Neufchatel Cheese vs. Mascarpone

Neufchatel and mascarpone are two soft, creamy cheeses that work well in both sweet and savory dishes.

Neufchatel Cheese vs. Mascarpone

While they have some similarities, there are important differences between neufchatel and mascarpone that affect taste, texture, nutrition, and price.

What is Neufchatel Cheese?

Neufchatel is a soft, rindless French cheese originally from the Normandy region. It has a creamy, spreadable texture and mild, tangy flavor.

Traditional French Neufchatel is made from raw cow's milk and allowed to develop edible surface mold as it ripens for 6-8 weeks. The longer aging produces a firmer texture and more pungent flavor.

In the U.S., neufchatel is made from pasteurized milk and has a fresher flavor and softer texture, similar to American cream cheese. It must contain 20-33% milkfat.

Neufchatel has a grainy, curd-like consistency compared to the smoother texture of cream cheese. It melts well and works as a spread, filling, frosting, or baking ingredient.

What is Mascarpone Cheese?

Mascarpone is an Italian cream cheese made from cow's milk and cream. It has 75% or higher milkfat content, giving it a rich, velvety texture.

To make mascarpone, cream is heated with an acid like lemon juice or citric acid, which causes the proteins to coagulate into curds. The curds are drained and packaged without aging or developing a rind.

Mascarpone has a sweet, creamy flavor and smooth, thick texture. It is used in desserts like tiramisu, combined with berries or chocolate, or spread on bread. Mascarpone melts smoothly when heated.

Differences Between Neufchatel and Mascarpone

While neufchatel and mascarpone can be used interchangeably in some recipes, there are several key differences:

  • Texture: Mascarpone is silkier and more luscious, while neufchatel is grainy with a curd-like consistency.
  • Fat content: Mascarpone contains at least 75% milkfat; neufchatel has 20-33% milkfat. The higher fat gives mascarpone a richer mouthfeel.
  • Flavor: Neufchatel is tangy and mild like cream cheese. Mascarpone has a sweeter, nuttier flavor.
  • Aging process: Neufchatel ages up to 8 weeks, developing more complex flavors. Mascarpone does not age at all.
  • Melting ability: Both cheeses melt well, but mascarpone is more likely to become oily when melted due to its very high fat content.
  • Price: Mascarpone is significantly more expensive than neufchatel.

Nutrition Comparison

The nutrition content of neufchatel and mascarpone reflects their differences in milkfat percentage:

  • Calories: Mascarpone contains 70% more calories per serving than neufchatel due to its higher fat content.
  • Fat: Mascarpone has 88% more fat than the same amount of neufchatel cheese.
  • Protein: Neufchatel has over 2.5 times more protein than mascarpone.
  • Carbs: Both cheeses are low carb, with only around 4 grams carbs per 100 grams. Neufchatel has slightly more carbs.
  • Calcium: Mascarpone contains 22% more calcium than neufchatel.

For those limiting fat or calories, neufchatel is the better choice. Mascarpone provides more calcium but otherwise lacks the nutritional benefits of neufchatel.

Can They Be Substituted for Each Other?

In most recipes, neufchatel and mascarpone can be substituted for each other with some adjustments:

  • For a mascarpone substitute, combine cream cheese, sour cream, and heavy cream. This mimics the texture and tang.
  • For a neufchatel substitute, add lemon juice and heavy cream to full-fat ricotta cheese. Blend until smooth.
  • Adjust sweetness - mascarpone may need added sugar when replacing neufchatel in desserts. Neufchatel can taste overly tangy in place of mascarpone.
  • Because of its high fat content, mascarpone is difficult to recreate at home. Neufchatel can be easily made from cream and lemon juice.
  • For the silky texture of mascarpone, add heavy cream to neufchatel. For a thicker consistency like neufchatel, drain excess liquid from mascarpone.

With some tweaks, these cheeses can be swapped in most recipes. But for the true distinctive flavor and mouthfeel, your best bet is to use the specified cheese.

Popular Dishes and Uses

Here are some of the most popular ways to use neufchatel and mascarpone cheeses:

Neufchatel Cheese Uses

  • Spread on bagels, toast, and crackers
  • Frosting for cakes, cupcakes, and pastries
  • Filling for crepes, blintzes, ravioli
  • Mix into mashed potatoes or baked pasta dishes
  • Salad dressings, dips, cheese balls

Mascarpone Cheese Uses

  • Tiramisu
  • Fruit tarts
  • Cheesecake, especially no-bake
  • Frosting for cakes and cupcakes
  • Topping for waffles or crepes
  • Risotto, pasta, and soup enrichment
  • Spread for panini, crostini, or crackers

Key Takeaway: Neufchatel works well in both sweet and savory dishes as a spread, filling, or baking ingredient. Mascarpone is best used in desserts and to enrich creamy dishes.

Storing and Handling

To get the most out of these cheeses:

  • Refrigerate neufchatel and mascarpone in airtight containers. Use within 1-2 weeks of opening.
  • When measuring mascarpone, allow it to warm slightly to reach a spreadable consistency.
  • Avoid high heat when cooking with mascarpone, as it can curdle or separate.
  • For long storage, freeze in portions for up to 2-3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before using.
  • Substitute for mascarpone if it shows signs of mold, as the high-fat content causes it to spoil more quickly.

Proper storage keeps these cheeses fresh and usable for as long as possible. Handle mascarpone gently when measuring, cooking, and thawing to prevent separation.

Cost Comparison

Mascarpone is significantly more expensive than neufchatel:

  • Neufchatel costs around $2-3 per 8 ounce package.
  • Mascarpone can cost up to $7-8 for the same size. It is often sold in smaller 4-6 ounce containers.

The higher cost of mascarpone reflects the specialized production process and high milkfat content. Neufchatel offers a more budget-friendly alternative.

Making mascarpone at home can save money if you regularly use it. But it requires patience and practice to get the texture right.

Key Takeaway: Mascarpone's rich flavor and silky texture come at a price. Neufchatel provides a lower-cost substitute with tangier flavor and grainier texture.


Is neufchatel cheese the same as cream cheese?

No, neufchatel and cream cheese are different. Neufchatel originated in France and has a grainy texture and tangy flavor. American cream cheese is smooth and mildly tangy.

Can I use neufchatel instead of mascarpone?

Yes, neufchatel can substitute for mascarpone by adjusting sweetness and texture. Add heavy cream or lemon juice to mimic mascarpone's luxurious mouthfeel.

Which cheese is healthier, neufchatel or mascarpone?

Neufchatel is lower in fat and calories than mascarpone. Neufchatel also has more protein. Mascarpone provides more calcium but is high in fat.

What is the difference between ricotta and mascarpone cheeses?

Ricotta has a grainier texture similar to neufchatel. Mascarpone is rich, smooth, and silky. Ricotta works as a substitute but gives a different mouthfeel.

How do you make homemade neufchatel cheese?

Heat cream, add lemon juice to curdle, drain through cheesecloth. Refrigerate overnight to produce a fresh, tangy neufchatel cheese.


While neufchatel and mascarpone share some characteristics, they differ in taste, texture, nutrition profile, and cost. Neufchatel has a grainy texture and mild tangy flavor, while mascarpone is smooth, rich, and subtly sweet.

Mascarpone works better in dessert recipes that need a luscious mouthfeel.

Neufchatel can be swapped in for savory cooking applications or as a lower-fat cream cheese substitute.

With some adjustments, these cheeses can be interchanged in most recipes.

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!