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Cream Cheese vs Neufchatel Cheese

We love cheese and lately our local grocery store has been carrying so many new varieties; let’s explore two options; Cream Cheese vs Neufchatel Cheese. There is a recipe for homemade fresh cheese too!

Whether you’re spreading this delicious dairy product on a piece of toast or dolloping it into your favorite recipes, one thing is for sure, these cheeses are among some of our all-time favorites. Sometimes we indulge a bit by eating it straight out of the container with crunchy crackers.

But when it comes to selecting the best type of cheese, which should be your go-to? It’s time to find out the differences between these two beloved spreadable cheeses and why one might be better than the other.

Cream cheese has been a staple in the cheese isle for years. Although a few years ago neufchatel cheese may have been available only at specialty stores. Now it’s currently available at most large supermarkets, in the dairy aisle.

Are these two kinds of cheese interchangeable? How do you know which one you should use? What are the key differences? Let’s explore.

Cream cheese and Neufchâtel cheese are two types of soft cheeses, but they have some distinct differences.

Here’s an overview of cream cheese vs. Neufchâtel cheese:

Cream Cheese vs Neufchatel Cheese

Origin and History of Both Cheeses

Cream cheese originated in the United States. It is believed to have been developed in the late 19th century. It has since become a popular ingredient in both sweet and savory dishes.

French Neufchâtel cheese has its roots in France and is named after the region of Neufchâtel-en-Bray. It has a long history dating back to the 6th century and is considered one of the oldest cheese types of France.

If it has been ripened a few weeks, you can often find it molded in a heart shape. The soft rind is edible too.

Both are an unripened cheese product.

What is the best substitute for the French cheese?

If you’re looking for a substitute for Neufchatel cheese, there are a few options depending on the purpose of the cheese in your recipe.

Both are soft and silky spreadable cheese. These are great options for use in baking, cooking, and dips. Here are a few alternatives you can consider:

Cream Cheese: Neufchatel cheese is often considered a lower-fat version of cream cheese, but the two are quite similar in taste and texture. In most recipes, you can substitute Neufchatel cheese with an equal amount of cream cheese without significantly affecting the recipe.

Greek Yogurt: If you’re looking for a healthier alternative or a dairy-free option, Greek yogurt can be a good substitute. It has a similar tangy flavor and creamy texture, although it may be slightly thinner than Neufchatel cheese or cream cheese. Use an equal amount of Greek yogurt as a substitute, keeping in mind that it might slightly alter the taste and texture of the dish.

Cottage Cheese: Cottage cheese can work as a substitute in certain recipes where the texture of the cheese is less crucial. It has a slightly different texture with visible curds, so it might not be suitable for spreads or dips. It can be used as an ingredient in dishes like casseroles or baked goods. Consider blending the cottage cheese until smooth before using it as a substitute.

Ricotta Cheese: Ricotta cheese can be a suitable substitute in certain recipes, especially those that require a creamy texture. It has a mild flavor and a creamy consistency that can work well as a replacement for Neufchatel cheese. Use an equal amount of ricotta cheese. Strain it through a cheesecloth to remove excess moisture.

beloved spreadable cheese

Non Dairy Options

Vegan Cream Cheese: If you follow a vegan diet or have dairy allergies, you can opt for vegan cream cheese alternatives available in the market. These are typically made from plant-based ingredients such as nuts or soy. For best results, look for a vegan cream cheese that closely mimics the texture and taste of Neufchatel cheese.

When substituting Neufchatel cheese, keep in mind that the flavor and texture of the finished product may vary slightly depending on the substitute used. It’s always a good idea to taste and adjust the seasonings accordingly to achieve the desired outcome.

Can I use Neufchatel cheese instead of cream cheese?

Yes, Neufchatel cheese can be used in place of cream cheese in most recipes. The taste and texture are very similar to cream cheese. They both have a creamy and slightly tangy flavor that works well in various dishes.

Keep in mind that it may have a slightly different texture due to its lower fat content. It can be slightly softer and less firm than regular cream cheese. This difference may be more noticeable in certain applications like frosting or cheesecake, where the firmness of the cream cheese is crucial.

In most recipes, you can substitute an equal amount. However, if the recipe specifically requires the texture or firmness of cream cheese, you might need to adjust the recipe. Another option is to use a combination of Neufchatel cheese and another ingredient to get the desired consistency.

Snack Board Display

Texture and Creaminess:

Cream cheese has a smooth, creamy, and spreadable texture. It is known for its rich and dense consistency, making it ideal for spreading on bagels, toast, or using as a base for cheesecakes and frosting.

Neufchâtel cheese has a slightly crumbly texture and is slightly less creamy compared to cream cheese. It has a tangier flavor that becomes more pronounced with age.

Is Neufchatel cheese healthier than cream cheese?

Yes, Neufchatel cheese is generally considered to be healthier than cream cheese. The main difference between the two lies in their fat content. Neufchatel cheese contains less fat than regular cream cheese, making it a lighter option.

Here are a few key points regarding the nutritional differences between Neufchatel cheese and cream cheese:

Fat Content: This is the biggest difference between the two.

Cream cheese is typically made from cream and has a higher fat content than Neufchâtel cheese. It generally contains about 33-35% milkfat.

Neufchâtel cheese is made from milk, including milk fat and milk solids. It typically has a lower fat content than cream cheese, with a milkfat range of 20-33%.

However, the American invention of a light cream cheese is now widely available. Making it an even healthier option.

Calories: Due to its lower fat content, Neufchatel cheese also has fewer calories than cream cheese. However, the difference in calorie content may vary between brands, so it’s always a good idea to check the specific nutritional information.

Texture and Creaminess: While Neufchatel cheese has a similar taste to cream cheese, its lower fat content can result in a slightly different texture. It may be slightly softer and less firm than cream cheese, which can affect the consistency of certain dishes.

Nutritional Content: Neufchatel cheese is a good source of protein and calcium, similar to cream cheese. It also contains other essential nutrients, such as vitamin A and phosphorus.

Taste: Neufchâtel cheese has a more pronounced tangy flavor compared to cream cheese. It offers a slightly sharper taste that can vary depending on its age. Whereas cream cheese has a slight difference as it has a somewhat sweeter taste.

spreadable soft cheese

Culinary Uses for Creamy Soft Cheese

They are both versatile ingredients used in a wide range of recipes. It is commonly used as cheese spreads for bagels, toast, and crackers. As well as a base for cheesecake recipes, dips, frostings, and creamy sauces.

It can also be used as a spread and can be enjoyed on bread or used as a filling in pastries.

Fresh soft cheese has a relatively short shelf life and should be used within a few weeks.

Overall, while cream cheese and Neufchâtel cheese share some similarities, they differ in terms of texture, fat content, and flavor. The choice between the two depends on personal preference and the specific requirements of the recipe.

How to Make Homemade Neufchatel Cheese

Make Your Own Fresh Cheese

The great thing about making your own cheese is that you can control the moisture content. If you like creamier cheese. It’s easy, just take it down sooner. Change up the taste by adding your favorite fresh or dried herbs.

It just takes 30 minutes active time. The rest of the time is letting the cheese rest and drain off the excess moisture.

Dairy is the main ingredient.

How to Make Homemade Neufchatel Cheese
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How to Make Homemade Neufchatel Cheese

Are you looking for a fun kitchen activity that’s sure to impress? Homemade neufchatel cheese is an incredibly easy, crave-worthy recipe. This recipe will have your family and friends oohing and ahhing with delight. It’s the perfect addition to any snack board or charcuterie plate. However, it can also be enjoyed on its own.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
draining6 hours
Total Time6 hours 30 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine: American, French
Keyword: budget recipe, copycat, easy meals
Servings: 8 servings, 1 cup
Calories: 179kcal

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  • 4 Cups Whole Milk NOT reduced fat
  • 1 Cup Heavy Cream full fat
  • 1/4 Cup Cultured Buttermilk full fat
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Cheese Salt or Kosher Salt NOT Table Salt with Iodine


  • In a large saucepan, combine the whole milk and heavy cream. Heat the mixture over medium heat until it reaches a temperature of about 180°F, stirring occasionally. This will help pasteurize the milk and cream.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat and let it cool down to around 70°F. You can speed up the cooling process by placing the saucepan in an ice bath.
  • Once the milk mixture has cooled down, add the cultured buttermilk and stir well to combine. The buttermilk contains the necessary bacteria that will help ferment and thicken the cheese.
  • Cover the saucepan with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let it sit undisturbed at room temperature for 6-8 hours. This allows the bacteria to work and thicken the milk mixture.
  • After the incubation period, you will notice that the mixture has thickened and resembles yogurt or soft-set custard.
  • Line a colander with cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl. Carefully pour the thickened mixture into the colander, allowing the whey to drain away. Gather the edges of the cheesecloth and gently squeeze out any excess whey.
  • If desired, sprinkle salt over the cheese and mix it well for added flavor. The salt is optional, so you can skip it if you prefer a low-sodium cheese.
  • Transfer the cheese to an airtight container and refrigerate it for at least 4 hours, or overnight, to allow it to further firm up and develop its flavor.
  • Once chilled, your homemade Neufchatel cheese is ready to be enjoyed! It has a creamy texture and a slightly tangy flavor.
  • Age the cheese (optional): Neufchatel cheese can be enjoyed fresh or aged for a more pronounced flavor. If you prefer aged cheese, place the shaped cheese in a cool, humid environment (such as a cheese cave or refrigerator) for about 1-2 weeks, turning it occasionally.

Your Own Private Notes


Tips for Recipe Success:

Use high-quality whole milk and heavy cream for the best results. The higher the fat content, the creamier the cheese will be.
Ensure that all utensils and equipment used in the cheese-making process are clean and sanitized to prevent unwanted bacteria growth.
Maintain a consistent temperature during the incubation period. You can use a thermometer to monitor the temperature and adjust if needed.
If you prefer a thicker cheese, you can let it drain for a longer time or gently press it to remove more whey.
Keep it in an airtight container to maintain its freshness.
Enjoy your homemade Neufchatel cheese! It can be used as a spread on bread or crackers, added to recipes that call for cream cheese, or used as a versatile ingredient in various dishes.


Calories: 179kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 49mg | Sodium: 135mg | Potassium: 221mg | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 647IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 178mg | Iron: 0.03mg


You can find Victoria crocheting, quilting, and creating recipes. She has worked in restaurants for many years. Her many crochet patterns and quilt patterns are enjoyed by many. In her professional career, she has worked in management in a wide variety of businesses including higher education as a dean of a division. All the while attending college part-time to achieve her doctorate in higher education with an emphasis in e-learning.

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