You may be wondering if cream cheese can be frozen as a way to extend its shelf life. Learn everything you need to know!
When you’re considering if you can freeze cream cheese, there are a few important details to keep in mind.
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Many people purchase cream cheese, as it’s an especially versatile item that can be used for countless reasons.
You can spread it on a bagel, use it in preparing homemade cream cheese dips, use it to make cheesecake, use it as a base for cream cheese balls, bake it into a pound cake, and more.
Not only that, but it can sometimes be used a substitute for sour cream in baked goods. Because you can do so much with it, it’s good to have some cream cheese at home.
However, cream cheese does expire at a certain point, which may leave you wondering if it’s possible to freeze it.
The good news is, yes, you can freeze cream cheese. But for best quality, knowing how to freeze it properly is important.
Can Cream Cheese Be Frozen?
While some dairy products do not freeze well, freezing soft cheeses, such as cream cheese, is possible!
Although most people buy cream cheese and stick it right in their fridge, you don’t have to do that.
For example, let’s say you decide to buy several packages of cream cheese because you can find it at your local grocery store on sale.
Keeping that in mind, you wouldn’t want to put all the blocks of cream cheese in the fridge, because it would most likely go bad before you’ve had a chance to use. And once it reaches its expiration date listed on the cardboard box, it’s a waste.
So, instead of placing your cream cheese in the fridge, you could put it right in the freezer, in its aluminum foil wrapping and cardboard box, without even opening it (this helps to prevent freezer burn).
If you’re going to put the cream cheese in the freezer, you can keep it there for up to two months before thawing it out in the fridge and using it however you’d like.
Does Freezing Cream Cheese Change its Texture?
It’s important to note that, while you can freeze cream cheese, its likely that its texture will change in the process.
The cream cheese could have a more crumbly texture after freezing, because some of its liquid may separate, but is still usable.
During the freezing process, water creates ice crystals, which expand and disrupt the network of protein and fat that give cream cheese its characteristic texture.
When it’s thawed out, this collapse of structure becomes noticeable, as the water has separated, leaving behind clumps of fat and protein–causing a grainy texture.
Because of this texture change, you may want to choose to use the thawed cream cheese in a recipe, such as a casserole, instead of using it by itself, where it would be more noticeable.
Can You Freeze Cream Cheese Frosting or Icing?
Cream cheese frosting and cream cheese icing are sweet toppings to add to some of your favorite treats, including cakes (especially carrot cakes!), sweet breads (such as this gingerbread loaf), cupcakes, as a filling for whoopie pies, topping for cinnamon rolls, and more.
If you like to keep this kind of frosting or icing on hand at home because you’re often using it on some of your favorite baked goods, you’ll be glad to know that it’s possible to freeze cream cheese frosting and cream cheese icing.
In fact, this frosting freezes better than plain cream cheese, because the added sugar helps it hold its structure.
If you’re planning to freeze the frosting or icing, the best way to do it is to add it to an airtight plastic container, removing as much air as possible, label the container, and place it in the freezer, where you can keep it stored for about two months.
When you’re ready to use it, bring it to room temperature and mix it if needed to restore fluffiness.
How to Freeze Cream Cheese
You have two options when freezing cream cheese, depending on whether the cheese remains unopened or if it has been opened.
Unopened Cream Cheese
You can place unopened cream cheese in the freezer directly after buying it to preserve its freshness for later use.
This can be ideal, since cream cheese is sold in airtight packaging.
You can freeze this cream cheese for up to two months.
Opened Cream Cheese
However, if you’ve already opened the cream cheese, it’s still possible to freeze it.
Instead of leaving it in its original packaging, tightly wrap the cream cheese with plastic wrap (or even better, use a vacuum sealer if you have one!), then place the leftover cream cheese into an airtight container or freezer bag.
You can then transfer it to the freezer to keep it stored for up to two months.
How to Thaw Frozen Cream Cheese
When you need to thaw frozen cream cheese, place it in the fridge instead of allowing it to thaw on the kitchen table or counter.
Allow the frozen cream cheese to thaw in the fridge overnight. When you get up in the morning, it should be thawed enough for you to use it.
Keep in mind that thawed cream cheese should be used within a week.
How to Make Thawed Cream Cheese Creamy Again
Although the texture change can’t be completely reversed, if some of the liquid has separated in the thawed cream cheese and it seems a little grainy, you can do a couple of things to try to improve it.
First, warm the cream cheese in the microwave in 10 second intervals to help warm up the fat molecules. Then, stir to try to mix it back together into a creamier texture. You can also try using an electric mixer until it’s soft and creamy.
Alternatively, you can use the stove top method of using a double boiler to warm the fats, so they may be more easily mixed back together.
Uses for Frozen Cream Cheese
There are many different uses for frozen cream cheese. While you may not want to spread it on your morning bagel, you can add it to your favorite recipes!
These are a few of the ways to use frozen cream cheese once it’s thawed out:
- Add to casseroles for a rich and creamy texture, such as creamy chicken casserole
- Use in baked goods for added moisture, such as cranberry cream cheese bread
- Use to make desserts with a slight tang, such as pistachio ooey gooey bars
- Add to soups for extra creaminess, such as with loaded baked potato soup
Of course, there are dozens of other ways to use frozen cream cheese, but these are just a few options.
In some cases, you may be able to put the frozen cream cheese directly into the pot that you’re using to prepare different foods, such as soups and casseroles.
But for best results, it’s best to allow the cream cheese to thaw before using it to prepare certain baked goods and other foods.
Can You Freeze Whipped Cream Cheese?
Many people like to buy whipped cream cheese spreads, which often come in little plastic tubs instead of foil-wrapped packages.
You can freeze whipped cream cheese, and it actually tends to freeze a little better than regular cream cheese.
This is because it typically has stabilizers added to it, which help prevent the water separating out. It’s also usually thinned with cream (for added spreadability), which affects how it freezes.
Plus, the air pockets (from being whipped) also provide some room for expansion during freezing, causing less separation in the first place.
So while freezing it could potentially alter the overall creamy texture of the cream cheese a little bit, it won’t be as grainy as plain cream cheese would be.
Should You Freeze Cream Cheese?
Whether or not you personally decide to freeze your cream cheese largely depends on your intended uses for the product.
If you’re planning to spread it on your morning bagel and are particular about its texture, you probably won’t want to use frozen cream cheese for that.
If, however, you plan to bake with it or add it to soups and casseroles, then why not extend the life of the cream cheese by freezing?
When it comes to storing cream cheese, it doesn’t matter if you’re using Philadelphia Cream Cheese or the generic store brand. It doesn’t matter which style or flavor of cream cheese you use.
The bottom line is, you want to store it the right way to prevent it from going bad. Once it goes bad, it’s no longer good to use, so you might as well freeze it for later!
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