There are so many different brands of cream cheese on the market these days. How do you know which one is the best?
Is there a difference in quality between generic and branded cream cheeses?
In this article, we will explore the healthiest, most flavorful, and most spreadable cream cheeses on the market. We will also discuss budget-friendly options, and answer some of the frequently asked questions.
Are there any Differences Between Cream Cheeses?
Indeed, most of the major brands are using nearly the same ingredients in making cream cheese – milk, cream, stabilizers, culture, salt, preservative, and acid. The main difference is their fat content, where according to the FDA, cream cheese must have a minimum of 33% of milk fat.
Also, the cream cheese production methods can vary, and this may account for the subtle differences in texture, spreadability, flavor and creaminess among different brands.
In addition, cream cheese is a dairy product where the source of milk can greatly affect the taste and quality of the product. Likewise the ingredients, for example, the Wegmans is using the organic carob bean gum (stabilizer) Ingredient, while Philadelphia is not.
What is the Healthiest Cream Cheese Brand?
The first thing in mind when it comes to “the healthiest” cream cheese would have no additives and contains high-quality ingredients. The best option in this category is undoubtedly organic cream cheese, which is made with milk from pasture-raised cows.
The winning brand for this would be the Organic Valley Cream Cheese, where they use organic cream, organic milk, and organic locust bean gum. No preservative, see ingredients.
Another healthier choice is cream cheese made with goat milk, as this type of milk has a lower allergen potential and is easier to digest than cow’s milk (1). Goat cream cheese also has a creamier texture, higher calories, protein, and half the fat.
Our recommendation is the much appreciated Quescrem’s Goat Cream Cheese. It’s made with 100% organic goat milk and has a delicate flavor.
Another important factor concerning people is the high-fat content of cream cheese. Some people are trying to avoid eating high-fat products, so they may be looking for lower-fat cream cheese. One way of course is to choose the “Lite” or low-fat version of cream cheese. Many brands do offer a light version.
For the healthiest, we look for a lower fat content in their classic regular, plain, or original cream cheese. Here are some of the brands and their fat content.
*Some of the flavored cream cheese varieties may have a lower fat content.
Philadelphia and Prairie Farms have the significantly highest fat content amongst the popular brands. So, they are the least healthy in terms of fat content.
In other words, the high-fat content also translates higher calories and saturated fat.
What is the Most Flavorful Cream Cheese?
When it comes to flavor, it’s a thing of personal preferences and subjective opinions. However, many people seem to agree that the classic brands of cream cheese have a more rich and tangy flavor.
The most flavorful cream cheese according to the Taste of Home: Philadelphia for tanginess, Dutch Farms for mildest, and Prairie Farms for firmest texture (best for no-bake desserts).
So, Philadelphia is the winning brand if we take flavor into account. Eat This Not That also suggests Philadelphia as their best testing.
What is the Most Spreadable Cream Cheese?
The aspect of cream cheese that can be both a pro and a con, is its spreadability. It can be easy to smear on bagels or toast, but it’s also easy to overdo it. It should also be firm enough for cheesecake frosting, and a high-quality stabilizer to prevent runny easily.
Some of the brands may have produced a slightly thicker or firmer consistency that some people may like to hate. Taste of Home loves the firm texture of Prairie Farms for cheesecake, while Eat This Not That mentioned that Happy Farms cream cheese could be too thick for crackers.
Overall, most of the brands are doing a pretty good job when it comes to spreadability and consistency, so there are no clear winners here.
Cream Cheese Best for Baking and Frosting?
Baking with cream cheese can be a delicious experience, but it’s important to know which type of cream cheese will work best in your recipe. Generally, dense, lower moisture and slightly thicker cream cheese are preferred.
For recipes that call for whipped cream cheese, you’ll want to use the regular fat versions. You don’t go low fat so they don’t become too thin while baking.
For cheesecakes and other baked goods, we recommend Philadelphia cream cheese with higher fat content.
The best type of cream cheese for baking is the one that will produce the desired outcome, whether it’s a fluffy cheesecake or a dense and creamy pound cake.
So, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question.
Alternatively, you can try mascarpone which has a higher fat content and a smoother velvety texture. Read Cream Cheese vs Mascarpone.
Is Aldi or Meijer as Good as Philadelphia Cream Cheese?
Each brand has its lovers. For example, Philadelphia cream cheese is notoriously smooth and creamy, while Aldi’s version has a slightly more cheesy taste but grittier. Meijer’s brand is somewhere in the middle – it’s not as cheesy as Aldi’s, but it’s also not as smooth or tangy as Philadelphia.
A food blogger Hannah from the UK also scores Philadelphia higher in a blind taste – even though the nutrition facts are different from the US Philadelphia. Followed by Aldi.