An Easy and Inexpensive Substitute for Mascarpone Cheese

There are a few good reasons why you might want to make a mascarpone cheese substitute.

One is availability. Mascarpone isn't what I would call a rare ingredient, but it can prove tricky to find depending on where you are and what your local market stocks. Even within a grocery store it can be tricky to locate: is it near the fresh pasta, or near the cream cheese? It can take some effort to track it down.

Another is price. When recently developing a recipe that called for mascarpone cheese, I had to fork over $6.99 per container of the stuff. Not too bad for a one-time deal, but when testing recipes, you have to buy 3-4 batches' worth sometimes. That starts to add up! 

So, I thought it might be valuable to offer an alternative to mascarpone cheese. If I do say so myself, I think I have done a very good job here. 

I looked up recipes online to start, but ultimately decided on my own configuration. Butter and cream cheese give this mascarpone substitute a rich flavor and texture, and a touch of lemon (or lime, depending on what the final recipe you're using this for and your taste) helps add to the natural tang of cream cheese; a touch of salt brings out all of the flavors, and a little cream gives it a texture similar to mascarpone.

This can be substituted in equal quantities for mascarpone cheese in your favorite recipe, with delicious results. It doesn't taste identical but in a recipe with other ingredients, it really does come pretty close. 

Mascarpone cheese substitute

Makes a little over 1 cup 

Printable version here

  • 1 brick (8 ounces) full fat cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon or lime juice
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • pinch salt

Mix together the cream cheese, butter, and lemon juice, mixing very completely. Like, start mixing and walk away for 10 minutes thorough mixing (this is literally what I did). 

Add the salt and heavy cream, and mix until creamy and cohesive. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. 

Substitute for mascarpone in your favorite recipe! 

Have you ever made an interesting DIY substitute?