Can You Freeze Cream Cheese?
You buy cream cheese for a recipe, and then you change your mind. The cream cheese languishes in your fridge, as do your good intentions to use it. Cream cheese is yet another dairy product that often expires before we get to use it. But thanks to your handy dandy freezer, you may be able to get more use out of it than the expiration date implies.
So, can you freeze cream cheese? And does it freeze well? The answer really depends on how you intend to use it. You can save money by freezing cream cheese for later use in a variety of baked dishes. Learn how to safely freeze and thaw cream cheese.
Related: How to Soften Cream Cheese
Can You Freeze Cream Cheese?
To put it simply, it's perfectly safe to freeze cream cheese for later use. However, the texture will change pretty dramatically, so you're probably not going to want to spread it on your morning bagel. But you can easily use previously frozen cream cheese for baking, or any other use where it's now grainy texture won't stand out — like in casseroles or pound cake.
How to Freeze Cream Cheese
Freezing Unopened Cream Cheese
Buying cream cheese in bulk is not such a bad idea when you utilize your freezer. Unopened cream cheese can go straight in the freezer in its original packaging. The foil wrapping and cardboard box provides more than enough protection from freezer burn. Frozen cream cheese is best kept in the freezer for up to two months.
Freezing Opened Cream Cheese
If you've already dipped into your cream cheese a bit before using it, you'll need to transfer it to an airtight container before freezing. Label with the storage date and then stick in the freezer for up to two months. This might go without saying, but be sure your cream cheese has not passed its expiration date before freezing.
How to Thaw Frozen Cream Cheese
Thaw frozen cream cheese by letting it sit in the fridge for several hours, or overnight. You'll notice the texture has changed — previously frozen cream cheese will be significantly more grainy and crumbly than refrigerated cream cheese. Why? Cream cheese is made of about half water, which separates from the cheese curds when frozen. Use a spoon or a whisk to reincorporate the ingredients as best you can.
Uses for Frozen Cream Cheese
While the changed consistency of previously-frozen cream cheese might not be appealing on a bagel, it's still perfectly fine to use in a variety of baked dishes. Here's a good rule of thumb: If the texture of the cream cheese will stand out, use refrigerated cream cheese instead. But if the dish is one that won't be affected by the texture of the cream cheese, go ahead and pull that block of cream cheese out of the freezer.
While cheesecake has to be everyone's favorite use of cream cheese, it's probably not the best choice for previously frozen cream cheese as your end result will have a grainy texture. But there are plenty of dishes that will do well with previously frozen cream cheese, like cream cheese pound cake, potato casserole, or a baked dip.