Cheeses such as cream cheese or ricotta can be used in place of mascarpone cheese. However, mascarpone has a very distinct flavor and in certain dishes such as dessert dishes, it is best to only substitute a portion of it.
When mascarpone cheese is called for in sauces or casseroles, alternatives such as sour cream, Greek yogurt or cottage cheese can be used. Even low-fat varieties of these alternate cheeses are acceptable. Blending a package of cream cheese with a 1/2 cup of sour cream and 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream together can make a suitable substitute for mascarpone cheese.