Last Updated on May 16, 2023 by Aaron
Cream cheese doesn’t last long in the fridge. One of the most common questions asked by cream cheese enthusiasts and culinary aficionados alike is, “Can you freeze cream cheese?”
After all, not only is cream cheese a staple ingredient in many savory and sweet dishes, but it’s also a delightful spread that perfectly complements a warm bagel.
But what happens when you have a surplus of cream cheese that you’re afraid might go to waste? Freezing may seem like the perfect solution, but can cream cheese be successfully frozen?
The straightforward answer to this question is yes, you can freeze cream cheese.
However, the caveat is that the texture of the cream cheese may change as a result of freezing. Therefore, how you intend to use the cream cheese after thawing should determine whether or not you decide to freeze it.
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The Freezing Process and its Impact on Cream Cheese
Cream cheese is a dairy product, and like many other dairy products, it can technically be frozen.
However, the freezing process can alter its texture. Cream cheese is loved for its creamy and smooth texture, which is partially due to its high water content.
When frozen, the water inside the cheese forms ice crystals, which can disrupt the emulsion and result in a crumbly, less smooth consistency once thawed.
You may sometimes see the water (whey) separated from the cream cheese. And it’s normal.
This change in texture doesn’t mean that the cream cheese is spoiled or unsafe to eat, but it might not provide the same culinary experience.
Therefore, thawed cream cheese is not generally recommended for uses where the smooth texture is integral to the dish, such as in cheesecakes or as a bagel spread.
However, if you’re using cream cheese in cooked dishes, such as sauces, soups, or casseroles, the change in texture won’t be as noticeable. In these scenarios, freezing cream cheese can be an excellent way to reduce waste and save money.
How to Freeze Cream Cheese
The best way to freeze cream cheese is in its unopened packaging, which provides the most protection against the cold and reduces freezer burn.
If it’s already opened, you can place it in an airtight container or wrap it tightly in plastic wrap before freezing.
For easy portioning, you can also freeze cream cheese in ice cube trays.
Once the cubes are frozen, transfer them into a freezer bag or airtight container. This way, you can thaw exactly the amount you need without defrosting the entire block.
Thawing Frozen Cream Cheese
When you’re ready to use your frozen cream cheese, it’s best to thaw it in the refrigerator.
It’s recommended to do this slowly over several hours or overnight to maintain the best possible texture.
Rapid thawing at room temperature can lead to an uneven texture. And if you thaw it at room temperature, it could potentially increase the risk of bacterial growth.
We have an article here talking about melting cream cheese properly and easily.
Once thawed, give the cream cheese a good stir to help restore some of its creaminess. Remember, it may still be slightly grainy, but this won’t be noticeable in cooked dishes.
Can You Freeze Cream Cheese Frosting?
Like cream cheese itself, cream cheese frosting can also be frozen, but it may suffer similar texture changes. If you’re planning to freeze it, it’s best used in scenarios where a slight graininess won’t matter, like in fillings or baked goods.
Can You Freeze Cream Cheese Dip?
Cream cheese-based dips can be frozen, but again, texture changes may occur. They’re best used in heated applications after thawing, like a warm spinach and artichoke dip, where the change in texture will be less noticeable.
Can You Freeze a Cheesecake Made with Cream Cheese?
Yes, you can freeze a cheesecake made with cream cheese. The texture of the cheesecake tends to hold up better in the freezer than plain cream cheese, especially if the cheesecake is properly wrapped and stored.
Thaw in the refrigerator before serving.
So, the next time you find yourself with an abundance of cream cheese, you’ll know that the freezer is a viable option for longer-term storage.