Fresh dairy products are one of the main offenders when it comes to ingredients creeping past their prime condition. If your tub of cream cheese is about to turn, use those last few spoonfuls up in one of our recipes.
Versatile cream cheese is a fairly robust fridge product, but beyond that foil lid those last few dollops can go from pure white to something altogether fungal in a short space of time. If you’re done with spreading it on sandwiches and bagels, try one of our leftover-friendly recipes.
A note on storing cream cheese
Cream cheese should be used as soon as possible once the seal has been broken. Our home economist Steffi says it lasts for around a week and a half, possibly two weeks. The most obvious sign of spoilage is mould, however other pointers are a sour smell, grey or yellow tinges or a slimy, watery texture.
We don’t recommend freezing cream cheese – you’ll end up with a crumbly product as the cheese separates during the process.
Top 10 ways to use up leftover cream cheese
We’ve chosen recipes that use three quarters or less of a standard 200g tub of cream cheese.
Enrich a thick, grilled frittata with cream cheese. For this version, leave a few lumps of cheese intact when whisking the egg mixture – this way you can enjoy melty cheese pockets when it's cooked.
While other dairy like yogurt or buttermilk can be used within a cake batter, cream cheese is best reserved as a topping. If you don’t have enough to make a full batch of frosting, dollop a small amount into cupcakes then bake, resulting in a unique brand of embedded icing.
Skip heavy butter and use cream cheese as the binding agent for a paté. We like this version that uses the much-maligned kipper – as unglamorous as its image may be, it packs a mean punch when combined with spinach, parsley and horseradish.
While for many households, an overfull cheese box may be an uncommon sight, if you do have a wealth of fromage to munch through, throw it all into a food processor and blitz into a ski chalet-worthy fondue.
Try making hybrid buttercream by replacing some of the butter with a little cream cheese. The result will be a smooth and shiny finish, while a traditional buttercream is fluffier.
Rustle up what Steffi calls a ‘cheesecake parfait’. Mix cream cheese with yogurt, lemon zest and icing sugar, then bypass the set biscuit base by crumbling whatever you have in your tin on top of your cream mix. Amaretti, oaty biscuits or shortbread would work well.
One of the finer innovations of the food world is creating a hidden cheese centre within a mince patty. While a burger works well with a slice of mozzarella or cheddar embedded in its core, stuffing a dollop of cream cheese in a meatball will have your diners in raptures. Just make sure you warn them first – when hot, the cheese melts into a lava-like stream.
Enjoy all the flavours of a classic cheesecake in frozen form by folding cream cheese into an ice cream mix. This version with blueberries doesn’t even require a churner.
Once melted, cream cheese becomes silky and smooth, ideal for stirring through hot pasta or added to casseroles in place of crème fraîche or cream. If you want to get inventive, use it instead of garlic butter in a cheat’s chicken Kiev, or skip laborious egg yolk whisking and use it as a base to homemade hollandaise or béarnaise. Simply melt over a low heat, then add mustard, lemon and herbs.
While cream cheese in a butty is nothing new – it’s a natural partner for smoked salmon, ham, chicken, turkey and tuna – we have a sandwich that flips the whole concept on its head. Try this fried brunch treat with blackberry sauce and layer of warm cream cheese. French toast will never look the same again.
How do you use up leftover cream cheese? Share your recipe suggestions with us.