9 Cream Cheese Substitutes (and 1 Recipe) For When You Can't Find the Real Thing

Raise your hand if you have been personally victimized by the cream cheese shortage.

Cream cheese is, quite literally, a building block in myriad foods. Without it, the world would be void of some of our favorite casseroles, dips, desserts, and easy appetizers.

But if you can't find cream cheese at the grocery store right now, fret not; all is not lost. Read on for the best cream cheese substitutes and how to make your own cream cheese from scratch.

Very, Very, Very Good Cheesecake
Meredith Food Studios

Cream Cheese Substitutes:

1. Sour Cream

Sour cream replicates cream cheese's taste but isn't quite as caloric, making it a good choice for a lower-calorie substitute. It gives baked goods a texture that's airy and moist, and even adds an extra bit of creaminess to cheesecake. You can substitute an equal amount of sour cream for cream cheese in recipes.

2. Greek Yogurt

In addition to sharing cream cheese's signature tangy notes, Greek yogurt is rich in nutrients such as protein, calcium, and vitamin B12. You can also easily adjust the richness of your dish based on which variety of Greek yogurt you use. For example, full-fat or even 10 perfect fat yogurt will provide a creamier texture than nonfat. Use a 1:1 ratio when substituting in Greek yogurt.

3. Neufchatel

Taste-wise, Neufchatel is the closest you're going to get to cream cheese. The soft and slightly crumbly cheese originated in Normandy, France, but it's also produced in the U.S.

Traditional Neufchatel is made with cream, but American Neufchatel is made using milk, which gives it a fat content that's 1/3 lower than cream cheese's. Simply use a 1:1 ratio when substituting in the Neufchatel.

4. Mascarpone

Mascarpone, an Italian cheese made from heavy cream and citric or tartaric acid, has a similar taste and texture to cream cheese. It's slightly sweeter and contains about twice the amount of fat, but aside from that, the two spreadable cheeses are pretty much interchangeable. Use the same amount of mascarpone that you would for cream cheese.

5. Silken Tofu

If you're looking for a vegan cream cheese substitute, silken tofu holds up well and doesn't alter your food's flavor. Silken tofu is already popular in vegan recipes, especially dairy-free cheesecakes and pies.

6. Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is lower in fat than cream cheese, which makes it a healthier alternative. However, it has a chunkier texture, so you may want to puree it before continuing with your recipe. If you are baking or cooking the cottage cheese, add some heavy cream or half-and-half to provide thickness.

7. Hummus

Hummus and cream cheese may not taste the same, but their similarity in texture makes hummus a great cream cheese substitute in a pinch — especially if you're looking for a dairy-free or vegan option. Hummus works best as a cream cheese substitute in savory dips and is a great source of protein, manganese, and folate.

8. Quark

Quark, a German cheese made from buttermilk and heavy whipping cream, has a creamy consistency and tangier taste than cream cheese. Think of it as a cross between cream cheese and yogurt. You can use the same amount of quark, but you may want to adjust the recipe to make up for the increased sour flavor.

Get the Recipe: Easy-Made German Quark

9. Cashew Cheese

Yet another vegan option, cashew cheese is a spreadable cheese made from cashews, water, nutritional yeast, and seasonings. You can find it at a specialty store or some traditional supermarkets with a broader vegan section. Apply a 1:1 ratio when substituting cashew cheese for cream cheese.

10. Homemade Cream Cheese

If you don't need to use cream cheese within the next few days, you can make your own from yogurt and kosher salt. Chef John prefers to use sheep's milk yogurt, but cow's milk yogurt will also work.

Get the Recipe: How to Make Cream Cheese


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