The Best Cream Cheese Substitutes for Cooking and Baking

Cream cheese substitutes
Photo by Sara Cervera on Unsplash

Cream cheese adds a thick, rich tang to your food, but what happens if you’re halfway through your recipe only to realize you are several tablespoons short? Use one of these substitutes instead:

Plain Greek Yogurt

If you want the tanginess, look no further than yogurt. You’ll want to strain it using a cheesecloth to reach an ultra-thick, spreadable consistency. By doing so, you will effectively turn the yogurt into hung curd cheese. After it’s thick to your preference, you can add a little salt and whip it, using a whisk until it’s creamy. Strained Greek yogurt will do tangy dips and spreads, and you can use it to make a healthier than average frosting.


Regular ricotta doesn’t have the decadence and the thickness of cream cheese. However, with little finesse, you’ll have yourself a decent substitute. Go for whole-milk ricotta, and strain it for a sturdy thickness if it’s a bit watery. To make it creamy, you can whip it in a food processor with a little lemon juice. Add a little cream if necessary. Ricotta cheese works wonders in some dips, as a filling, and even in some desserts.

Cottage Cheese

While cottage cheese may not look much like cream cheese, you can turn it into a cream cheese adjacent with a bit of love, and it’s pretty delicious. Opt for whole-milk cheese, add a little fresh lemon to add flavor, and puree it until smooth and thick. If the puree hasn’t reached your preferred thickness, you can strain it in cheesecloth until you get your desired texture. You can use cottage cheese for light applications such as dips.