Neufchatel cheese substitutes are in high demand because this French cheese from Normandy is sometimes hard to find in grocery stores. This is mainly because it’s expensive and has a unique flavor.
You may also hear it referred to as Neuchatel cheese or Neufchatel cheese. But it’s the same Neufchatel cheese made from raw cow’s milk, with a sharp, salty taste. It’s a white, heart-shaped cheese with a high moisture content and an edible rind. And this cheese’s grainy texture and nutty flavor are unique and hard to find in other cow’s milk cheeses.
Interestingly, Neufchatel cheese dates back to the 6th century. It was one of the first cheeses produced in France. Women from Neufchatel-en-Bray would shape the cheese to form a heart for their loved ones going to war.
As it’s so difficult to source, many people prefer to use substitutes for Neufchatel cheese in their cheese-based recipes.
5 Substitutes For Neufchatel Cheese
There are several kinds of Neufchatel cheese substitutes you can use in your recipes. These cheeses are affordable and easy to find in grocery stores.
1. Cream Cheese
Although cream cheese has a lower moisture content than Neufchatel cheese, it still makes an acceptable substitute. In fact, it is considered one of the main substitutes for Neufchatel cheese due to its tangy, spreadable consistency.
However, cream cheese is thicker than Neufchatel cheese and has a higher fat content. While Neufchatel cheese contains 23 % fat, cream cheese contains 33%. Therefore, avoid using it in foods that are high in calories.
Use cream cheese in Neufchatel recipes that require a creamy texture in a 1:1 ratio. Some examples are pasta sauces and cheese dips.
If you want to match the taste of cream cheese to Neufchatel cheese, pair it with spices such as black pepper or garlic powder. This will bring it as close to the nutty-yeasty flavor of Neufchatel as possible.
2. Ricotta Cheese
Ricotta cheese has a fluffy, smooth feel like Neufchatel cheese. It is a close cousin to it in terms of appearance and texture.
There are different types of Ricotta cheese depending on the processing method used to make them. Some examples are Ricotta Romana, and Ricotta di Bufala Campana.
Ordinary Ricotta cheese is the best substitute for Neufchatel cheese due to its grainy texture, high moisture content, and sweet taste. Some people add plain yogurt or heavy cream to the French cheese to improve its consistency.
You can use Ricotta cheese in desserts like cheesecake, Italian cassata, and pancakes. It is also used in savory dishes such as ravioli, calzone, lasagna, and stromboli.
3. Mascarpone Cheese
Mascarpone cheese is a soft, crumbly, and spreadable cheese produced from milk with its whey compounds removed. It has a fluffy consistency that you don’t typically find in cheeses made from milk with a high whey content.
This Neufchatel cheese substitute replicates its subtle flavors due to its freshness. However, it is a bit sweeter and has a higher fat content.
Mascarpone is another one of the perfect Neufchatel cheese substitutes because it’s made using a similar process. You can use it in sandwiches or baked goods as a replacement for Neufchatel due to its butter-like flavor and smoothness.
4. Nutritional Yeast
You may not think of nutritional yeast as a Neufchatel cheese substitute, but it works. It’s a great alternative due to its yeasty flavor present in Neufchatel cheese. The yeasty flavor is present because Neufchatel cheese is made from ripened mold cultures.
Nutritional yeast comes in powder form with large granules, which is unlike the texture of Neufchatel cheese. But it’s an excellent Neufchatel cheese substitute in meals such as Mac and cheese, potato bake, and other baked dishes.
This is a great dairy-free substitute for Neufchatel cheese and is frequently used by vegans to substitute various cheeses.
5. Cottage Cheese
Although cottage cheese is pulp-like due to its curd content, it has similar savory flavors to Neufchatel cheese. You can mix it with other dairy products such as half-and-half to create a smooth Neufchatel cheese substitute.
Some people also mix cream, butter, and margarine with cottage cheese to make substitutes for Neufchatel cheese. That combination gives cottage cheese a consistency similar to Neufchatel cheese and increases its fat content to match it.
You can use cottage cheese in Neufchatel recipes such as cheese breakfast bowls and pancakes. Other dishes you can try are baked casseroles and cheese dessert cups.
It’s hard to find substitutes for Neufchatel cheese that have a similar texture and appearance. But the above 5 substitutes are readily available in stores and are affordable. They’ll also provide the creamy, nutty flavor profile you’re after.