7 Substitutes for Mascarpone Cheese

by Ella

Mascarpone, with its rich and creamy texture, has become a staple in many kitchens, elevating both sweet and savory dishes. However, there are instances when this Italian cream cheese might be unavailable or you’re looking for a healthier or more readily accessible alternative. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the world of substitutes for mascarpone, exploring a variety of options that cater to different dietary needs and culinary preferences.

Understanding Mascarpone

Before we explore the substitutes, let’s take a moment to appreciate what makes mascarpone unique. This soft and velvety cheese hails from Italy, particularly the Lombardy region. Its high-fat content and mild, slightly sweet flavor make it a versatile ingredient, contributing richness to desserts like tiramisu, cheesecakes, and frostings, as well as enhancing savory dishes such as pasta sauces.


Mascarpone is traditionally made from cream, coagulated by the addition of acidic substances like lemon juice or vinegar. The result is a luxurious, high-fat cheese with a smooth consistency. However, given its specific nature, finding a suitable substitute may be necessary in certain situations.


Substitutes for Mascarpone Cheese

1. Cream Cheese: The Reliable Stand-In

Cream cheese is perhaps the most readily available and widely used substitute for mascarpone. With its similar creamy texture and mild flavor, cream cheese can seamlessly replace mascarpone in a variety of recipes.


Here’s how to use cream cheese as a mascarpone substitute:

Use an equal amount of cream cheese as the recipe calls for mascarpone.


To enhance creaminess, consider adding a small amount of heavy cream or sour cream to the cream cheese.

While the flavor profile is not an exact match, especially given cream cheese’s tanginess, it works well in both sweet and savory dishes. From frosting on red velvet cakes to creamy pasta sauces, cream cheese provides a versatile alternative to mascarpone.

2. Ricotta Cheese: A Lighter Option

Ricotta cheese, with its grainy texture and mild flavor, can be a suitable substitute for mascarpone, especially in desserts where a lighter touch is desired. Ricotta is lower in fat than mascarpone, making it an excellent choice for those looking to reduce the overall fat content of a dish.

To substitute ricotta for mascarpone:

Use an equal amount of ricotta in place of mascarpone.

For a smoother consistency, blend the ricotta in a food processor or with a hand mixer.

Keep in mind that ricotta may not provide the same level of richness as mascarpone, but its lightness works well in recipes like cannoli filling, cheesecakes, and certain pasta dishes.

3. Greek Yogurt: Adding a Tangy Twist

For a healthier alternative to mascarpone, Greek yogurt can step in and bring a delightful tang to your dishes. This substitution works particularly well in both sweet and savory recipes where a bit of acidity complements the overall flavor profile.

To substitute Greek yogurt for mascarpone:

Use an equal amount of Greek yogurt as the recipe calls for mascarpone.

For added creaminess, mix in a small amount of heavy cream or sour cream.

Greek yogurt’s thicker texture contributes a similar mouthfeel to mascarpone, making it an excellent choice for dips, spreads, and desserts like fruit parfaits or yogurt-based frosting.

4. Cottage Cheese: A Surprising Option

Cottage cheese, often overlooked in the realm of mascarpone substitutes, can be a surprising and cost-effective alternative. While its curd-like texture may differ from mascarpone’s smoothness, cottage cheese can be transformed into a creamy consistency through blending.

To substitute cottage cheese for mascarpone:

Blend cottage cheese until smooth using a food processor or blender.

Use an equal amount of blended cottage cheese as the recipe calls for mascarpone.

This substitution works well in recipes where the texture of mascarpone is crucial, such as in dips, spreads, or layered desserts like trifle.

5. Neufchâtel Cheese: A Lighter Cream Cheese

Neufchâtel cheese is often referred to as the “lighter” cream cheese, with a lower fat content compared to regular cream cheese. It shares a similar taste and texture with mascarpone, making it a viable substitute in recipes where a creamier texture is desired.

To substitute Neufchâtel cheese for mascarpone:

Use an equal amount of Neufchâtel cheese as the recipe calls for mascarpone.

Given its milder flavor and softer texture, Neufchâtel works well in desserts and spreads, offering a lighter alternative without compromising too much on creaminess.

6. Silken Tofu: A Dairy-Free Option

For those following a dairy-free or vegan diet, silken tofu can be an excellent substitute for mascarpone. While it doesn’t provide the same richness, silken tofu’s neutral flavor and smooth texture make it a versatile alternative in both sweet and savory dishes.

To substitute silken tofu for mascarpone:

Blend silken tofu until smooth using a food processor or blender.

Use an equal amount of blended silken tofu as the recipe calls for mascarpone.

This dairy-free option is particularly useful in vegan cheesecakes, creamy pasta sauces, and dessert fillings, offering a plant-based alternative without sacrificing texture.

7. Homemade Mascarpone: Crafting Your Substitute

For those who enjoy a culinary challenge and want to replicate the flavor and texture of mascarpone more closely, consider making a homemade version. With just a few ingredients, you can create a substitute that meets your specific preferences.

Ingredients for homemade mascarpone:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar


In a saucepan, heat the heavy cream over medium heat until it reaches a simmer. Stir occasionally to prevent scalding.

Once simmering, reduce the heat to low and add the lemon juice or white vinegar. Stir gently.

Continue simmering for 1-2 minutes, allowing the mixture to curdle.

Remove the saucepan from heat and let it cool for 10-15 minutes.

Line a fine-mesh sieve with cheesecloth and place it over a bowl.

Pour the cooled mixture into the sieve, allowing the liquid to drain. This process may take several hours or overnight.

Once drained, transfer the thickened mascarpone to a container and refrigerate until ready to use.

While making mascarpone at home requires a bit of time and patience, the result is a creamy, homemade substitute that closely mimics the store-bought version.


Choosing a substitute for mascarpone depends on various factors, including dietary preferences, availability, and the specific dish you’re preparing. Whether you opt for cream cheese, ricotta, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, Neufchâtel cheese, silken tofu, or a homemade mascarpone, each alternative brings its own unique characteristics to the table.

Experimenting with different substitutes allows you to discover new flavors and textures while maintaining the essence of your favorite mascarpone-based recipes. Whether you’re crafting a decadent dessert or a savory pasta dish, the world of mascarpone substitutes offers a plethora of options for culinary exploration.



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