Best 10 Cream Cheese EASY Substitutes

Last Updated on April 30, 2023 by Aaron

Cream cheese, a staple in various dishes and desserts, is widely adored for its smooth, creamy texture, and slightly tangy flavor.

However, there are times when we need an alternative, whether it’s due to dietary restrictions, availability, or personal preference.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the best cream cheese substitutes, explore their differences, and provide practical tips for choosing and using these alternatives.

No.SubstitutesFeaturesPro Tips and Usage
1Neufchâtel CheeseLower fat content, slightly softer textureUse in cheesecakes, frostings, and dips; blend for a smoother consistency
2Ricotta CheeseLooser, grainier texture, lower in fat/caloriesBlend with milk/cream, use in lasagna, stuffed shells, dips, and spreads
3Greek YogurtTangier flavor, higher in protein, lower in fatUse full-fat, use a 1:1 ratio
4Cottage CheeseCurdled texture, much lower in fatBlend for a thicker texture
5Mascarpone CheeseDoubled in fat/calories, buttery, not tangyUse in dessert, add lemon juice
6Cashew CreamHealthy plant fat, vegan, neutral flavorSoak cashews overnight
7Tofu-based Cream CheeseVegan, no cholesterol, milder flavorChoose firm tofu, blend it with plant-based milk or olive oil
8Kefir CheeseTangier taste
9Quark CheeseLower in fat/calories, yogurt-like flavor, cottage-like textureUse in cheesecakes, strudels, dips, and spreads
10Sour CreamTangier taste with thinner consistencyThicken with cornstarch/flour

#1 Neufchatel Cheese

Originating from France, Neufchâtel cheese is a popular cream cheese substitute. It shares a similar taste and texture but contains less fat, making it a healthier choice. Neufchâtel cheese is available in most grocery stores and can be used as a 1:1 replacement for cream cheese in recipes. Read the differences between Neufchâtel (American) and Cream Cheese.

Key Differences:

  • Neufchâtel cheese has about 30% lower fat content
  • It has a slightly grainier and softer texture

Pro Tips:

  • Use Neufchâtel cheese in cheesecakes, frostings, and dips
  • If you prefer a smoother consistency, blend it thoroughly before use

#2 Ricotta Cheese

Ricotta cheese is an Italian cheese made from whey, offering a much milder flavor, and is not tangy or sour like cream cheese. It’s a versatile cream cheese substitute that works well in savory dishes and desserts. Read Cream Cheese vs Ricotta Cheese in our detailed article.

Key Differences:

  • Ricotta cheese has a looser, grainier texture
  • It’s lower in fat and calories than cream cheese

Pro Tips:

  • For a creamier texture, blend ricotta cheese with a small amount of milk or cream
  • Use in lasagna, stuffed shells, or as a base for dips and spreads

#3 Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is a thick, tangy alternative to cream cheese, boasting health benefits like probiotics and high protein content. It’s an excellent choice for those looking to reduce fat and calorie intake without compromising taste. Read more in Greek Yogurt vs Cream Cheese post.

Key Differences:

  • Greek yogurt has a tangier flavor
  • It’s higher in protein and lower in fat

Pro Tips:

  • Choose full-fat Greek yogurt for the best consistency
  • Can use equal parts as a replacement

#4 Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is a fresh cheese made from curds and is a suitable cream cheese substitute, particularly for those seeking a lower-fat option. It works well in dips, spreads, and baked goods. Read our comparison of Cottage Cheese vs Cream Cheese.

Key Differences:

  • Cottage cheese has a curdled, lumpy texture
  • It’s much lower in fat and made from skimmed milk

Pro Tips:

  • Blend cottage cheese to achieve a smooth consistency
  • Mix with other ingredients like herbs, spices, or fruits for added flavor

#5 Mascarpone Cheese

Mascarpone cheese is an Italian cream cheese with a rich, buttery flavor. It’s a fitting substitute in desserts, but due to its high-fat content, it might not be the best choice for low-fat diets. Read more in Mascarpone vs Cream Cheese.

Key Differences:

  • Mascarpone cheese is doubling in fat and calories
  • It has a buttery, slightly sweet flavor
  • Not as tangy or salty

Pro Tips:

  • Use mascarpone cheese in tiramisu, frostings, or as a cheesecake base
  • Combine with other ingredients like lemon juice to balance the richness and lift the taste

#6 Cashew Cream

For a dairy-free and vegan alternative, cashew cream is an excellent option. Made from soaked cashews blended with water (unless you have a high-speed blender), lemon juice, salt, and garlic. See this popular recipe or get this on Amazon straight. it’s a versatile substitute with a surprisingly dairy-like flavor and creamy texture.

Key Differences:

  • Cashew cream is dairy-free and vegan
  • It has a more neutral flavor than cream cheese
  • Healthier unsaturated plant-based fat

Pro Tips:

  • Soak cashews overnight for a smoother consistency
  • Customize the thickness by adjusting the amount of water used during the blending
  • Add sweeteners, herbs, or spices to tailor the flavor to your recipe

#7 Tofu based Cream Cheese

Tofu-based cream cheese is another dairy-free and vegan alternative that mimics the texture and taste of traditional cream cheese. Made from soy, it’s a versatile substitute suitable for spreads, dips, and baked goods. My recommendation is to try Tofutti, but you maybe want to read this taste test first.

Key Differences:

  • Tofu-based cream cheese is dairy-free, vegan
  • Lower in fat with no cholesterol
  • It has a milder flavor than dairy-based cream cheese

Pro Tips:

  • Choose a firm or extra-firm tofu for the best consistency
  • Blend tofu with a small amount of plant-based milk or oil for a smoother texture
  • Customize the flavor with sweeteners, herbs, or spices as needed

#8 Kefir Cheese

Kefir cheese, also known as labneh, is a strained yogurt cheese made from kefir. It’s a probiotic-rich alternative to cream cheese, offering a tangy flavor and creamy texture.

Key Differences:

  • Kefir cheese has a tangier taste
  • It contains probiotics and is higher in protein
  • Similar to the ricotta texture

Practical Tips:

  • Strain kefir through a cheesecloth to achieve a thick consistency
  • Use kefir cheese in dips, spreads, and as a topping for baked goods

#9 Quark Cheese

Quark cheese is a fresh, soft cheese made from cow’s milk. It’s popular in German cuisine and offers a smooth, creamy texture and a mild, tangy flavor. Quark cheese is a suitable cream cheese substitute in both savory dishes and desserts.

Key Differences:

  • Quark cheese is lower in fat, calories and usually has no salt
  • It has a milder flavor and tastes almost like yogurt
  • Thick texture like cottage cheese

Practical Tips:

  • Use quark cheese in cheesecakes, strudels, or as a base for dips
  • Combine with other ingredients like herbs, spices, or fruits for added flavor

#10 Sour Cream

Sour cream can be a viable substitute for cream cheese in many recipes. It’s best suited for dips, sauces, and dressings due to its tangy flavor and looser texture. Read the differences in sour cream vs cream cheese – same? in the previous article.

Key Differences:

  • Sour cream has a tangier taste and a thinner consistency
  • It’s lower in fat and calories

Practical Tips:

  • Thicken a cup of sour cream with 2 tbsp cornstarch or flour if necessary

Other Cream Cheese Alternatives to Consider

Heavy cream

Heavy cream, also known as whipping cream, is another option to consider when looking for a cream cheese substitute. However, its use will depend on the specific requirements of your recipe, as heavy cream has a much thinner consistency and a higher fat content than cream cheese.

While heavy cream may not work well as a direct substitute in recipes that call for a thick, spreadable consistency, it can be used as a base for sauces, soups, and certain desserts. To create a cream cheese-like texture, you can try combining heavy cream with other ingredients such as Greek yogurt, ricotta cheese, or even cream cheese itself in smaller amounts to achieve the desired thickness and flavor.

Creme fraiche

Crème fraîche is a viable option when looking for a cream cheese substitute in certain recipes, particularly when a thick, creamy consistency and a tangy flavor are desired. Crème fraîche is a cultured cream that has a rich texture and a slightly tart taste, making it suitable for both sweet and savory applications.

While crème fraîche is not as thick or firm as cream cheese, it can work well in recipes where the consistency is less critical, such as in dips, sauces, soups, or dressings.

Can I substitute cream cheese for The Laughing Cow?

The Laughing Cow is a brand of processed cheese made from a blend of fresh and aged cheese with other ingredients. So it’s sort of cream cheese-ish and aged cheese-ish.

Laughing Cow has many varieties, but the most popular is its spreadable wedge. It can be used as an alternative to cream cheese, but it may not taste similar.

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