Craving a delicious cheesecake but no cream cheese on hand? No problem! These substitutes for cream cheese in cheesecake will still give you that creamy, cheesy flavor in your cheesecake. So whether you are dairy-free or just looking for a new recipe to try, this list has something for everyone!
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Reasons to Substitute Cream Cheese in Cheesecake
Cream cheese is delicious. It's smooth, it's creamy, and it pairs well with just about everything. But here are some reasons to consider substituting cream cheese in your favorite recipes.
- Flavor. While cream cheese does have a mild flavor, it can sometimes be overpowering. If you want a subtler taste, opt for ricotta cheese instead. Ricotta has a similar consistency to cream cheese, but its flavor is much more subdued.
- Texture. One of the things that makes cream cheese so delicious is its rich, creamy texture. But if you're looking for something with a little less of a "cheese" texture, try using quark. Quark is a type of fresh dairy product that has a similar consistency to yogurt or sour cream.
- Health. Cream cheese is high in saturated fat, which can raise your cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart disease if you consumed it in high quantities. If you're looking for a healthier option or you’re following a certain diet then, greek yogurt is a great option, as they are lower in fat and calories and has health benefits.
- Cost- it's usually one of the more expensive options at the grocery stores. If you're on a budget, then mascarpone is a good substitute. Mascarpone is an Italian cheese that has a similar consistency to cream cheese but is typically much cheaper.
- Highly processed. Cream cheese goes through a lot of processing before it ends up in your fridge. In fact, most store-bought cream cheeses contain stabilizers and emulsifiers, which are added to keep the product from separating or spoiling. These ingredients can be hard on your digestive system and may even contribute to weight gain.
- You just ran out of cream cheese. There are few things more frustrating than starting to bake a cake, only to realize you're out of cream cheese. There are a few easy substitutes that will work just as well in your recipe and whatever you choose, it is still bound to result in a delicious cake.
Three Best Cream Cheese Substitutes
If you’re out of cream cheese when you want to make a cheesecake, these are our top three picks (based on what you're looking for)
Mascarpone cheese is a delicious option that's perfect for both savory and sweet recipes. Its creamy and soft texture makes it ideal for toppings and fillings, and its mild flavor means it won't overpower other ingredients.
Vegan cream cheese is a great choice if you're looking for a dairy-free option. Typically made with cashews, it's rich and creamy, with a flavor that's reminiscent of traditional cream cheese.
Homemade cream cheese is a fantastic option if you're looking for something that feels less "processed". Made with just a few simple ingredients, its rich flavor and sour taste are unparalleled.
Best Cream Cheese Substitutes (with Dairy)
If you don’t have dietary restrictions that preclude you from eating dairy products, then the following options are the best options for substituting cream cheese in cheesecake.
Homemade Cream Cheese
If you're looking for something truly special, look no further than homemade cream cheese. It can be prepared in a huge variety of flavors and is inexpensive and simple to make.
Mascarpone cheese has a rich, creamy velvety texture. It looks similar to cream cheese, but has a mildly sweet, nutty flavor that is ideal for cheesecake.
Cottage cheese is soft, has a mild flavor, and slightly grainy moist texture. It's best used in baking because once whipped, it has an amazing creamy texture and taste. That said, it also works well as sauces and dips or spreads on your favorite bagel! You may use cottage cheese in a 1:1 substitution ratio.
Ricotta cheese is not as sweet, and firm as compared to cream cheese but is still creamy. If you're planning to use ricotta as a base for your cheesecake then try adding a bit of plain yogurt in an equal amount to make it creamier.
Neufchatel is most similar to low-fat cream cheese. It has a gritty, firmer texture that makes it ideal for spreading. Try using a 1:1 ratio of Neufchatel in place of cream cheese.
This is probably the easiest swap, especially if you want a light, high-protein cream cheese substitute. It has a thick texture with a creamy and tangy taste, but is thinner and softer than cream cheese, so expect some differences in final texture. Use the same amount of this product in place of cream cheese.
Quark is a German cheese that's similar to Greek yogurt. It has a mild slightly sour flavor profile and when it is used in cheesecake, it gives the cake light and airy texture. Quark is less tangy than cream cheese, so, if your recipe calls for a little bit of sourness then add a teaspoon of lemon juice to make up for it!
Goat Cheese and/or Creme Fraiche
Both goat cheese and creme fraiche have a creamy, tangy taste similar to cream cheese. To lessen the tanginess of the goat cheese, you can mix in a bit of honey or use a sweetened version. For every cup of cream cheese, you can use ¾ cup of goat cheese. However, if you plan to substitute creme fraiche then use a 1:1 substitution ratio.
Kefir cheese is a fresh, tangy cheese made from milk that's been fermented with kefir grains. It's similar in taste and texture to cream cheese. To substitute kefir cheese in place of cream cheese, use the same amount. The only difference is that kefir cheese is slightly more sour than cream cheese, so you may want to add a bit of sugar to balance out the flavor.
Sour cream makes an excellent substitution for cream cheese in recipes. It has a tangy flavor and soft consistency perfect for a cheesecake recipe at home. Sour cream can also be used as a topping for baked goods or as a dip for fruits and vegetables. When substituting sour cream for cream cheese, use a 1:1 ratio.
Vegan / Dairy Free Substitutes for Cream Cheese in Cheesecake
If you're looking for a vegan or dairy-free substitute for cream cheese in cheesecake, you're in luck. There are several great options to choose from. Each substitute has its own unique flavor and texture, so you can choose the one that best suits your needs. So whether you're vegan or dairy free, there's sure to be a perfect substitute for you.
Vegan Cream Cheese (Store Bought)
If you're looking for a delicious, cruelty-free alternative to cream cheese, look no further than store-bought vegan cream cheese. Just as rich and creamy as its traditional counterpart, vegan cream cheese is made from plant-based ingredients.
Here are some of the best vegan cream cheese you can use.
- Kite Hill: Kite Hill's artisanal cream cheese is made from Artisan Almond Milk and is available in plain, chive and onion, and garden veggie. It's rich, creamy, and delicious. Trust me, you won't be missing dairy one bit.
- Miyoko’s Creamery: Miyoko Schinner is a pioneer in the vegan cheese world, and her namesake brand does not disappoint. Her line of vegan cheeses includes a variety of cream cheese flavors, including Plainly Classic, fish-free lox, everything, savory scallion, and cinnamon raisin. They're all fantastic, you should try them.
- Tofutti: Tofutti was one of the first companies to create vegan cream cheese, and their product is still going strong today. It's available in original, garlic and herb, herbs and chive, and whipped plain. Personally, I think the original is the best, but they're all pretty tasty.
- Trader Joe’s: Trader Joe's recently launched its own line of vegan cream cheese spread that comes in three delicious flavors: plain (my favorite), and chive & onion. At just $2 per container, it's also one of the most affordable options on this list. Definitely worth checking out!
- Daiya: Daiya is a leader in plant-based foods, and their line of vegan cream cheeses does not disappoint. They offer four flavors: plain (which is nice and tangy), chive & onion (my second favorite), strawberry (sweet and delicious), and roasted garlic & herbs (which is great for savory dishes). All are definitely worth trying!
- Violife: Violife's line of vegan cream cheeses come in both block and spreadable form and come in a variety of delicious flavors including original (nice and tangy), and chives & onions (a classic). They also offer other vegan products that you will surely love.
- Kroger Simple Truth: Kroger's Simple Truth brand offers an affordable vegan cream cheese option that comes in two flavors: original and chives & onion. I've tried both and they're both pretty good—especially considering the price! If you're looking for a cheap option, this is definitely worth checking out.
- Treeline: Treeline offers three types of vegan cream cheese plain, chives & onion, and strawberry. These are some delicious alternatives that will fulfill your cravings for tangy deliciousness while being good for vegans.
Make your own vegan cream cheese
If you don't have any of the vegan cream cheese alternatives we mentioned above, you can easily create them at home.
Here are a few more homemade vegan cream cheese ideas:
Silken Tofu (Vegan), Lemon Juice, and Margarine
I have a delicious and easy way to substitute vegan cream cheese for your favorite dishes that use it. All you need is some silken tofu, margarine, and lemon.Combine those three components in a food processor (along with sweetener) and pulse until the mixture reaches your desired consistency.
Cashew or Almond-Based Cream Cheese
This is a bit more of an involved recipe, but it's well worth the effort. You'll need raw cashews or almonds (I prefer cashews because they blend up smoother), water, salt, lemon juice, coconut cream, and apple cider vinegar. Simply soak the nuts for at least 24 hours, then drain and rinse them. Add all ingredients into a high-speed blender or food processor and blend until it has a smooth texture.
Coconut Milk + Coconut Butter
This is the fastest and most straightforward way to make vegan cream cheese. The natural sweetness of coconut milk combined with a richer texture from coconut butter creates an amazing base. Simply combine coconut milk and coconut butter in a mixing bowl. Allow cooling to room temperature and you're good to go!
Hummus (flavored with sweet spices)
This one might sound a bit strange, but hear me out. You can use store-bought or homemade hummus as a base for vegan cream cheese. If you're looking for a dairy-free alternative, hummus is another great choice along with sweeteners.
If you're looking for some delectable cheesecake recipes, check these out: