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How Long Does Cream Cheese Last?

Cream cheese is an excellent ingredient for so many different recipes, from sweet frosting to savory sauces and dips. When shopping you might buy in bulk, but how long does cream cheese last?

crackers with cream cheese and a red banner with white text

Adding fresh cream cheese to recipes is the best way to add creaminess and heft to your dishes. It is also widely available in many grocery stores in 8-ounce blocks, whipped, flavored, and other varieties.

I love using it in the kitchen, but like other dairy products, this soft cheese can spoil quickly. The shelf life of cream cheese is much shorter than many other food products.

So it is important to store it properly in order to get the most out of it before it goes bad.

How long it lasts depends on how well you store it and where you store it. Cream cheese is best storing in the fridge or the freezer but never at room temperature.

To ensure the best quality possible, follow along for all of the tips and tricks I use to store cream cheese to make sure it lasts as long as possible.

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bowl of cream cheese

Does cream cheese go bad?

Like other dairy products, it can go bad very quickly if it is not stored properly. Each package of cream cheese should have a printed expiration date and a sell-by date.

The sell-by date gives the store a good idea of when they should sell the cheese by. And the expiration date lets the buyer know how long the product will be usable.

Luckily, cream cheese is one of the few food items that, when left unopened in its original packaging, can last for a few weeks after the printed expiration date.

Opened cream cheese that is being stored in the fridge should be consumed within 10 days. Cream cheese stored in the freezer can last for about two months.

At room temperature, it is only good for about two hours. So it is crucial to store it properly in a cool place if you know you won’t be using it right away.

How long does cream cheese last unopened?

In the fridge, an unopened package of cream cheese in both plastic containers and aluminum foil blocks can last for about three to four weeks after the printed expiration date.

In the freezer, a foil wrapped block of cream cheese can stay good for about two months past the expiration date printed on the packaging.

If you choose to freeze it, be aware that the texture will change. The high moisture content of it causes the water to separate from the cheese curd during the freezing process.

When you thaw frozen cream cheese, it will have a lumpier texture than the refrigerated version.

Freezing can be a great option to extend it’s shelf life. Just make sure you are using it for a recipe where the texture is not as important.

If the texture is important, there are a few ways to restore the smooth texture to frozen cream cheese, such as whisking it or let it thaw in the fridge overnight.

cracker with cream cheese smeared on it

How long does cream cheese last after opening? 

If it is not stored correctly, the shelf life declines rapidly after opening. Spoiled cream cheese can be dangerous to consume, and it can cause foodborne illnesses from the bacteria.

Once it has been opened, whether stored in aluminum foil or in plastic containers, it can last for about 10 days in the refrigerator.

In the freezer, opened softer cheeses can last for two months.

Whether you choose to refrigerate or freeze opened cream cheese, it is important that you store it in an airtight container.

Whether you choose to use plastic wrap, a freezer bag, or a small tupperware dish, make sure all of the air has been pushed out of the container.

The less air in the plastic bag or container means there will be less of an opportunity for bacteria to grow. When freezing, an airtight container also helps discourage freezer burn.

When you freeze leftover cream cheese, make sure to write the date on the packaging before putting it in the freezer.

If you write down the date it was frozen on, then you can track how long it’s been in the freezer. After two months, it is probably better to avoid using the frozen cream cheese.

side spoon of cheese

How do you know when cream cheese goes bad?

With cream cheese, there are many tell tale signs of spoilage. If you are unsure about whether or not it is still good to eat, there are several ways to use your senses to determine whether the cream cheese is still safe to eat or if you should toss it away.

The most obvious sign is the cream cheese’s appearance. Changes in appearance and color can indicate it has gone bad.

Changes that indicate spoilage include yellowing, greenish or yellowish specks of mold, a slimy coating, or dryness.

Sometimes, cream cheese that has begun to spoil will have patches of dried out areas along with pools of liquid. This happens when the cheese curd separates from the water.

In general, if it is no longer creamy, it is probably best to throw it out and not risk food poisoning.

Another indicator of spoilage is how it smells. Check for aromas or a pungent, sour smell.

If you suspect your cream cheese has an “off” scent to it or just smells a bit funny, don’t take your chances. Throw it away.

Taste Test

The last resort for determining spoilage is the taste test. I really don’t recommend this method because if it has gone bad, ingesting it can make you sick. If it looks or smells off, don’t taste it.

Just trust your eyes and nose and throw it away.

If it looks and smells fine, but you are still not sure whether it is still good, taste a very small amount of it before incorporating it into your dish.

If it has a sour taste, do not use it. A sour taste indicates spoilage, so it is better to throw it away than to risk food poisoning.

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2 cups of cheese in a bowl with wood board

How long can cream cheese stay in fridge?

How long it can stay good for depends on whether it has been opened or not.

Unopened cream cheese can stay good for up to a month after its printed best-by date.

Once the expiration date has passed, I would still recommend inspecting it for any mold, sliminess, or dryness before using it.

It is also a good idea to confirm that there are no sour odors or tastes before including it in your recipe.

Once the container has been opened, it is good for about 10 days. Like other dairy products, shelf life of your cream cheese can vary.

Make sure to double check the opened cream cheese for spoilage. Also, make sure to store it in an airtight plastic bag or container.

The less air that can reach it, the less chance bacteria will have to grow.

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bowl of softened cream cheese on striped napkin

Philadelphia Cream cheese has so many versatile uses in the kitchen, but it also has a fickle shelf life. If you love cooking and baking with it as much as I do, it is important to make sure you are doing so safely. Follow all of these steps to make sure you are using cream cheese that is fresh and delicious!

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