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If you’re craving mascarpone (or need it for a recipe) but don’t have any on hand, there’s good news: you can make homemade mascarpone with just two ingredients! Once you learn how to make mascarpone cheese, you’ll never go searching for it in stores again.
Similar to homemade almond milk, this mascarpone has a short ingredients list and a simple prep technique. Once you have it on-hand, try mascarpone with homemade crackers, bagels (so yummy with mascarpone and lox!), or tiramisu, or anywhere you’d use cream cheese.
What Is Mascarpone Cheese?
Mascarpone is a fresh Italian cheese. The texture is closest to cream cheese or clotted cream, but with a slightly sweeter and more buttery flavor. It’s a surprisingly versatile cheese you can use in dips, desserts, and classic Italian dishes.
Why You’ll Love Homemade Mascarpone
- Luxuriously buttery flavor
- Smooth and creamy texture
- Just two ingredients
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for homemade mascarpone cheese, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
- Heavy Cream – Cream forms the base of the cheese and gives it a distinctly buttery and rich flavor.
- Lemon Juice – Causes the cream to thicken and create its cream cheese consistency. Fresh juice tastes best, but bottled works, too.
How To Make Mascarpone Cheese
This section shows how to make mascarpone with step-by-step photos and details about the technique, to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
- Simmer. Add cream to a pot and simmer over medium or medium low heat. Heat gradually to avoid boiling and scorching.
- Thicken. Add lemon juice and keep simmering until mixture thickens.
TIP: Keep an eye on temperature. It should stay between 180-190 degrees F.
- Cool. Remove mixture from heat and cool completely.
- Strain. Strain the mixture through a nut milk bag or cheesecloth draped over a strainer.
- Chill. Cover with plastic wrap and let the homemade mascarpone cheese strain for at least 8 hours
- Separate. Remove cheese from the bag and discard any liquid that has drained.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does mascarpone cheese taste like?
With a higher fat content than many soft cheeses, mascarpone has a buttery smooth and rich taste.
Is mascarpone sweet?
Mascarpone has a less acidic flavor, so it tastes slightly sweeter — that’s why you’ll often find it in dessert recipes. However, since it’s not overwhelmingly sweet, it also works just as well in savory dishes.
How to pronounce mascarpone?
In American English, the correct pronunciation is mah-scar-poe-nay. Now you know!
Is there a mascarpone substitute?
The mascarpone recipe below is the best mascarpone substitute! But, if you can’t make it for some reason, below are some alternatives. They won’t taste exactly the same as mascarpone, but can be used as a substitution in recipes.
- Cream cheese – Cream cheese is the closest mascarpone substitute, but because it’s lower in fat, it’s “just okay” as a substitute on its own. To get it closer, blend 8 ounces of softened cream cheese with 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream. You can also add 2-3 tablespoons of either butter OR sour cream in addition to the cream.
- Creme fraiche – It’s more acidic and much lower in fat than mascarpone, and has a thinner consistency. To make a closer substitute, add 1/4 cup of your favorite 1:1 sweetener to 8 ounces of creme fraiche.
- Whipped ricotta – Whipping brings ricotta closer in texture to mascarpone, but still remains thinner in consistency. Ricotta makes a fine swap for dips, but avoid substituting in baked recipes as they may turn out too “wet.”
- Sour cream – Since sour cream is also thinner and runnier, this mascarpone swap is best for garnishing only.
- Whole milk Greek yogurt – Although tangier and less creamy, it can substitute for mascarpone in baked recipes, desserts, or dips. Beware that it can curdle if cooked at high temperatures.
- Unsweetened whipped cream – Without a curdling agent, whipped cream will still be thinner than mascarpone — but would make a suitable substitute for unbaked desserts or as a garnish.
Can I substitute cream cheese for mascarpone?
Although there is a distinct difference between mascarpone and cream cheese, you can use cream cheese as a substitute for mascarpone. However, you’ll need to add a few ingredients to create a similar flavor and texture.
Here’s how to make “mascarpone” with cream cheese: For every 8 ounces of cream cheese, blend in 1/4 cup heavy cream AND either 2-3 tablespoons of butter or sour cream.
Homemade mascarpone can store covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Can you freeze mascarpone cheese?
Yes, you can freeze homemade mascarpone cheese! Wrap tightly and freeze for up to 6 weeks, and thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
Stir after thawing, and mascarpone is ready to use. Thawed mascarpone works best in cooked recipes where the cheese itself will be incorporated into the dish — you may notice flavor and texture changes if it’s the star ingredient.
What To Do With Mascarpone
There are so many mascarpone cheese uses that taste amazing! Try it in these delicious dishes:
- Snacks And Spreads – Use your homemade mascarpone recipe for cloud bread, or in place of cream cheese in french onion dip and cheese balls.
- Topping – Use instead of cream cheese for frosting, or instead of whipped cream for a simple fruit dip.
- Desserts – Swap cream cheese for mascarpone in cheesecake, or instead of ricotta for a quick dessert.
- Italian Favorites – This mascarpone can work in place of ricotta for classic dishes like cannoli cookies and lasagna.
Tools To Make Mascarpone Cheese
Easy Homemade Mascarpone Recipe
How To Make Mascarpone Cheese
This homemade mascarpone cheese needs just 2 common ingredients! Learn how to make mascarpone for spreading and for all your favorite recipes.
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Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
In a medium saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a simmer over medium to medium-low heat. Heat the cream slowly to prevent it from boiling and scorching.
After the cream starts simmering, add the lemon juice and simmer for 5 minutes more, until it begins to thicken. Stir occasionally with a silicone spatula. Maintain a temperature of 180-190 degrees F (82-88 degrees C) while simmering.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow to cool for 45-60 minutes, until room temperature.
Remove the mascarpone cheese from the lined sieve and discard any liquid in the bowl.
Store the mascarpone cheese in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
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Serving size: 1 tablespoon
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