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5 cream cheese substitutes that are also sweet and salty!

5 cream cheese substitutes that are also sweet and salty!

Nothing ever beats the flavor and creamy goodness of cream cheese! 

Whether you use it to make cheesecakes, frostings, bagel spread, mashed sweet potatoes, curries, or dips, cream cheese never disappoints! 

But what if you’re craving your favorite cream cheese dish and you suddenly run out of cream cheese? 

Luckily, there are many things that you can use as cream cheese swaps in your recipes, and I’ve listed them all down for you!

Here’s a summary table for these substitutions:

SubstituteSuggested RatioApplicationNotes
Cashew CreamSame quantity as cream cheeseSweet and savory recipesFlavor can be adjusted with spices or sweeteners
Mascarpone Cheese1:1DessertsAdd lemon juice for lighter texture
Ricotta Cheese1 cup ricotta + 1 cup yogurt/heavy cream = 2 cups substituteBaking, cheesecakes, frostingsAdjust texture with yogurt or heavy cream
Cottage CheeseSame amount as cream cheeseDips and spreadsBlend with milk for smoother texture
Yogurt Cheese (Hung Curd)Strain yogurt overnight, use same amount as cream cheeseCheesecakes, spreadsGreek yogurt yields more curd
 close-up photo of cream cheese canape.

What does cream cheese taste like? 

Cream cheese has a mild and sweet flavor, with a hint of salty tanginess. 

Meanwhile, packaged cream cheese comes in a wide array of flavored varieties, including cream cheese with different fruits and herbs. 

The taste of cream cheese is quite similar to the taste of Mascarpone. You can use it in dips, frostings, toppings, etc., and in sweet and savory dishes.  

Cream cheese substitutes

Here are some fantastic options that you can use in your cooking instead of cream cheese:

1. Cashew cream

Cashew cream isn’t as sweet as cream cheese, but it is creamy, thick, and tasty nevertheless. It’s also an incredible vegan-friendly option that you can use as a cream cheese substitute. You can use cashews, lemon juice, palm shortenings, and apple cider vinegar to create cashew cream. If you want an additional kick of savory flavor, then you can add spices and herbs of your choice to the mix. However, if you want a sweeter taste, then a simple sweetener or vanilla extract will do the trick. You can also serve cashew cream with pasta by stirring it in, pair it with freshly-cut veggies, or spread it on a bagel. Likewise, you can use it in the same quantity or ratio in your dish as you’d use cream cheese.

  • Ratio: Use in the same quantity as cream cheese.
  • Application: Suitable for both sweet and savory recipes; adjust flavor with additional ingredients as needed.

2. Mascarpone cheese

While cream cheese has an acidic tinge, Mascarpone has a natural sweetness and richness to it. Mascarpone’s also quite spreadable and has a smooth texture, making it an easy replacement for cream cheese. Due to its natural sweetness, you can also use it in desserts that call for the use of cream cheese. Use the same amount of Mascarpone in a dish as the amount of cream cheese required. Even though it’s heavier than cream cheese, you can add some lemon juice to it to make it lighter. 

  • Ratio: Substitute in a 1:1 ratio for cream cheese.
  • Application: Ideal for desserts due to its natural sweetness; add lemon juice to lighten the texture.

3. Ricotta cheese

Ricotta cheese is another good cream cheese substitute. Even though it is firmer, less sweet, and grainier than cream cheese, it acts as a good cream cheese alternative for making gravies. If you want ricotta to have a creamier texture and use it in baking, add some plain yogurt to adjust its texture. When you’re using ricotta for cheesecakes and as frosting, add equal amounts of heavy cream. A cup of ricotta cheese mixed in with a cup of yogurt will produce two cups of cream cheese that you can use for dips and baked goods. Similarly, one cup of yogurt blended with one cup of heavy cream will produce two cups worth of cream cheese that you can use for cheesecakes and frostings. 

  • Ratio: Combine 1 cup of ricotta with 1 cup of yogurt or heavy cream to produce 2 cups of substitute.
  • Application: Suitable for baking, cheesecakes, and frostings; adjust texture with yogurt or heavy cream.

4. Cottage cheese

When you run out of cream cheese, you can use cottage cheese in your recipe. Blend it in with some low-fat milk to create a smoother texture. Even though it won’t be as thick or sweet as cream cheese, you can easily use it as a cream cheese replacement in dips. You can also mix cottage cheese with plain yogurt and strain it overnight in a cheesecloth for that cream cheese texture. Use the same amount of cottage cheese in your recipe as cream cheese.

  • Ratio: Use the same amount of cottage cheese as cream cheese.
  • Application: Blend with low-fat milk for a smoother texture; ideal for dips and spreads.

5. Yogurt cheese or hung curd

Another excellent cream cheese substitute you can use to make cheesecakes and spreads is hung curd or “yogurt cheese.” Strain yogurt overnight in a cheesecloth for a creamy alternative to cream cheese. When strained for eight to 12 hours, one cup of plain yogurt will produce half a cup of hung curd. If hung for over two days, then it will make 1/3 cup of hung curd. Use the same amount of hung curb as the amount of cream cheese required in a recipe.

  • Ratio: Strain yogurt overnight to produce half the volume of hung curd; use in the same amount as cream cheese.
  • Application: Great for cheesecakes and spreads; Greek yogurt yields more curd.
Tartelette topped with cream cheese and herbs.

Tips from the pros

Here are some tips and tricks that you can use with these cream cheese substitutes: 

  • To lighten mascarpone, add in some lemon juice.
  • If you want a cream cheese-like texture when using cottage cheese, strain some cottage cheese with yogurt overnight.
  • When using hung curd as a cream cheese substitute, use Greek yogurt to produce more curb than plain yogurt.
  • If you are using ricotta cheese for baking, then mix in equal amounts of yogurt. If you are using it for frostings and cheesecakes, then add equal amounts of heavy cream.

The bottom line

Cream cheese isn’t just a savory breakfast spread. As you may have already gleaned from our list, this deliciously creamy dairy product is also noted for its many culinary uses, from baked goods, to dips and dishes. As versatile as inexpensive your cream cheese is, it’s still crucial to know which other ingredients you can swap it with, especially when you finally run out of it and got no time to head to a grocery store. I hope you enjoyed reading about the cream cheese substitutes we’ve gathered just for you! Make sure to follow the tips and tricks that I’ve mentioned when using these ingredients instead of cream cheese. Have fun!

Cream Cheese Substitute with Ricotta and Yogurt/Heavy Cream

Cream Cheese Substitute with Ricotta and Yogurt/Heavy Cream

Yield: About 2 cups
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Discover a creamy and versatile cream cheese substitute perfect for your baking needs. This recipe combines ricotta cheese with yogurt or heavy cream to create a delightful blend that's ideal for cheesecakes, frostings, and more. Easy to make and customizable to your texture preference, this substitute is a great addition to your kitchen repertoire.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup plain yogurt or heavy cream

Instructions

  1. Combine Ingredients: In a medium bowl, mix together 1 cup of ricotta cheese with 1 cup of plain yogurt or heavy cream.
  2. Blend Smoothly: For a smoother consistency, blend the mixture using a hand mixer or a food processor until it reaches the desired texture.
  3. Adjust Texture: If the mixture is too thick, add a little more yogurt or heavy cream to thin it out. Conversely, if it’s too runny, add a bit more ricotta.
  4. Ready to Use: Once the mixture reaches a creamy, spreadable consistency similar to cream cheese, it's ready to use in your recipe.

Notes

  • This substitute works great in baking recipes, cheesecakes, and frostings.
  • The choice between yogurt and heavy cream depends on your preference for a lighter (yogurt) or richer (heavy cream) texture.
  • Store any leftover substitute in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

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