Cream cheese is a versatile staple ingredient in many recipes. It has a tangy and sweet flavor that adds a distinct taste to any dish, including sauces and cheesecake. It is also suitable for breakfast when spread on a bagel. Although it’s super creamy, it is also a risk to your health as the high-fat content can clog your arteries, causing cardiovascular issues. So, what are the best cream cheese substitutes in 2020?
The best cream cheese Substitutes
Neufchatel and Ricotta cheese make good alternatives for cream cheese because they are healthier. Although the other options have low-fat content, their flavor and texture are still distinct, like cream cheese. You also need to know why you need cream cheese to know the best alternative for your intended purpose.
1. Strained Yogurt
Straining plain yogurt creates a thicker consistency because the whey is removed, but the distinctive sour taste remains. You can use a cheesecloth or a paper filter to strain the yogurt overnight or 8 – 12 hours.
The alternative is low in sodium and low-fat, unlike the original cream cheese. Also, it has less sugar, higher protein, calcium, and vitamin B12 than unstrained yogurt.
When planning to strain, select yogurts with different fat percentages, but whole milk yogurts will give you a taste as good as cream cheese. You can add honey, maple syrup, or any other sweetener of your preference to make the best substitute for cream cheese in texture and taste.
2. Ricotta Cheese
Ricotta cheese is high in artery-clogging fats and cholesterol. It is the right choice to replace cream cheese for its flavor or availability. It is not as sweet as cream cheese but firmer with a grainier texture than cream cheese, making it ideal for baking, but it may not be easy to spread. For Ricotta to be more versatile with a creamier texture, you can add plain yogurt.
3. Mascarpone Cheese
Mascarpone cheese or triple cream cheese has the same nutritional values as cream cheese. However, it is creamier with more fat, unlike cream cheese, high in acidity with a similar texture and flavor.
Mascarpone has a sweeter and milky taste with a creamy, thick, smooth texture. It has an amount of fat found in the American cream cheese that almost melts in your mouth.
It is rich in calcium but low in sodium with a high-fat content posing a higher cardiovascular risk. It is a good substitute for cream cheese for the texture and flavor, not healthwise.
The smooth texture allows you to spread smoothly on a bagel and a tasty dip as well. The creamy texture from its high-fat content works well in savory dishes, pasta sauce, scrambled eggs, and anything!
4. Cottage Cheese
Another healthier substitute for cream cheese is Cottage cheese. It is a mixture of low-fat milk into a blender. Cottage cheese becomes smoother. It will not be as sweet as cream cheese, and you can use it when baking and also on desserts that have too much sweetness from other ingredients as a way of balancing.
You can mix it in plain yogurt then strain it overnight using a cheesecloth or several layers of paper towels. The cottage cheese’s texture is similar to cream cheese, but it’s not as sweet. However, even without the sweetness, it is terrific for dips.
It is a semi-soft cheese from cow milk, and the more it ages, it develops a more pungent smell. The young, fresh alternative is the ideal substitute for cream cheese in different recipes. The young, fresh Neufchatel is the closest to cream cheese in flavor and texture.
Neufchatel’s texture is firm, comfortable to spread, and grainy with a nutty, sharp, and salty flavor. It is semi-soft compared to cream cheese, and it has a third less fat, making it a healthier option. Although creamier and grainier, it has less flavor.
All cheese, including Neufchatel, is high in calcium for healthy bones, but it is high in sodium, a risky cause for high blood pressure if taken in high doses. But, American Neuchatel is moister fewer calories than cream cheese.
It is a good substitute for recipes that require low-fat cream cheese, frosting for cakes and cupcakes and is also great with mashed potatoes. Use it in the morning on your toast or a bagel, for it’s a healthier alternative for cream cheese.
Both Naufchatel and cream cheese have a tangy flavor consistency when being spread. Although it might have a slightly different texture, use the substitute for dips, and the results will be okay.
It is a healthier substitute in cheesecake recipes, and the American version is closer in texture and flavor than the French version. If you find cream cheese’s taste too much, throw in a little butter to flatten it.
6. Sour Cream
It may not be the healthiest because it is high in saturated fat, but it is most delicious. Depending on what you are making, sour cream can replace cream cheese. You cannot use it as a cream cheese alternative in frosting recipes because of its acidic taste, but it is a good swap for savory recipes. Sour cream has half the fat in cream cheese.
7. Greek Yoghurt
It is fat-free, packed with protein, and it has many health benefits like maintaining healthy bones, enhancing metabolism hence a healthy digestive system. In comparison to the regular yogurt, it is thicker and creamier.
You can turn Greek yogurt to cream cheese, straining it through a cheesecloth or coffee filter to remove the excess whey. Strain it overnight, and the results will be surprised as to how yogurt becomes thicker. A cup of Greek yogurt creates a half cream cheese when drained for 8-12 hours.
Cream cheese has a high-fat content, making it a health risks. But, it is also a good source of two essential health benefits, vitamin A and riboflavin. You can weigh the downsides and benefits then decide if you are going to use it. However, the above cheeses are worthy substitutes for cream cheese for those who worry about cholesterol or those on a vegan diet.