Cream Cheese Vs. Cream Cheese Spread: What’s the Difference?

Are you new to the wonderful world of cream cheese? Do you know the difference between cream cheese and cream cheese spread?

If not, don’t worry! This article will teach you everything you need to know about these two types of cheese.

Cream cheese is a type of fresh cheese that is made from cow’s milk. Yes, cream cheese is real cheese. It has a smooth texture and a slightly tangy flavor. Cream cheese spread is a type of cream cheese that has been blended with other ingredients, to make it more spreadable.

Their uses are different. Cream cheese can be used as an ingredient, while cream cheese spread is made to spread on bread, bagels, or crackers.

Both are delicious, let’s take a closer look at the differences between these two!

Are they the same? What about the block?

Yes, cream cheese (tub or block) and cream cheese spread are the same things. The only difference is that the cream cheese spread has been blended with other ingredients for better spreadability.

Below I’ll list out the ingredients for each according to the data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) FoodData Central.

The cream cheese block USDA has the 5 most basic ingredients with all unskippable essentials: Milk & cream, salt, bean gum (stabilizer), and starter culture (bacteria).

On top of the above, the cream cheese tub USDA has some other additional ingredients added: Whey protein concentrate (moisture), guar gum (another stabilizer), sorbic acid (preservative), and Vitamin A palmitate (replacement of lost vitamin A).

For the cream cheese spread USDA, we have 2 sets of ingredients. On top of the cream cheese tub’s ingredients, we also have whey (more moisture) and xanthan gum (yet another stabilizer).

The other set of cream cheese spread USDA ingredients is a little different (perhaps a different way of production). So, I list it out all here: Milk, skim milk & cream, water, milk protein concentrate, whey protein concentrate, salt, lactic acid, bean gum, carrageenan, natural flavor, starter culture, natamycin, Vitamin A palmitate.

It has way more ingredients, I understand that when it comes to food processing we prefer less – go for the block or brick!

Also, I listed and explained all other cream cheese varieties in this cream cheese article about gluten-free.

Can I substitute cream cheese spread for cream cheese?

Absolutely. In fact, I would say it’s even better to use cream cheese than cream cheese spread for lesser ingredients as mentioned above. Otherwise, always go for the brick cream cheese!

Use them correctly

Cream cheese can be used in a variety of recipes. It’s a common ingredient in cheesecakes, frostings, and dips.

Cream cheese spread is best enjoyed on bread, bagels, or crackers. It can also be used as a condiment for burgers or sandwiches.


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