Philadelphia cream cheese is a popular, soft, spreadable cheese used in many recipes and as a topping for bagels and other baked goods. It has a rich, tangy flavor and a creamy texture.
With its versatility and convenience, Philadelphia cream cheese is a refrigerator staple in many households.
But can you freeze Philadelphia cream cheese to extend its shelf life? Let’s take a closer look at how to freeze cream cheese and what to expect when thawing and using previously frozen cream cheese.
Should You Freeze Philadelphia Cream Cheese?
Freezing Philadelphia cream cheese is possible, but it will change the texture somewhat. Cream cheese has a high-fat content, which can separate and turn grainy when frozen. The cheese may also become crumbly after thawing.
However, if you have a large quantity of cream cheese that needs using up, freezing can be an option to avoid waste. Portioning the cream cheese into small, airtight containers can help minimize texture changes when thawed. Freezing can also prolong the shelf life of cream cheese by several months.
So freezing Philadelphia cream cheese can be done in a pinch, but it is not recommended for long-term storage due to texture changes.
For the best quality and flavor, use cream cheese within a month or two of opening. But if you have an oversupply, freezing can extend the shelf life.
How to Freeze Philadelphia Cream Cheese
Follow these simple steps to freeze Philadelphia cream cheese:
- Make sure the cream cheese is fresh. Freeze it within a week or two of opening for the best results.
- Portion the cream cheese into freezer-safe, airtight containers, allowing headspace for expansion. Good options are plastic freezer containers or resealable freezer bags.
- Smaller containers or bags in 3–4-ounce portions are ideal for freezing cream cheese. This prevents you from having to thaw more than you need later.
- Remove as much air as possible and seal the containers or bags tightly.
- Label the containers with the type of cheese and freeze-by date (3–4 months from the freezing date).
- Arrange containers in a single layer and freeze for at least 24 hours until solidly frozen.
- Once frozen, packages can be stacked or stored upright. Maintain a constant 0°F temperature or below for the longest viability.
Thawing and Using Frozen Cream Cheese
When ready to use frozen cream cheese, follow these guidelines:
- Thaw the cream cheese in the refrigerator overnight until completely defrosted. Do not try to accelerate thawing at room temperature or in the microwave.
- The texture will be more crumbly and grainy than fresh cream cheese. Expect a slightly watery consistency upon thawing.
- Stir thoroughly before using it to redistribute moisture and smooth out some of the graininess.
- Use thawed cream cheese in cooking applications like dips, sauces, soups, casseroles, etc., where the texture change won’t be as noticeable.
- Avoid spreading onto bagels or using for icing, where the modified texture will be more apparent.
- Refrigerate any unused thawed cream cheese and use it within 5-7 days for best quality. Do not refreeze.
- If separation occurs after thawing, try whisking vigorously or processing in a food processor to emulsify.
Overall, frozen cream cheese is best used in cooked dishes rather than as a spread. The taste should not be affected too much, but the texture will likely be compromised.
Storage Tips for Fresh Cream Cheese
For the best experience with your Philadelphia cream cheese, follow these storage recommendations: :
- Keep refrigerated at 40°F or below, even before opening.
- Allow the cream cheese to come to room temperature before use for optimum spreadability.
- Once opened, rewrap tightly in plastic wrap or store in an airtight container.
- Use opened cream cheese within 2 weeks for the freshest quality.
- Cream cheese will develop mold if left for extended periods past its prime. Discard the moldy portions.
- For optimal flavor, avoid repeated temperature fluctuations. Don’t leave the cream cheese out on the counter for long periods of time.
- Check “sell by” or “use by” dates and consume cream cheese according to those recommendations.
Proper storage helps maintain the signature creamy taste and smooth texture of Philadelphia cream cheese. Freeze only as a last resort to avoid waste.
Troubleshooting Cream Cheese Texture Issues
If your fresh or thawed cream cheese develops an oddly grainy, watery, or greasy texture, here are some tips:
- Make sure to fully defrost frozen cream cheese in the fridge before using it.
- Try whisking vigorously or processing it in a food processor to emulsify and smooth it out.
- Add it to hot recipes like dips, where the texture won’t be as noticeable.
- Check for signs of mold growth, which can alter the texture. Discard the moldy parts.
- Avoid freezing again after thawing, which exacerbates texture issues.
- If the cream cheese tastes very sour or “off,” it’s best to discard it and not consume it.
- Cream cheese stored for over a month in the fridge may deteriorate in texture. Use younger stock.
- With poor handling, cream cheese can “break” and separate. This can sometimes be remixed smoothly.
- If the problems persist, the cream cheese is likely too old or mishandled. You’ll have to discard it.
- Purchase fresh cream cheese more often and size your portions according to what you’ll use up quickly.
With proper storage methods, cream cheese should retain its signature texture. But freezing, age, and temperature abuse can cause changes that are best remedied by using the cream cheese in cooked recipes or discarding it if needed.
Frequently Asked Questions About Freezing Cream Cheese
Here are answers to some of the most common questions about freezing Philadelphia cream cheese:
How long does cream cheese last in the freezer?
Properly stored in airtight packaging, cream cheese can last 3–4 months in the freezer before quality declines. Always label packages with the freeze date.
Can you freeze cream cheese frosting?
Yes, prepared cream cheese frosting can be frozen for 2–3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before using. The texture may be a bit grainier.
Is it better to grate cream cheese before freezing?
Grating cream cheese before freezing makes it easier to break apart and use later on. But it’s not required. Freezing in blocks is fine too.
Can frozen cream cheese be used on bagels?
It’s better to avoid using frozen cream cheese directly as a spread. The altered texture doesn’t spread evenly. Use thawed cream cheese in cooking instead.
Can you freeze whipped cream cheese?
Whipped cream cheese typically contains stabilizers that make it amenable to freezing. It may liquify a bit when thawed but can be re-whipped.
Is it safe to refreeze thawed cream cheese?
For food safety, it’s best not to refreeze previously frozen and thawed cream cheese. Refreezing causes more texture changes and quality decline.
Why does my frozen cream cheese have yellow water when thawed?
This is the normal separation of fat when cream cheese is frozen. Stir vigorously while thawing to reincorporate. Draining off excess liquid can help too.
How can you restore grainy cream cheese after freezing?
Process in a food processor beat with a mixer, or push through a fine mesh strainer to help smooth out the graininess of thawed cream cheese.
What dishes work best with frozen cream cheese?
Cooked foods like dips, sauces, soups, baked pasta, etc. are great ways to use frozen cream cheese. The other ingredients help mask texture issues.
Is it safe to microwave frozen cream cheese to soften it?
Microwaving frozen food can create hot spots and food safety issues. Always thaw cream cheese overnight in the fridge instead, for even defrosting.
So in summary, freezing can extend the life of Philadelphia cream cheese if you don’t have an immediate use for it, but expect some sacrifice in texture once thawed. Use proper freezing methods and thawed cream cheese in cooked recipes for the best results.
Hi, I’m Julie, the passionate foodie and founder of Juliesfamilykitchen.com. I created this blog out of a drive to prove someone wrong, and then I realized how much I truly enjoy cooking and trying new recipes. In my free time, when I’m not running around after my kids or spending quality time with my partner, you can usually find me in the kitchen experimenting with new dishes.