These Mascarpone Cheese Substitutes Are Actually Legit (2024)

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Need a substitute for mascarpone cheese? Find out what will work—and what's merely an internet myth.

ByKelly Vaughan


Lisa Milbrand

These Mascarpone Cheese Substitutes Are Actually Legit (1)

Lisa Milbrand

Lisa Milbrand has more than 20 years of experience as a lifestyle writer and editor, writing thousands of articles on topics that help people live better and healthier lives for Real Simple, Parents, and dozens of other top publications.

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Updated on December 18, 2023

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These Mascarpone Cheese Substitutes Are Actually Legit (2)

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  • The Best Mascarpone Cheese Substitute
  • How to Make Mascarpone Cheese
  • Other Mascarpone Cheese Substitutes
  • FAQ

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Mascarpone cheese is a silky, spreadable Italian cheese that is a main ingredient in tiramisu and other sweet and savory dishes. While it's available in nearly all commercial and specialty grocery stores, it's relatively pricey (approximately $8 for a 16-oz. package). Whether you don't have time to run out to the store, can't find it in your neighborhood market, or want to save a few dollars, we've got you covered. Below are the best and easiest mascarpone cheese substitutes.

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The Best Mascarpone Cheese Substitute

You can mimic the silky, decadent consistency of mascarpone with an easy DIY recipe. To make this mascarpone substitute, mix together 12 ounces of room temperature cream cheese (1 ½ blocks) with ¼ cup of heavy whipping cream and ¼ cup of sour cream until combined. The whipping cream will cut some of the tanginess of cream cheese while mimicking mascarpone's smooth, velvety texture.

How to Make Mascarpone Cheese

You can make mascarpone cheese at home without too much fuss (though it takes a little time, and won't be ready for a last-minute tiramisu fix). Here's how to make 16 ounces of the good stuff:

  1. Fit a small saucepan with a candy or deep-fry thermometer.
  2. Add 2 cups heavy cream to a saucepan and warm over low heat.
  3. Once the cream reaches 185°F, turn down the heat and add 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice.
  4. Let the mixture cook at 185°F, watching carefully and adjusting the heat to keep it as close to 185°F as possible, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Set aside for 1 hour, and the mixture will slowly thicken.
  6. Line a fine-mesh strainer with a double layer of cheesecloth and set over a large bowl and pour the thickened cream mixture through the cheesecloth.
  7. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Discard any liquid in the bowl and transfer mascarpone in a strainer to an airtight container. Refrigerate until ready to use, up to three days.

Other Mascarpone Cheese Substitutes

While the cream cheese, sour cream, and heavy cream mixture we mention above is the best mascarpone alternative, there are some other alternatives you can try that may not be quite as successful as that combo.

Crème Fraîche

You can turn crème fraîche into mascarpone by mixing an 8-oz. package of crème fraîche and ¼ cup of granulated sugar. The added sweetness makes the flavor of this substitute taste like the real deal.

Greek Yogurt

This mascarpone substitute will be tangier than the real thing, and also have a looser texture. You can drain it in cheesecloth, and add a pinch of salt. It's better suited to situations where you're making something savory with your mascarpone, such as a creamy pasta sauce.

Ricotta Cheese

Ricotta cheese has a bit more graininess to it, but whipping it in a food processor could help it be a decent stand-in. (Adding in some whipped heavy cream can also help with the creaminess.) You may want to drain the ricotta first to help thicken it.

Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese has the same issues as ricotta cheese. But if you drain it, blend it thoroughly (and ideally, whip it with some heavy cream), you can end up with something that approximates that mascarpone cheese creaminess.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are Mascarpone Cheese and Cream Cheese the Same Thing?

    While both mascarpone cheese and cream cheese start with the same base—heavy cream and an acid—there are a few key differences. Mascarpone cheese originated in northern Italy during the late 16th century while cream cheese is a 19th-century dairy staple from the United States. Cream cheese has a much lower fat content than mascarpone. While the USDA requires that cream cheese contains at least 33 percent milk fat, mascarpone cheese generally contains 60 to 75 percent. The significant difference in fat content results in two different textures and flavor profiles.

  • Can I Use Cream Cheese Instead of Mascarpone?

    In recipes that require mascarpone (like mascarpone mashed potatoes and tiramisu ice pops), swapping out the cream cheese for mascarpone won't work as well as you might hope. Despite mascarpone being known as Italian cream cheese, American cream cheese is not the same thing.

  • Is Mascarpone Cheese Similar to Ricotta Cheese?

    Both are made from fresh milk, both are Italian cheeses, and both are delicious—so they must be the same, right? Not quite. Mascarpone cheese is made by heating heavy cream with acid until it has coagulated. Ricotta is made by heating whole milk and buttermilk together until hundreds of small curds form—the curds, when strained, become ricotta. The unique processes result in two very different products—mascarpone is a rich, decadent, and super spreadable cheese with a slight tang. Ricotta, on the other hand, has a lumpy, soft texture and mild, milky flavor.

  • How Do Mascarpone and Crème Fraîche Differ?

    Mascarpone and crème fraîche, a French cultured cream, share a rich, creamy consistency. However, crème fraîche is more acidic and has a 30-percent fat content (compared to 50 to 85 percent fat content in mascarpone), which results in a lighter, thinner cream.

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  1. Capozzi V, Lonzarich V, Khomenko I, Cappellin L, Navarini L, Biasioli F. Unveiling the Molecular Basis of Mascarpone Cheese Aroma: VOCs analysis by SPME-GC/MS and PTR-ToF-MS.Molecules. 2020;25(5):1242. doi:10.3390/molecules25051242

These Mascarpone Cheese Substitutes Are Actually Legit (2024)


What is the substitute for mascarpone cheese? ›

You can mimic the silky, decadent consistency of mascarpone with an easy DIY recipe. To make this mascarpone substitute, mix together 12 ounces of room temperature cream cheese (1 ½ blocks) with ¼ cup of heavy whipping cream and ¼ cup of sour cream until combined.

Is mascarpone cheese actually cheese? ›

What Is Mascarpone Cheese? Mascarpone cheese is a soft Italian double or triple cream cheese. It typically has 60-75% fat content, depending on the producer, which gives it a super spreadable, silky consistency. Mascarpone cheese originated in Abbiategrasso and Lodi in northern Italy.

Is mascarpone good or bad for you? ›

No, mascarpone cheese is not healthier than cream cheese as it contains 25% more fat than cream cheese. Yet mascarpone cheese is only preferred for its extra smooth texture. You can use cream cheese and mascarpone cheese for salty and sweet dishes.

Where is mascarpone located in Walmart? ›

A2A. Normally it it located in the “Cheese and deli” area. If you can not find it feel free to ask a friendly associate. They should be happy to help you find things.

Where do you find mascarpone cheese in the grocery store? ›

Mascarpone cheese is usually found in the cheeses section or aisle of the grocery store or supermarket.

Can you use Philadelphia cheese instead of mascarpone? ›

Is Philadelphia cream cheese mascarpone? No marscapone and cream cheese are completely different. There are cases where one may be substituted for the other but as a general rule you should use the ingredient the recipe calls for; otherwise you will end up with a similar but still completely different result.

Is there mascarpone at Costco? ›

Bella Casara Mascarpone Cheese, 2 kg | Costco.

Which is better cream cheese or mascarpone? ›

Mascarpone has a buttery flavor that makes it particularly suitable for desserts. It adds richness and a creamy texture, while cream cheese brings a creamy consistency and slightly tangy taste to dishes. For this reason, cream cheese is perfect for both sweet and savory foods.

What is mascarpone made of? ›

Mascarpone cheese is a type of cheese originating in Italy. It's made from only two ingredients: heavy cream and citric or tartaric acid. The cream is heated and then the acid is added to solidify and thicken the cream.

Which is healthier ricotta or mascarpone? ›

Ricotta, made from milk and whey, is a much lighter alternative to cook and bake with; it has about half the calories and fat of mascarpone.

What is healthier than mascarpone? ›

Cottage cheese can be a great substitute for mascarpone cheese in various recipes, especially when you're looking to cut down on calories or fat content. To achieve a texture and flavor similar to mascarpone, opt for high-fat cottage cheese and put it through a simple process of straining and blending.

What is a cheaper alternative to 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.

What is the closest cheese to mascarpone? ›

Mascarpone has a one-of-a-kind silkiness and a milky flavor profile but ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, full-fat cream cheese, and Requeson cheese are all similar to mascarpone cheese.

Are ricotta and mascarpone interchangeable? ›

Whereas Mascarpone is very high-fat product, it is used in mainly Italian baking, such as Tiramisu cake, and this cheese is made with milk fortified with cream, Replacing Ricotta with Mascarpone is not a good idea, because of moisture (water ) content and fat content are totally different.

What's the difference between mascarpone cheese and cream? ›

Mascarpone is made from heavy cream, while cream cheese is made from whole milk. This gives mascarpone its high fat content and richer, creamier texture. The fat content of cream cheese is 30 to 40 percent, compared to mascarpone's whopping 60 to 75 percent fat content.

Is mascarpone like sour cream? ›

Mascarpone is a sweet Italian cream cheese that is versatile and delicious. At a quick glance, it seems similar to sour cream and crème fraîche, but it's a departure from its cultured lookalikes. While sour cream and crème fraîche are thick, tangy cultured dairy products, mascarpone is not cultured.

How do I substitute mascarpone for heavy cream? ›

Mascarpone is one of the best substitutes for heavy cream because it's so easy to use — you just have to use it in a 1:1 ratio. Simple! Now you just have to think about the consistency you want as your end goal because mascarpone can be quite stiff and thick.

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