cheese lover, you may have noticed that Neufchatel and cream cheese are often used interchangeably in recipes. But what’s the difference between these two type of cheeses?

As a cheese enthusiast, I’m here to tell you that there are some key differences between Neufchatel and cream cheese that you should about. From texture to taste, I’ll explain the distinctions between these two popular cheeses so you can make the best decision for your next recipe.

What Makes Neufchatel Different from Cream Cheese? 

Neufchatel cheese is an old type of cheese that is often mistaken for cream cheese. It is a soft, mold-ripened (similar to brie and camembert) white cheese that originated in the French town of Neufchatel-en-Bray, which often made and sold in heart shape. It has a rich, slightly yeasty flavor and a creamy texture.

However, there is also an American version of Neufchatel cheese that is similar in texture and flavor to the cream cheese. It’s made by adding cream to the regular recipe of Neufchatel cheese.

In the United States, Neufchatel cheese is often used as a lower-fat substitute for cream cheese in recipes such as cheesecake and frosting. It can be used in many of the same ways as cream cheese, such as in dips, spreads, and cheesecakes. It can also be used as a substitute for butter or margarine in baking recipes.

The main difference between Neufchatel and cream cheese is the fat content. Neufchatel contains about one-third less fat than cream cheese, making it a healthier alternative.

It also has a slightly softer texture and higher moisture than cream cheese thus easier to spread on bread or crackers. Additionally, Neufchatel is also lower in calories than cream cheese, making it a great choice for those watching their weight.

Texture and Flavor

Neufchatel cheese is a French cheese that has been around since the 6th century. It is made from cow’s milk and has a tangy, slightly funky flavor. The texture of Neufchatel is slightly firmer than cream cheese, but still soft and spreadable. It has a slightly grainy texture and a slightly sweet taste. 

Cream cheese, on the other hand, is an American invention that was created in the late 19th century. It is made from cow’s milk and has a rich, creamy flavor. The texture of cream cheese is much softer than Neufchatel, almost like a thick mousse. It has a smooth, velvety texture and a slightly tangy taste. 

When it comes to baking or cooking with either cheese, Neufchatel is usually the better choice because it holds its shape better than cream cheese. Cream cheese can be used in recipes that require a softer texture, such as cheesecakes or frostings.

With that said, cream cheese is richer and thicker than Neufchatel. For recipes where you want a rich creamy texture or silky mouthfeel, such as cheesecake, it may be better to use cream cheese over Neufchatel.

And also for recipes that call for thicker consistency such as pies and tarts, cream cheese is recommended.

Nutrition & Calories

Nutritionally speaking, Philadelphia brand of Neufchatel contains ~30% fewer calories and fat than cream cheese of their own. That’s about 1.6 times more fat in cream cheese. It’s worth noting that Neufchatel does not contains more calcium or protein than cream cheese.

From the FoodData Central of USDA, it showed that Philadelphia Cream Cheese USDA and Philadelphia Neufchatel USDA :

  • Cream cheese has 30% higher calories
  • Cream cheese has 40% more fat and 33% higher saturated fat
  • Cream cheese has 34% more cholesterol
  • Neufchatel has a slightly higher sodium content
  • A similar amount of protein, calcium, and carbohydrate

 If you’re looking for a healthier alternative, Neufchatel cheese is a great substitute.

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