Trust me, you’ve probably come across Mascarpone cheese at least once. This classy Italian beauty is a true queen with its rich, creamy texture and subtly sweet flavor, which take our cake frostings and desserts to a whole new level!
But let’s face it: not everyone can grab instant Mascarpone cheese for their sweet or savory recipes whenever they want. And even if you can, the price might be a bit of a turn-off!
Luckily, I’ve discovered some awesome Mascarpone cheese substitutes you can easily make at home or snag from any local store. Let’s check them out!
Consideration Before Using Mascarpone Substitutes
Before finding what to substitute for Mascarpone cheese, let’s figure out why you need one in the first place. Are you skipping dairy, aiming to cut down on fat, or maybe just found an empty jar of Mascarpone in your fridge?
Now, Mascarpone itself is a creamy dream with a buttery, rich, and slightly tangy flavor. Plus, it’s super velvety and thick – kinda like a cozy blanket for your taste buds. So keep in mind that dense texture when seeking an alternative; trust me, it’s a big part of that Mascarpone magic!
Top 11 Substitutions for Mascarpone
Crème Fraîche and sour cream bring unique tastes and handle heat like pros. Then there’s ricotta, Mascarpone’s flavor buddy, perfect for cheesecakes and spreads. Cream cheese, Greek yogurt, and cottage cheese are also the go-to for rich textures.
And what if you’re into vegan stuff? Then silken tofu, cashew cream, and clotted cream should work like a charm. And hey, don’t forget dairy-free cream cheese, butter, and coconut cream, although they might not fit every baking recipe perfectly.
1. Crème Fraîche
Crème Fraîche, that creamy cheese from France, is Mascarpone’s cousin from across the border.
You know how the Italians and French love to debate over who’s got the better ingredients, especially with wine? Good news: both Mascarpone and Crème Fraîche are top-notch, lavish, and super delicious. They’re practically twins in texture, so feel free to swap one for the other!
Texture aside, Crème Fraîche also has a slightly nutty flavor that hits all the right spots, and it can take the heat like a champ without getting clumpy. What does that mean? You can stir it straight into your baked desserts for that final touch, spreading that silky, glazed magic all over!
2. Sour Cream
Another cool swap for Mascarpone: sour cream! It’s a tad different from our Crème Fraîche but still shares many similarities.
Sour cream, Crème Fraîche, and Mascarpone are all very thick, but sour cream takes the acidity crown. That’s why it’s a bit tangier than its two buddies, and that slightly tart taste adds a really nice depth and creaminess to our dishes.
While many of my friends mostly use sour cream for Mexican food, it’s actually a versatile ingredient that fits into many sweet recipes! Sprinkling some sour cream in the batter makes your cake super tender and moist – a total game-changer. And the best part? You can find sour cream in just about any grocery store!
But a heads-up: Sour cream has less fat content than Mascarpone and isn’t a fan of extreme heat. To dodge any temperature issues, I usually blend sour cream away from the heat, then mix it at room temp or gently fold it onto my cake batter.
Also, never go for reduced-fat or fat-free versions. Trust me; they don’t quite pack the same flavor punch and might even throw off your savory dish.
3. Ricotta Cheese
You know what’s kinda like Mascarpone but with a lighter, fluffier vibe? Right, ricotta! It’s a bit similar to cottage cheese but still shares some tasty stuff with Mascarpone. Both are Italian goodies but come from different places: Mascarpone hangs out in the north, while ricotta’s more of a southern star in places like Sicily or Calabria.
And here’s a cool tidbit: even though we call it cheese, ricotta’s technically not exactly cheese! This guy’s more like a by-product during cheese-making.
Let me explain. Mascarpone and ricotta start from the same, heating milk, except Mascarpone is from curd while ricotta’s the whey leftover from other cheeses like Mascarpone. Bakers give it another spin with lemon juice, cook it up again, and strain it once more to make ricotta! No wonder “ricotta” means “recooked” in Italian, which totally fits its origin story.
Therefore, ricotta’s creamier than Mascarpone and has this chill, neutral vibe that can mix well with stuff like garlic or lemon zest. It’s also killer when baked into a rocking cheesecake or slathered on fresh sourdough with a sprinkle of flaky salt and olive oil!
To make ricotta fit the bill, scout for a brand that’s got that ultra-fine texture. Oh, and remember to give your ricotta a good whip before tossing it into your recipe; that will make it sit right in!
4. Cream Cheese
Cream cheese isn’t just for bagels. It’s a total kitchen MVP for both baking and cooking and a fantastic Mascarpone substitute! At its best, cream cheese adds a wonderful creamy, tangy punch to various dishes.
But listen: go for the full-fat cream cheese and skip the whipped versions unless you want an entirely different texture! And hold off on the flavored cream cheeses unless you’re certain they’ll jazz up your recipe.
That chive-packed cream cheese does its job in simple cookie recipes or cakes with scrambled eggs, but it will throw a flavor curveball in more delicate dishes. And watch out for that strawberry cream cheese; this guy’s loaded with sugar and might make your dessert way too sweet.
Softening up your block of cream cheese is a must before diving into any recipe. But what if you forgot to take it off the fridge in time? No sweat! Just dunk it in warm water for about 15-20 minutes. Ditch the packaging once it’s all softened; now you’re all set to create something magical!
5. Greek Yogurt
Hey, you’d be surprised how much yogurt can do beyond a simple breakfast. This fabulous guy can totally stand in as a replacement for Mascarpone cheese, and guess what? It’s probably hanging out in your fridge right now!
Yogurt’s tangy kick brings in that much-needed creamy flavor to any dish, which makes it a super easy swap. One thing, though: picking the right yogurt type can be a maze when there are so many options.
So my tip is to stick with Greek yogurt over regular; it’s got more fat and protein just like Mascarpone – and thicker, too, a dead ringer for Mascarpone’s texture compared to other substitutes! Greek yogurt is also a fab choice if you crave that rich creaminess without all the extra fat.
All in all, this yogurt works wonders in both baking and cooking, twice better when you pop it over stone fruits atop the cake. But just like sour cream, this stand-in can get a bit finicky and curdled, so toss it far away from the heat just to be safe!
6. Cottage Cheese
Looking to switch your Mascarpone for something lighter? Check out cottage cheese, which’s gaining massive popularity as a healthier alternative and packs a punch in the nutrition department.
Cottage cheese is low in calories but high in protein, a smart choice for that creamy feel without the excessive fat. Plus, it’s got more protein than even Greek yogurt and is chock-full of extra nutrients to keep you feeling well-fed. Some brands (e.g., Good Culture) have also given this old-school ingredient a cool new vibe that appeals more to today’s crowd!
Now, I understand some people aren’t big fans of cottage cheese’s texture; it’s admittedly a bit chunkier and firmer than Mascarpone. But no sweat! To make it creamier, just blend this soft cheese with a splash of water.
And here’s the fun part: cottage cheeses have a mild flavor, so go wild with cake spice! Consider adding stuff like salt, parmesan cheese, nutritional yeast – whatever floats your flavor boat – to amp up the final taste.
7. Silken Tofu
Are you exploring a plant-based or vegan lifestyle or just trying to cut back on some dairy? Then trade in Mascarpone for tofu! Tofu is like a blank canvas in the kitchen with barely any flavor profile on its own, so it’ll soak whatever tastes you throw its way.
And here’s the trick I always use when tofu shopping: grab silken tofu instead of firmer ones.
Silken tofu can bring that lovely, buttery Mascarpone-like finish to your cakes, especially in vegan recipes. It’s also a superstar in dressings and desserts like custards or puddings, blending much more smoothly into your dish than firmer tofu. Plus, it can handle the heat easily without breaking apart, perfect for high-temperature baking!
And a bonus: soft tofu also brings a lot of nutrients to the table. Like cottage cheese, it’s low-calorie and packed with protein, minerals and vitamins. How cool is that?
Oh, a small note: do not press your silken tofu once it’s drained, or this poor guy might lose shape. Been there, done that, and hated it a lot; thank you very much!
8. Cashew Cream
Behold cashew cream, the vegan answer to Mascarpone cheese! But you might not spot it in your regular grocery run and probably need to hit one of those fancy wellness markets. No biggie, though! Making cashew cream is a total breeze, I promise.
All you need are some water and cashews, then chuck them in a plastic container or glass and let them soak overnight. That water will work its magic, softening up the nuts so they blend into a smooth, creamy delight, just like Mascarpone.
After about 12 hours, toss everything (those soaked cashews, the water they soaked in, plus a pinch of salt) into a blender. Whizz it up until it’s smooth as silk and hits that perfect texture you’re after.
And here’s where the fun begins: you can jazz up this heavy cream a little! Either boost its “cheesy” taste with some strong cake spice/nutritional yeast or throw in some capers for an extra kick. Want an even deeper flavor? Toast or roast those cashews before the soaking party; it’ll bring a whole new level of yum!
Once everything’s all blended up, pop it in the fridge to chill happily for about 5 to 7 days. If you’ve got some extra cream, freeze it in an airtight container; it’ll sit there for a whopping 6 months! Talk about a handy kitchen hack.
9. Clotted Cream
Straight from the UK, there’s an amazing dairy gem called clotted cream. This Mascarpone cousin is a hit in the kitchens thanks to its lusciously thick, velvety texture.
You’ve probably seen it sitting pretty on scones before; that’s right, it’s a classic gig! I know this cream’s a bit too rich for cooking, but it’s a total champ in baking desserts or as a dollop atop your favorite dish.
Here’s how they make it. They start with full-fat milk, gently heat it ‘til the cream separates, and then skim it twice to kill any leftover milk bits. This creamy consistency gets some time to “clot” before it’s baked at low temp so that all those buttery fats can settle. The result? Kinda like softened American cream cheese or ice cream, but with a buttery, slightly sweet taste that’s just downright amazing.
Once you pop open that cream jar, it’s best to enjoy it within 3-4 days. If you’ve any leftovers, freezing is your best friend for later cravings.
10. Dairy Free Cream & Vegan Cream Cheese
Leading a vegan life? Then you’re in for a tread; There’s a bunch of awesome dairy-free cream cheeses out there that are just as creamy as the real deal.
So, how should you use it as an alternative to Mascarpone? Well, just mix the cheese balls with your dairy-free cream. A dash of coconut milk from a carton (or even canned) also does the trick, but watch out for coconut cream; it can be a bit too thick for this job.
Finally, let’s give a round of applause for our last Mascarpone cheese substitution: butter! Ever wondered how restaurants get that glossy finish on their dishes? Yep, a sneaky knob of chilly butter does the trick like a charm!
Remember to keep an eye on whether your butter is unsalted or salted; that way, you can adjust the amount just right. For example, if you’re using salted butter, go easy on any extra salt elsewhere in the cake; you don’t want things to get too racy, do you?
But I have to say, butter might not be a total rockstar for more complex baking recipes. Baking’s all about precision, you see, and the butter’s makeup and flavors are quite different from Mascarpone. That means butter will not always play the same game as other dairy stuff – unless the recipe instructions specifically give it the thumbs up.
See? There are a bunch of substitutes for this famous Italian cheese out there! I know they might not hit that exact flavor mark, but you can still toss in some other goodies or tweak your favorite recipes a little for a fantastic taste. Oh, and we even have amazing vegan alternatives for some pickier fellas. How awesome is that?
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