In this article, we’ll explore and share the best mascarpone cheese substitute, from cream cheese to ricotta cheese. We will also provide tips on how to use them effectively in your cooking.
Mascarpone is either a double or triple cream cheese that hails from Northern Italy.
Today, it is widely available in large grocery stores or specialty cheese shops.
This cheese is a versatile ingredient that adds a rich, buttery texture to various dishes.
Cheesemakers typically make mascarpone by heating heavy cream with acid. They use either tartaric acid, citric acid, or lemon juice. Once the milk curdles, cheesemakers strain the mixture to remove excess whey. The result is mascarpone, a silky and spreadable cheese.
It is important to note that mascarpone does not contain rennet. Rennet is an animal-based enzyme people use to curdle milk and cream. That said, mascarpone is a vegan-friendly cheese.
This creamy cheese has a milky, slightly sweet taste. Its flavor is similar to cream cheese and crème fraiche.
Mascarpone is slightly sweeter and more acidic than these two. For this reason, people most commonly use it in sweet dishes like tiramisu. But mascarpone is versatile enough to add richness to savory dishes.
You may need to find a substitute for mascarpone cheese for several reasons.
First, mascarpone cheese is high in fat.
Second, this cheese still contains lactose even after you’ve drained the whey.
Third, not everyone loves its flavor and texture, so you might need to replace it in some recipes.
Lastly, your local grocery store might run out of it when you need it.
Cream cheese is a great substitute for mascarpone cheese. It is incredibly versatile, and you may already have it in your fridge. If not, you can easily find it in stores.
Before using, though, ensure that you have full-fat cream cheese. Remember that mascarpone is high in fat.
You’d have to use the full-fat version of cream cheese to mimic that richness. Avoid the low-fat and whipped varieties for the best swapping experience.
Regarding taste, note that cream cheese has a tangier flavor than mascarpone. You may need to add sugar, heavy cream, and sour cream in some dishes to get a closer flavor match.
Doing so will help mask the tanginess of the cream cheese. Adding these ingredients also helps to replicate the velvety texture of mascarpone cheese.
Tip: To use cream cheese to replace mascarpone, soften it first to achieve the desired texture. Do not use a hard block of cream cheese.
Ricotta is a cheese that comes solely from milk and not cream. It is a byproduct of the cheesemaking process. Traditionally, people make it from sheep’s milk, but some goat’s milk as well. That said, it is a healthier alternative to mascarpone because it has a lower fat content.
Ricotta is a neutral-tasting cheese commonly used in savory dishes. But it can also take on sweet flavors.
For this reason, it makes an excellent mascarpone substitute in cheesecakes. After all, it has a creamy texture. This texture, though, is not as smooth as mascarpone.
Ricotta’s mild flavor pairs well with lemon zest or garlic; you can use it in spreads and white sauces.
Tip: To improve the ricotta’s consistency, blend it first with an immersion blender. If you don’t have this equipment, an electric whisk will also do the job. Doing so will give it a smooth, velvety texture closer to mascarpone.
Full-fat Greek yogurt is a great option if you want a lighter alternative to mascarpone. You can use Greek yogurt because it has a smooth and creamy texture but with fewer calories. This option is also high in protein, so it is a healthy option.
Greek yogurt has a tangy flavor as well, so it can balance out very sweet dishes.
One thing to consider here is that this yogurt is less dense than mascarpone. That said, it is best to use it in combination with other ingredients in your dish rather than on its own.
Choose a brand of Greek yogurt for its higher protein and fat content. Doing this will mean you’ll get a thicker texture.
It’s a versatile ingredient you can use in cooking and baking. But remember that Greek yogurt is prone to curdling.
Tip: Using full-fat Greek yogurt for the best results is best. Avoid using low-fat or fat-free options. Adding it off the heat or towards the end of the cooking process is important.
Silken tofu is another great alternative to mascarpone. It’s perfect for people who follow a plant-based or vegan diet or want to reduce their dairy intake.
Silken tofu has a neutral taste and can take on different flavors depending on the dish. With this option, you won’t have to worry about a flavor shift.
The silken tofu variety has a delicate texture that’s similar to mascarpone.
That said, it is a versatile ingredient you can add at any point in the cooking process. It won’t curdle as Greek yogurt does.
On top of that, silken tofu is a nutritious choice as well. It’s a low-calorie protein that contains many vitamins and minerals. Blend the tofu first before use. Then, use in pasta sauces, dressings, puddings, and custards as a mascarpone alternative.
Tip: When substituting mascarpone with tofu, be sure to use the soft silken variety. Silken tofu also holds well to high-temperature cooking.
Cottage cheese is yet another great alternative to mascarpone. After all, its rich and creamy consistency is similar to ricotta.
It is also a high-protein, low-calorie option. But this alternative has a trade-off: this low-fat and lighter cheese does not taste as rich. If you plan to use it in savory recipes, add salt, garlic, or parmesan cheese to make it taste better. Nutritional yeast is also a good flavor enhancer in this case.
On the other hand, if you plan to use it in sweet recipes, adding a little sugar will do the trick.
Use cottage cheese instead of mascarpone in pasta dishes, pancakes, and muffins. You may also add this cheese to desserts like tiramisu and cheesecakes.
Tip: Cottage cheeses can be lumpy. Sometimes, you’d have to blend them with a small amount of water to get a better consistency.
If you think sour cream is only a great dip for chips, you’re mistaken. In a pinch, sour cream can also be an excellent substitute for mascarpone cheese.
The best thing about sour cream is that you can find it in most stores, so it is an accessible option.
Sour cream is not as high in fat as mascarpone but can still provide a rich flavor. But sour cream is true to its name – it is tangy. And because of this taste, sour cream is best for savory dishes.
You may use it in soups and dressings. Its creamy consistency enables it to do a good job of replacing mascarpone in dips and sauces as well.
You may still add this option to sweet dishes. But remember to use it in combination with other ingredients to mellow its tangy taste.
Tip: Using a full-fat sour cream is critical. And add it after you’ve taken the dish off the heat to avoid curdling.
As always, you must look at some factors when replacing one ingredient with another. For mascarpone substitutes, paying attention to the texture and flavor is critical. Similarly, you should also consider the fat content, creaminess, availability, and nutritional value.
An important factor you should consider when choosing a mascarpone substitute is texture. A good swap should be as smooth, thick, and creamy. Cream cheese is your best option if the consistency is important to the final dish.
Choose a swap with a similar flavor profile to avoid a significant change in your recipe’s taste. In this case, ricotta cheese does a good job.
There is a slight difference in texture, but a little time in the blender can fix that. On the other hand, if you want something different, sour cream is a decent option that can add a twist to your dish.
Fat content is a significant factor too. Mascarpone cheese is high in fat. So, an equally high-fat ingredient is best if you want to replicate its effect. You can use the full-cream version of cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, or sour cream. If you are watching your fat intake, though, use the low-fat versions. Prepare for a change in flavor and consistency, though.
Another factor you must consider when choosing a mascarpone substitute is creaminess. Blended ricotta cheese is a good option that can mimic this cheese’s creaminess.
If this factor is not crucial for your dish, you may opt for silken tofu or Greek yogurt. These options are not as creamy but can offer their distinct flavors to your recipe just the same.
Availability is also important to consider when picking a substitute. Substitutes like cream cheese and sour cream might already be on your fridge. Other options like ricotta and silken tofu might call for a grocery run, which might not be an option if you’re in a hurry.
Nutritional value is a crucial factor to consider when replacing mascarpone. For a healthier option, cottage cheese is a choice. It is lower in fat and calories and high in protein. Silken tofu is another nutritious swap you can use.
Are you wondering how to use the alternatives above in certain dishes? Here’s a quick guide that includes common recipes that call for mascarpone:
If you need a swap for mascarpone in tiramisu, try a combination of cream cheese and whipped cream. Mixing ricotta cheese with whipping cream also works.
Note that you can achieve a closer flavor match with cream cheese than ricotta cheese, though. But using either of the two will give you a creamy and decadent tiramisu for sure.
Cream cheese is the best substitute for mascarpone in a cheesecake recipe. Its consistency works well with this dish, and the flavor is suitable for sweet dishes. If you want to add some tang, combining cream cheese with sour cream works too.
Mascarpone cheese is often used in pasta dishes to make them richer. You can use any of the alternatives above in pasta dishes. Just consider that some options like Greek yogurt and sour cream curdle in high heat. If you picked them, add them after you’ve taken the sauce off the heat.
Cream cheese, ricotta, and Greek yogurt are your best options for dips and spreads.
They provide a good base for seasonings and will not overpower other ingredients. For chunkier options like ricotta and cottage cheese, blend them first so you’ll get a smooth dip or spread.
Yes, you can use cream cheese instead of mascarpone cheese. Just remember that mascarpone cheese has a richer, creamier texture. And it has a milder and sweeter flavor than cream cheese. Using it to replace mascarpone slightly changes your recipe’s texture and flavor.
In a tiramisu recipe, your best bets for a mascarpone substitute are ricotta and cream cheese.
Whip either of these with whipped cream to get the best texture for your dessert. Always do a taste test and adjust other ingredients accordingly.
If you make a vegan dessert, the best substitute for mascarpone is silken tofu. Made from soybeans, tofu contains no animal product, so it is suitable for vegans. Toss silken tofu in a blender or a food processor to get a close texture to mascarpone. Don’t forget to season it accordingly, as tofu has a neutral taste.
Mascarpone and cream cheese are both creamy and delicious. But, the biggest difference between regular cream cheese and mascarpone is their main ingredient. The base for making cream cheese is a mixture of cream and milk. On the other hand, mascarpone uses cream alone. For this reason, mascarpone is richer and higher in fat.
Mascarpone cheese is an ingredient that can add richness and flavor to dishes. It is a versatile cheese that you may use for both sweet and savory dishes. But there may be better choices for people who watch their fat and lactose intake.
If you need to replace mascarpone cheese, many options have similar flavors and textures. The top options are cream cheese, ricotta cheese, Greek yogurt, and silken tofu. Full-fat versions are generally best for substituting for mascarpone’s richness.
Other choices include vegan cream cheese, homemade mascarpone cheese, and clotted cream. If you’re in a pinch, even coconut cream can substitute for mascarpone in certain dishes.