I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of quark substitutes to find the best one for every cooking occasion. Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry substitute, or want a swap that fits your diet, I’ve got the answers.
The best substitute for quark is a mixture of ricotta and sour cream, or cottage cheese. Greek yogurt is also a solid alternative you can try, or if you have some time, you can make your own. Whipped silken tofu is a good vegan substitute.
I made a few mini cheesecakes to put different quark substitutes to the test.
Made from warmed, soured milk, quark is mild and creamy with a lightly tangy flavor that’s ideal for both savory and sweet dishes. It’s predominantly found in European countries, particularly in Germany. It’s typically served for breakfast, with bread or granola. But it’s also an important ingredient in desserts like German cheesecake.
Here are the substitutes I tested and the verdicts:
|Ricotta + Sour Cream||Adjust ratios to fit your preference||9/10|
|Cottage Cheese||Needs to be pureed||9/10|
|Greek Yogurt||Has a tangier flavor than quark||8/10|
|Cream Cheese/Mascarpone + Cream||Richer and more indulgent||8/10|
|Creme Fraiche||Much suited for sauces||7/10|
|Homemade Quark||Takes time and patience||9/10|
Ricotta + Sour Cream
Ricotta was a popular suggestion for a quark substitute and I can see why. It matched quark’s mild creamy goodness and it also looked very similar, although I thought it was missing that characteristic tang.
A trick I found to fix this is to blend the ricotta with sour cream. This duo had a velvety texture, with sweetness from the ricotta and a slight tang from the sour cream.
I had success mixing equal parts ricotta and sour cream, but the beauty of this substitute is that you can play around with the ratios to suit you.
How to Substitute: Replace 1 oz of quark with ½ oz ricotta + ½ oz sour cream.
If you have cottage cheese sitting in your fridge, you’re halfway there to a fabulous quark substitute.
It has the same light creaminess as quark, although again I thought its tangy notes were slightly milder (adding a touch of sour cream would be a good idea here too!). Another small issue with cottage cheese is that its distinct curds mean it’s not as smooth as quark. But it’s an easy fix. I simply pureed my cottage cheese to give it a smoother consistency.
And if you happen to have farmer’s cheese on hand, that could work too. It’s a tad less creamy than cottage cheese and quark because it’s been pressed, but you can mix it with cream to fix this.
How to Substitute: Replace quark in a 1:1 ratio with cottage cheese + sour cream to taste.
Greek yogurt is another decent quark substitute that you can work with if it’s all you have. It’s thick and creamy, although, unlike the previous two options, it packs a tangier punch than quark.
And if plain yogurt is all you have, you can turn it into Greek yogurt by straining it with a fine mesh strainer and cheesecloth. It takes time (I strained mine for about 2 hours), but the process is completely effortless.
You can also pick up a tub of labneh if you spot it in the grocery store. It’s just like Greek yogurt, but it’s been strained for longer, resulting in an even thicker, creamier consistency, making it a perfect substitute for quark in German cheesecakes.
Psst… and if you’re vegan, plant-based yogurts can be strained in a similar fashion.
How to Substitute: Replace quark in a 1:1 ratio with Greek yogurt.
Cream Cheese/Mascarpone + Cream
If indulgence is your middle name, then this duo is the way to go. Both cream cheese and mascarpone have a high-fat content, making them richer than quark. Whichever you choose, it’s guaranteed to elevate your regular toast or make your desserts even more luxurious.
Both options also have a thicker consistency than quark, so you can thin them out with a splash of cream or milk to make them more spreadable if you need to.
I prefer using cream cheese because it has a light tangy note similar to quark, but you can also add a bit of lemon juice to mascarpone to give it the same kick.
How to Substitute: Replace 1 oz of quark with ½ oz cream cheese/mascarpone + cream
If you’ve worked with creme fraiche before, it’s a no-brainer quark substitute It’s thick, creamy, and offers a lovely tang reminiscent of quark.
Another upside of creme fraiche is its higher fat content, which not only makes it extra rich but also allows it to withstand heat without curdling. This means you can use creme fraiche for cooking applications worry-free.
This delightful dairy product is believed to have originated from Normandy, but you can easily find it in local stores nowadays.
How to Substitute: Replace quark in a 1:1 ratio with creme fraiche.
Vegans, rejoice! Tofu, with its delicate texture, can be whipped into a consistency that’s eerily similar to quark.
This substitute from Baking Hermann uses silken tofu to achieve the silkiest consistency. You could get away with using firm tofu, but you’ll likely need to blend it with a bit of oil to reach a similar texture. The recipe also involves mixing the whipped tofu with a splash of lemon juice to mimic quark’s tang.
Pro tip: You can incorporate various seasonings like honey, salt, or even nutritional yeast into whipped tofu to give it more flavor.
How to Substitute: Replace quark in a 1:1 ratio with whipped tofu.
If you’re in the mood for a DIY project, you can also try making quark from scratch. There are two methods you can try. The first and most common method is simply heating whole milk, stirring in the buttermilk, and letting the mixture strain for around 6 hours.
The second is an old-fashioned method from The Daring Gourmet. It still starts with whole milk, but instead of buttermilk, you’ll need mesophilic cultures and rennet to curdle the milk. It’s trickier since these ingredients are not easy to find, but the quark you get from this method is phenomenal.
Pro tip: Always use fresh and high-quality milk as it significantly affects the end result, and whole milk is preferred.
How to Substitute: Replace quark in a 1:1 ratio with the homemade version.
Other Substitute Options
The list above are my top picks for quark substitutes, but here are a couple more options you can try:
- Fromage Blanc: This is a creamy, French fresh cheese that’s often likened to quark in its texture and tang. The only reason I don’t have it on the main list is that it’s difficult to find in most grocery stores.
- Fresh Goat Cheese: This substitute is a bit tricky because you’ll need to seek the freshest goat cheese you can find. Aged goat cheese isn’t recommended as a substitute because it’s got a very different flavor.
Substitutes To Avoid
I came across cheese curds as a recommended substitute for quark, but I have to disagree. They have a similar mildly creamy goodness as quark, but they aren’t spreadable unless you heat them and this means you can’t use them for baking and desserts either.
Best Quark Substitutes + 1 To Avoid
- 2 cups milk
- ½ cup buttermilk
- Bring milk to a simmer in a saucepan. Remove from heat and let it rest to cool.
- Whisk the buttermilk into milk and let the mixture sit at room temperature for 8 hours to overnight. Strain the mixture through a cheesecloth over a bowl in the fridge for another 8 hours.