Can I Substitute Neufchatel for Cream Cheese in Cooking?

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In the grocery store, you've probably seen Neufchâtel sitting alongside the cream cheese in the refrigerated section. You may have seen lower-fat cheesecake recipes calling for it as a replacement for cream cheese. If you've been reluctant to substitute Neufchâtel for cream cheese in your cooking, don't be. The two cheeses sold side by side are virtually indistinguishable.

American or French Neufchâtel

  • French Neufchâtel is rarely sold in the cream cheese area of the grocery store. It is a fresh milk cheese similar to brie and is often sold in the shape of a heart. True French Neufchâtel is not interchangeable with cream cheese, although it is delicious in its own right. In contrast, American Neufchâtel is made with both milk and cream and bears a strong resemblance to cream cheese.

Calories and Fat

  • Full-fat cream cheese contains about 30 grams of fat and 291 calories per 3-ounce serving. American Neufchâtel contains only 20 grams of fat and 215 calories in a 3-ounce serving. Substituting Neufchâtel for cream cheese in your cooking is an easy way to reduce the overall fat and calorie content of your meal without sacrificing flavor or texture.

Moisture Content

  • A 3-ounce serving of Neufchâtel contains about 7.5 grams more water than cream cheese. However, the difference is so slight that it should not make a noticeable change in texture or moisture in most recipes.

How to Substitute

  • In most recipes, you can substitute equal amounts of Neufchâtel for cream cheese without making any other modifications. However, if you are using a significant amount of Neufchâtel or the success of your recipe depends on a precise balance of moisture content, you may need to adjust the recipe slightly. In this case, simply reduce the amount of another liquid in the recipe by 7.5 grams per 3-ounce serving of Neufchâtel.

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