Freezing Cream Cheese: A Comprehensive Guide

Can you freeze cream cheese? – What you need to know

Cream cheese is a popular dairy product known for its rich, creamy texture. However, it has a relatively short shelf life, which can be a problem if you want to buy it in bulk or have it on hand at all times. In such cases, freezing cream cheese can be a viable option to extend its shelf life. This article examines the process of freezing cream cheese, its effect on texture, and tips for proper freezing and thawing.

Freezing Cream Cheese – Does It Work?

Freezing is a commonly used technique to extend the shelf life of various foods, and cream cheese is no exception. When done correctly, freezing cream cheese can preserve its quality with minimal changes. While the texture of frozen and thawed cream cheese may become slightly grainy or crumbly, it is still suitable for use in baked goods or dishes where the cheese melts.

Why does cream cheese get grainy?

The texture changes that occur when cream cheese is frozen are primarily due to its high water content. Cream cheese typically contains about 33% fat, more than half of which is water. When the cheese is frozen, ice crystals are formed, and when thawed, the water from these crystals does not emulsify back into the cheese curd. As a result, the thawed cheese may appear grainy and segregated.

How to Freeze Cream Cheese

Proper packaging of fresh cheese before freezing is critical to maintaining its quality. If the cream cheese is unopened and still in its original packaging, it can be placed directly in the freezer. The original foil or cardboard packaging provides adequate protection against freezer burn.
If the cream cheese has been opened, it is recommended that it be placed in a sealable plastic bag or container. If a container is used, wrap it in plastic wrap for additional protection. It is important to label the cheese with the date to keep track of its shelf life. Store cream cheese in a corner of the freezer where it is out of the way.
Flavored cream cheese can also be frozen using the same methods as regular cream cheese.

How long does cream cheese keep in the freezer?

Freezing cream cheese can significantly extend its shelf life compared to refrigeration. While opened cream cheese typically lasts about 10 days in the refrigerator, freezing can preserve it for up to 6 months. Similarly, an unopened block of cream cheese can be safely consumed for up to 1 month after its expiration date, but freezing can further extend its shelf life.
When stocking up on cream cheese for freezing, it is best to place it in the freezer immediately rather than storing it in the refrigerator for an extended period of time.

How to defrost cream cheese

To minimize the effect on texture and flavor, it is important to thaw cream cheese properly. The recommended method is to transfer the cheese from the freezer to the refrigerator and allow it to thaw slowly over 24 hours. If you plan to use the cream cheese in a recipe, it should be transferred to the refrigerator and thawed before adding to the dish.
Thawing cream cheese at room temperature should be avoided as it may result in a more granular texture and a potentially watery consistency due to rapid temperature changes. Incorrect thawing methods can also negatively affect the flavor of the cream cheese.

How to restore the creaminess of thawed cream cheese

While defrosted cream cheese may not regain the exact smoothness and creaminess it had before freezing, there are methods to improve its texture to some degree. One option is to use a whisk to mix the cheese and improve its crumbly consistency.
Alternatively, there are two methods to make thawed cream cheese creamier. The first method is to use a microwave. After defrosting the cream cheese in the refrigerator for 24 hours, place it in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave at 10-second intervals. Stir the cream cheese between intervals until it reaches the desired creamy consistency.
The second method is to use the stove. Place a medium saucepan of water on the stove and place a smaller glass bowl on top, making sure it does not touch the bottom of the saucepan or the water. Thawed cream cheese can be placed in the glass bowl and gently whisked or stirred until smooth. Care should be taken to avoid direct heat on the cream cheese, which can lead to undesirable results.

Using Thawed Cream Cheese

Defrosted cream cheese may not be ideal for spreading on bagels or eating with crackers due to changes in consistency. However, it can still be used in a variety of baked dishes where the changes in texture are less noticeable and do not significantly affect the final result. Examples of dishes that work well with thawed cream cheese include cheesecakes, creamy sauces, and certain types of pastries.

Tips for Freezing Cream Cheese

For the best results when freezing cream cheese, follow these tips:

  1. Use proper packaging: Whether the cream cheese is unopened or opened, it should be stored in airtight packaging to prevent freezer burn and maintain its quality. Sealable plastic bags or containers are good options.
  2. Label and date: Always label your cream cheese with the date it was frozen to keep track of its shelf life. This will help you determine its freshness and avoid using cream cheese that has been stored too long.
  3. Freeze in portions: If you often use small amounts of cream cheese, consider dividing it into portions before freezing. That way, you can defrost only what you need, minimizing waste and ensuring freshness.
  4. Avoid refreezing: Once cream cheese has been thawed, it is not recommended to refreeze it. Repeated freezing and thawing can further degrade its texture and quality.
  5. Use within recommended timeframe: While frozen cream cheese can be stored for up to 6 months, it is best to use it within the first few months for optimal flavor and texture.


In conclusion, fresh cheese can be successfully frozen to extend its shelf life. Although freezing may result in slight textural changes, such as increased graininess, thawed cream cheese can still be used in various recipes, especially those that call for melting the cheese. Proper packaging, labeling and thawing techniques are essential to maintaining the quality of the cream cheese throughout the freezing process. By following these guidelines, you can enjoy the convenience of having cream cheese readily available while minimizing food waste.


Can cream cheese be frozen?

Yes, you can freeze cream cheese to extend its shelf life.

What happens to cream cheese when it is frozen?

When cream cheese is frozen, its texture may become slightly grainy or crumbly. This is due to the formation of ice crystals and the separation of water from the curds.

How long can I keep cream cheese in the freezer?

Cream cheese can be safely stored in the freezer for up to 6 months. However, it is recommended that it be used within the first few months for optimal flavor and texture.

How should I defrost cream cheese?

Cream cheese should be thawed slowly in the refrigerator over a period of 24 hours. This gradual thawing helps minimize texture changes.

Can defrosted cream cheese be used as a spread?

Defrosted cream cheese may not be ideal for spreading on bagels or crackers due to changes in consistency. However, it can still be used in a variety of baked goods where the changes in texture are less noticeable and do not significantly affect the end result.

Can cream cheese be refrozen after defrosting?

It is not recommended to refreeze fresh cheese once it has been thawed. Repeated freezing and thawing can further affect texture and quality.