Whether you're making your favorite pasta dish, casserole, or baked goods, we've got a cream cheese substitute that will work for you! So, before you pick up those car keys, take a quick peek at this post.

homemade cream cheese spread, from Shelf Cooking

More cheese, please! We've said it before, and we'll say it again. We haven't met a cheese we don't love. But if you're in the middle of Shelftemeber or encounter a grocery delivery snafu, running out of your favorite cheese can be a real big bummer!

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Here's the good news. With just a little creativity and effort, you can shelf cook your way through just about anything! So, before you give up on making your favorite recipe, give one of these easy cream cheese substitute ideas a try!


cream cheese on a plate, from Shelf Cooking

Look, we bet you love the way cream cheese tastes and spreads, but you might be wondering what in the heck that magical substance actually is. Fair question and we looked it up, so you don't have to!

Cooking (especially shelf cooking) is a lot like conducting a fun science experiment, so understanding what you're working with makes things easier down the road!

Here's the sitch! Cream cheese is a soft, mild-tasting cheese that's made from cream and milk. It's great for spreading, dipping, stuffing baked goods, adding to casseroles, and more.

Now that we've gotten the basics out of the way let's talk about what you can do when you've got a recipe that calls for cream cheese, but none in the fridge! It's time for some easy cream cheese substitute ideas, you guys.


a bowl of sour cream and bowl of ricotta cheese, from Shelf Cooking

Okay, if you're in a super big hurry and don't want to make your own batch of cream cheese (which isn't hard but is a little time-consuming), here are four ways to make a swap if you're in a bind.


Much like cream cheese, cottage cheese is mild. But since it's quite a bit thinner than cream cheese, you'll need to add heavy cream if you want to match the consistency. Here's a general rule of thumb for turning cottage cheese into a cream cheese substitute:

  • For Desserts – If you're adding the cheese to a baked good or using it for frosting, blend one cup of cottage cheese with one cup of heavy cream.
  • For Dips – Using your cream cheese substitute for a dip or spread? Strain it with a cheesecloth or dish towel, then pop it in a blender or food processor and pulse until you achieve the desired consistency.

Next up: we'll talk about how to turn one of our favorite salad toppings into a cream cheese switcheroo.


You guys, we LOVE tossing a handful of goat cheese on our salads. If you're anything like us, then you might have some goat cheese on hand, and if so, you're in luck. Here's how to turn that goat cheese into a trusty cream cheese substitute.

Goat cheese is much denser than cream cheese, so a little goes a long way! As a rule of thumb: use 3/4 the amount of cream cheese your recipe calls for if you're swapping in goat cheese.

While goat cheese tends to cost a bit more than cream cheese, it's an excellent option for dairy-sensitive family members since it's much easier to digest than other cheeses. It's also lower in calories!


Okay, if you don't have cottage cheese or goat cheese on hand, we bet you've got some sour cream! If you're whipping up a dip or spread, swap in sour cream in a one-to-one ratio instead. That's it! No conversions, blending, or additions are required.


If you're baking, making a pasta dish, or throwing together a dip or spread, ricotta cheese is a perfect substitute! Just use it in a one-to-one ratio, then serve, and enjoy.

Speaking of ricotta cheese, try one of these ah-mazing ricotta cheese recipes! And if you ever need a ricotta cheese substitute, we've got you covered.


cream cheese chicken and rice, from Shelf Cooking

One more thing! Before you ask Siri or start typing away on Google, we'd love to answer some of the cream cheese FAQs we've seen in our Shelf Cooking Facebook community. So, here we go!

  • Can you freeze cream cheese? Yes! Toss your unopened container right in the freezer as-is. It will last up to two months. Need to freeze some from an opened container? Drop it in an airtight container. To thaw, place it in the refrigerator overnight.
  • How long will cream cheese last in the refrigerator? It depends! Check the expiration date. Want to help extend the shelf life? Store your container upside down for a tighter seal. In general, unopened cream cheese will last about a week past the expiration date.
  • What can you do with expired cream cheese? Expired cream cheese tends to turn moldy pretty fast, so we don't recommend using it. Sorry!
  • Which recipes featuring cream cheese are a must-try? We might be biased, but we think this Italian cream cheese chicken is the best! Two more easy ideas? Spread it in between two slices of French toast, or add a few spoonfuls to your favorite pasta sauce. Oh, and this cranberry cream cheese dip? YUM!

Now you're ready for all the cream cheese questions that might pop up in the next Jeopardy episode. You're welcome!

We hope these substitutes, tips, and tricks are helpful! Whatever you do, don't panic if you run out of cream cheese.

Do you have a tip to add to the mix? A go-to cream cheese substitute idea? Please let us know in the comments!

Cream cheese substitute in a bowl from Shelf Cooking.

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