How to Soften Cream Cheese

In a hurry for that cold block of cream cheese to come to room temperature so you can use it in the recipe you just pulled out? We've got you covered with two tips on speeding up the process.

Cream cheese is a soft, fresh, creamy cheese that is used as a spread and is featured in many recipes like dips, sauces, and desserts.

It comes in different forms: The standard block has a smooth texture and is very dense and sticky. It may also be wrapped in plastic and can be a bit crumbly and lighter depending on the variety.

Whipped cream cheese is available, packaged in a tub already softened, though this may only work as a swap for block cream cheese in recipes that aren't cooked since the moisture content is different. Just like butter, when cream cheese is cold, it can be difficult to spread or combine with other ingredients.

Whether you are using it to smear on bagels or to bake a masterpiece, it's useful to know how to quickly soften cream cheese for easy mixing into your favorite recipes like jalapeño poppers and cheesecake, or for sweet treats like cream cheese danishes, cookies, pound cake, and cream cheese frosting, or even for main dishes such as creamy enchiladas or chicken alfredo.

The Best Way to Soften Cream Cheese

The easiest way to soften cream cheese is to allow it to come to room temperature, but that may take an hour to two, depending on the temperature in your kitchen and the amount of cream cheese you are softening. Do not leave it out of the refrigerator for more than three hours or it may spoil.

How to Soften Cream Cheese Quickly: Two Ways

If you don't have time to let it come to room temperature, there are two other ways to quickly and easily soften cream cheese. You can beat cream cheese with a mixer or food processor or warm it up slightly in a microwave or warm water bath. You can also use these techniques to soften Neufchâtel which is a lower-fat cheese that is very similar and often interchangeable with cream cheese.

1. Beat It

Add a couple of teaspoons of milk to an eight-ounce block of cream cheese, and beat it in a food processor, in a bowl with a hand mixer, or in the bowl of a standing mixer. This method should only take about a minute.

2. Heat It

To microwave cream cheese, unwrap it and place it in a microwave-safe container. Heat it for 15 to 20 seconds. You don't want to cook the cream cheese, so check to see if it is soft after 15 seconds, and add more time in small increments only if necessary.

If you would prefer to forego the microwave (or if you don't have one) you can achieve the same results with warm water. Place the cream cheese inside a resealable plastic bag, and fully submerge the sealed bag into a bowl of warm water. You may need to put something heavy on top of the bag to keep it submerged, like a smaller bowl. Submerge for 10 minutes.

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