How To Substitute Mascarpone For Cream Cheese & Other Excellent Alternatives

Wondering if mascarpone is the best substitute for cream cheese? You are about to find out.

We all have that one magic ingredient for every recipe. For my tiramisu, creamy pasta, pastries, and special desserts, it’s cream cheese or nothing else.

But, one day, I couldn’t get any at the stores, and rather than stop my tiramisu, I decided to use mascarpone cheese.

Cream cheese and mascarpone look very much alike, and I thought it could work. Did it work? Yes, it did and my tiramisu came out perfectly. In this article, I’ll show you how and why you can substitute mascarpone for cream cheese.

What is mascarpone?

mascarpone cheese - millenora

Mascarpone is a soft, silky Italian cheese made with heavy cream and citric or tartaric acid.

It is high in butterfat (60-75% butterfat) and very creamy with a mildly sweet taste, nutty flavor, and buttery consistency. Mascarpone has a tangy taste but not like ricotta and American cream cheese.

Tartaric or citric acid is added to full-fat cream as it heats to solidify it rather than make it sour.

As the cream heats, the curds separate from the whey. The curds are then heated into the smooth, buttery mascarpone cheese.

Mascarpone is a key ingredient in Italian desserts like tiramisu and cannoli, cheesecakes, cake frosting, risotto, and many sauces.

If you are craving something indulging with a little bit of tart, you can spread mascarpone over your favorite bread.

What is cream cheese?

cream cheese - millenora

Cream cheese is fresh unripened or unaged cheese made from milk and cream, or cream only. It is a pasteurized soft cheese with a mild tangy taste.

Cream cheese can be made at home or industrially. In industrial production, lactic acid bacteria is added to the milk so it can curdle.

Afterward, heavy cream is added to the curds to make cream cheese and increase the milkfat content to the standard 33% approved by the United States.

Furthermore, commercial cream cheese contains additives like carrageenan and carob bean gum to enhance thickening and stabilize the cheese.

Cream cheese is a rich source of calcium, protein, fat, vitamin A, and several other vitamins and minerals.

The most common use of cream cheese is for spreading on bagels or toast and creaming up pasta sauces.

Other uses include making cream cheese salad dressing, mixing scrambled eggs, making savory quiches, making yogurt cream, stuffing chicken breasts, and dipping fruits and vegetables.

Can you substitute mascarpone for cream cheese?

Yes, you can. Mascarpone is an excellent cream cheese substitute. It looks and tastes a lot like cream cheese.

Some people call it “Italian cream cheese”. Although mascarpone is creamier and richer than cream cheese, it works for almost every recipe that requires cream cheese.

How to substitute mascarpone for cream cheese

Add more salt or lemon juice

Mascarpone is not as salty as cream cheese. If you want to use mascarpone as an alternative to cream cheese, you may need to add a little more salt or lemon juice to make it taste like cream cheese.

Make it thicker

Mascarpone is lighter than cream cheese. You can bring it up to the texture of cream cheese by adding a little flour. Whip the flour into the cheese to give it more hold.

However, the different adjustments you make to mascarpone to make it like cream cheese cannot fully take away its sweet taste.

It will work well in baked goods and your favorite Italian desserts but not in spreads, dips, casseroles, and savory salads.

Use mascarpone as it is

The best way to substitute mascarpone for cream cheese is to use it without making any adjustments, except if you would rather have the saltiness of cream cheese.

You can replace cream cheese with mascarpone in a ratio of 1:1 in cheesecake, tiramisu, sauces, and soups for a creamier texture and taste.

Mascarpone vs cream cheese


Mascarpone is made with heavy cream and citric or tartaric acid while cream cheese is made with milk, cream, and lactic acid bacteria.  

Fat content

The fat content in mascarpone is between 60-70% and the fat content in cream cheese is 33%.


Both cheeses are smooth and spreadable but mascarpone is lighter, more velvety, and has a richer mouthfeel.


Cream cheese is tangy while mascarpone is slightly sweet and has an acidic taste.


Cream cheese works well in savory and sweet dishes. It can also be used in tiramisu but mascarpone is the best choice if you prefer the rich creaminess over the salty cream cheese.  

However, cream cheese is best used for making creamy salads, dips, spreads, cake icings, and frostings.

You can use both cheeses in casseroles but mascarpone is the best choice if you want rich creamy casserole.

Is mascarpone the best substitute for cream cheese?

Yes, it is. Mascarpone is richer and creamier than cream cheese. It is also better than other types of cheese that are usually used as substitutes for cream cheese.

Is Philadelphia cream cheese the same as mascarpone?

Philadelphia cream cheese is a brand of cream cheese, not mascarpone. It is a rich cream cheese that was first produced in 1872.

Its unique process of production –  the blending process, starter culture, and coagulating enzyme – makes it different from other cream cheese brands.

What other substitutes can you use to replace cream cheese?

Ricotta cheese

ricotta cheese - millenora

Ricotta cheese is not as smooth as mascarpone but its grainy texture works well for cheesecake and lasagna. You’ll be luckier with fresh full-fat ricotta. You can also make do with stabilized ricotta in baked dishes.

If you must have smooth ricotta, whip in some full-fat yogurt or heavy cream. And if you want something lighter than cream cheese for your sauces and spreads, ricotta is the best choice.

Cottage cheese

Cottage cheese - millenora

Looking for low-fat options? One of them is cottage cheese. Although its curds are more pronounced and make the cheese grainy, your blender can help you achieve something very close to mascarpone or cream cheese.

However, it doesn’t make a good spread. Cottage cheese is best used in savory dishes because of its tangy taste. To cook or bake with cottage cheese in place of cream cheese, add some heavy cream or half-and-half.

Neufchatel cheese

Neufchatel cheese - millenora

Neufchatel is a French cheese that shares a lot of similarities with cream cheese. But, it has more moisture which makes it an ideal substitute in dips, sauces, and spreads. It is also a low-fat option.

Dairy-free cream cheese

dairy-free cream cheese - millenora

Make vegan cream cheese with cashews, coconut, non-dairy yogurt or cream, lemon juice, and maybe some chives. You will find some recipes online. You can also buy dairy-free cream cheese at the stores.

Greek yogurt

greek yogurt - millenora

Greek yogurt is another workable substitute for cream cheese except for its tangy taste, if you do not mind that.

It is thick and creamy just like cream cheese but not like mascarpone. You may add a little salt, if you like, or reduce the tanginess with a little more heavy cream.

You can easily incorporate Greek yogurt into dips, spreads, and baked casseroles.

Sour cream

sour cream - millenora

Looking for a low-calorie cream cheese substitute? You should try sour cream.  It tastes like cream cheese but is slightly tangier and creamier.

Sour cream is a good alternative for your cheesecake and baked goods. It adds a rich creaminess to cheesecake and gives baked goods an airy and moist texture.

Goat cheese

goat cheese - millenora

Goat cheese will be nice in dips that need cream cheese, except for its crumbly texture. But, it’s not something a little blending and heavy cream cannot fix.

These will help you achieve the smooth creamy texture of cream cheese and you can add goat cheese to your recipe.

Silken tofu

silken tofu - millenora

Silken tofu is a vegan option like vegan cream cheese. It does not taste like it but you can make it taste like cream cheese by adding lemon juice and vanilla.

If you are eating vegan and can’t find any vegan cream cheese brands, you might as well make your vegan cheesecake with silken tofu.

Blend the tofu to attain the texture of cream cheese and incorporate it into your pie, cheesecake, and spreads.


hummus - millenora

You must be wondering… hummus? Yes, hummus. It does not taste like cream cheese, but you’ll agree that it has the same consistency as cream cheese.

Hummus is vegan and can also be a quick fix if you run out of cream cheese while making a breakfast spread or a dip for desserts.


quark - millenora

Quark is a German spreadable cheese made from buttermilk and heavy cream. It has a similar taste and flavor to cream cheese, except for its extra tanginess.

You make this substitution in a ratio of 1:1 when making cheesecake, cookies, sauces, spreads, and frostings.


Can you replace butter with mascarpone?

Yes, you can. Mascarpone is soft, smooth, and spreadable just like butter. It is a perfect butter substitute in Italian dishes and sweet treats. However, it is healthier than butter because it contains 40% less calories.

How long can you store mascarpone?

Mascarpone can be kept in the fridge for 5-7 days after opening. A closed pack of mascarpone will keep well until its best-by date. You should use it up within a week after opening.

As mascarpone chills in the fridge, it thickens. You can also freeze mascarpone to store it for as long as two months. However, the liquid separates from the solids as it thaws, and this compromises the texture and taste.

Why is mascarpone expensive?

Mascarpone costs twice the price of cream cheese because it is made of heavy cream and contains more milkfat than many other creams.


One of the many kitchen hacks you should have up your sleeves is a list of at least five substitutes for any ingredient, especially your magic ingredients. As you have learned in the article, cream cheese is not the “only best” cream for pasta and tiramisu.

Mascarpone cheese, sour cream, ricotta cheese, quark, Greek yogurt, and silken tofu, among others, are some other excellent alternatives for almost every recipe that requires cream cheese.

So, when next you are stocking up on cream cheese, grab some mascarpone, Greek yogurt, and more sour cream.

In addition, find out what substitutes I use to make lasagna whenever I run out of cottage cheese.

Thanks for reading.