6 Incredible Cream Cheese Substitutes

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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People look for cream cheese substitutes for many different reasons, and are usually thrilled to find that so many delicious things can work as an alternative!

Cream Cheese Substitutes

Cream cheese is delicious, but cream cheese substitutes are often sought out due to this creamy cheese’s fat content. Cream cheese also crops up as an important ingredient in a range of both sweet and savory recipes. Luckily, there is a broad range of substitutes for cream cheese, some of which might be even better than the original!

Cottage Cheese

This vitamin-packed cheese variety can be puréed to a smooth texture and chilled to produce a cheese paste of a similar consistency as cream cheese. It might also have a slightly lighter, fresher flavor that will work better in savory recipes than it does for desserts.

A flat lay picture of a bowl containing cream cheese next to a bowl of nachos

Cream cheese is a soft, usually mild-tasting fresh cheese made from milk and cream. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Mascarpone Cheese

The fat content of mascarpone is pretty much the same as cream cheese, so this isn’t your best option if you’re looking for a healthier alternative. However, its slightly sweet flavor and thick, creamy texture make it an excellent substitute in sweet recipes. 

Ricotta

An excellent alternative to use in baking, ricotta cheese has a grainier texture than mascarpone but is slightly less sweet.

Plain Yogurt

Plain yogurt can be a healthy substitute for cream cheese in many recipes. That being said, you will need to strain the yogurt in a cheesecloth overnight to achieve a thickness and texture that mirrors cream cheese. 

Kefir

An extremely healthy alternative, this naturally produced fermented milk culture is packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and good bacteria that keep the gut happy. It tends to have a more sour taste than cream cheese and a runnier texture – it can be blended or strained to increase its thickness. To get the most health benefits from kefir, it is best substituted as a spread or used in raw recipes that don’t require heating.

Silken Tofu

This substitute takes a bit of preparation but can be a wonderful vegan alternative to cream cheese. First, drain excess water from the tofu, then blend it with margarine or oil before adding lemon juice, salt, sugar, vinegar or a combination to taste, based on the flavor profile you’re aiming for. Once blended, refrigerate until it reaches a firm consistency. Use this as a spread or in dessert recipes.

Vegan Soft Cheese

A number of people have actually opted for a vegan lifestyle nowadays. So adding some of the vegan cheese is definitely a great choice to keep the cooking on.

There is a range of dairy-free alternatives to cream cheese out there – try a few to see which one suits you best!

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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