Mascarpone is an Italian double or triple cream cheese that plays an essential role in creating a variety of creamy dishes. There is a Mascarpone substitute for all of your baked goods.
This rich, silky cheese can be used in a variety of different recipes, including desserts as well as savory dishes. From pasta dishes to risotto, or tiramisu to cheesecake, the options are endless when it comes to cooking with mascarpone.
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However, if you don’t have mascarpone in your refrigerator or you’re trying to find an alternative with less fat, I’ve got you covered. In this article, I cover 7 mascarpone cheese substitutes, so next time you’re in a bind without mascarpone, you have a few alternatives in your back pocket.
Keep reading to find out more.
As an Italian cheese from the Lombardy region in northern Italy, Mascarpone is made by curdling cow’s milk cream with citric acid or acetic acid.
Adding mascarpone cheese to your recipe is a great way of providing a silky, creamy touch to multiple sweet and savory dishes. Although mascarpone is renowned for being associated with the famous Italian dessert, Tiramisu, it’s delicious to use in a much larger variety of dishes than that.
Putting mascarpone cheese in your cakes, cheesecakes and ganaches offers a silky and smooth texture, and it can provide your pasta dishes with a creamy, rich sauce that your guests won’t be able to stop thinking about for weeks.
It is a thick, double or triple cream soft cheese that melts in your mouth and makes any recipe absolutely delicious. What’s not to love about mascarpone?
Well, a major downside to mascarpone is its very high fat content, ranging from 60% to 75%. To put that into context for you, one single serving (30g) of mascarpone cheese contains 13.2 grams of fat, and 129 calories.
As a result, then, mascarpone might be the last thing you want to eat when you’re trying to be more mindful of your diet and fat intake.
That being said, if you are looking for a healthier alternative or simply don’t have mascarpone in your refrigerator for a recipe, I’m here to help.
The main thing to remember when looking for a close mascarpone cheese replacement is that the goal is to achieve a similar smooth, silky texture with the dish that you are making. Although it’s creamy texture can be difficult to replicate, it’s not impossible, and you’ll be surprised by how close some of these substitutes are!
Below are 7 substitutes for mascarpone cheese that you can try:
Mascarpone Cheese Substitute
Crème fraîche is a typical French ingredient that literally translates to ‘fresh cream’ and can be used as a substitute for mascarpone. It is typically made from dairy cream that has been soured using bacteria of a starter culture to thicken and acidify it.
That being said, crème fraîche is not as thick and fatty in texture as mascarpone, and also isn’t quite as rich. It also has a slight tang to it and is more acidic than mascarpone cheese. However, despite these minimal differences, it still makes an excellent substitute for mascarpone.
Not only is crème fraîche a close substitute, but at only 30% fat as opposed to mascarpone’s 60 - 75% fat content, one serving of crème fraiche contains less than half of the calories and fat of mascarpone!
If you’re looking to cut back on your fat content whilst still making a delicious recipe, why not give creme fraiche a try?
Cream cheese is a common ingredient that you’re already likely to have in your refrigerator, and it makes an excellent substitute for mascarpone cheese.
That being said, cream cheese won’t replicate mascarpone alone, so you need to add a few ingredients to it. Bearing this in mind, if you’re using cream cheese as a substitute for mascarpone you will need to add both heavy whipping cream and sour cream to mimic the silky consistency of mascarpone.
For this substitute you will need to mix:
- 1 ½ packets of cream cheese.
- ¼ cup of heavy whipping cream.
- ¼ cup of sour cream.
The whipping cream will work to mask some of the tanginess of the cream cheese while mimicking mascarpone's velvety texture.
Alternatively, if you don’t have sour cream in your refrigerator, you can blend the following:
- 8 ounces softened full fat cream cheese.
- ¼ cup softened butter.
- ¼ cup of heavy whipping cream.
Another substitute that you can use for mascarpone cheese is sour cream. Sour cream has a similar texture to mascarpone, that being said, because it is less fatty, it’s not as creamy. It also packs a tangy punch, so it is best to use it as a replacement in savory dishes over sweets and desserts.
That being said, you can use it for cake frosting to achieve a similar result. but it is a perfect combo for soups, dressings, dips, sauces.
Full Fat Greek Yogurt
Another great alternative to mascarpone cheese is full fat greek yogurt, and you likely already have some in your refrigerator. While Mascarpone is harder to find and expensive, Greek yogurt is readily available in any grocery store and is significantly cheaper.
That being said, it is important to know that Greek yogurt is not as creamy as mascarpone and it has a tangier flavor. The great thing about greek yogurt is how versatile it is.
If you’re into your high protein foods, then it is likely that you will already know about the benefits of eating cottage cheese. Cottage cheese is made by adding an acid to pasteurized milk which causes a separation of the milk solids from the whey.
Cottage cheese can be substituted for mascarpone cheese in dishes in which the texture of the cheese need not be identical to the original recipe.
That being said, this substitute is better suited for savory recipes over sweet dishes.
Cottage cheese can provide moisture and a similar cheesy flavor to your recipes, but is less calorically dense than mascarpone cheese. Alongside this, cottage cheese has significantly less fat and provides more protein than mascarpone cheese.
English Clotted Cream
Although typically served with scones and jam, believe it or not, English clotted cream works well as a substitute for mascarpone cheese. English clotted cream is a thick cream made by indirectly heating full-cream cow's milk using steam or a water bath and then leaving it in a shallow pan to cool slowly.
Clotted cream has a silky, buttery taste to it. It is incredibly rich and smooth, due to its high fat content, and can be the perfect solution if you don’t have mascarpone to hand.
Vegan and Plant-Based Cream Cheese
If you’ve recently switched to a plant-based diet, you might not know that there are plant-based cream cheeses available that you can substitute for mascarpone. Although this substitute is likely to taste and have a slightly different texture to mascarpone as it is dairy-free, it’s great if you follow a vegan diet or are hosting a guest that does.
Mascarpone cheese is made simply by blending lemon juice with heavy cream and cooking it. That being said, an easy substitution is using a plant-based, fat-based cream that is dairy free. For this substitute, you will need to mix:
- 1 ½ packs of vegan cream cheese.
- ¼ cup of coconut or plant-based milk of your choice.
- 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon lemon juice.
Alternatively, if you have a bit more time on your hands before you require the mascarpone cheese vegan alternative, you can make your own plant-based mascarpone cheese below.
For this plant-based recipe you’ll need:
- 2 cups of coconut cream.
- 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice.
Equipment that you’ll need:
- A sauce pan.
- A thermometer.
- Cheese cloth.
- A bowl.
To make this vegan alternative, follow the same instructions given below.
Can you make your own homemade mascarpone cheese from scratch?
Yes, if you have some time to kill you can absolutely make your own homemade mascarpone cheese, as it simply involves boiling mascarpone cheese with lemon juice.
That being said, you will need the mixture to chill in the refrigerator overnight, so if you need mascarpone cheese quickly, you might be better off using one of the substitutes above.
However, if you do have the time to make your own mascarpone cheese, there’s a simple recipe and instructions that you can follow below.
How do you make your own mascarpone cheese?
Ingredients to make 16 ounces of mascarpone cheese:
- 2 cups of heavy cream.
- 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice.
Equipment you will need:
- A saucepan.
- A thermometer.
- Cheese cloth.
- A bowl.
- To begin, you will need to grab a sauce pan and fit a thermometer to it.
- Next, add your 2 cups of heavy cream to the pan and warm slowly over a low heat.
- Once the cream reaches 185°F, turn down the heat. Next, you’re going to need to add one tablespoon of fresh lemon juice.
- Allow the mixture to cook at 185°F. Be careful to watch the cream as it cooks and adjust the heat accordingly to ensure that you are keeping the mixture as close to 185°F as possible for 5 minutes.
- Once you’ve allowed the mixture to cook for 5 minutes, remove the cream from the heat. Next, set it aside for one hour to allow the mixture to slowly thicken.
- Next, line a fine-mesh strainer with a double layer of cheese cloth and set it over a large bowl. Once you have done this, pour the thickened cream mixture through the cheese cloth.
- Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and leave it to refrigerate overnight.
- Make sure that you discard any liquid that has been left over in the bowl and transfer the mascarpone in a strainer to an airtight container.
- Refrigerate the mascarpone until you’re ready to use it. It should keep up to 3 days in the refrigerator!
Is mascarpone cheese bad?
There’s no denying that mascarpone is absolutely delicious. It can transform any recipe into a silky, creamy, and indulgent meal that feels like a real treat. That being said, mascarpone should be treated as just that: a treat.
That’s not to say that mascarpone is all bad. However, like many other foods out there that we love and wish we could eat all day everyday, due to its high fat content, if you eat a lot of mascarpone it can be bad for you.
It is important to know the nutritional value of the foods that you’re eating and are aware of how you are fueling your body. Mascarpone contains a lot of fat, ranging from 60% to 75%.
This is a high proportion of saturated fat, and when a single serving of mascarpone (30g) of mascarpone cheese contains 13.2 grams of fat and 129 calories, you might want to rethink your food choices if you’re eating it regularly.
Saturated fat has been proven to raise ‘bad’ cholesterol levels in your body, putting you at a higher risk of heart disease.
That being said, life is all about balance, and eating mascarpone once in a while definitely isn’t bad for you. Additionally, provided that you are eating a healthy, balanced meal for the majority of the time, you’ll appreciate eating a super indulgent, creamy meal every once in a while and will appreciate it all the more if you haven’t been eating it everyday.