Cream cheese is a delicious spread and an important ingredient in many dips and baked dishes. Unfortunately, cream cheese is generally high in unhealthy fats, and unsuitable for those who have dairy allergies or those on a vegan diet. But don't despair -- we've found some of the best cream cheese substitutes to hit those cravings without worrying about the drawbacks.

Non-Dairy Cream Cheese Substitutes

For those who are lactose intolerant, allergic to dairy or vegan, these non-dairy cream cheese substitutes are sure to do the trick for you.

Cashew Or Almond Cream Cheese

cashew cream cheese

Cream cheeses with nut bases are not as sweet as typical cream cheese, but they are thick, creamy and tasty nonetheless. This recipe for cashew cream cheese takes cashews, palm shortening, lemon juice and apple cider vinegar to create a vegan-friendly substitute loaded with flavor. If you want it to taste more savory, add herbs and spices. For a sweeter flavor, vanilla extract or even simple sweetener can be added.

Coconut Cream Cheese

Using coconut milk, coconut butter and nutritional yeast as bases, this non-dairy vegan variety of cream cheese is also nut-free. It is easy to make, though it can also be found in some stores, and it comes out rich, creamy and smooth. As this cream cheese alternative is made with coconut, it is sweeter than standard cream cheese, making it a great choice for dessert dishes and frosting.

Tofu Cream Cheese

cuts of tofu

Tofu cream cheese uses firm, silken tofu, vegetable oil, lemon juice, vinegar, sugar and a dash of salt. Its texture is thick and creamy, and with the added sugar, it has versatility the same way regular cream cheese does, with uses for both savory and sweet recipes. Tofu cream cheese is vegan-friendly and gluten-free, making it a cream cheese substitute that fits almost anybody's dietary needs.

Other Cheese Cream Cheese Substitutes

Many people will replace cream cheese in a recipe with other cheeses simply because it is what they have on hand, or they are just looking for a slightly different flavor. Whatever the reason you have is, here are some ways to substitute standard cream cheese with other cheeses.

Mascarpone Cheese

Mascarpone is actually known as triple cream cheese, typically containing nearly the same health values as regular cream cheese, with a slightly different flavor. It has a natural sweetness, richness and a smooth texture that is very spreadable. Mascarpone makes for an easy replacement for cream cheese in frosting and other dessert recipes.

Ricotta Cheese

ricotta in a bowl

Like standard cream cheese (and mascarpone too), ricotta has quite a bit of artery-clogging fat and cholesterol in it, so this cream cheese substitution is likely a choice due to flavor or availability. Ricotta is less sweet, firmer, and has a grainier texture than cream cheese, which makes it a good choice for baking, though maybe be more difficult for spreading. If you do want it to have a creamier texture with more versatile function, adding some plain yogurt works too.

Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is a healthier substitution for cream cheese than the other cheese mentioned. Mixed with low-fat milk and blended, cottage cheese will become smoother, and can thus be used as a great replacement for cream cheese. Though, it won't be quite as thick or smooth or sweet as cream cheese, so using it for baking and desserts that already have plenty of sweetness from other ingredients is best. Mixed with plain yogurt and strained overnight in either a cheese cloth or layers of paper towels, this cottage cheese blend's texture will have more likeness to standard cream cheese, still without the sweetness. As such, using it in dips will work wonders.

Yogurt Cheese

Yogurt cheese isn't actually cheese. Instead, it has been strained of its whey for several hours in a clean, white dish towel or tightly woven cheesecloth. Regular plain yogurt or plain Greek yogurt are both interchangeable options, though Greek yogurt will take significantly less time to thicken into a cream cheese consistency. All you have to do is put the dish towel in a bowl, fill it with the yogurt, tie it with a rubber band, hang it from somewhere it won't fall with a bowl underneath to catch the liquid that will drip and wait a few hours until the dripping stops. The results will be less sweet, but creamy and easy to spread, so it works great for dips and spreads.

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