The most common way to melt cream cheese is to let it sit at room temperature. If you plan on making pies and desserts later in the day, you simply have to leave the cream cheese on the counter in the early afternoon. Pretty easy right? That is if you have everything planned out.
But what about the spur of the moment kind of thing? Sometimes you just wake up in the morning and have this strong urge to make cherry cheesecake or any dessert recipes. And you don’t have the patience and time to wait for the cream cheese to go soft.
Worry not my friends. We’ll be listing down several hacks on how you can soften cream cheese asap. Because your craving can’t wait, we have the perfect solution for you.
Are Cream Cheese and Cheese The Same Thing?
You might be wondering if cream cheese and cheese are the same thing. The answer is, No!
Cream cheese is made from 33% fat. That explains why it’s softer, fluffier, and creamier, hence the name. Cream cheese is quite similar to the texture and taste of mascarpone cheese. The latter is also used mostly for making treats and desserts.
How to Soften Cream Cheese Quickly
3 best and fastest ways to soften cream cheese are:
- Soften cream cheese in a microwave
- Soften cream cheese in a water bath
- Soften cream cheese in room temperature but in a faster way
When you’re making any dessert recipes that call for softened cream cheese, you have to make sure that your cream cheese does not have any lumps. Otherwise, the texture of your dessert will not be that silky smooth. And no one wants to eat a cake with lumps of cheese inside!
These simple hacks will not only melt cream cheese faster, it will also ensure that it’s free from any lumps.
1. How to Soften Cream Cheese in a Microwave
Softening cream cheese using the microwave method is very easy. It will just take you less than a minute.
- Place the unwrapped 8 ounce cream cheese on a microwave-safe plate.
- Turn the microwave on high heat and let it run for 15 seconds.
- If you need to melt more cream cheese, add 10 minutes for every 8 ounces or per 1 block of cream cheese.
2. How to Soften Cream Cheese Using the Water Bath
Sometimes, when you soften cream cheese in the microwave, there’s a chance of uneven heating. You can instead use warm water to soften the cream cheese.
- Remove the cream cheese slab from the cardboard packaging. But do not remove the foil wrapping.
- Get a bowl or a container and fill it with warm water. You may use tap water.
- Put the cream cheese in the bowl. Let it sit in the water bath for 15 minutes.
- Flip the cheese to soften the other side too.
- You may also gently press the packaging to see if the cheese is softened already.
3. How to Soften Cream Cheese at Room Temperature (But Faster!)
If you don’t want to do any of the above, you can still let the cream cheese soften at room temperature. But this hack will make it faster than just leaving the whole block of cream cheese on the countertop.
- Remove the cream cheese from the foil wrapping.
- Start to cut the cold cream cheese slab into cubes. This will soften cream cheese faster.
- Place it on a plate and cover with plastic or cling wrap.
- Allow softening for about 30 minutes.
- You can test if it’s softened already by gently pressing the plastic wrap.
How Long Can Cream Cheese Be Left Out at Room Temperature
Cream cheese can be left out at room temperature for approximately 2 hours. To keep track of the time, you can also use a timer. Eating cream cheese that has been left out in the open for too long can cause food poisoning. As such, you cannot leave the cream cheese out overnight to soften. E. Coli may thrive on the cheese after two hours.
Consequently, if a power outage occurs, you should throw out cream cheese that has been sitting in the fridge with no power for 4 hours.
Signs That Your Cream Cheese Has Gone Bad
There are 4 signs to look for to learn that your cream cheese has gone bad:
- signs of mold growth
- a slimy coat on top
- It smells off
- It tastes off
Eating spoiled cream cheese can put you at risk of a plethora of bacteria, E Coli and listeria specifically. So whenever your cream cheese shows signs of spoilage, better throw it to the bin.
And here are several signs that it’s time to throw cream cheese out.
1. Signs of mold growth
It should be thrown away at the first sign of mold growth. If there are yellowish, greenish, or reddish specks on the surface of the cheese, it should not be eaten anymore.
2. It has developed a slimy coat on top
Cream cheese should have a soft texture and the top should be firm. Once it develops a slimy layer, it means it’s rotten already.
3. It smells off
Sometimes it may still look okay. But before adding it to your cream cheese frosting mixture, take a whiff first. If it smells sour or pungent, then it may have been spoiled already. So even if it looks okay you have to smell it first before adding it to your frosting.
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4. It tastes off
Once it starts to develop a sour or off-putting taste, throw it immediately.
How to Store Cream Cheese Properly
If you were not able to consume the entire block of cheese, you can still use the leftovers. That’s provided you store it properly.
- Chill it immediately. Don’t let the leftover cheese sit at a temperature of 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
- This type of cheese is susceptible to bacterial growth. That’s why leftover cream cheese should be placed in an airtight container before strongly back in the fridge.
- Alternatingly, you can freeze leftover cream cheese to extend its shelf life. Wrap it in foil packaging before placing it in the freezer. Make sure to keep it away from other meats.
- Use clean utensils when slicing the cheese. Bacteria and other microbes can find their way to the cheese through unclean utensils and knives.
How Long Does Cream Cheese Last in the Fridge
Leftover cream cheese that has been properly stored in the refrigerator can last for 10 days. On the other hand, the leftovers must be stored in the freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit, so that it can last indefinitely. However, to still get the best texture and taste, you have to consume it in 2 months.
When it’s kept at the optimum temperature inside the fridge, a package of unopened cream cheese may still be consumed a month after its best before date. But of course, the taste and quality may not be at their best anymore. Hence, it’s urged to consume it within its best before date.
You might have leftover cream cheese from making the frosting. So can you still use that? Yes, but you have to store it properly, otherwise, it will easily harbor bacteria. Know more from here about how to freeze cream cheese.
- Sometimes, the liquid will seep out of the mixture when your cream cheese is softening. You can add a little bit of whey to the solid components of your recipe to correct this.
- Using softened cheese for making cream cheese frosting and desserts is advisable. This will help prevent the appearance of lumps.
- You can sweeten softened cream cheese by adding sifted confectioners sugar.
- You can still put softened cream cheese back into the refrigerator. Store it as you would a leftover cream cheese from the package.
- What is the best way of softening cream cheese? That depends. If you use a microwave just be careful not to heat it for too long. Or do not turn the microwave on high yet if it’s your first time to soften cream cheese using this method.
You may start with medium heat first and check if it has softened already. You might end up with melted cream cheese instead of fluffy softened ones.
Softened cream cheese is used in many recipes, specifically desserts and treats. This will help remove the lumps and make your cheesecake slinky and smooth. But leaving it at room temperature can take time. We have listed simple ways of softening cream cheese quickly.
So the next time your recipes call for softened cream cheese, you know what to do. This will make your life in the kitchen easier.
Eva M. Smith is the owner of this website. She is a 4 year old mother of two kids and a professional chef. Eva loves to cook for her family, but being a working mom has a lot of challenges. From squeezing in time to do the groceries to make three meals for the day. Eva knows how challenging cooking can be without a kitchen game plan.
That’s why she perfected techniques of preserving staple ingredients and several foods so that you have something pre-cooked or pre-baked to use for an array of meals. And they do not come short in flavor! And she does not want to sacrifice flavor with convenience. That’s why she is the best person to ask.