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Freezing Cream Cheese

By Cook's Illustrated Published January 2013

Does cream cheese freeze well?

To find out, we placed several blocks of cream cheese in the refrigerator and freezer. Two days later, we thawed the frozen samples and began our comparison.

As we unwrapped the defrosted cream cheese, the first thing we noticed was its crumbly, grainy texture, which stood in stark contrast to the smooth, dense, refrigerated cream cheese. Why the grittiness? Since cream cheese is about half water, it is especially sensitive to the formation and melting of ice crystals that happens during freezing and thawing. When ice crystals form, the previously emulsified water separates from the cheese curds, causing the thawed cheese to turn grainy and ricotta-like.

With its unappealing texture, spreading thawed cream cheese on bagels was out. To see if it might work for baking, we used it in pound cake, biscuits, and cheesecake. While the pound cake and biscuits turned out fine, the cheesecake was flawed, with a gritty texture. 

Our conclusion: If you’re going to freeze cream cheese, use it only in applications in which its grainy texture won’t stand out.