The best substitute for quark depends entirely on the needs of your recipe. Quark can be smooth or curdy, low or high-fat, and your substitute will, ideally, mimic those same properties to help you make the best dish you can.
Whether you’re looking to replace smooth quark in bread or a curdy quark in a dip, one of these alternatives will work for you.
What is Quark?
Quark is a creamy, soft cheese with a texture similar to thick yogurt mixed with cottage cheese. Its taste is similar to cream cheese with a somewhat sour flavor. It’s also protein-rich with over seven grams of protein per hundred grams of cheese and packs a serious amount of calcium.
Fat contents vary widely. There are light versions of quark with less than 1% fat, and it can be found in quantities of 10%, 20%, and 40% in some countries.
5 Recommended Quark Substitute
The 5 most common quark alternative:
- Cream Cheese
- Fromage Frais
- Fresh Ricotta
- Cheese Curds
- Greek Yogurt
Cream Cheese: Best Quark Alternative
You’re probably more familiar with cream cheese than you are with quark, but to decide what quark cheese substitute works best for your purposes, we’re going to talk about it in-depth.
Cream cheese is a creamy and spreadable white cheese with a mild tangy flavor. Cream cheese is a delicious addition, whether you’re topping your favorite bagel with it or making a cheesecake!
In the US, it’s required to have a minimum of 33% fat content, with low-fat options having roughly 10%. It’s the closest option to quark in regards to fat content ranges. Cream cheese also tends to have over six grams of protein per 100-gram serving, making it nutritionally close to quark.
Unlike quark, cream cheese can have a natural sweetness and has a fresh scent. Quark can have a somewhat chunky, curdy texture despite its creaminess and spreadability; cream cheese is smooth. Quark is naturally somewhat drier but often comes in a tub of its whey. Texturally, it is more like cottage cheese than cream cheese.
Cream cheese is naturally vegetarian and halal because it doesn’t contain rennet, and kosher options are available. You can find cream cheese in most grocery stores.
How to Substitute Cream Cheese for Quark
Replace the quark with the same amount of cream cheese to maintain a roughly similar texture to smooth quark. If you want a curdy texture, substitute the same amount of quark for a 1:1 ratio of cream cheese to strained cottage cheese.
This fresh, creamy, spreadable cheese is often called Fromage Blanc, but the two are not interchangeable. Fromage Blanc has no live cultures, and fermentation has stopped, while Fromage Frais still has live cultures. Fromage Frais is commonly found in mousse and different cream sauces.
Fromage Frais has a somewhat tangy and sour taste, with some saltiness. It’s close in taste to cream cheese and has a texture closer to yogurt. When made from whole milk, it can have similar fat content to quark. It has almost the same protein content as quark, with 6 grams of protein per 100-gram serving.
Quark has a noticeably richer flavor and a thicker consistency since most Fromage Frais have a much lower fat content (often less than 10% fat). Fromage Frais is traditionally made with whole or skim milk from cows, goats, or sheep, making it highly varied in potential fat contents and flavors.
Fromage Frais isn’t made with rennet, so it is vegetarian and halal. You can find kosher options. Fromage Frais may be a bit hard to find, but you might be able to source it from your local European market.
How to Substitute Fromage Frais for Quark
If you decide to use a low-fat Fromage Frais as a substitute, you will probably want to add a higher fat substitute to it to get closer to the richness found in quark.
Since it’s not unlike cottage cheese blended smooth, you could run full-fat cottage cheese through a blender or food processor to add more body and depth to your Fromage Frais with a 1:1 ratio. If you’re looking for a more classic quark curdy texture, skip blending the cottage cheese.
Note: if you’re making a sweet dish, like a mousse, consider using fruche, a sweet Fromage Frais often made with vanilla or fruit.
Ricotta is a soft Italian cheese made from whey leftover from the cheese-making process, and it can be made from cow, sheep, goat, or buffalo’s milk. You’ve probably had it in stuffed shells, lasagna, and other pasta recipes from or inspired by Italy.
Texturally, fresh ricotta is somewhere between Fromage Frais and cottage cheese, with small grains instead of large curds. Like quark, it works well in sweet and savory dishes.
The curds you can sometimes find in quark are larger than the grains in ricotta. Because of these tiny grains, ricotta has a fluffier texture. Ricotta also has a sweeter flavor than quark and is unsalted.
Unlike quark, ricotta isn’t made with rennet, so it is vegetarian and halal. Kosher ricotta options are available. You should be able to find this relatively easily at a grocery store near you.
How to Substitute Fresh Ricotta for Quark
If you decide to use ricotta, mixing it in a 2:1 ratio with sour cream will give it a closer flavor to quark. If you want a more curd-like texture, a 1:1 ratio with cheese curds will thicken it up and give it a closer taste to quark.
Also known as Squeaky Cheese, cheese curds are salty, bite-sized curds that are as firm as your average cheese with a rubbery or bouncy texture. Poutine from Canada and deep-fried cheese curds from the midwestern US are the most popular dishes these delightful cheese bites are cooked into.
Of the quark substitutes we’ve discussed, cheese curds are the most similar in terms of their mild and milky flavor. Cheese curds have a roughly 40% fat content, making them most like higher fat varieties of quark.
Since cheese curds are made with rennet, they are only vegetarian when made with vegetarian rennet. Halal cheese curds need to be made with halal rennet or vegetarian rennet. Kosher cheese curds can be made from Kosher rennet, but we found no evidence of Kosher cheese curds on the market.
A 100 gram serving of cheese curds has more than three times the protein as a 100 gram serving of quark and seven times the amount of calcium (55% of the recommended daily value)! Cheese curds are saltier than quark, and the curds are easily double the size of those you’ll find in curdy quark.
Cheese curds will probably be easier for you to find than quark but not as easy to source as other substitutes we’ve discussed.
How to Substitute Cheese Curds for Quark
Since the curds are so much larger, you’ll likely want to chop roughly or dice them before substituting them in your recipe. Adding them in an approximately 1:1 ratio to something thinner like ricotta, Fromage Frais, or sour cream will help approximate the texture of quark and enhance the aspects of the flavor you want in your recipe.
Greek yogurt is a rich and tangy yogurt found in most grocery stores.
Greek yogurt has a natural creaminess and sour edge similar to smooth quark. Like quark, it comes with different fat contents to suit your needs. The flavor of greek yogurt lends itself well to both savory and sweet dishes.
Greek yogurt has more protein than quark per serving, but not as much as cheese curds. The texture is usually completely smooth, with none of the curdy texture quark might have. Since it’s yogurt and not cheese, Greek yogurt is made without rennet and is naturally vegetarian and halal. You can find kosher varieties at your local grocery store.
How to Substitute Greek Yogurt for Quark
Greek yogurt can be substituted for an equal amount of quark. Squeeze it through a tight, finely woven cheesecloth for a thicker texture. Consider adding another substitute to create a curdy consistency.
Dietary Restrictions and Quark
Quark is typically made from pasteurized cow’s milk and some rennet, meaning it is not vegan. The only time it’s made without rennet is when it is made and sold fresh. Quark is only vegetarian and kosher if it is produced without rennet or with vegetarian rennet. Similarly, quark is only halal if the rennet is sourced from a halal butcher or if it is manufactured with vegetarian rennet.
Consider the taste, texture, and fat content your recipe needs when choosing your substitute. Not all quark alternatives are made equal.
Your ideal replacement for quark will cover certain properties of quark and may be different from one recipe to the next. To make sure your quark alternative meets your recipe’s needs perfectly and consider making your own substitute. Just mix one or more of our recommended substitutes and possibly add sour cream.
Can you tell me would fresh goat cheese be a good substitute for quark as well and if so, would it be an even cup-for-cup measurement or 1:1 ratio?
Hi Lorie, that’s a great question. Especially if you use goat cheese products that come in crumbled form, I think that’s a good substitute. Goat cheese normally comes in “logs” and that texture will be different than quark. Also, goat cheese can be anything from somewhat mild to pretty sharp. So, depending on what you ultimately like in a quark replacement, if you look for the right goat cheese product I think it’s a really good alternative. Thanks for reading!