When it comes to the world of cheese, there are types of cheese you can freeze and types of cheese you definitely should not freeze. But can you freeze cream cheese?
Cream cheese is a fresh, spreadable form of pasteurized milk that contains at least 33 percent milk fat with a maximum moisture content of 55 percent.
Take a walk down the grocery store frozen food aisle and you’ve no doubt found yourself staring at a delectable frozen cheesecake made from none other than cream cheese. If that can be frozen, then you can freeze a tub of cream cheese right?
Let’s take a closer look at the do’s and don’ts when it comes to freezing cream cheese.
Can you freeze cream cheese?
The short answer is yes, you can freeze cream cheese. However, doing so will noticeably change the consistency.
When you place cream cheese in the freezer, ice crystals form. Once thawed, the texture will be more grainy than smooth as those ice crystals melt.
Like all things you freeze, you want to pay attention to how you store it before plopping it into the freezer to minimize the chance of freezer burn.
Unopened cream cheese is already fully sealed so you can place this directly into the freezer without transferring it to another container. If you have freezer burn concerns, you could also place it in a freezer safe bag or wrap in plastic wrap. Opened cream cheese is another story.
Opened containers are no longer air tight. You’ll need to transfer the cream cheese to an air tight container or vacuum sealed bag. This will help to eliminate freezer burn. If you are placing it in a freezer safe container, I recommend wrapping in plastic wrap first and then place in container. If you are using a vacuum sealer, be sure to remove from box but leave in the foil before sealing.
*** It’s also possible to freeze flavored cream cheese.
Opened or unopened, be sure to write the date on the container. It’s so easy to lose track of how long something has been left in the freezer – especially when it gets stashed way back in the deep dark corners of the frozen abyss!
How long can you keep cream cheese in the freezer?
You’re probably wondering “now that I know I can freeze cream cheese, how long can I freeze it for?”
This is a debatable question. Some sources may tell you one month while others may say indefinitely.
According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, unfrozen cream cheese can last in the freezer for up to 6 months. While it’s not recommended to freeze open cream cheese, properly sealed open cream cheese can be stored. For anything re-sealed, it’s best to use it within a month.
How to thaw frozen cream cheese
When you’re ready to take that block of yummy goodness out of the freezer to defrost, how you thaw it out depends on how you’ll use it.
If you plan on using the cream cheese as soon as it thaws, set it out at room temperature. Alternatively, if you’re not going to use it right away, then you can leave it in the fridge. This will take about 24 hours to fully thaw.
But be sure to place the cream cheese in the front of the fridge! The back of the fridge tends to be colder than the front. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pulled out icy greens because they somehow got pushed to the back of the fridge.
How to make defrosted cream cheese creamy again
I know what’s on your mind, can you make frozen cream cheese creamy again?
There are a few tricks you can do to turn your grainy cream cheese into a smooth spread once again. While I should note, you won’t be able to achieve the exact creamy texture it was pre-freezer, it will come close.
First, you can turn to the old trusty microwave. Place the cream cheese in a microwave-safe container and microwave it for about 10 seconds. Stir, then repeat.
Do this until the cream cheese reaches your desired consistency. You also want to make sure the cream cheese doesn’t get too hot. The point is to make it creamy, not to cook it!
For better results, let the cream cheese thaw in the fridge for 24 hours before using this method.
Another method you can try is the stovetop. I prefer this method because you can keep your eye on the cream cheese and make sure everything heats evenly.
For the stovetop method, place the cream cheese in a double broiler. If you don’t have a double broiler, you can fill a saucepan with water and place a glass bowl on top. You just want to make sure the glass does not touch the water to avoid applying direct heat to the cream cheese.
Stir or whisk the cream cheese continually until you reach the desired consistency.
Can you freeze cream cheese frosting
Yes, you can freeze cream cheese frosting!
Cream cheese frosting freezes slightly differently than cream cheese. This is because there is more sugar and other ingredients in the frosting that change the fat and moisture content. This will help the frosting maintain the original consistency better.
But like cream cheese, you’ll want to let it thaw out properly before using it.
Can you freeze dips made with cream cheese?
While cream cheese dips are typically best enjoyed fresh, you can certainly freeze them.
However, like cream cheese, you may notice a change in texture. You can use the same methods we mentioned above to remove some of the graininess and achieve a smoother consistency.
Uses for frozen cream cheese
Now that you know how to properly store and defrost cream cheese, what should you use it for?
The best use for frozen cream cheese is baking. Muffins, cakes, cookies, you name it! With baked goods, you’ll get the same delicious flavor as fresh cream cheese without noticing a change in the consistency.
You can also use it in more savory dishes like cream cheese mashed potatoes, smoked salmon dip, or cream cheese pasta. One of my personal favorites is cream cheese stuffed poppers. In my experience, this has always been a mouthwatering appetizer that gets gobbled up fast.
Of course, you can also go with the tried and true cream cheese and lox bagel with all the fixings. However, I recommend if you use it as a spread, use either the microwave or stovetop method to make it creamy once again.
How to tell if it’s spoiled
Depending on how long it’s been in the freezer, it’s possible for the cream cheese to go bad. If you notice the color is off, smells bad, or has a slimy consistency, there is a good chance it has spoiled.