Cheesecake is one of those desserts that you simply can’t get enough of. While the vast majority of recipes call for cream cheese as the base ingredient, there are actually a few other options available.
So, if you’re either out of cream cheese or looking to mix things up a bit and make something unique, this article is for you.
The best substitutes for cream cheese in cheesecake are ricotta cheese, sour cream, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, tofu, mascarpone cheese, Neufchatel cheese, and coconut milk combined with coconut butter.
Each option offers a different spin on traditional cheesecake. In this article, you’ll learn not only my best suggestions but also exactly why they made the list.
1. Ricotta Cheese
A perfect cheesecake has a smooth, creamy center that basically melts in your mouth. Ricotta cheese is an Italian whey cheese that has a very distinct texture that is perfect for a cheesecake. It is almost like a smoother, creamier version of cottage cheese except with a slightly different taste.
Ricotta may have a little bit of grainy texture to it, but overall it is a smooth, scoopable cheese that can really add a creamy element to this famous dessert. This is primarily because this cheese has a firmer texture but still can have a creamy aftertaste.
Additionally, ricotta comes in whole milk or low-fat varieties. Either one is suitable to use in this recipe; however, the whole milk variation will be a bit creamier and have more flavor behind it. If you are watching your fat intake, the low-fat option is also a great choice!
2. Sour Cream
Sour cream is often used in combination with creamed cheese to give cheesecakes an extra zip of tang. However, if there isn’t cream cheese to be found, using just sour cream is a possibility. The texture is already thick and creamy, making it is a great substitute. When the addition of sugar is used, this will bring the balance that is needed to level out the tartness of the sour cream.
3. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is a super-thick, super-healthy food all on its own. When using it in baked goods, it can really elevate a dessert! Like sour cream, it has a bit of tanginess to it, which is essential for a good cheesecake. Once again, when adding the sugar will balance out the flavor profile. Using vanilla greek yogurt can be another variation as well, which adds its own bit of sweetness.
Like tofu, greek yogurt can be transformed into its own variation of cream cheese as well. The trick is to remove any excess whey in the yogurt. To do this, it is best to let the yogurt sit in a cheesecloth over a bowl overnight or up to 2 days in the fridge. The key is to put something heavy on top to help remove the excess moisture from the whey in the yogurt. Adding some salt or olive oil can help the process as well. The yogurt will get a cheesy-like texture to it.
This substitution in a cheesecake recipe is best when combined with honey to a natural addition of sweetness instead of using traditional sugar. However, regular sugar can be used in the recipe as well.
4. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is a cheese that people either love or hate. Those opinions are probably formed based on the cheese’s chunky texture. Cottage cheese is…well, curds of cheese that are rather wet. It can make a good substitute in cheesecake desserts because of its creamy elements. The trick is to maximize the texture and reduce the wetness in the cheese.
To do this, the cheese can be strained out using a fine-mesh strainer. In doing so, the cottage cheese is made silky and becomes drier, which is necessary for this type of recipe. When prepping the filling for the recipe, using a food processor will further make the consistency of the cottage cheese just perfect.
Tofu is an excellent vessel for creating recipe bases. This mashed soybean alternative is trendy among vegans and vegetarians because there aren’t any dairy products in it. From dessert to savory dishes, tofu can do it all! This even includes cream cheese! For vegans or vegetarians who are missing this delicious dessert, making tofu-based creamed cheese is super easy.
The key to recreating the same texture and tang behind the original cheese in this recipe is by using super-firm tofu. It simply holds more body in the recipe over silken tofu. Below is a quick recipe for whipping up tofu creamed cheese to use in this recipe!
Tofu-Based Creamed Cheese
- 1 package super-firm tofu
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon salt
Press the tofu to remove any excess water, then crumble into pieces and place them into a food processor or blender. Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse or blend several times. Continuously blend or process on high until the texture is silky smooth. Only add very small amounts of water if needed if the mixture appears too thick.
The combination of these ingredients will produce a spreadable cheese base similar to dairy creamed cheese. Some say that using Keifer cheese and chia seeds can make a suitable vegan or vegetarian creamed cheese; however, Keifer cheese generally isn’t very good when heated.
6. Mascarpone Cheese
Mascarpone is used in an abundance of desserts like cakes, tiramisu, etc. This white Italian cheese has a super velvety quality to it. When used in recipes that require some form of creamy cheese, mascarpone becomes the star of the show. This is possibly the best substitution to consider in place of traditional creamed cheese. The biggest perk to using this type of cheese in this dessert is that it is naturally sweet. It could easily be used in low-carb recipes to help cut out some of the sugar content.
Mascarpone’s composition is very similar to traditional cream cheese. Furthermore, it is considered a “triple” creamed cheese, which gives it similar smoothness to the original cheese used in this recipe. However, it could be argued that mascarpone is even more decadent due to its high-fat content. Using this as a substitute can really add some dimension of flavor to a basic cheesecake recipe!
7. Neufchatel Cheese
Neufchatel and cream cheese are often confused for each other. However, there are some differences that make each one stand on their own. Neufchatel is remarkably similar in taste and texture to cream cheese but only when it is a younger version of Neufchatel. As this cheese ages, it becomes a little more pungent in flavor.
This cheese is often confused with the traditional soft cheese in this type of recipe because it is also a white block of spreadable cheese. However, appearances can be deceiving as Neufchatel has a little bit of a nuttier taste to it but still retains the creamy texture that is so familiar. What makes Neufchatel so impressive as a substitute is that it still has a lush texture while having 1/3 less fat in it!
8. Coconut Milk Combined with Coconut Butter
A lot of keto recipes feature coconut milk and butter. This unique approach to food prep can be applied to creamed cheese used in this popular dessert. Blending together coconut milk and butter will result in an ultra-plush texture that is very reminiscent of the real thing. However, it is important to note that nutritional yeast has to be added to mimic that cheesy taste. Nutritional yeast is a common ingredient in many vegan or vegetarian dishes, and it can be keto-friendly as well if used in a small amount!
What Is The Healthiest Cream Cheese Substitute?
Using healthy ingredients not only makes us feel good but also can help us stay on track with good eating habits. When using healthier alternatives in our favorite desserts, it also helps us stay on track! When it comes to cream cheese, the most nutritional substitute is one that is low in fat while still providing the appropriate texture.
Neufchatel cheese fits this bill as it has 1/3 less fat than regular cream cheese. But, to get even healthier, perhaps the healthiest choice is to transform greek yogurt into a creamed cheese vessel. While there is some work behind it, the efforts prove well worth it!
Greek yogurt is known for its health benefits! It has tons of protein, some vitamins, and calcium. While those are great perks, the most significant health benefit behind greek yogurt is its probiotics. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that help promote healthy stomachs. So the extra work in making greek yogurt suitable for a cheesecake recipe also yields many health benefits as well!
I hope this article has given you some ideas on how to create that next great cheesecake for your friends or family! Don’t forget to provide a favorite topping to go on top. My favorite is a sweet strawberry sauce, what’s yours?
Thanks for stoppin’ by!
For more, don’t miss How To Crush Graham Crackers | The Best Way.
Hi, I’m Anne but my grandchildren call me Jelly Grandma. I have over 50 years of experience as a Southern cook and am a retired librarian. I love sharing what I have learned. You can find me on YouTube as well! Just click the link at the bottom of your page.
I hope your visit here has been a sweet one.