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Best Cream Cheese Substitute For Cheesecake

Norah Clark
Raspberry, blueberry and strawberry cheesecake.

The best cream cheese substitute for cheesecakes are cottage cheese, mascarpone, soft tofu, cashew cream, sour cream, ricotta cheese, yogurt, or quark. Although you may have to make adjustments to your recipe these are fantastic alternatives for those who do not possess cream cheese.

There’s nothing as delicious as a smooth cheesecake. If you like a traditional cheesecake with no toppings or many bells and whistles, (fudge toppings and caramel sauce, cookie crumble, fresh berries, or caramel sauce) it will never disappoint.

But what happens when you’re getting ready to prepare a cheesecake and discover you don't have any cream cheese.

The Best Cream Cheese Substitute For Cheesecake

 

1. Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is a great option for those who want to use a healthier option than cream cheese.

This is a new, unaged cheese created by heating whole milk, then setting it with Rennet. The curds are cooked until they’re soft and somewhat bouncy.

This texture makes cottage cheese an excellent alternative to cream cheese in a cheesecake recipe. To achieve the perfect texture, you’ll need to mix equal portions of the heavy cream and cottage cheese until it is smooth.

Once you’ve prepared this cottage cheese and you’d like to add some tanginess that will more closely resemble cream cheese, add one or two teaspoons of lemon juice to each cup of cottage cheese mix.

Blend the lemon juice and you’ll have a delicious tangy rich, creamy substitute for cream cheese. 

2.  Mascarpone

 

This is a traditional cheese used in Italy. But, mascarpone is rising in popularity and can be a suitable alternative to cream cheese.

It is a soft-set Italian cream cheese created by mixing acid into cream and slowly heating it until it becomes thicker. The cheese is then filtered through a sieve in order to produce a rich, tangy and smooth texture.

It's resemblance to cream cheese is what makes it a great substitute for cheesecake recipes as you can make only one substitution.

There’s no requirement to add anything except if you want it to be a bit tangier, then lemon juice will suffice.

If you’re looking for something different, you could blend equal portions of mascarpone, cottage cheese, or silken tofu until smooth, creating a unique flavor combination.

3. Soft Or Silken Tofu

Silken or soft tofu is an excellent choice for making a dairy-free cheesecake. It is a gorgeous creamy texture as well as a pleasant flavor that will absorb any flavor or extracts you choose to add to it.

The only downside is that it lacks that distinctive tanginess that we enjoy in cream cheese. You’ll also need to blend it with coconut cream or dairy cream to achieve a creamy texture like cream cheese.

We recommend 32 ounces of tofu paired with 13.5-ounce coconut milk for the perfect quantity and consistency of one cheesecake. It is possible to add a few tablespoons lemon to give it the zing you want in a great cheesecake.

4. Cashew Cream

Another dairy-free alternative is homemade cashew cream. I make it using just a handful of ingredients.

Ingredients

  • Two cups cashews
  • Three cups of water
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 1 cup of coconut milk, or water
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons of nutritional yeast (optional)

Directions:

  1. The cashews should be soaked overnight or for minimum of 6-8 hours in 3 cups of water with 2 tablespoons of juice from a lemon.
  2. After the cashews are swollen in size and broken easily upon contact and poured through the strainer.
  3. Add the cashews and 1 tablespoon coconut milk, lemon juice sea salt, cashews, along with nutritional yeast into a high-speed mixer or food processor, and blend until the mixture is smooth. It is possible to add additional coconut milk or water to achieve a smooth consistency.
  4. Set it aside in the fridge for a few hours, then serve according to the recipe for cheesecake.

5. Sour Cream

Sour cream is acidic, which is why it’s a wonderful alternative to cream cheese in cheesecake recipes.

It doesn't have the same thickness as cream cheese but adding a small amount of corn starch, flour, or tapioca starch will give it the proper consistency.

You can also combine it with any of the following: cashew cream, tofu, cottage cheese, mascarpone yogurt, or ricotta. The combination can make a delicious and decadent alternative to a classic cheesecake. 

6. Ricotta Cheese

Another Italian cheese becoming more popular in America is ricotta cheese.

Ricotta cheese can be a wonderful alternative to cream cheese as it has a mild flavor with a pleasant milky flavor. Because it’s so fresh and not too fragile, you’ll want to mix it with another substitute for optimal results.

Below are some possible combinations to play with:

  • Ricotta plus Greek yogurt – It is believed that Greek yogurt can add more acidity and smoothness to the Ricotta cheese. We recommend using equal amounts of each and mixing them until they are smooth and creamy.
  • Ricotta and Mascarpone Mascarpone and Ricotta are an ideal match. You’ll want to use approximately equal amounts of each, and mix them until it’s smooth. You may also add lemon juice in the event that you think that the end result isn’t as tangy as you would like it to be.

7. Yogurt or Quark

Another great substitute for cream cheese could be to use quark or yogurt (specifically Greek yogurt or Skyr) or quark. Both are creamy dairy options that can be used together with other ingredients listed here to create an interesting and tasty cheesecake.

Quark is similar to other cheeses in this list in that it is created by heating sour milk until it becomes hot and think. Then it is filtered through a strainer to produce a creamy spreadable cheese with a sweet but tangy flavor.

Greek yogurt, also known as Skyr, is one of the Icelandic dairy items that's similar to yogurt. Rich in protein and low in fat, it can be used as a substitute for cream cheese. Both have a pleasant taste and texture that can be used in baking.

In the end, it is recommended to mix quark with Greek yogurt, or Skyr to create a perfectly textured cream cheese substitute.

  • Greek Yogurt/Skyr/Quark, Cottage Cheese Mixing equal portions of Greek yogurt and cottage cheese in a blender until they’re smooth and creamy replacing cream cheese.
  • Greek Yogurt/Skyr/Quark or Tofu – mix equal amounts of Greek yogurt/Skyr, and soft or silky tofu into the blender until you have the smooth and creamy texture, which you can then use to replace cream cheese.

You will have fun experimenting with the options above and each one will provide a slight taste variation in the final cheesecake.

Profile Image Norah Clark

Norah Clark

Norah Clark, Editor of Boyd Hampers! Norah is a food writer with over a decade of experience in hospitality as a pastry chef, sous chef, and barista; former chef at the Savoy Hotel, Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons and Plaza Hotel.

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