These simple cream cheese substitutes work just as well as the real thing in most recipes.
As the name suggests, cream cheese is a creamy and spreadable cheese that can transform bland recipes into decadent magic.
The downside to cream cheese? It’s high in fat and calories.
Whether you’re making classic buffalo chicken dip or frosting for a cake, these simple swaps will do the trick.
Check out these cream cheese substitutes that are quick, easy, and packed with cream cheese flavors.
1. Sour Cream
Sour cream is similar to cream cheese in consistency, but it has a slightly tangy flavor profile.
The added tang to sour cream is due to the addition of lactic acid bacteria. It’s lower in fat and calories, especially if you opt for light sour cream.
Sour cream often works best as a replacement for savory dishes like soups and dips.
If you’re whipping up a desert, the sour notes of sour cream will make your dessert taste sour instead of sweet, and no one wants that!
2. Mascarpone Cheese
Mascarpone cheese is far from a healthier alternative to cream cheese.
It’s slightly thicker and higher in fat and calories.
It’s also important to note that this cheese is more creamy and doesn’t have that classic tart punch of cream cheese.
Opting for Mascarpone makes your bakes and dinner dishes thicker and more decadent.
However, the subtle flavors in this swap fall a little flat.
To achieve more flavor that’s more like classic cream cheese, infuse Mascarpone cheese with a touch of salt and a quick squeeze of lemon juice.
3. Greek Yogurt
Is there anything that Greek yogurt can’t replace?
Greek yogurt is an excellent choice if you are trying to eat healthily and infuse a little more nutrition into your recipes.
Not only is it slightly tart, but it also has a similar texture. It’s higher in calcium, vitamin B12, and protein, perfect for vegetarian dishes.
The texture is similar but a little thinner than cream cheese.
If you need slightly thick Greek yogurt (which is essential when baking), you must strain out some of the excess water.
Grab a cheesecloth and strain some of that extra water overnight before using.
4. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is an excellent replacement for savory and sweet recipes, but it requires extra work.
To capture that creamy texture of cream cheese, you need to pulse the cheese curds in a blender to achieve a thicker consistency.
The flavors of cottage cheese are more subtle than cream cheese, so you need to add a bit of tang.
Adding lemon juice or vinegar boosts the flavors of cottage cheese to mirror cream cheese.
Also, if your mixture is too runny, strain it through a cheesecloth to remove excess moisture.
Obviously, hummus isn’t a great swap in deserts. However, it is worth checking out for spreads, dips, and other creamy dinner dishes.
It has a similar thick consistency to cream cheese, and the lemon juice provides that patented tartness kick to your recipe.
The great thing about swapping in hummus is that it has a lot of added nutrition.
The chickpea base adds additional protein (perfect for vegetarian meals) and is high in protein and fiber.
Hummus is a great way to still achieve creamy goodness without milk or dairy.
6. Ricotta Cheese
Ricotta cheese has a similar sweetness and tanginess to cream cheese but isn’t quite as thick.
It’s a great swap if you’re watching your calories since it’s lower in fat and calories.
It’s an excellent source of protein, riboflavin, vitamin B12, and fiber for added nutrition.
For savory dishes, ricotta is a good 1:1 swap. When baking, things get a little more complicated.
To achieve a similar taste to cream cheese, infuse your ricotta with either Greek yogurt or heavy cream.
If it’s too runny, strain out excess water with a cheesecloth.
Kefir is fermented milk that has the consistency of milk and yogurt flavors.
Transforming Kefir into a cream cheese sub takes time, but the added nutrition is well worth the extra effort.
To make Kefir thick like cream cheese, you need to separate the whey from the curds.
To do this, line a colander with cheesecloth and let your kefir strain in the fridge for at least 4-6 hours.
Add salt to your thick kefir cheese, and use it as a 1:1 replacement in most recipes.
Tofu is an excellent replacement for vegan recipes. You can also use it in vegan cheesecakes. It takes a bit of extra work, but it’s worth it!
You’ll need to bust out that blender to transform your brick of silken tofu into spreadable magic.
Drain your tofu of excess water, and toss it into a blender with oil.
Vegetable oil works well, but coconut oil is a great way to amp up the flavors. Then, add an acidic, such lemon juice.
The great thing about tofu is that when it’s in the blender, you can add extra flavorings that will complement your recipes.
9. Neufchâtel Cheese
Neufchâtel Cheese likes to hang out with cream cheese in the grocery store’s dairy aisle, but what is it, exactly?
Neufchâtel is a French spreadable cheese that hails from France. It has a near-identical consistency and flavor but is much lower in fat and calories.
The great thing about this cheese is that you can use an equal amount of Neufchâtel in place of cream cheese in almost any recipe.
I have a vegan friend that buys cashews by the crate to fill her cheese fix. It takes a little time, but it’s worth the extra effort.
This cream cheese substitute is filled with healthy nutrition and packs a powerful flavor punch!
To make cashew cream cheese, soak your cashews until nice and tender.
Once they are soft, throw them in a blender with oil, salt, and acid (such as lemon or vinegar), and pulse until creamy.
11. Vegan Cream Cheese
For vegan recipes, sometimes it’s best to leave the swapping to the professionals.
Many supermarkets have vegan cheese options in their lineup alongside their dairy products.
Daiya has a great spreadable cream cheese alternative made from coconut oil, tapioca cream, and coconut cream that acts like the real thing in recipes.
It’s a little more expensive, but it’s a great way to swap out the classic cream cheese for vegan easily. No one can tell the difference!
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