Feta Cheese vs. Cream Cheese

Feta and cream cheese are two popular soft cheese options with distinct flavors and textures. While both can be great additions to meals or snacks, they have key differences in their nutrition profiles, uses, and even how they are made.

Feta Cheese vs. Cream Cheese

When deciding whether feta or cream cheese is better for your needs, it helps to understand all aspects of each type.

Overview and Origins

Feta is a crumbly, salty white cheese originally from Greece. It is made from sheep's milk or a mixture of sheep and goat's milk. The term "feta" has Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status in the EU, meaning that only cheese produced in certain areas of Greece and following traditional methods can officially be called "feta cheese."

True feta cheese is cured in a brine solution, which gives it a distinctive tangy, salty flavor. It has a crumbly texture that easily crumbles over salads, pasta, or vegetables.

Key Takeaway: Feta is a salty, tangy Greek cheese made from sheep/goat's milk and cured in brine. It has PDO protected status.

Cream cheese originated in the United States as a fresh cheese product made from cow's milk and cream. The first cream cheese was made in Chester, New York in 1872 and is now mass produced around the world.

Philadelphia cream cheese remains the most popular brand. Cream cheese has a sweet, creamy taste and smooth, spreadable texture. It is used in various baking applications like cheesecake and frostings in addition to being spread on bagels and crackers.

Key Takeaway: Cream cheese originated in the US as a fresh, spreadable cheese made from cow's milk and cream. Philadelphia is the leading brand.

Feta and cream cheese differ substantially in terms of origin, main ingredients, flavor profiles, texture, and usage. One key similarity, though, is that they are both fresh soft cheeses with relatively high milk fat contents.

Nutrition Profile Comparison

When comparing feta vs cream cheese, looking at the nutrition facts is important:

NutrientFetaCream Cheese
Calories264 kcal350 kcal
Protein14.21 g6.15 g
Carbs4.09 g5.52 g
Fat21.28 g34.44 g
Calcium493 mg97 mg
Sodium917 mg314 mg

Feta cheese is lower in calories and fat than cream cheese. Feta also provides more protein.

However, cream cheese contains slightly more carbs. The carb content is still low for both cheeses, coming mostly from residual milk sugars.

For vitamins and minerals, feta excels. It offers high amounts of calcium to strengthen bones along with vitamin B12, vitamin K, phosphorus, and zinc. Cream cheese is a better source of vitamin A, but lacks the mineral content of feta.

So if you are monitoring calories or fat, feta would be the better choice. Feta also provides more nutritional value with its high content of important minerals like calcium, zinc and vitamin B12.

Key Takeaway: Feta cheese is lower in calories and fat than cream cheese, while also having more protein. Feta offers higher levels of vitamins and minerals overall.

Taste and Texture

When it comes to taste and texture feta and cream cheese are quite different:

Feta has a salty, tangy flavor from the brine-curing that gives it a little "bite." It crumbles easily with a crumbly, moist texture. Feta does not melt well.

Cream cheese has a rich sweet, creamy flavor and ultra-smooth, spreadable texture. It melts beautifully into dips, frostings, and more. The flavor is quite mild.

So feta offers a sharper, saltier flavor paired with a crumbly texture. Cream cheese gives a sweeter, richer taste and smooth, spreadable consistency. Melting ability also differs, with only cream cheese melting smoothly when heated.

Usage and Substitution

Due to major differences in taste and texture, feta and cream cheese cannot be used interchangeably in recipes.

Feta works best in:

It crumbles nicely over dishes, adds salty flavor, and does not get greasy when heated.

Cream cheese works best in:

  • Icing and frostings
  • Cheesecakes
  • Dip
  • Bagel spreads
  • Creamy pasta dishes

It has the ability to beautifully emulsify and melt into smooth dips, icings, and sauces with its creamy texture.

Substitution: Due to its high fat content, mascarpone cheese makes a suitable substitution for cream cheese when needed. For feta, goat cheese or ricotta salata (a firm, salty Italian cheese) can mimic the tangy flavor and crumbly texture in recipes.

So while feta and cream cheese both offer delicious flavors, aim to use each one according to its strengths. Feta for crumbling and cream cheese for spreading and mixing into dips or frostings.

Key Takeaway: Due to major differences in taste, texture and melting properties feta and cream cheese cannot sub for one another. Mascarpone or goat cheese make the best substitutes.

Health Benefits

Let's compare some of the top health benefits of feta vs cream cheese:

Feta Cheese Benefits

  • Excellent source of bone-building calcium
  • Contains probiotics for healthy gut
  • Anti-inflammatory effects
  • Source of protein and B vitamins
  • Low in lactose

Cream Cheese Benefits

  • Contains some bone-boosting calcium
  • Provides vitamin A for immunity
  • Small amounts of probiotics
  • Source of protein

Research shows feta in particular may help promote bone health, defend against inflammation and benefit digestive health with its calcium, probiotics and vitamin content.

So while both cheeses offer some nutritional value, feta ranks as the healthier choice - largely due to its high calcium levels and probiotic content.

Just watch sodium consumption with feta, as it is high in salt content from the brining process. Luckily, cream cheese makes a lower sodium choice.

Key Takeaway: Feta cheese offers higher overall health benefits with its anti-inflammatory effects, digestive-friendly probiotics, bone-building calcium and more.

Cost Comparison

When comparing prices, cream cheese comes out as the more affordable option, while feta is priced quite a bit higher:

  • Cream cheese averages $2-3 per 8 ounce brick
  • Feta cheese averages $4-6 per 8 ounces

The cost difference relates back to differences in production. Fresh cream cheese is faster to make in high volumes. Feta requires a more extensive curing process that takes at least 3 months, limiting production volume.

For those on a budget, cream cheese provides very good value for the price. But feta still makes sense for many, given it's higher nutritional payoff. Just look for feta on sale when possible.


Is feta or cream cheese healthier?

Feta cheese is healthier overall, offering more protein, vitamins and minerals, especially calcium. Feta also contains beneficial probiotics. However, cream cheese makes a lower sodium choice.

Is feta better for weight loss?

Yes. Feta is lower in both calories and fat than cream cheese, making it the better choice if watching your weight. Just be mindful of sodium content.

Can you melt feta cheese?

No. Unlike cream cheese, feta does not melt smoothly when heated. It will soften and break apart when cooked, which is why it works best crumbled over dishes rather than in baking or dips.

Is cream cheese or feta cheaper?

Cream cheese is more affordable at around $2-3 per 8oz versus $4-6 per 8oz block for feta. So cream cheese gives you more value for your dollar spent.


Both Feta cheese and cream cheese bring something unique and delicious to the table.

Feta takes the win when it comes to nutrition thanks to higher protein, prominent bone-friendly minerals and probiotics.

Cream cheese comes out on top for affordability and works beautifully in baking or spreading situations.

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!