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5 Best Substitutes for Mascarpone: A Quick Swaps

If you’re a big fan of Italian cuisine and love experimenting in the kitchen, then chances are that you’ve come across mascarpone cheese. This rich and creamy cheese is often used in classic dishes like tiramisu, but it can be quite expensive and difficult to find in some regions.

There’s no need to worry though, as we’ve got you covered with some equally delicious substitutes for mascarpone. So whether you’re looking to whip up a batch of homemade tiramisu or simply want to add a creamy touch to your pasta dish, these alternatives will have you covered.

Mascarpone Cheese: A Quick Overview

Mascarpone cheese is known as the “cream of Italian cheeses” and for good reason. This rich, creamy cheese has a smooth texture and delicate flavor that makes it a favorite among chefs and foodies alike. In this quick overview, we’ll take a closer look at what mascarpone cheese is, how it’s made, and some delicious ways to use it in your cooking.

Mascarpone cheese originated in the Lombardy region of Northern Italy and is made from just two simple ingredients: cream and citric or tartaric acid. This soft, spreadable cheese has a high fat content and is typically sweeter than other types of cheese.

Mascarpone cheese’s creamy texture and slightly sweet flavor make it incredibly versatile in cooking. Here are just a few delicious ways to incorporate this cheese into your dishes:

  • In desserts: Mascarpone cheese makes a fantastic addition to sweet treats such as tiramisu, cheesecake, and fruit tarts. Its creamy texture adds richness and depth of flavor, while its sweetness complements the other ingredients.
  • In pasta dishes: Mascarpone cheese can be used in place of heavy cream or ricotta cheese in pasta sauces for a lighter and creamier alternative. It’s also a delicious addition to baked pasta dishes like lasagna.
  • In savory dishes: While mascarpone cheese is often associated with desserts, it can also be used in savory dishes such as risotto or as a topping for grilled vegetables. Its subtle sweetness adds a unique twist to these dishes.

5 Best Substitutes for Mascarpone Cheese

1 – Crème Fraîche

Crème Fraîche, with its mild tang and luxurious creaminess, is often the first runner-up in recipes clamoring for mascarpone’s presence. It adds a sophisticated French twist and a slightly thinner consistency to your dishes.

Crème Fraîche is akin to sour cream’s refined cousin—less acidic, more velvety. Its high-fat content ensures a creamy foundation with a lactic, pleasant tang that texture-wise, is akin to a delicate soured cream.

Substitute Tips

In baking, one-to-one substitution is usually successful, whereas in savory dishes, you may need a touch more crème fraîche to match mascarpone’s richness.

From a luscious crème fraîche berry tart to a savory crème fraîche pasta, this substitute thrives in any dish where mascarpone was designed to enhance without overpowering.

2 – Ricotta Cheese

Ricotta, with its pasty texture and slightly sweet flavor, might not be the most intuitive replacement for mascarpone, but it can work wonders in the right recipes.

Ricotta, an Italian whey cheese, offers a slightly grainy texture that melts into creamy goodness when heated. Its sweet, subtle flavor can complement desserts and pastries.

Substitute Tips

When substituting, it’s key to consider the recipe’s characteristics. For desserts, draining excess liquid from ricotta beforehand can ensure the right consistency.

Think ricotta cheesecake, cannoli, or a delightful panna cotta, and you’ll understand how this understated cheese competes with mascarpone with the utmost grace.

3 – Sour Cream

A household staple in many homes, sour cream is a robust and versatile alternative to mascarpone, imparting a tangy kick and tangling silkily with various flavor profiles.

Sour cream’s acidity and creamy texture make it surprisingly suitable for sweet applications, balancing rich desserts with a pleasingly tart note.

Substitute Tips

When swapping, consider sour cream’s thinner consistency; you might need to adjust with a thickener or reduce to maintain the dish’s texture and structure.

Frostings, dips, and sauces all benefit from this somewhat unconventional mascarpone twin, making it a versatile and resilient choice in the heart of your kitchen.

4 – Cream Cheese

Unapologetically creamy, cream cheese steps into the mascarpone void with a stronger voice, making itself known in any dish it graces with its presence.

The slightly tangy taste of cream cheese is a natural stand-in for mascarpone, offering a denser and richer flavor that can be balanced with the addition of milk or cream to retain mascarpone’s lighter qualities when necessary.

Substitute Tips

In baking and cream-based dishes, an equal substitution typically suffices, but always taste as you go to ensure the flavor is harmonious with the other ingredients.

From a creamy tiramisu to a velvety cheesecake, this substitute excels in any recipe that relies on mascarpone’s creaminess and tang.

5 – Cottage Cheese

In the right hands—or perhaps, the right blend—cottage cheese can transform from its crumbly state into a smooth and nutritious mascarpone doppelgänger.

Cottage cheese’s natural saltiness and mild tartness can add depth to a dish. When blended until smooth, it closely mirrors mascarpone’s creamy texture.

Substitute Tips

The key to cottage cheese as a substitute is a powerful blender or food processor and, if desired, a touch of cream or milk to reach the desired consistency.

Smooth and velvety dips, lasagnas, and even the occasional dessert benefit from this healthful switch, adding a unique twist to dishes in the realm of mascarpone.


Why settle for the familiar when you can explore a myriad of culinary possibilities with these mascarpone alternatives? Each offers its own unique flavor profile and texture, ensuring that your creations are not only delicious but also unique to your personal taste.

When choosing a substitute, consider the recipe’s characteristics and adjust as needed for the best results. With these five options in your arsenal, you can confidently add mascarpone’s creamy touch to any dish without having to worry about running out or making an extra trip to the grocery store.