Cream cheese spread on a freshly toasted bagel with lox on top is a classic breakfast full of delicious flavors and satisfying textures. Cream cheese is also an essential part of many delectable desserts, from cheesecake to pound cake to the frosting atop carrot cake. No one wants to have to throw out an almost full package of cream cheese after rediscovering it weeks after eating that amazing cheesecake! The question is, can you freeze cream cheese for later use?
Can You Freeze Cream Cheese?
It is totally acceptable to freeze cream cheese, and it's a great way to go if you bought too much and don't want to waste it! Buying in bulk is a great way to save money and cut down on trips to the store. The one caveat is that its texture will change dramatically. We all love cream cheese for its smooth creaminess spread across a bagel, but after being frozen it won't retain this perfectly creamy texture.
Frozen cream cheese has a crumbly, grainy texture after being thawed. This is because there's so much water in its composition, and water turns to ice when frozen. Think of the freezer burn that happens to your ice cream- this is what your cream cheese is going through as well. Ice crystals form while it freezes, causing the water to separate from the cheese curds and resulting in its unappealing texture.
That being said, it's perfectly safe to eat even if its texture is less than inviting. You probably don't want to eat frozen cream cheese on your morning bagel, but it'll do great in cooked dishes where its texture won't stand out. You should probably opt for fresh cream cheese when making cheesecake, cream cheese dips, or cream cheese frosting since these rely on the creaminess of cream cheese. Overall, it's perfectly fine to freeze cream cheese and use it later as long as you use it in ways that don't depend on its creamy texture, like incorporating it in pound cake or casseroles.
How to Freeze Cream Cheese
If you decide to freeze unopened cream cheese, it can go right into the freezer in its original packaging. The cardboard box and foil wrapping that blocks of cream cheese come in will protect them from freezer burn, so there's really no need for extra wrapping. Frozen cream cheese is best if used within two months of freezing it.
If you freeze cream cheese that has already been opened, you'll need to put it in an airtight container before freezing it. This can be a freezer bag, plastic container or plastic bag, as long as it's airtight! This should be used within two months as well. It's important to check the expiration date before freezing- even if frozen, you shouldn't eat any food after it expires.
When thawing cream cheese, let it sit in the fridge for several hours or overnight to let it defrost. Defrosting it in the fridge is better than attempting to use it directly from the freezer since it will be very hard and difficult to use. When you're ready to use your defrosted cream cheese, use a whisk or spoon to blend the thawed cream cheese together, doing your best to undo the separation that occurred in the freezer. No need to throw out cream cheese next time you buy more than you can use!