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6 Grocery Store Ingredients To Substitute For Cream Cheese

You can use these 6 ingredients as a substitute for cream cheese in any recipe. The best part is, they’re ingredients readily available at the grocery store.

If you’re out of cream cheese or just don’t like the taste, there are several great alternatives out there.

The following options offer a similar taste and texture as cream cheese and are conveniently found at most grocery stores.

So whether you’re looking for a cream cheese substitute for cooking or baking, these are your best bets.

Large container of cream cheese with knife on tan and white checkered table cloth.

Cream Cheese Substitutes for Cooking

1. Marscapone

Large mound of mascarpone cheese on white dinner plate on whitewashed table.

Marscapone cheese is your best option when it comes to a cream cheese substitute. Referred to as Italian cream cheese, it’s actually creamier, richer, and has twice as much fat as traditional cream cheese.

You can substitute marscapone cheese for cream cheese at a 1:1 ratio in any savory dish or use it as a spread on toast, bagels, or crackers.

1 cup of mascarpone = 1 cup of cream cheese
1 tablespoon of marscapone = 1 tablespoon of cream cheese

2. Cottage Cheese

Cream colored bowl of cottage cheese with ornate metal spoon next to tan kitchen towel.

Cottage cheese is probably a favorite cream cheese substitute because it’s readily available (most of us have it in our refrigerators) and it’s high in nutrients and low in fat.

To substitute cottage cheese for cream cheese in your cooking, strain the cottage cheese with a cheesecloth, fine-mesh sieve, or a few paper towels and then puree. You can use the puree 1:1 for cream cheese.

3. Yogurt

Two jars of yogurt in small clear glass jars next to white and blue checkered kitchen towel.

Yogurt is another great substitute for cream cheese because it’s low in calories and provides the tangy flavor that cream cheese is known for.

You could use Greek yogurt or regular plain yogurt as the substitute. Like the cottage cheese, you’ll want to strain the yogurt a bit before adding it to your dish as yogurt has a higher liquid content than cream cheese.

You could even consider adding some cottage cheese puree or marscapone to the yogurt to give it a little thickness.

Substitute yogurt for cream cheese 1:1.

4. Sour Cream

Large bowl of sour cream with bright green parsley garnish next to light blue kitchen towel.

Sour cream is also a tangy substitute for cream cheese that’s made by fermenting cream with lactic acid bacteria. It’s thicker than yogurt which makes it a great cream cheese substitute in dips and sauces.

If you want to use it in sauces or soups that need to be heated, stir the sour cream in after you’ve taken the food off the heat or the sour cream will curdle.

You can substitute sour cream for cream cheese 1:1.

5. Creme Fraiche

Large mound of crème fraiche in bright sky blue kitchen mixing bowl.

Creme fraiche is a French thick cultured cream that is similar to sour cream, except it has a higher fat content that doesn’t curdle in hot dishes, so it’s a great substitute for cream cheese in cooking.

You can use creme fraiche 1:1 as a substitute for cream cheese.

Cream Cheese Substitutes for Baking

1. Marscapone

Large mound of marscapone cheese on a small white kitchen sauce next to small pitcher.

Just like cooking, marscapone will be the best choice for a cream cheese substitute in baking, especially if you’re making a frosting.

This is because of marscapone’s mildly sweet and nutty flavor. It also has a velvety texture, similar to butter, that lends well to getting smooth frostings.

You can substitute marscapone 1:1 for cream cheese in your baking recipes.

1 cup of mascarpone = 1 cup of cream cheese
1 tablespoon of marscapone = 1 tablespoon of cream cheese

2. Ricotta Cheese

Several large, slotted plastic containers straining freshly made ricotta cheese on counter.

If you’re looking for a substitute for cream cheese in baked goods, a high-quality ricotta is your best choice.

Ricotta is an Italian whey cheese that is similar to cottage cheese, except ricotta has a fine, moist and grainy texture as opposed the cottage cheese’s lumpy texture.

Use a ricotta with fine curds, or be prepared to whip the cheese before adding it to your recipe so it isn’t grainy.

You can use ricotta 1:1 as a cream cheese substitute in your baking recipes.

If you’re using ricotta to make a cheesecake or frosting, you can try mixing the ricotta with equal amounts of heavy cream for a better texture.

3. Creme Fraiche

Small wooden bowl of crème fresh on wooden table next to brown kitchen towel.

Creme Fraiche is the most versatile of the options and can be used in either baked goods or frostings with great results.

You can use creme fraiche as substitute for cream cheese in a 1:1 ratio

How to Make Your Own

If you need cream cheese for a recipe and want the real stuff, try your hand at making some homemade cream cheese!

The recipe only calls for 3 ingredients, so as long as you have whole milk on hand, you can make your own cream cheese!

Dairy Free or Vegan Options

And if your searching for a dairy free or vegan option for cream cheese, check out this list of the best vegan cream cheese options!

Yummy Recipes to Try

If you’re looking for some recipes with cream cheese that you can try a few of those substitutes in (or your homemade cream cheese) you’ll love these!

White Chicken Chili With Cream Cheese

Two bowls of white chicken chili in white bowls with blue plates underneath.

Mini Cherry Cheesecake Bites

Mini cheesecake bites on white cake stand with cherry topping next to kitchen towel.

Raspberry Pastry Braid

Pieces of raspberry pastry on white plate decorated with fresh raspberries.

Chicken Pillows

Two chicken pillows with white gravy and mashed potatoes on blue plate surrounded by other dishes with food.