7 Best Substitutes For Cream Cheese In Cheesecake
There’s nothing quite so decadent and delicious as a creamy cheesecake. Whether you prefer a classic plain cheesecake or one with all the bells and whistles (fudgey toppings, cookie crumbles, caramel sauce, fresh berries – the sky is the limit), they never disappoint.
But what if you’re getting ready to make your delicious cheesecake, look in the fridge, and realize you forgot to pick up the cream cheese?
Never fear, there are loads of delicious alternatives you can use to make a cheesecake that will have you forgetting you ever used cream cheese in the first place.
So, what are the best substitutes for cream cheese in a cheesecake? You can use cottage cheese, mascarpone, soft tofu, cashew cream, sour cream, ricotta cheese, yogurt, or quark. While you might need to make some other changes to your recipe, these options are great substitutes if you don’t have cream cheese.
Read on to discover how to use these 7 best substitutes for cream cheese in your cheesecake.
1. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is a great choice for those looking for a slightly healthier alternative to cream cheese.
It is a fresh, unaged cheese that is made by heating whole milk and setting it using rennet. The set curds are cooked until they are soft and slightly bouncy to the touch.
This texture makes cottage cheese a fantastic substitute for cream cheese in a cheesecake recipe. In order to get the right texture, you will want to blend together equal parts cottage cheese and heavy cream until smooth.
Once you have made the cottage cheese and cream mixture, you can use it as directed in your cheesecake recipe. If you want to add a bit of tanginess to more closely approximate the cream cheese, you can add a teaspoon or two of lemon juice for every cup of cottage cheese mixture.
Blend the lemon juice in and you’ve got a tangy, rich, and creamy alternative to cream cheese that will allow you to make a tasty cheesecake with a unique flavor and silky texture.
We’ve actually published a whole recipe for cheesecake without cream cheese using cottage cheese instead. It’s creamy, moist, and oh-so-delicious!
In the US, we might not be quite as familiar with mascarpone cheese, since it’s traditionally made and used in Italy. However, mascarpone is growing in popularity and makes an amazing substitute for cream cheese.
It is a soft set Italian cream cheese made by adding acid to cream and gently heating it to thicken. It is then passed through a sieve to create a rich, tangy, and creamy texture.
As you might imagine, this similarity to cream cheese makes it an amazing substitute to use in cheesecake recipes since you can go with a one-to-one substitution.
There is no need to add anything extra, unless you want it to be slightly tangier, in which case a squeeze of lemon will do.
Sometimes though, if you want something different, you can combine equal parts mascarpone with either cottage cheese or soft/silken tofu. Blend them up until smooth and use in place of cream cheese for a unique combination of flavors.
3. Soft Or Silken Tofu
For folks who are looking for a dairy-free substitution for cream cheese, soft or silken tofu is a wonderful option. It has a beautiful creamy texture and a mild flavor that will take on whatever extracts or flavors you add to it.
The one downside is that it doesn’t have that characteristic tanginess that we love about a cream cheese. You will also have to blend it a little with some coconut or dairy cream to get the smooth texture that is similar to cream cheese.
We suggest 32 ounces of tofu combined with one 13.5 ounce can of coconut milk to get the right amount and consistency for one cheesecake. You can then add a couple of teaspoons of lemon juice to the mixture get the zing that you want in a good cheesecake.
4. Cashew Cream
If you want another wonderful dairy-free substitution for cream cheese in your cheesecake, then making your own cashew cream is a wonderful choice. You can easily make your own cashew cream at home with a few ingredients.
- 2 cups of cashews
- 3 cups of water
- 2 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- 1/4 cup coconut milk or water
- 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
- 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast (optional)
- Soak the cashews overnight or for at least 6-8 hours in the three cups of water and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
- Once the cashews have swelled in size and break apart easily when touched, pour them through a strainer.
- Place the cashews, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, coconut milk, sea salt, and nutritional yeast in a high speed blender or food processor and blend until smooth. You may need to add more water or coconut milk to get a creamy consistency.
- Place in the fridge for a couple of hours to set then use as directed in your cheesecake recipe.
5. Sour Cream
Sour cream is beautifully creamy and acidic, which makes it a lovely substitute for cream cheese in a cheesecake recipe.
It might not be as thick as cream cheese, so adding in a bit of flour, corn starch, or tapioca starch can help to give it the right consistency.
You could also try combining it with the cashew cream, tofu, mascarpone, cottage cheese, ricotta, or yogurt to make a decadent and delicious variation on a traditional cheesecake. Adding it to one of these more solid substitutions will give you a unique and creamy texture your friends will rave about.
6. Ricotta Cheese
Another fresh Italian cheese that is starting to become more popular stateside is ricotta cheese.
This substitute is right up there with cottage cheese and mascarpone, so we’ve even published a no-bake ricotta cheesecake recipe that may be exactly what you’re looking for!
Ricotta cheese makes a great substitute for cream cheese because it is mild in flavor with a nice milky taste. Since it is so fresh and a little crumbly, you will want to combine it with another substitution for the best results.
Here are some combinations to try:
- Ricotta and Greek Yogurt – The Greek yogurt will add some extra acidity and smoothness to the ricotta cheese. We suggest using equal parts of each and blending them together until smooth and creamy.
- Ricotta and Mascarpone – These two fresh Italian cheeses are a match made in heaven. Again, you will want to use roughly equal amounts of each and blend together until smooth. You can add some lemon juice if you find that the final mixture isn’t tangy enough for you.
7. Yogurt or Quark
Finally, another great substitution for cream cheese in cheesecake is yogurt (specifically Greek yogurt or Skyr) or quark. These options are both tangy, creamy dairy options that can be used in combination with some other substitutions on this list to make a unique and tasty cheesecake.
Quark is similar to some other cheeses on this list in that it is made by heating soured milk until it thickens. It is then passed through a strainer to create a creamy, spreadable cheese with a tangy and delicious flavor.
Greek yogurt, or Skyr, which is an Icelandic yogurt-like dairy product that is super high in protein and low in fat, can be used as substitutes for cream cheese as well. They both have a nice tangy flavor and smooth texture that lends itself to baking.
With that being said, you will want to combine both quark and Greek yogurt or Skyr with another substitute to get the perfect cream cheese texture.
- Greek Yogurt/Skyr/Quark and Cottage Cheese – Combining equal parts of Greek yogurt and cottage cheese in a blender until they are smooth and creamy will give you a wonderful substitute for cream cheese in your cheesecake.
- Greek Yogurt/Skyr/Quark and Tofu – you can combine equal parts Greek yogurt/Skyr and silken or soft tofu in a blender. Mix until you achieve a smooth and creamy texture that you can use to substitute your cream cheese in your favorite cheesecake recipe.
The combinations that you can use are really interesting and each option will give you a subtle difference in flavor when it comes to your final cheesecake.
As you can see, there are plenty of delicious substitutes you can use to replace cream cheese in your cheesecake recipe.
Some of them work great on their own and others should be combined with other ingredients to get the perfect texture and flavor.
The 7 best substitutes for cream cheese in cheesecake are cottage cheese, mascarpone cheese, ricotta cheese, silken or soft tofu, sour cream, cashew cream, and Greek yogurt, Skyr, or quark cheese.
We like to combine a couple of these options for a silky-smooth, decadent, and unique cheesecake.
Do you have any favorite substitutes for cream cheese in cheesecake? Let us know in the comments.
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