Cream Cheese vs. Quark

Cream cheese and quark are two popular fresh dairy products used in a variety of dishes around the world.

Cream Cheese vs. Quark

But what exactly sets them apart?

Understanding the Key Differences

Cream cheese is made from cream or a mixture of cream and milk. It has a smooth, rich, creamy texture and a tangy flavor. Cream cheese contains 65% milk fat, giving it a high fat and calorie content. It also contains gums and stabilizers to improve texture and extend shelf life.

On the other hand, quark is made by adding acid to pasteurized skim milk to curdle the milk proteins. The liquid whey is then drained off, leaving a fresh, soft, unripened cheese. Quark has a mild, slightly sour flavor and a creamy, thick texture similar to Greek yogurt or soft cheese curds. It contains less fat than cream cheese but is still an excellent source of protein and calcium.

Key Takeaway: The main differences are that cream cheese is higher in fat and calories with added gums/stabilizers, while quark is a fresh, soft cheese with less fat that's made by curdling milk with acid.

Comparing Nutrition and Calories

When it comes to nutrition and calories, quark and cream cheese differ quite a bit:


  • Quark - Around 100 calories per 100g
  • Cream cheese - About 350 calories per 100g, over 3 times more calories than quark

So if you're looking to reduce calories, quark is the better choice.

Fat and Cholesterol

  • Quark - Contains around 2-20% fat, depending on variety. Also contains cholesterol.
  • Cream cheese - Much higher in fat at 65% milk fat content. Also contains cholesterol.

Quark has a clear advantage when it comes to fat and calories.


  • Quark - Excellent source of protein at 14g per 100g, comparable to Greek yogurt. Contains essential amino acids.
  • Cream cheese - Lower in protein with only 6g per 100g.

Quark provides over twice as much protein as cream cheese.


  • Quark - Contains around 4g carbs per 100g, including sugar and lactose.
  • Cream cheese - Also contains around 4-5g carbs, primarily lactose and milk solids.

The two cheeses have similar carb contents. Quark may be preferred for low-carb/keto diets due to also being lower in calories and fat.


  • Quark - Provides a good amount of calcium, around 200mg per 100g.
  • Cream cheese - Also provides calcium, around 100mg per 100g, half as much as quark.

Overall, quark clearly comes out on top in terms of nutrition and calories, with less fat and more protein and calcium compared to cream cheese.

Key Takeaway: Quark is the healthier choice, with 3x less fat, twice the protein, and more calcium than cream cheese in a 100g serving.

Nutrition Information Per 100g

NutrientQuarkCream Cheese

Evaluating Health Benefits

In addition to nutritional value, the potential health benefits of quark and cream cheese can help inform your choice between the two:

Quark Health Benefits

  • Excellent source of protein for building and repairing muscle
  • Probiotic cultures aid digestion and boost gut health
  • Calcium and vitamin D improve bone strength
  • Vitamin B12 supports healthy blood and nervous system
  • Low in lactose, easier to digest for lactose-intolerant people

Cream Cheese Health Benefits

  • Provides some protein and calcium
  • Contains vitamin A for good vision and skin health
  • Small amounts of B vitamins and antioxidants
  • Probiotics added to some varieties

While both provide some nutritional benefits, quark is arguably the healthier choice due to its excellent protein content, gut-friendly probiotic cultures, low lactose content, and higher levels of calcium and vitamin D.

Examining Ingredients

If you take a look at the ingredients label, you'll notice some clear differences between quark and cream cheese:

Quark Ingredients

  • Pasteurized skim milk: The primary ingredient is skim milk, providing protein while keeping fat and calories down.
  • Live cultures: Adds probiotic cultures like Lactobacillus acidophilus that provide digestive and immune benefits.
  • Small amounts of salt, stabilizers or flavorings are sometimes added.

Overall, quark tends to have just a few simple, natural ingredients.

Cream Cheese Ingredients

  • Cream or milk: Provides the rich texture but also boosts fat and calories.
  • Milk proteins: Improves structure.
  • Stabilizers/emulsifiers: Ingredients like carob bean gum and xanthan gum are added to improve texture and prevent separation.
  • Salt: For flavor.
  • Gelatin: Sometimes added to improve spreadability.

So cream cheese contains more additives and stabilizers to achieve the desired texture.

Key Takeaway: Quark contains just a few natural ingredients like skim milk and live cultures, while cream cheese relies more heavily on stabilizers and emulsifiers.

Comparing Texture and Mouthfeel

Let's move on to the texture and mouthfeel of these two popular dairy products:

Quark Texture

  • Creamy, smooth consistency
  • Described as thick like Greek yogurt
  • Slightly crumbly but still spreadable
  • Can range from soft to semi-firm
  • Cool and refreshing mouthfeel

The exact texture varies depending on fat content, moisture level, and straining time. But overall it has a lush yogurt-like texture.

Cream Cheese Texture

  • Extremely smooth and creamy
  • Dense and rich mouthfeel
  • Soft but not runny
  • Spreads easily at room temperature
  • Very rich and creamy mouthfeel

As the name would suggest, cream cheese really emphasizes that soft, indulgent, creamy texture and mouthfeel.

So while both have a creamy element, quark is lighter and cooler on the palate, closer to Greek yogurt, while cream cheese is ultra-creamy, rich, and dense.

Evaluating Flavor Profiles

Flavor can also help differentiate the two cheeses:

Quark Flavor

  • Mild and fresh dairy flavor
  • Slight tang and sourness
  • Compared to sweet cultured yogurt
  • Clean, no real aftertaste
  • Flavor varies based on fat content and cultures used

Overall, quark has a mild, fresh, pleasantly tangy flavor - you can really taste the quality dairy shine through.

Cream Cheese Flavor

  • Rich, indulgent flavor
  • Slightly sweet and tangy
  • Can have a buttery taste
  • Slight sourness from lactic acid
  • Often has herbs or spices mixed in for added flavor

Cream cheese emphasizes that full-fat dairy experience with indulgent richness, brightness, and tang.

So quark highlights the fresh, tangy flavors, while cream cheese focuses more on rich, sumptuous dairy flavors.

Key Takeaway: Quark has a light, refreshing tangy flavor similar to yogurt, while cream cheese tastes indulgently rich, creamy, and slightly tangy.

Comparing Uses and Pairings

When it comes to usage in recipes, both quark and cream cheese can work nicely:

Popular Uses for Quark

  • Fruit and veggie dips
  • Mix into yogurt bowls with fruit and granola
  • Spread on toast or bagels
  • Add thickness and protein to smoothies
  • Use in baked goods like cakes and pastries
  • Savory dishes like tacos
  • Top soups and salads

Popular Uses for Cream Cheese

  • Cheesecakes, mousses, dips
  • Frostings, fillings, icings
  • Flavored cream cheese spreads
  • Mix into dough to make it rich + tender
  • Bagel topping with lox and capers
  • Use as base for savory dips

They both work nicely in sweet and savory applications. But quark shines more for healthy dishes due to lower fat and sugar content.

Some classic flavor pairings:

  • Quark - Fresh or cooked fruit, nuts, seeds, spices, herbs, honey, olive oil, veggies
  • Cream cheese - Smoked salmon, bagels, herbs, spices, chocolate, caramel, lemon, lime

So feel free to get creative mixing them into both sweet and savory recipes!

Factors that Impact Quality

There are a few key factors that can affect the quality and taste of quark and cream cheese:

Quark Quality Factors

  • Milk quality - Made from skim or low-fat milk
  • Cultures used - Dictate tanginess and flavor
  • Fat content - Typically 2-20% fat varieties
  • Freshness - Best when very fresh, <10 days old

Cream Cheese Quality Factors

  • High fat milk/cream - Boosts rich taste
  • Ingredients/additives - Impact texture
  • Humidity level - Can cause drying out
  • Avoid added gums/stabilizers for purer flavor

For both cheeses, opting for quality ingredients from grass-fed cattle can provide a superior flavor.

Comparing Shelf Life

Another area where these two dairy products differ is shelf life:

  • Quark - Lasts just 1-2 weeks refrigerated
  • Cream cheese - Keeps for 2-3 months refrigerated

The fresh, unaged nature of quark means it has a relatively short shelf life. Cream cheese lasts much longer thanks to the salt, stabilizers, and fat content.

For maximum freshness and flavor, quark is best consumed within 5-7 days of production. So opt for small containers instead of large bulk tubs.

Health Considerations

There are also some health considerations to keep in mind:

  • Some people may be lactose intolerant - Quark contains less lactose than cream cheese, so is easier to digest
  • Concerns with high saturated fat and cholesterol - Quark wins again with much less fat and cholesterol
  • Can trigger food allergies or sensitivities - Especially with additives like gelatin or carrageenan

So if you have issues with lactose intolerance, saturated fat intake, or food additives, quark tends to be the safer choice over cream cheese.

Evaluating Environmental Impact

With sustainability being an increasing concern for consumers, comparing the eco-friendliness of foods can help guide choices:

  • Quark - Made from skim milk, so has a lower carbon footprint
  • Has a much shorter shelf life, meaning more potential for food waste and emissions from frequent shipping/storage.
  • Is unripened so requires less aging time, using less energy
  • Packaging generates emissions from production and disposal
  • Cream cheese - Higher fat content requires more resources to produce the milk
  • Has additives and preservatives extending shelf life to reduce waste
  • The aging process requires extensive temperature regulation
  • Packaging also creates emissions

So while quark has some advantages, both products incur environmental impacts from dairy farming, processing, transportation, and packaging. Choosing local options can help reduce some impacts.

Price and Affordability Comparison

The final factor to weigh up is cost:

  • Quark - Typically an affordable option as requires less processing
  • Price can range from $2-6 per 250g
  • Usually found in smaller specialty cheese shops
  • Cream cheese - Very economical, mass-produced on a large scale
  • Just $2-4 for 225-500g at regular supermarkets
  • Often sold in 8oz/225g blocks or tubs
  • Frequently found on-sale for even lower prices

So cream cheese generally wins out as the cheaper option based on the price per gram. But for those willing to pay a small premium, quark provides added nutrition and a hand-crafted quality.

Key Takeaway: Cream cheese is more affordable at just $2-4 for a typical 8oz package, while small-batch quark costs $2-6 for 250g container.

Quark vs Cream Cheese: Which Should You Choose?

So to summarize the key differences:

FactorQuarkCream Cheese
Calories and fatMuch lower3x higher in fat and calories
IngredientsSkim milk, culturesCream, milk, stabilizers
TextureCreamy, thickUltra-smooth, rich
FlavorFresh, tangyIndulgent, creamy, sweet
NutritionMore protein, calciumVitamin A
Health benefitsProbiotics, bone strengthSome useful nutrition
UsesHealthy dishes, dipsCheesecakes, frostings
Shelf life1-2 weeks2-3 months
Price per 100g$2-6$2-4

Quark is lower in calories and additives, offering probiotic benefits. Cream cheese provides that quintessential creamy flavor and ultra-smooth texture.

So quark makes more sense if you're focused on freshness, nutrition, and digestive health. But when you want to indulge in a sensational creamy texture and mouthfeel for spreading onto bagels or blending into cheesecakes, cream cheese can't be beat!


Is quark healthy?

Yes, quark is very healthy, with high protein, calcium, B vitamins, and probiotics. It has 80% less fat than cream cheese. The live cultures also benefit digestion.

Can you bake with quark?

Definitely! Quark works great in baked goods like cheesecakes, pastries, sweet breads, muffins, and more. Replace cream cheese 1:1. The lower fat content gives great nutrition.

What is the best quark brand?

Some top quark brands include White Wood Dairy, Lincolnshire Quark Company, and Barabara's. Choosing organic, grass-fed dairy quark ensures premium quality.

Is quark good for weight loss?

Quark can help with fat loss given the high protein, low fat, and low sugar content. The calcium may also aid fat burning. Just avoid added flavors that boost calories or fat.

Does quark taste good with fruit?

Yes, quark tastes delicious paired with both fresh and cooked fruits. Try mixing in berries, mango, stone fruits, apple sauce, or baked fruit. Sweet flavors balance the subtle tang.


Quark and cream cheese both can add a cool, creamy influence to recipes. But they differ quite a bit when it comes to nutrition, ingredients, flavor, and usage.

For an ultra-indulgent, decadent creaminess ideal in cheesecakes and frostings, cream cheese is perfect. However, quark wins out for freshness and nutritional benefits, thanks to well-balanced macros including high protein, low sugar, and good calcium content, plus gut-healthy probiotic cultures.

Cheese Lover Chloe 🧀
Cheese Lover Chloe 🧀

I'm a total cheese fanatic! When I'm not busy studying to be a cheesemaker, you can find me scouring local farmers markets and specialty shops for new and exciting cheeses to try. Brie is my all-time fave, but I also love exploring aged goudas, funky blues, and rich creamy camemberts. Looking forward to sharing lots of melty, gooey cheese pics and reviews!