Defrosting Cream Cheese: What You Need to Know

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Written By Gabriela
Gabriela is a science journalist and writer. She has a PhD in biochemistry and a master's degree in science communication. Gabriela has published articles in magazines and newspapers in Mexico and USA, and has also given talks on science subjects.






Philadelphia cream cheese is a popular ingredient in many recipes. But what happens when you pull it out of your fridge and find it’s still frozen? Is it still safe to use? Can you leave it out overnight to thaw or do you have to do something else? In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about defrosting cream cheese.

How do you defrost Philadelphia cream cheese?

When you need to use cream cheese for cooking, baking or simply spreading on toast, the last thing you want to do is try and work with frozen cream cheese! Taking the time to thaw it out is essential for achieving that creamy, smooth texture that Philadelphia cream cheese is famous for.

The best way to defrost frozen cream cheese is to let it sit in the fridge for at least several hours or better yet overnight. Although it can be tempting to try and speed up the process by using the microwave, this can lead to an uneven texture and watery consistency.

Once your frozen cream cheese has been thawed, you’ll notice the texture has changed. It will be significantly more grainy and crumbly than refrigerated cream cheese.

Although the grainy texture may not sound ideal, it can actually make your food prep go much faster. As a result of having this slightly different texture, it’s easier for you to mix in other ingredients. This makes it great for no-bake recipes like cheesecake bars or dip.

If you don’t have the time to thaw your Philadelphia cream cheese in the fridge overnight, then don’t worry – there are a few alternative methods:

  • Leave it on the kitchen countertop at room temperature for an hour or two until softened
  • Soak sealed packages of frozen cream cheese in warm water until softened
  • Grate block-style cream cheese while still frozen and then mix with other ingredients directly

Whichever method you choose to defrost your Philadelphia cream cheese remember that is important to take out of the package and spread onto a plate making sure it’s kept at a cool room temperature. This will prevent microorganisms from growing on the dairy product while thawing.

Can You Thaw Philadelphia Cream Cheese Overnight?

When that recipe you want to make calls for cream cheese, your first thought might be if you can leave it out overnight! Unfortunately, the answer is no. With bacteria growing on food left out for more than two hours, cream cheese is no exception.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), leaving perishable food out beyond two hours increases risk of bacterial growth and contamination. Cream cheese is categorized as a perishable food, so it must be handled with care and refrigerated promptly.

You may be wondering what the best methods are for thawing this refrigerated treat. Instead of leaving it out on the counter or in a warm room, here are a few fool-proof ways to soften cream cheese:

  • Microwave it: Place your cream cheese in a microwave safe bowl and until softened – usually only takes 15 seconds.
  • Warm water bath: Place the cream cheese in a squeeze bottle with its lid off and submerge it into a bowl of warm water until softened; about 5 minutes.
  • Cold water bath: Place your cream cheese into a bowl filled with cold water; change the water every 10 minutes or so until softened, which usually takes around 30 minutes.

Remember – while shortening the thawing time by leaving it out overnight may seem convenient don’t do it! The safety concerns associated with doing so greatly outweigh any convenience. For your safety and the safety of others, always follow guidelines from reputable organizations like the USDA when storing and preparing food.

Freezing Cream Cheese – Pros and Cons

When it comes to keeping food fresh, we often turn to freezing as a method of preservation. However, when it comes to cream cheese, it is not recommendable to freeze this dairy product.

This is due to the fact that cream cheese is composed of about half water. This makes it especially susceptible to the formation and melting of ice crystals that can occur during the freezing and thawing process.

When ice crystals start to form, the water that was once combined with the cheese separates, resulting in a grainy texture similar to ricotta cheese. These crystals can damage the quality of the product, leaving you with an unpleasant taste and texture.

In conclusion we recommend avoiding freezing cream cheese altogether. For best results, keep in refrigerator at a temperature between 34-45°F and consume promptly after it has been opened.

can you freeze philadelphia cream cheese

Alternatives to Freezing Cream Cheese

If you need to store your cream cheese for a longer period than what is generally recommended, there are several options:

  • Keep it refrigerated: This is the most ideal option for keeping cream cheese fresh for longer periods of time. It should be kept at a temperature between 34-45°F and should be consumed promptly after opening.
  • Freeze in an air-tight container: If you choose to freeze cream cheese despite being advised against it, make sure that it is sealed tightly in an air-tight container or zipper bag.
  • Prepare in advance: To avoid having extra cream cheese sitting around, consider pre-making your dishes with double or triple portions and instantly freezing them for later use.
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Great Ideas for Using Frozen Cream Cheese

The idea of using frozen cream cheese in your recipes may sound puzzling, but don’t fear, these ideas will show you just what you can make!

Using Frozen Cream Cheese in Recipes

Although thawed cream cheese won’t give the perfect consistency for spreads or cheesecakes, there are still plenty of delicious recipes where it can be used. It’s great for mixing into icings and soups, and ideal for adding savory depth to dips and casseroles. Here are some tasty ideas:

  • Creamy Soups: Start with a base of cooked onion and garlic, melt in some thawed cream cheese, then add chicken broth, potatoes, carrots and cooked chicken. Enjoy this comforting soup with crusty bread.
  • Cheesy Potato Bake: Layer slices of potato and onion with cream cheese and diced bacon in a greased dish. Top with shredded cheese and bake until bubbly.
  • Cherry Cheese Coffee Cake: Mix thawed cream cheese with butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Pour over a layer of cherry pie filling in a greased round cake tin and bake until golden-brown.
  • Spicy Spinach Dip: Mix thawed cream cheese with sour cream, a packet of ranch dip mix, garlic powder and frozen spinach that has been thawed and drained. Serve with your favorite chips or vegetables.

These are just some ideas on how you can use frozen cream cheese – so go ahead and get creative in the kitchen! With these recipes, you can wow your family or guests with a truly unique dish.

Thawing Cream Cheese: How Long Does it Take?

Are you looking to make some delicious recipes but the main star of your dish is cream cheese that you had previously frozen? Don’t worry, we got you covered! Thawing frozen cream cheese is easy and takes very little time.

By leaving the frozen cream cheese in your refrigerator overnight, it can be thawed within 24 hours and ready to use. This method of thawing is easy and mostly stress-free.

Although this method of thawing is simple, it’s important to take into consideration that the consistency of the cream cheese will be slightly different afterwards. Here are some of the most common changes:

  • It might have a grainy texture after thawing
  • It may not appear as white as it should when used in dishes
  • The melting point may also be lower than what it normally should be

These characteristics may seem scary when you are looking to make delicious meals and desserts, however, these changes shouldn’t stop you from enjoying your favorite recipes with some homemade cream cheese.

If you want to drastically reduce the amount of time it takes to thaw the cream cheese while achieving a consistent texture, then leave the package in a bowl of warm water, changing the water every 15 minutes.

By using these methods to thaw your frozen cream cheese, you’ll have great results without having to wait too long! Plus, who doesn’t love homemade dishes?

Softening Cream Cheese: Can You Cool it Again?

Cream cheese is an incredibly versatile ingredient that can used in countless dishes, from baked goods to appetizers. But as with most perishable foods, it must be stored correctly or it can spoil easily. The best way to use cream cheese is to bring it to room temperature before use.

However, if you forget to take the cream cheese out of the fridge, don’t worry! You can still soften cream cheese if needed. All you need to do is submerge the sealed cream cheese container in a bowl of warm water for 15-20 minutes until it reaches desired consistency. This will usually bring the cream cheese back to a spreadable texture.

Once the cream cheese has been softened, it should not be put back in the refrigerator. The change in temperature may cause bacteria growth in your cream cheese, making it dangerous for consumption. Once you’ve use all of your soft cream cheese, discard of any leftovers.

If you want to store cream cheese correctly and safely after purchasing, make sure to use an airtight container. This will lock out moisture and help keep your cream cheese fresher for longer periods of time.

In conclusion, it is possible to soften cream cheese and use it even if taken out of the refrigerator later than the safe two hour mark. However, once soft do not return it back into the fridge as this can cause bacteria growth and health risks.