Mascarpone Cheese Alternatives

Mascarpone cheese is a decadent Italian cream cheese that adds a luxuriously smooth and rich flavor to both sweet and savory dishes.

Mascarpone Cheese Alternatives

It's most famously used in tiramisu, giving the coffee-soaked ladyfingers a luscious creaminess when layered in between.

While you can find mascarpone in most grocery stores, it tends to be more expensive than other cheese options.

Whether you can't find mascarpone locally, want to make a dessert for someone who can't eat dairy, or simply wish to save a little money, plenty of ingredients can substitute for mascarpone cheese in your cooking and baking.

What is Mascarpone Cheese?

Mascarpone is a triple-cream cheese made from cow's milk. Traditionally produced in the Lombardy region of Italy, mascarpone has a soft, creamy texture and mildly sweet, tangy flavor.

The process for making mascarpone involves heating cream, adding an acidic substance like lemon juice or citric acid to thicken it, and then draining and pressing the curds. The high fat content from the cream gives mascarpone its signature velvety richness.

Mascarpone can transform both sweet and savory foods. Its versatility makes it perfect for:

  • Tiramisu
  • Cheesecake
  • Frosting
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Risotto
  • Pasta sauces
  • Savory dips
  • Spread on bread or crackers

Key Takeaway: Mascarpone is a rich, triple-cream Italian cheese that adds decadent flavor and texture to both sweet and savory dishes.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Mascarpone Substitute

When selecting an alternative for mascarpone, keep these factors in mind:

  • Texture - Mascarpone has a very smooth, thick, spreadable consistency. Opt for ingredients that can mimic this texture when possible.
  • Fat content - The high fat content gives mascarpone its signature richness. Substitutes with higher fat tend to be closer matches.
  • Flavor - Mascarpone is mildly sweet and tangy. Some subs like Greek yogurt are more tart, while others like cream cheese are more neutral.
  • Sweet vs. savory usage - Certain substitutes work better for desserts or pasta dishes. Pick an ingredient that suits your specific recipe.
  • Dietary needs - If you require a dairy-free, vegan, or lower fat sub, pay attention to the ingredients that fit your diet.

Keeping these aspects in mind will help you select the best stand-in for mascarpone cheese in your dish!

12 Delicious Mascarpone Cheese Substitutes

1. Crème Fraîche

Crème fraîche is a cultured cream product with a similar texture and tang to mascarpone. Made by fermenting heavy cream, crème fraîche contains less fat than mascarpone yet still offers a rich, velvety mouthfeel.

With its subtle nutty notes, crème fraîche makes an excellent substitute in both sweet and savory recipes. Use it as a 1:1 swap for mascarpone. For baking, you may want to add a bit of sugar to offset the extra tanginess.

2. Full Fat Sour Cream

Thanks to its smooth, spreadable texture and decent fat content, full fat sour cream works great in place of mascarpone in savory dishes. It has more acidity than mascarpone, which can curdle if heated to high temperatures, so it's better for mixing into finished pan sauces versus cooking.

Replace mascarpone with an equal amount of full fat sour cream in pasta sauces, mashed potatoes, dips, and more. The tang pairs nicely with heartier flavors.

3. Full Fat Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt makes a tasty lower fat substitute for mascarpone in savory recipes. Its thick, creamy consistency is similar, though the flavor is more tart.

Full fat Greek yogurt contains less fat than mascarpone yet still provides a rich mouthfeel. For best results, drain the yogurt first to remove any excess liquid. Add a pinch of salt to round out the flavor.

4. Silky Smooth Cottage Cheese

Who knew the humble curd could substitute for decadent mascarpone? When blended completely smooth, cottage cheese mimics a similar velvety texture. With less fat than mascarpone, it's a slimmed-down substitute for creamy pastas or spreads.

For best results, drain the cottage cheese first to remove excess moisture. Then puree in a food processor or blender until completely smooth before using. The mild flavor pairs well with bold seasonings.

5. Ricotta Cheese

Another Italian staple, ricotta cheese has a dense, creamy texture perfect for standing in for mascarpone, especially in lasagna or desserts. Traditional ricotta is made from the whey leftover after producing other cheeses.

For an ultra-smooth consistency similar to mascarpone, blend regular or low-fat ricotta in a food processor first. The mild, slightly sweet flavor allows ricotta to work in either savory or sweet recipes.

6. Cream Cheese and Heavy Cream

The easiest mascarpone dupe is right in the dairy aisle. By blending together cream cheese and heavy cream, you can closely mimic the flavor, texture, and fat content of real mascarpone.

Whip 1 part heavy cream with 3 parts cream cheese until completely smooth. The cream lightens and loosens the tangy cream cheese to create a mascarpone twin. Use this substitute in baking, frosting, and more.

7. Vegan Mascarpone

Specialty stores carry dairy-free mascarpone for those avoiding animal products. Made from nuts like cashews or coconut cream, vegan mascarpone offers the same rich essence as the traditional version. Always check labels since many contain nuts.

Use vegan mascarpone the same way you would dairy mascarpone. For a homemade option, blend soaked raw cashews with non-dairy milk, lemon juice, and salt until perfectly smooth and creamy.

8. Cashew Cream

An easy homemade dairy-free mascarpone is cashew cream. Soak raw cashews overnight then blend into a creamy paste adding non-dairy milk as needed. A touch of lemon brightens the neutral flavor.

The soaked nuts create a smooth, rich texture once pulverized similar to mascarpone. Cashew cream whipped with sugar or agave makes heavenly vegan dessert fillings and frostings.

9. Firm Silken Tofu

For a vegan substitute, blend firm silken tofu with non-dairy milk or cream. Silken tofu has an ultra-smooth, delicate texture close to the consistency of mascarpone. When pureed, it makes a rich plant-based cream.

Use an immersion blender or food processor to puree firm tofu with enough non-dairy milk to reach a creamy texture. Add lemon, salt, or other flavorings as desired. Use as you would dairy mascarpone.

10. Coconut Cream and Lemon Juice

The rich density of coconut cream mimics the luxurious mouthfeel of mascarpone beautifully. Blend canned coconut cream with a bit of lemon juice for a dairy-free, lightly sweet substitute that excels in desserts.

Always stir canned coconut cream well before using, as it separates when chilled. The subtle coconut flavor pairs wonderfully with coffee, chocolate, and citrus notes.

11. Labneh Cheese

A Middle Eastern fresh cheese, Labneh offers a luscious texture and tangy flavor similar to mascarpone. Made by straining yogurt to remove the whey, Labneh is even richer than Greek yogurt.

For an easy homemade Labneh, line a strainer with cheesecloth. Place full fat plain yogurt inside, cover with plastic wrap, and let drain overnight in the fridge to thicken. Stir in olive oil, salt, and herbs.

12. Clotted Cream

Originating from England, clotted cream is made by gently heating milk and separating the butterfat that rises to the top. While too thick to precisely mimic mascarpone, its indulgent texture and subtle sweetness make it a tasty substitute.

Use clotted cream in a 1:1 ratio when making desserts like tiramisu or filling pastries. Be aware it can't be re-whipped if overmixed, so fold it gently into other ingredients. A little goes a long way!

Key Takeaway: Excellent mascarpone substitutes include crème fraîche, Greek yogurt, silky smooth cottage cheese, ricotta, cream cheese and heavy cream, cashew cream, silken tofu, and more.

What is the Best Mascarpone Substitute for Tiramisu?

The classic Italian dessert tiramisu showcases mascarpone's signature silkiness. When making tiramisu and you don't have mascarpone, which substitute works best?

Here are a few ideal options:

  • Cream cheese + heavy cream - Whip together until smooth and fluffy. The heavy cream cuts the tang of the cream cheese.
  • Vegan mascarpone - Has the same indulgent texture and neutral flavor. Look for a nut-free version if needed.
  • Cashew cream - Soaked cashews blended into a lush dairy-free "cream." Naturally sweet.
  • Ricotta cheese - Has a mild, fresh flavor and dense texture perfect for tiramisu.
  • Labneh - Tangy, rich strained yogurt cheese. Can be made at home by draining Greek yogurt.

Any of these will layer beautifully in tiramisu and offer a similar mouthfeel to mascarpone. For convenience, mixing cream cheese and heavy cream to mimic the fat content of mascarpone works wonders.


Is ricotta cheese a good substitute for mascarpone?

Yes! Thanks to its dense, creamy texture, fresh ricotta makes an excellent mascarpone substitute, especially in Italian desserts like tiramisu or cannoli filling. For an even silkier consistency closer to mascarpone, puree regular or low-fat ricotta in a food processor.

Can I replace mascarpone with cream cheese?

Plain full-fat cream cheese can work as a substitute but lacks the richness of mascarpone. For best results, whip cream cheese with some heavy cream to lighten the texture and dilute the tangy flavor. The added fat makes it closer to mascarpone.

What can I use if I don't have mascarpone or cream cheese?

Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, ricotta, and crème fraîche are accessible alternatives with a similar creamy texture. For dairy-free options, blend tofu, cashew cream, or coconut cream with lemon juice.

Is sour cream or cream cheese better as a substitute?

Sour cream is tangier and better suited to savory dishes instead of desserts. Cream cheese works in both sweet and savory recipes, especially when blended with heavy cream to emulate the fat content and texture of mascarpone.

Can I make vegan mascarpone?

Yes, there are several ways to make dairy-free mascarpone:

  • Blend soaked raw cashews into cashew cream
  • Puree firm silken tofu with non-dairy milk and lemon
  • Mix canned coconut cream with lemon juice or non-dairy milk


While mascarpone cheese gives an undeniably lush finish to recipes, it's readily replaceable in your cooking. Keep texture, fat content, and flavor profile in mind when substituting. Blends of creamier dairy products mimic mascarpone best.

For plant-based options, turn to rich nuts like cashews or creamy coconut. Silken tofu also perfectly replicates the velvety texture when blended. Whipping dairy-free cream into these substitutions adds even more luxurious richness.

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!