February 03, 2022 4 min read

Diary 3 Feb 22 - What cheese can be used in Cheesecake?

We're often asked what cheese can be used in a cheesecake. Today In the kitchen we're baking our ever popular Dello Mano White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake and it got me thinking about cheese options.

Cheesecakes are usually layered. A biscuit base usually forms the crumbly delicious base. The cheesecake base is usually prepared by crumbing crushed biscuit and butter. Other options like crushing brownie are also possible and get down to personal preference. 

Cheesecake can be made with different cheeses including Cream Cheese, Neufchatel  Ricotta Cheese, and Mascapone . Although not cheeses, many cheesecake recipes also use Sour Cream and in many European countries Quark is used.

Your guide to the types of cheeses used in Cheesecake:

Ricotta Cheesecake

Ricotta cheese is translated from the Italian and means" recooked". Historically and around the world now Ricotta can be made from a number of different milks including cow, sheep and goat. Mostly though Ricotta these days in the supermarket is made from cows milk.

The term recooked is because Ricotta is made literally reusing the whey left over from the cheesemaking process. When cheese is made two components are formed in the process - the solids ( called curds) and the liquid ( called whey). The curds are pressed and made to cheese. The whey has some solids remaining but is mostly the liquid from the process.

Making Ricotta means taking the whey and adding back milk, some acid ( lemon juice for example) and a little curd. The mix is reheated and as the milk coagulates a soft crumbly texture forms. This is usually put through a cheesecloth and the liquid separating leaving what is known as Ricotta cheese.  

Ricotta cheese has lots of moisture left so it remains soft, creamy and delicious.  Because it has lots of moisture it does have a short shelf life so take care when you buy it to make sure you use it reasonably quickly.

Cheesecake in Italy is usually made with Ricotta cheese. At Dello Mano we make a delicious Italian Ricotta Cheesecake

An Italian Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake on a glass stand. The cake has crumbles and icing sugar on top. There is also a tag that says Dello Mano

The Dello Mano Italian Ricotta Cheesecake

Cream Cheese

Cream cheese is an ingredient common in American style cheesecake. This style of cheesecake has been adopted in Australia as probably the most common cheesecake. 

Cream cheese is not matured and is a fresh cheese. Philadelphia cheese is a popular cream cheese brand both here and the USA. Philadelphia cream cheese actually has it roots in the origin of cream cheese itself. According to Wikipedia in 1872 a dairy farmer in Chester New York attempted to make Neufchatel cheese. Popular in Europe the Neufchatel cheese was commonly used on cheesecake recipes. 

According to food history the farmer known as William Lawrence added too much cream to his Neufchatel ( see notes below ) and in doing so by accident made what he called Neufchatel & Cream Cheese.  This cheese was creamier. Popular demand led him to form a business with a large cheese distributor.  With increasing demand they later re named the product Philadelphia Cream Cheese. The name was chosen as at the time the dairy farms of the  Philadelphia region were associated with excellent quality. By calling the cream cheese Philadelphia they were able to market the cheese leveraging the quality association of the area to this new cheese. 


Neufchatel cheese originates from the Normandy region of France. It is a mould ripened cheese so it looks like Camembert cheese. It's a slightly drier than Cream Cheese and is a little less rich than Cream Cheese when used in Cheesecake.

Neufchatel cheese dates back to as early as the 6th Century. According to many accounts it is France's oldest cheese. 


Mascapone Cheese is generally made with just two ingredients, heavy cream and an acid. In some production the acid may be lemon juice however it is common to use tartaric acid which is found in wine casks after its' production. 

After adding the acid to the cream, the mix is left and again cheesecloth is used to pull out the soft Mascapone cheese. It is rich and almost velvet like in texture. Using Mascarpone in a cheesecake recipe will deliver a very rich, smooth textured more decadent final dessert. 

Mascarpone originated in the Lombardy region of Italy. 

What can I substitute Cream Cheese with in a Cheesecake?

Though Cream Cheese is the most common cheese used in Australian Cheesecake making, there are a number of possible substitutions. These include but are not limited to :

  • Tofu and Soy Milk
  • Evaporated Milk
  • Greek Yoghurt and Milk
  • Sour cream

Your choice of cheese in your cheesecake is very much a personal preference. Everyone has their own favourite cheesecake recipe. We use a number of different cheese variations at Dello Mano and I have to say I love them all!

What cheese is in your cheesecake recipe?

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