How Long is Cream Cheese Good for? The Real Truth!

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We all love cream cheese for its rich, smooth texture and mouthful feeling. A freshly toasted bagel with some cream cheese on top is all we need to make the day a little bit more bearable. 

Maybe you were on a splurge and bought a little bit too many cream cheese containers. Well, now what? What if they go bad before you actually get the chance to enjoy them. How to know if you have some expired cream cheese in the freezer?

Well, we have answered all of these questions in our article. So keep on reading to find out everything about cream cheese

What Does Cream Cheese Taste Like? 

Cream cheese has a very mild, cheese-like flavor. You can compare it to mozzarella in the sense that they both are quite light compared to other cheeses. But unlike mozzarella, cream cheese is very soft and creamy to touch. 

The taste of cream cheese is slightly sweet with a pleasant tang. Even though it’s quite thick in texture, the tang makes it feel very refreshing. 

Some people think cream cheese is not real cheese. This is a misconception. Turns out, cream cheese is real cheese. It has a higher moisture content than other cheese types. 

But the reason for that is, cream cheese is fresh cheese. According to the FDA, cream cheese has around 33% fat. That’s what makes it so soft, smooth, and dense. 

How is Cream Cheese Made?

how long is cream cheese good for

Cream cheese is made by adding lactic acid bacteria to a combination of milk and cream. The bacteria reduce the pH level in the cream and cause coagulation. In layman’s terms, this makes the milk thick and separates the curds from the whey. 

Then they are drained off to remove from the curd. The curd then gets heated up to a certain temperature. Stabilizers are then added to keep it fresh for longer. This is how cream cheese is made. 

So is cream cheese dairy? Of course it is. It’s made from whole full fat milk. If you are lactose intolerant, try a smaller amount to see whether you can digest it or not. 

Cream Cheese Expiration Date

Do not be deceived by the expiration date you see on the packaging. That expiration date is merely a suggestion. For dairy products like milk, cheese, and cream, you should judge by taste and smell to decide whether it has gone bad or not. 

Most expiration dates are given with an estimation in mind. If you live in a very hot or cold climate, the expiration time of cream cheese decreases or increases. So it’s all very subjective. 

We know what the next question you have: how long is cream cheese good after the expiration date? Well, it turns out that cream cheese might stay good even after 3-4 days of the expiration date. If it’s properly sealed, it can last even longer. 

So how to know if it has actually gone bad or not? Let’s figure it out!

How Long is Cream Cheese Good for?

cream cheese good for after opening

Cream cheese needs to be stored at 40°F at all times. If the temperature increases or decreases very frequently, it will go bad. You might be wondering now how long can you keep cream cheese then?

So can cream cheese be frozen? Yes of course it can. You need to keep it sealed and unopened and it can freeze quite well.

If you leave your cream cheese unopened in the refrigerator, it can last up to 1 month! But once you open the package, it needs to be consumed within 10 days. 

Cream cheese unrefrigerated shelf life is only that long. So consume within that time. Otherwise, it will go bad. What you don’t want is some moldy cream cheese for breakfast! 

How to Use Leftover Cream Cheese?

If you have opened a cream cheese but haven’t used the whole thing yet, you have to do it quickly if you want to avoid food wastage. Here are some recipe ideas to make with leftover cream cheese:

  1. Cheesecake
  2. Cream cheese omelet
  3. Casserole
  4. Lasagna
  5. Fondue
  6. Ice cream 
  7. Chocolate chip cookies
  8. Breakfast berry bowl
  9. Cheese danish 

There are so many different things you can make with cream cheese. It would take us a separate article to write down all of them. The point we are trying to make is, you don’t have to throw your cream cheese away. Make some delicious cheesecake with it and enjoy it with the whole family! 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

01. How Do You Store Cream Cheese after Opening?

After opening a pack of cream cheese, the quality starts to deteriorate. So you can not just put the cheese inside the freezer this way. To properly store the cream cheese, you need to put it inside an airtight container and seal it properly. 

This way no outside air can reach it. You can also put the cheese in a ziploc bag and then put it inside the container for added precaution. 

After opening a pack of cream cheese, it is ideal to eat it within 10 days. They tend to go bad very quickly. 

02. How Do You Know if Cream Cheese Has Gone Bad? 

Normal, good cream cheese has a light, creamy color, and a very smooth texture. The texture is not too thick nor is it too thin. That’s one of the reasons why cream cheese is such a popular spread. 

But when a cream cheese goes bad, it will have a bumpy texture. The color will look slightly off too. It can look a bit yellowish to greenish. 

If your cream cheese smells bad or tastes very sour, it’s time to throw it away. Consuming bad cream cheese can cause serious health problems. 

03. Can You Freeze Philadelphia Cream Cheese? 

You can freeze Philadelphia cream cheese. In fact, you can freeze any cream cheese. They can survive solid 4-5 months in the freezer if stored properly. 

Frozen cream cheese is not good as a spread but very useful for cooking. 

04. Does Cream Cheese Go Bad if Not Refrigerated?

Yes, it does. If left outside, cream cheese can go bad within just two hours. They are very delicate to temperature change. So store them in the freezer at all times until you are ready to enjoy them. 

Cream cheese should not be out of the refrigerator. Even if the container is unopened, it will go bad. 

05. How Long Can You Leave the Cream Out of the Fridge?  

You can leave your cream cheese out of the fridge for only two hours. Anything more than that and it will go bad. Even two hours is too much if you live in a hot climate. 

For a warmer environment, do not leave the cheese outside for more than an hour. Always keep the cream cheese under 40°f. 

06. Is Cream Cheese Bad for You?

Cream cheese is a very healthy food item that is high in vitamin A. If you consume it in moderation, cream cheese can be a great source of fat. It’s low in protein and does not provide a lot of lactose. So lactose-intolerant people can enjoy crema cheese too. 

As it’s high in fat and calorie, if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol level, you should avoid it.

07. Is Cream Cheese a Real Cheese?

A lot of people think cream cheese is not actually cheese. The misconception is based on the fact that cream cheese is savory or smelly like other soft cheese. People often compare cream cheese with gouda, Colby, or swiss saying it cannot be real cheese. 

So is cream cheese actually cheese?

The truth of the matter is that cream cheese, indeed, is cheese. It is actually fresh cheese that is made and served to be eaten as early as possible. This is why it does not get a rich, pungent flavor profile like other aged cheeses. 

According to the FDA, cream cheese contains 33% of fat with a moisture level of up to 55%.  This is very high for cheese. But this is why we get the rich, thick, creaminess chrome it. 

08. What is the Closest Thing to Cream Cheese?

If you don’t have any cream cheese lying around but need it for a recipe. You can replace it with cottage cheese as both are quite similar except for the texture. 

Cottage cheese is made from fresh milk so it is not as fattening as cream cheese. To use it as a substitute, simply blend the cottage cheese with an equal amount of heavy cream in a blender. Do this until the whole mixture turns out to be creamy and smooth. 

You can add or take away the amount of cream to get the desired consistency. This tastes very similar so you can easily add cottage cheese as a substitute in gravy, lasagna, or dips. 

09. How Do I Make Cream Cheese at Home?

If you want to try making cream cheese at home, don’t be intimidated as with the right ingredients, it’s super easy to do. 

All you need for this are three ingredients:

  • 4 cups full-fat milk/cream 
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ tablespoon salt.

Now all you have to do is heat up the milk at a medium-high temperature and then add the lemon juice gradually. Keep stirring until the mixture starts to curdle. This will take a few minutes to happen. 

Then use a cheesecloth to separate the curd from the liquid. Then add the curd to a blender and blend until it forms into a creamy consistency. 

Add your desired seasonings and your crema cheese is ready! We like adding a bit of garlic powder to it. 

10. Is Cream Cheese Healthier Than Mayo?  

Yes of course cream cheese is healthier than mayo. Everything is healthier than mayo! One tablespoon of mayo contains 114 calories whereas 1 tablespoon of cream cheese has only 30calories! 

This is a small replacement that you won’t even notice in st recipes. But it totally transforms your diet. You won’t be getting mysteriously overweight for no reason. 

Condiments like mayo secretly add so much saturated fat to our diet that we don’t even know why we are struggling to be healthy. 

There are many good, healthy mayo substitutes that you can try instead.  


Now that you know how short the lifespan of cream cheese is, hopefully, you won’t leave it on the countertop anymore! 

Try making delicious recipes we have mentioned with cream cheese. You can make some high-protein breakfast with it too!

Happy eating!

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