While some people love the rich taste and smooth texture of cream cheese, others can’t stand it. As such, we’ve put together this post about cream cheese substitute options to help both groups of people — whether you love or hate cream cheese.
Perhaps you’ve run out of cream cheese and need to use something else. Or maybe you’re searching for an ingredient that tastes different than cream cheese but has a similar texture. Either way, you’re sure to find a viable solution with one of these cream cheese substitute ideas.
Most Popular Cream Cheese Substitute Options
By definition, cream cheese must contain at least 33% milkfat. It’s a creamy, gooey cheese that can be spread on bread, bagels, pastries, crackers, and more.
If you’re trying to find a cream cheese substitute because you’re a fan of rich and creamy foods, your best bet is to use another type of cheese. Fortunately, there are plenty of yummy cheeses that you can use instead of cream cheese.
Overall, the best and most straightforward cream cheese substitute is Neufchatel. It’s traditionally made in Normandy and is one of the oldest cheeses made in France.
In terms of taste and texture, Neufchatel is nearly identical to cream cheese and can be substituted in any recipe that calls for cream cheese. Even better, Neufchatel has less fat than cream cheese, so it’s a good swap if you’re looking to eat a bit healthier.
Cottage cheese and ricotta cheese have a similar spreadable consistency to cream cheese, although they’re lumpy instead of smooth. However, you can put either of these cheeses in a blender (with a bit of butter or yogurt) to make the texture similar to cream cheese.
Other cheeses have the same smooth consistency as cream cheese but taste slightly different. For instance, mascarpone is a sweet and silky Italian cheese that you can often find in desserts. Although mascarpone is a form of cream cheese, it tastes nothing like the Philadelphia Cream Cheese that you would buy in an American grocery store.
Dairy-Free and Vegan Options
If you don’t eat dairy, there are other cream cheese substitute choices you might want to consider. More brands are starting to produce vegan cream cheese, which is a fantastic alternative if you enjoy using cream cheese to spread on bagels and sandwiches.
On the other hand, if you just want a creamy spread to use instead of cream cheese (and don’t need the cheesy taste), there are plenty to choose from. Depending on your specific taste preferences, you might like hummus, nut butters (like peanut butter and almond butter), cashew cheese, or coconut butter.
However, if you’re merely looking for a rich taste (and don’t care about the creamy texture), you could use a dairy-free butter substitute, such as buttery spread or buttery sticks.
With so many different uses, cream cheese is a versatile food that adds a rich taste and velvety texture to any dish. But for those times when you can’t use the real stuff, any of these substitutes should do just fine.
Looking for more recipe swaps and substitutes? Check out the Tastessence blog.