Stracchino is a delicious Italian cheese that has a creamy, soft texture and a mild, tangy flavor.
However, it can be difficult to find authentic stracchino cheese outside of Italy.
If you don't have access to stracchino or simply want to try an alternative, there are several great substitutes to consider.
What is Stracchino Cheese?
Stracchino is a fresh Italian cow's milk cheese that originated in the Lombardy region of Italy. The name comes from the Italian word "stracco" meaning tired or weary. According to legend, stracchino was first made from the rich, fatty milk of cows that had returned tired from grazing in mountain pastures.
Stracchino has a smooth and creamy texture and a delicate, mildly tangy flavor. It has notes of fresh milk and butter. This cheese is rindless and is meant to be eaten very fresh, within a few days of production. Its freshness gives it a sweetness not found in more aged cheeses.
Stracchino is used in many Italian dishes including pasta, risotto, salads, and sandwiches. Its meltability makes it a great choice for pizza, calzones, and stuffed pastries as well. Italians also simply enjoy it spread onto bread or eaten with fruits and nuts.
Why Replace Stracchino Cheese?
There are a few reasons why you may need or want to use a substitute for stracchino cheese:
- Stracchino can be difficult to find outside of Italy. As it's meant to be very fresh, it's not often exported. Even when found internationally, it can be expensive.
- You may need a vegetarian or vegan alternative if avoiding cow's milk products.
- You simply want to try different flavors and textures in your recipes.
The good news is there are several options for replacing stracchino cheese in your cooking and baking recipes.
Soft Cheese Substitutes
The following substitutes share stracchino's fresh, spreadable texture:
This rich, creamy Italian cheese is made from cow's milk. It has a mild flavor that pairs well with both savory and sweet ingredients. Use it in stuffed pastas, tiramisu, risotto, and more.
The soft texture of cream cheese allows it to melt beautifully and works well layered into lasagnas or spread onto breads and crackers. Choose flavors like chive and garlic for savory dishes.
Crescenza is essentially the same cheese, made in the Lombardy region. It may be easier to source than stracchino. The texture and flavor will be very similar.
The soft, fresh mozzarella cheese used for dishes like caprese salad shares many qualities with stracchino. It melts deliciously over pizzas and pastas. Water packed mozzarella gives the closest match.
This rich Italian cheese consists of fresh mozzarella on the exterior with a decadent, creamy interior. It has a mild, fresh flavor perfect for caprese dishes, bruschetta, and pastas.
Key Takeaway: Mascarpone, cream cheese, crescenza, fresh mozzarella, and burrata can mimic stracchino's rich yet mild flavor and soft, spreadable texture.
Semi-Soft Cheese Substitutes
Try these alternatives with a bit more structure that still melt well:
Taleggio originated as a variation of stracchino, made in the Val Taleggio region of Italy. It has a pale orange, edible rind and a rich, meaty flavor that is more pungent than stracchino.
The creamy texture and subtle flavor of brie makes it an excellent stracchino alternative. The edible rind gives great contrast to the smooth interior when baked or melted.
This semi-soft Italian cheese has a delightfully nutty, mellow flavor. It beautifully melts into risottos, fondues, pastas, and pizzas while retaining its structure when cooked.
The buttery sweetness and subtle tang of good havarti cheese gives it wide appeal. It melts extremely well for dishes like grilled cheese sandwiches and cauliflower cheese bake.
Key Takeaway: Taleggio, brie, fontina, and havarti offer more structure than ultra-soft cheeses while still melting beautifully thanks to higher milk fat contents.
Hard Cheese Substitutes
For baked pasta recipes or when you want shredded or grated cheese, try:
Sharp, nutty asiago gives dishes like lasagna delightful texture and flavor contrast. Use young asiago for melting and more aged versions for grating.
Whether freshly grated or shredded, parmesan is the quintessential Italian hard cheese. Its salty, savory flavor and granular texture make it perfect for pastas, pizzas, salads, and more.
This sheep's milk cheese from central Italy packs a bold, savory punch of flavor. A little bit grates beautifully over pastas and salads adding richness and saltiness.
This iconic Spanish sheep's milk cheese has a sweet, caramel, grassy flavor that makes a unique alternative to stracchino. It grates nicely over egg dishes like frittatas.
Key Takeaway: Harder Italian cheeses like asiago, parmesan, and pecorino romano mimic stracchino well thanks to their salty, savory flavors. Manchego also makes an excellent substitute.
What About Vegan Stracchino Alternatives?
Those avoiding dairy have several options for mimicking both the rich creaminess and mild flavor of stracchino cheese:
Soaked raw cashews blended to form a creamy cheese capture the fresh flavor and spreadability of stracchino. Add garlic, lemon, and herbs to make it your own.
Tofutti Cream Cheese
The excellent meltability of Tofutti's cream cheese alternative handles cooking and baking beautifully. It offers a neutral backdrop for other flavors.
Miyoko's Creamery Butter Wheel
This lush cultured vegan butter with a touch of funk has a texture remarkably similar to soft dairy cheeses. Use like brie for flatbreads, pastas, etc.
Daiya Cheesecake Style Slices
These pre-sliced wedges offer incredible melt, stretch, and creaminess thanks to coconut oil and potato starches that mimic the properties of dairy fat.
Key Takeaway: Cashew cheese, Tofutti cream cheese, Miyoko's vegan butter wheel, and Daiya Cheesecake Style Slices each capture certain textural and flavor elements of fresh stracchino cheese.
How is stracchino cheese used?
Fresh stracchino cheese is often enjoyed simply spread on breads. Italians also incorporate it into panini, piadine flatbread sandwiches, bruschetta, garlic bread, and an array of antipasto spreads and platters. Beyond appetizers, stracchino wonderfully melts into risottos, pastas, frittatas, stuffed vegetables, and more. Its mild flavor pairs well with both fruit and charcuterie.
Can I freeze stracchino cheese?
Due to stracchino's extreme freshness and high moisture content, it does not hold up to freezing well. Freezing quickly leads to severe textural damage and separation of fat. It's best enjoyed within a few days of purchase. Freezing also risks altering its signature fresh, sweet flavor. If you happen to have some leftover stracchino, incorporate it into a pasta dish, risotto, or baked good to finish it off.
What cheese substitutes provide the closest match to stracchino?
Of the alternatives covered, crescenza cheese offers the absolute closest match. The two cheeses hail from the same Lombardy region of Italy and undergo nearly identical production methods. Flavor, texture, and appearance align very closely.
Outside of crescenza, fresh mozzarella and mascarpone likely provide the closest approximations in terms of rich, milky flavor and ultra-soft, spreadable texture when at room temperature. However, neither fully captures the subtle sweetness of fresh stracchino.
Is stracchino cheese healthy?
Like most cheeses, stracchino should be enjoyed in moderation, especially by those monitoring total fat and saturated fat intake. However, it does deliver high-quality nutrition. A 1 ounce (28 gram) serving packs 7 grams of protein with about 9 grams of fat. It also provides calcium for strong bones and teeth as well as vitamin A, zinc, and vitamin B12.
So when savored in sensible portions, fresh stracchino makes for a nutritious addition to a balanced diet. Just be mindful of its saturated fat content if consuming dairy in excess.
Stracchino holds a special place amongst Italian cheese thanks to its sweet, delicate flavor and lusciously creamy texture when fresh. While authentic stracchino can be hard to source internationally, several excellent substitute options exist.
For the closest match, look for the nearly identical crescenza cheese from Lombardy. Otherwise, mascarpone, cream cheese, fresh mozzarella, and burrata all provide a similar soft, spreadable texture and mild flavor.
Taleggio, brie, fontina, and havarti each offer a bit more structure while still melting beautifully in cooked dishes. And asiago, parmesan, pecorino romano, and manchego make good substitutions when you need a hard grating cheese.
Vegans can also replicate qualities of stracchino with cashew cream cheese, Tofutti cream cheese, Miyoko's Creamery butter wheel, and Daiya Cheesecake Style Slices.