Cream cheese is on sale right now for Easter cooking and I am excited to stock the freezer with cream cheese we can use later when the price goes up. I love cream cheese on bagels or too many ham rolls. It’s the perfect addition to creamy mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, and creamy baked mac and cheese.
I buy it in the fall and spring when the price drops to 80 cents or less a back for Thanksgiving and Easter. When people ask me can you freeze cream cheese I am more than happy to fill them in on how to not only freeze cream cheese but how to make it useable afterward? Let’s talk about how to freeze cream cheese.
The holiday sales are fast approaching and now is the time to start stocking your cream cheese when it falls under $1 a package. Getting ahead of the holiday rush can prevent you from getting caught in a shortage like we had last year when buying cream cheese was difficult just in time for holiday baking.
Can you freeze cream cheese?
Yes, you can freeze cream cheese. This is a great way to make your cream cheese last up to 6 months longer making it perfect for stocking your kitchen between the holiday sales.
The best prices usually occur around Easter and Thanksgiving when the prices drop very low in hopes that you will do all of your shopping for your holiday dinner there spending more on the full-priced items to help the stores make up for the loss they take with the sale items.
You can even make your own cream cheese when you find the ingredients on sale. When freezing cream cheese it loses some of its creamy consistency but you can still use it in cooking and you can revive the texture with a couple of easy tricks.
Unopened cream cheese can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 month after the sell-by date marked on the package allowing you to store several weeks or even months’ worth of cream cheese without needing to place it in the freezer.
Freeze the cream cheese you do not plan to freeze it right away. Letting it sit in the refrigerator past the sell-by date, before freezing will lower the quality of the thawed product overall. When you pull the cream cheese out if you are not using it right away you will regain the time between when you bought it and its usual shelf life.
How to freeze cream cheese
For the best results in freezing cream cheese leave it in both the original packaging including the foil wrapping and the cardboard box. This will give you layers of protection while the foil is already an airtight seal to prevent freezer burn.
For more protection place the packs of cream cheese inside a freezer bag and remove all of the excess air.
If you are using a vacuum sealer to freeze your cream cheese remove it from the outer box but leave it in the foil. The foil wrapping is designed to protect the cream cheese and is important for extending the life of store-bought cream cheese beyond that of homemade cream cheese.
Be sure to label each package with a use-by date up to six months after freezing, so there is not guessing later. Another great label for your frozen cream cheese is how long between when you freeze the cream cheese and the sell-by date for judging how long the cream cheese will be good after you thaw it.
You can store several blocks of cream cheese in a gallon freezer bag or plastic container.
Freezing your cream cheese flat
If you really need to make the room you can opt to move your cream cheese from the container it came into a vacuum-sealed bag that allows you to use a rolling pin to roll it flat for even better storage. Most people will not bother with this because it is so easy to freeze blocks of cream cheese but if you buy it in bulk or in plastic tubs this may be the best option for you.
How to thaw and use frozen cream cheese
When you are ready to use your cream cheese thaw it in the refrigerator for 24 hours. If you need to quickly thaw it places it in a zip lock bag and into a bowl of warm water.
Rotate the warm water when it cools until the cream cheese is thawed. For even thawing flip the cream cheese over with each water change or weigh it down so it does not float.
After freezing cream cheese it will be less creamy with an almost crumbly texture. This is fine to use in cooking your favorite recipes. The lack of creaminess will not be noticed in any cooked dishes where the cream cheese will be melted.
How to make frozen cream cheese creamy again
Often freezing cream cheese can leave you with a grainy texture when it was. This can be less than appealing but is fairly easy to fix.
There are two ways to return the cream cheese you have frozen back to a creamy texture. Either method will bring it back to nearly the same consistency you are used to in fresh cream cheese.
The microwave method. Place your fully thawed cream cheese in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 10 seconds, stir and repeat until you have a creamy texture. Be careful to not overheat and to mix well to avoid dried cream cheese along the edges.
Stovetop Method. I prefer to use the stovetop when I am doing pretty much anything. For cream cheese, I feel I have more control over the heating process.
There is no risk of the sides getting dry and hard like in a microwave. Place the cream cheese in a double boiler or a large glass bowl over a medium saucepan. Stir constantly until smooth.
Store thawed cream cheese in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3 to 7 days after opening. Leftover cream cheese makes a great addition to your favorite easy egg dishes, mashed potatoes, and a creamy addition to grilled cheese sandwiches.
Can you freeze flavored cream cheese?
I have been on a strawberry cream cheese kick. Adding berries reduces the storage time on your cream cheese-making preservation vital.
Making big batches is easier so we freeze flavored cream cheese for later use just like the regular variety. I use the stovetop method nice and slow to bring back the texture I like when thawing.
When buying flavored cream cheese at the grocery store you can opt to freeze it directly in the container or go ahead and move it to a vacuum-sealed bag to help use up less space in your freezer by making them easier to stack.
Can you freeze dips made with cream cheese?
Your favorite cream cheese dips can be frozen for long-term storage. A layered cream cheese dip are best used fresh, as long as you can stir the dip you are freezing when you thaw it you can freeze any dip made with cream cheese. Use the stovetop method for returning the texture after thawing.
The best way to freeze cream cheese dips is to create a complete seal with a vacuum sealer or by pressing plastic wrap against the dip leaving no air where ice crystals form.
If using plastic to eliminate air place this into a freezer bag or wrap with aluminum foil to help keep the plastic in place. If there is air when freezing you are more likely to get freezer burn.
Dips like cream cheese balls that can not be mixed after freezing return it’s smooth texture are not ideal for freezing.
Can you freeze cream cheese frosting?
This one comes up often when people have a cake to freeze after an event. Cream cheese frosting on your cake will freeze just fine. The sugar will help it hold its texture so you can thaw and enjoy it as if it was fresh.
If you make your cream cheese frosting ahead of time and freeze it before decorating be sure to bring your frosting to room temperature and stir well.
You can safely freeze your favorite cakes covered in delicious cream cheese frosting by wrapping freezing until solid before wrapping them tightly in aluminum foil and then into a sealed plastic bag. I love to freeze mini carrot cakes for munching on later.
What is cream cheese made of and why does it change the texture?
To know how cream cheese freezes you need to understand what it is made out of. Cream cheese is made from unskimmed milk that is packed with heavy cream. This rich and flavorful soft cheese is about 33% fat.
This solid fat freezes at a different rate than the softer fluids with high water content. When this water separates when frozen and is what leads to the gritty, chunky texture you find in frozen cream cheese.
Hard cheeses do not change texture because of their more constant mixture. The mix of high-fat content and plenty of fluid is what sets cream cheese apart from other dairy products when it comes to freezing.
Can cream cheese be frozen in a casserole?
Yes, you can freeze cream casseroles made with cream cheese. As long as the cream cheese is mixed with other ingredients it will hold the proper texture and be ready for reheating without any complications.