Mascarpone cheese is used in both sweet and savory dishes, so it’s unsurprising that pregnant women wonder if it’s safe for them to eat. It’s one of my all-time favorite cheeses, so I wrote this pregnancy guide to mascarpone to answer your common questions about it.
Is Mascarpone Cheese Safe in Pregnancy? Mascarpone cheese is safe to eat in pregnancy if it’s made with pasteurized cream. Mascarpone is a ‘cream cheese’ and many commercial versions are safe to eat. Homemade mascarpone may not be pregnancy-safe.
If you’re a fan of mascarpone, I’ve answered common questions below, including which versions of the cheese are pasteurized and examples of the types of dishes you might find mascarpone in.
Is Mascarpone a Hard or Soft Cheese?
Mascarpone differs from many other cheeses because it’s made with cream, rather than milk. This gives it that heavy, creamy texture that is one of the obvious reasons why it’s so popular.
Mascarpone is both a ‘cream cheese’ and a ‘soft cheese’. It’s created by coagulating heavy cream with something acidic, usually lemon juice. The simplest versions of the cheese are just that – cream and lemon juice. You might find other versions made with milk, too.
This often creates confusion among pregnant women because they are told to avoid ‘soft’ cheeses. However, for the purposes of pregnancy safety, mascarpone is classified as a cream cheese, which is safe to eat if the cream or milk it’s made from is pasteurized.
If you want to read more about cream cheese in general (including how to cook with it when you’re pregnant), then there’s an article all about cream cheese and pregnancy here.
Is Mascarpone Cheese Pasteurized?
Mascarpone, when made traditionally, simply calls for ‘heavy cream’ (also known as double cream). It’s more than likely that this cream will be pasteurized, though it’s not a certainty.
Raw milk and cream products do exist, and they’re often sold at places like farm shops and directly from small producers. Raw dairy products should be avoided in pregnancy due to the risk of listeria bacteria and salmonella.
It’s pretty hard to find raw dairy these days, particularly outside Europe. The majority of mascarpone cheeses you come across will be made from pasteurized cream or milk. If it isn’t, it has to state this on the label. Pregnancy-safe brands using pasteurized cream are listed below.
If you’re making mascarpone at home (or eating a homemade version), check first that the cream used in the recipe has been pasteurized. It more than likely has, but it’s always better to check first.
Some mascarpone recipes call for eggs to be used. If this is the case, they should be pasteurized first, so only commercially-produced versions will be safe. For more on this, there’s a complete guide to eggs in pregnancy here.
It’s easier to just use a ‘traditional’ recipe calling for cream and a coagulant such as vinegar or lemon juice, and skip recipes that include egg.
Like many soft types of cheese, once you’ve opened a fresh tub of mascarpone, it’s best kept sealed in its container and eaten within a couple of days.
Pregnancy-Safe Mascarpone Brands
All commercial mascarpone products will be made from pasteurized cream or milk, and are therefore safe for pregnant women to eat.
For the avoidance of doubt (and to help you when you’re shopping for it), here are some examples of mascarpone brands that are safe:
- Any supermarket own-brand (e.g. Tesco, Publix, Trader Joe, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, Waitrose, Costco)
- Vermont Creamery
Dishes Containing Mascarpone
Mascarpone appears in several different dishes. I’ve been asked about a few of them in relation to their pregnancy-safety so I’m listing these here:
- Mascarpone Cheesecake – cheesecake made with mascarpone is safe to eat in pregnancy, if the cheesecake been “set” with cream cheese or mascarpone that has been made with pasteurized milk and cream. If the recipe contains eggs too, this may not be safe. If you’re a cheesecake fan, you’ll want to check out this article on cheesecakes in pregnancy. It explains everything you need to know.
- Mascarpone in sauce – for example, mascarpone and tomato sauce is safe in pregnancy, if the mascarpone has been made with pasteurized cream, as most are. Even if it hasn’t been made with pasteurized cream, in this case, since the sauce is served hot, any potential harmful bacteria will be killed as part of the cooking process anyway.
- Mascarpone in other desserts – Tiramisu is one of the classic desserts that contains mascarpone, but it’s not the mascarpone cheese that may be the issue, here – it’s the coffee and alcohol! Tiramisu is generally safe, in small amounts.
However, you might also want to check out this article on chocolate and caffeine, as it’s relevant to tiramisu, and also this article about food containing alcohol during pregnancy.
Is Mascarpone Good for Pregnant Women?
Overall, mascarpone cheese is OK to eat when you’re pregnant. Since it’s almost made entirely of cream, though, you should really only eat it in moderate amounts when you’re pregnant.
The benefits of the protein and calcium you’ll get from the cream are outweighed by the high amounts of saturated fat content, calories and sugar in mascarpone – especially when it appears in desserts. Hopefully, with this guide, you can enjoy it as a treat, in moderation, without worrying if it’s OK in pregnancy.