Substituting Yogurt for Cream Cheese: What to Know

Yogurt, a versatile staple in many households, is often used as a healthier alternative to mayonnaise. But did you know it can also replace cream cheese in a variety of dishes? From baked treats like piña colada cupcakes to appetizing spreads like buffalo chicken dip and creamy dishes like Cajun shrimp pasta, yogurt can play the part of cream cheese seamlessly.

However, before you dive in, keep in mind the following tips to ensure your dish retains its texture and taste:

1. Choose Whole Milk Yogurt:

The key to this swap lies in the fat content. Whole milk yogurt typically contains about 3.5% fat, while cream cheese boasts a fat content of 33%. Even though this doesn’t make them directly equivalent, the whole milk yogurt is far closer in consistency than low-fat or non-fat variants.

2. Go Plain and Thick:

Avoid flavored yogurts or those with fruit and preserves at the bottom. Instead, opt for plain, whole-milk yogurts. If you’re looking for a consistency closer to cream cheese, Greek yogurt or Icelandic skyr are ideal choices. They’re strained to remove excess whey and liquids, resulting in a denser product. Notably, Icelandic skyr is technically a type of cheese, further validating its use as a substitute.

3. Consider the Ratio:

Typically, you can substitute yogurt for cream cheese in equal parts (1:1 ratio). However, it’s essential to note that yogurt, especially the Greek and Icelandic varieties, has a tangier profile than cream cheese. This can change your dish’s flavor profile, adding a unique twist. For some dishes, this tanginess can enhance the overall taste, balancing out rich and heavy flavors. If unsure or looking for a milder substitution, consider mixing cream cheese and yogurt in equal parts.

In Summary:

Yogurt, particularly whole milk versions like Greek yogurt or Icelandic skyr, can serve as effective alternatives to cream cheese in various recipes. While the flavor may slightly change, often, it can add a delightful zing to the dish. If used correctly, this swap can produce delicious results while reducing the overall fat content of your meal. So the next time you’re out of cream cheese or just looking for a lighter alternative, remember this handy substitution tip.