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Did you stock up on a lot of cream cheese when it was on sale and now you realize you're not going to use it all before it hits the expiration date? Or maybe you planned on making a cheesecake, purchased all the ingredients, but other things came up that took priority over your baking plans—and now you don't have enough time to make the cheesecake before the cream cheese expires?

In those cases, you may be wondering what you can do so the cream cheese doesn't go to waste. Cream cheese usually lasts one to two weeks in the fridge after opening. Freezing can be a good method to extend the shelf life of food so you have the opportunity to use it at a later date.  So your next thought is, is it possible to freeze cream cheese? 

The answer depends on how you plan to use cream cheese after it's thawed. 

What Happens When You Freeze Cream Cheese?

Cream cheese can be frozen, but when it defrosts, the texture will change. This is because ice crystals form during the freezing process. Cream cheese is approximately half water, emulsified with cheese curds. The ice crystals break down the emulsion, causing the water and cheese curds to separate, leaving a grainy, crumbly consistency once the cream cheese is thawed. 

So if you're hoping to have cream cheese to use later to spread on your bagel, the crumbly texture is not going to be too appetizing. However, if you plan to bake with cream cheese or use it in soups or sauces, freezing cream cheese can be a good idea.

Bottom line: Consider using frozen cream cheese where it will blend in well so the texture goes unnoticed. Otherwise, you'll want to opt for fresh, refrigerated cream cheese. 

How Long Does Cream Cheese Last in the Freezer?

If you have too much cream cheese in your fridge and want to extend the shelf life, placing it in the freezer is a wonderful option. Unopened cream cheese can be placed directly in the freezer. Its original packaging is sufficient to protect the cream cheese from freezer burn and can remain in the freezer for about two months.  

Now, if you've already been enjoying your cream cheese and want to freeze what's left, you'll want to transfer it into an airtight container and label it with the date before freezing so you know when to consume it before it hits the two-week mark. And although this may be obvious, if the cream cheese has expired, don't place it in the freezer. 

How to Use Frozen and Defrosted Cream Cheese

Spreading defrosted cream cheese on your breakfast bagel, crackers, or toast may be out of the question since it's no longer smooth and creamy.  And if you're wanting to make cheesecake, you may want to think again. Because thawed cream cheese turns grainy and crumbly, this will be noticeable in your cheesecake when the goal is to have a silky, smooth consistency. 

But not all is lost—you can use thawed cream cheese in baked goods, such as pound cake, cookies, muffins, or brownies, or even a baked casserole where cream cheese isn't the main ingredient so the ricotta-like consistency will blend in and you won't be able to taste or notice the difference.