Can You Freeze Cream Cheese? Yes—Here's How!
Cream cheese may not be the first food you think of freezing, but when you consider how often you're left with half a block or maybe just a tablespoon or two languishing in the fridge, long-term storage starts to sound like a very good option. Why let that last bit of tangy spread go to waste?
Before you go for the big chill, keep in mind that although cream cheese can safely be frozen for up to two months, freezing changes its texture pretty dramatically. Cream cheese contains a lot of water, which makes it particularly sensitive to the thawing and freezing process. To get a bit technical, when ice crystals form and melt, some of the water separates out from the cheese curds, which turns normally smooth and creamy cream cheese grainy and crumbly. That makes previously frozen cream cheese best for recipes when texture is less important. In other words, avoid spreading it on bagels or using it to make a cheesecake and stick to casseroles, hot dips and baked goods besides cheesecake, including banana bread and biscuits. Read on to learn how to freeze cream cheese and how to thaw it, plus recipes to make it shine.
Related: Can You Freeze Milk?
How to Freeze Cream Cheese
Freezing cream cheese is an excellent option when you find it on sale and purchase it in bulk—or anytime you have cream cheese left over from a recipe or your last bagel breakfast. Unopened cream cheese can be frozen in its original packaging for up to two months—the sealed foil plus cardboard box will easily protect it from freezer burn. Once opened, cream cheese should be transferred to an airtight container, dated, labeled and frozen for up to two months. Keep in mind that it's always best to freeze food when it's still fresh rather than when it should really go in the trash or compost bin.
Related: Can You Freeze Eggs?
How to Thaw Cream Cheese
The best way to thaw frozen cream cheese is to place it in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. It will be grainy and crumbly, but you may be able to improve the texture a bit by stirring or whisking it.
How to Use Previously Frozen Cream Cheese
While the texture may not be ideal, previously frozen cream cheese still adds richness and tanginess to both sweet and savory recipes. Defrosted cream cheese performs well in casseroles, including breakfast versions, as well as hot dips and baked pasta dishes like veggie lasagna and mac and cheese bites.