Quick And Easy Cream Cheese Danish


An impressively simple Danish for weekend brunch.

Southern Living Quick and Easy Cream Cheese Danish on a board to serve

Victor Protasio; Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Stylist Christine Keely

Active Time:
50 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 55 mins

Buttery, shatteringly flaky puff pastry frames a lemony cream cheese filling and fresh fruit to create little works of art for breakfast. The lemon drizzle and toasted almond slices offer another level of flavor and texture, and make these cream cheese danishes look as good as something from a bakery case.

For a breakfast that looks so impressive, you’ll be delighted to know that not a stand mixer, nor hand mixer, or really any specialized equipment is necessary to make them. The simple recipe is an ideal project for kids (perhaps as a Mother’s Day surprise), as all that’s needed are forks, spoons, little hands, and a little guidance. 

Our Hero Ingredient: Frozen Puff Pastry

If there is one item (other than ice cream) you should always have stashed for a rainy day in your freezer, it’s puff pastry. The versatile frozen product creates impressive looking desserts, mains, and appetizers with a fraction of the effort.

Here, it makes for professional looking breakfast pastries at a fraction of the cost and without any of the headache of laminating dough yourself. 

Best Puff Practices

Frozen puff pastry is a great store-bought shortcut, but there are some dos and don'ts to keep in mind while working with it. 

  1. Puff pastry is much easier to handle when it’s cold. Use one sheet at a time, and keep the other refrigerated while you work. 
  2. If you don’t have a rolling pin, you can use a wine bottle, or even an empty plastic soda bottle to roll out the puff pastry instead. A clean paint brush can also be used for the egg wash, if you don’t have a pastry brush.  
  3. Once your puff pastry is cut, place the rectangles onto parchment-lined baking sheets to do the scoring, topping, etc.—it can be very difficult to move the dough after it has been loaded up with toppings.
  4. It’s important to score the puff pastry rectangles on the outside border as that helps that portion of the dough to rise, while pricking the center with a fork helps create a flat well for the filling and fruit. 
  5. Don’t skip the egg wash! It makes for pretty, glossy danishes when baked. 

Pro Tip: Make sure your cream cheese is at room temperature before making the filling. We suggest letting it sit out for at least an hour. Similar to when you’re making cheesecake, this makes the cream cheese whip up smooth and lump-free. It will also spread easier onto the puff pastry dough. 


  • 1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, at room temperature

  • 3 Tbsp. granulated sugar

  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest

  • 3 Tbsp. apple jelly

  • 1/2 tsp. warm water, if needed

  • 1 (17.3-oz.) pkg. frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed

  • All-purpose flour, for surface

  • 2 (6-oz.) pkg. fresh raspberries or blackberries or 2 thinly sliced plums or peaches

  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

  • 2 1/2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (from 2 medium lemons)

  • 1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds or chopped pecans


  1. Make cream cheese filling:

    Preheat oven to 400°F.

    Stir together cream cheese, granulated sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest in a medium bowl until smooth, and set aside.

    Southern Living Easy Cream Cheese Danish stirring together the cream cheese mixture

    Victor Protasio; Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Stylist Christine Keely

    Whisk apple jelly in a separate medium bowl until mostly smooth, adding 1/2 teaspoon warm water, if needed. Set aside.

  2. Cut puff pastry into rectangles:

    Unfold 1 puff pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Roll into a 10- x 11-inch rectangle; cut into quarters. Place pastry rectangles 1/2 inch apart on a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet.

  3. Spread cream cheese filling:

    Prick centers of dough rectangles with a fork several times, leaving a 1/2-inch border.

    Southern Living Easy Cream Cheese Danish preparing the dough

    Victor Protasio; Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Stylist Christine Keely

    Spread half of the cream cheese mixture within the border (about 2 tablespoons per rectangle).

    Southern Living Easy Cream Cheese Danish spreading the cream cheese mixture on top of the dough

    Victor Protasio; Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Stylist Christine Keely

  4. Add fruits:

    Arrange half of your desired fruit over the cream cheese-topped dough rectangles. Spoon half of apple jelly over fruit. Brush pastry edges with beaten egg.

    Southern Living Easy Cream Cheese Danish finishing the danish before baking

    Victor Protasio; Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Stylist Christine Keely

  5. Bake danishes:

    Bake in preheated oven until edges and bottoms are golden brown, 22 to 30 minutes, covering loosely with foil during last 5 minutes of baking to prevent overbrowning, if needed. Let cool on pan 10 minutes. Repeat with the remaining puff pastry sheet, cream cheese mixture, fruit, apple jelly, and beaten egg.

  6. Make glaze:

    Add powdered sugar to a medium bowl; gradually stir in 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice, adding remaining 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice as needed until smooth. Drizzle glaze over pastries; sprinkle with almonds or pecans.

    Southern Living Easy Cream Cheese Danish glazed after baking

    Victor Protasio; Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Stylist Christine Keely

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