3 Ways To Soften Cream Cheese Quickly

Three easy ways.

In some recipes, specific ingredients, like cream cheese, must be at room temperature before you can use them. Even if you know this already (which you probably do if you like to bake), that doesn't mean you will remember to take the cream cheese out of the refrigerator, so it has time to soften up—ideally for an hour.

Forgetting to leave out the cream cheese is a problem when you need cheesecake, pound cake, or carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting in an instant. If you find yourself in this situation, don't panic. Delicious desserts are still in your future. Here are three quick and easy ways to bring cream cheese to room temperature.

Chocolate-Peppermint Cheesecake
Hector Sanchez

1. Superfast: In the Microwave

  1. Unwrap the cream cheese and place it on a microwave-safe plate.
  2. Microwave it for 10 seconds at a time.
  3. Check the texture and temperature after each interval for 30 seconds.

This method is the fastest way to soften cream cheese, but you should know it can go from soft to a puddle in seconds, so you must watch the microwave closely. And you have to dirty a dish.

Chocolate-Peppermint Cheesecake
Linda Pugliese, Hector Sanchez; Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas, Buffy Hargett Miller

2. Pretty Fast: In Warm Water

  1. Place the unopened aluminum-foil-wrapped cream cheese in a ziplock bag.
  2. Push all of the air out of the bag before sealing it.
  3. Fill a large bowl (or the sink) with warm water.
  4. Place the bag of cream cheese in the warm water.
  5. Submerge it for about 10 minutes or until the cream cheese is soft.

This method is great because there are no dishes to wash, and you can do this step while you prep other ingredients for your recipe. However, it isn't as easy if the cream cheese is in a tub rather than a package.

3. Fast: On a Plate

  1. Cut the cream cheese into small pieces (or scoop it out of a container into small blobs).
  2. Place the cream cheese on a plate.
  3. Let the cream cheese sit in a warm place for about 30 minutes or until it has softened.
  4. Gently poke to know whether the cream cheese has reached the desired temperature.

This method is the easiest way to soften cream cheese and doesn't require watching it like a hawk, although it takes more time (but it still cuts down the usual process by half)

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