Cream Cheese Shelf Life: How Long Does Cream Cheese Last?

What is the average shelf life of cream cheese? How long does cream cheese last in the pantry, refrigerator, or freezer? What is the best way to store cream cheese to increase its shelf life? Find out the answers to these questions and more below:

Shelf Life of Cream Cheese

(Unopened)2-3 Weeks2-3 Months

Cream cheese is soft, and it has a high-fat content. It is made from unskimmed milk, and it is also enriched with additional cream. It can last for approximately 3 to 4 weeks longer than the best-by date mentioned on its packaging. Nevertheless, there are many factors involved in its longevity. The shelf life can differ due to the processing method of the cream cheese, its type, its heat exposure, its packaging date, and the way it is stored. All of these factors contribute to its shelf life. Freezing it can increase the shelf life by up to 2 months after its best-by date.

Purchasing Cream Cheese

Cream cheese comes together fairly quickly. It is made of milk and cream, as well as carob bean gum or guar gum, which is added by companies to keep the cheese spreadable. It needs to be at least 33% milk fat, and it should have up to 55% moisture content. You can also find whipped cream cheese, which has 30% less fat; however, there are some additional stabilizers and preservatives added to it. Hence, it is essential that you check the fat and moisture content before you purchase your preferred cream cheese brand.

Storing Cream Cheese

Always try to wrap your cream cheese in aluminum foil. Also, ensure that you don’t just fold the wrapper back over the exposed end; you must place it in an airtight container or in a heavy-duty freezer bag. Please keep in mind that, regardless of the variety or the type of cream cheese you are using, you have to consume it within ten days from the date it was opened. If any later than that, the cheese can form bacteria in it, even if kept foiled within your freezer.

Handling Cream Cheese

Like all other dairy products, cream cheese can go bad if you haven’t used it for a while. Always keep in mind that softer cream cheese will go bad more quickly than harder cheeses. This is due to the moisture content of the cheese. Mold forms on the top of the cheese, and you must get rid of it. You can remove the moldy spots if the cheese is hard, but this won’t be possible if the cheese is soft. Once a frozen cheese is thawed, it doesn’t remain spreadable. It won’t taste fresh, either, unless you heat it thoroughly. You can soften it overnight in the fridge, and then use it for baking or cooking.

Cooking Cream Cheese

You can use previously-stored cream cheeses for cooking, because it becomes crumbly. Cream cheese can turn an ordinary brownie into a delicious treat. You can also use it to curb your craving for Crab Rangoon. Cream cheese also does wonders to plain old mashed potatoes, and you can use it in your muffins for additional textured flavor, as well. Also, you can make cheese balls with it. Cream cheese pairs well with cinnamon rolls; a whipped version can be used as frosting. Cream cheese can also be a great ingredient for use in any dips or sauces. There are also various other ways to use cream cheese.