Can You Freeze Cream Cheese?
Cream cheese is a rich, tangy and creamy spread, adding flavor and texture to bagels, roll cakes, cheesecakes, casseroles, dips, chilis, soups, sauces and more. If you love cream cheese, you may have it as a kitchen staple and stock up on an extra package or two when it goes on sale. Knowing that the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service suggests that cream cheese will only last in the refrigerator for two weeks, you may wonder how to extend its shelf life. Occasional cream cheese consumers with an opened container may also want to know how to make it last longer. You have come to the right place—keep scrolling to find out how to freeze cream cheese, how to make frozen cream cheese creamy again when thawed and how long cream cheese stays fresh in the freezer.
Can You Freeze Cream Cheese?
In short, cream cheese isn't that freezer friendly—and the more fat it has, the more likely it will not freeze well. Thanks to the high moisture content of cream cheese—freezing this dairy product causes the water present to expand, forming ice crystals. As a result, frozen cream cheese will likely have a crumbly, grainy, gritty and chunky texture once thawed. Likely due to this structural change, the USDA FoodKeeper App does not recommend freezing cream cheese.
Still, it's not unsafe to freeze cream cheese as long as you follow safe food handling and storage practices.
What Types of Cream Cheese Can Be Frozen?
You can freeze all types of cream cheese. When thawed, they will all possess a crumbly and chunky texture, but to varying degrees. The higher the fat content, the more fat separation you may notice when frozen cream cheese is thawed. In other words, reduced-fat and fat-free cream cheeses freeze slightly better and are less grainy and lumpy than their full-fat counterparts.
How Do You Freeze Cream Cheese?
Cream cheese is perishable, meaning that it is prone to spoilage. Exposing it to air shortens its shelf life even more. So, leaving unopened cream cheese in its original packaging is best to prevent freezer burn. For cream cheese wrapped in foil, you may also want to add an extra layer of protection by wrapping it tightly with plastic wrap or placing it in a sealable bag or airtight container. Lastly, label the package with the date of freezing before you tuck it away.
You can also freeze opened cream cheese by stowing it away in the freezer for later use. For cream cheese in a brick form, you can put it in a sealed bag or airtight container. If you plan to use a small portion each time, you can divide your cream cheese into smaller amounts by cutting the brick into sections or scooping them out from the larger container. Then, place each portion into a sealed bag or airtight container. As with unopened cream cheese, label each piece with the freezing date.
How Long Can You Freeze Cream Cheese For?
Cream cheese can be frozen for up to two months. Although freezing prolongs its shelf life, cream cheese is still perishable in the freezer, so check for mold, a change in color or an off smell after you thaw it.
How to Thaw Cream Cheese
To thaw frozen cream cheese, place it in the refrigerator overnight. If you'd like to use frozen cream cheese right away, you can also defrost it in the microwave—just be sure to transfer it from the foil wrapping or plastic tub to a microwave-safe container first. Then, use the defrost function of the microwave at 15-second increments. Mix and stir it between intervals until it is soft enough.
How to Make Frozen Cream Cheese Creamy Again
Because of cream cheese's high water content, the cheese curds will likely separate from the liquid when thawed. You can try whipping it with an electric mixer, in a food processor or with a whisk to remove the lumps and revive its smooth texture.
How to Use Frozen Cream Cheese
Despite your efforts to return frozen cream cheese to its previously gloriously smooth texture, it'll probably still be a little bit grainy. Here's a tip: Use it in recipes that will not be affected by its texture. Previously frozen cream cheese fares best in baked dishes like casseroles and dips, baked goods and mashed vegetables.
Cream cheese offers versatility, making it a kitchen staple for many. While cream cheese may not last long in the fridge, you can freeze it for up to two months. To use frozen cream cheese, thaw it in the fridge overnight or defrost it in the microwave. Previously frozen cream cheese will still have the same flavor as its refrigerated counterpart, but its texture may be grainy. So, the best way to use the thawed product is in recipes where cream cheese is not a featured ingredient, like our Creamy White Chili with Cream Cheese. Browse our Healthy Cream Cheese Recipes to discover ways to use frozen cream cheese in your cooking today!