How to Soften Cream Cheese in 5 Quick and Easy Ways

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Kaye Modified: February 6, 2023
How to Soften Cream Cheese in 5 Quick and Easy Ways
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Cream cheese is a sweet and slightly tangy dairy product used in cooking and baking. It’s the base ingredient that brings the crowd favorite cheesecake recipe to life! Aside from contributing flavor, the softness of this ingredient enhances the texture of bread and baked goods.

It’s common practice to thaw this product first so that it’s easier to mix with other ingredients. With that in mind, read on to find out how to soften cream cheese, as well as a few recipes you can try. But before we proceed, remember that you’ll be working with a perishable ingredient, meaning it could quickly go bad if handled the wrong way.

There are several proven ways of freezing cream cheese for longer shelf life. But with these handy tips of ours, you’ll never have to work with a cold and stiff block of cream ever again.

How to Soften Cream Cheese on the Countertop

Cream cheese on bread and bowl

This first method is the most obvious way of softening cream cheese. It’s quite effortless, too! All you have to do is let it sit at room temperature and wait for it to soften. Here are two ways to go about this method:

Option 1: Thaw Out the Whole Block

  1. Take the cream cheese out of its packaging, and transfer it to a plate or container.
  2. Place it on your countertop and let it sit for around 30 minutes to an hour maximum, or until the block reaches room temperature.


The time it takes for the cream cheese to soften also depends on how hot it is in your kitchen.

Option 2: Cut It Into Cubes

  1. Remove the block of cream cheese from its packaging, and transfer it onto a chopping board.
  2. Cut it into 1-inch cubes (or smaller) using a knife.
  3. Transfer to a bowl and wait for the pieces to soften. It usually takes around 30 minutes, but you can check from time to time to see if they have thawed out completely. 

How to Quickly Soften Cream Cheese in the Microwave

Microwave on the kitchen counter

Don’t have the time to wait an hour? This method effectively cuts the time it takes for this ingredient to soften in seconds. It’s quick, easy, and perfect for sudden cream cheese cravings. See the step-by-step process of how to soften cream cheese quickly in the microwave below:

  1. Take the product out of its packaging and place it into a microwave-safe bowl or container.
  2. Microwave a standard eight-ounce cream cheese pack for 15 seconds. Check if it has softened completely. 
  3. If it hasn’t yet, microwave it again for 10 more seconds, and see if the texture has improved. Continue doing this step until the desired consistency is achieved. 

How to Thaw It Out in Warm Water

If you don’t have a microwave, you can also use lukewarm water to heat up your cream cheese. Simply follow the steps below:

  1. Take the block of cream out of its cardboard packaging, but keep the plastic or foil intact. 
  2. Fill a large bowl with lukewarm water (around 100 to 110 degrees F).
  3. Submerge the sealed ingredient in the water for ten to 15 minutes, or until softened.

How to Soften Cream Cheese Using a Stand Mixer

Bowl of cream cheese with whisk

This is a great method that doesn’t require heating. Here are the steps to soften cream cheese fast using a tilt-head stand mixer:

  1. Take the cream cheese out of the packaging, and place it on a chopping board.
  2. Using a knife, cut the block of cream into 1-inch cubes.
  3. Pour the cubes into the bowl of your stand mixer. Use the paddle attachment, and beat the cream cheese for a minute or until the cubes are completely softened.

Liquids That Help Soften Cream Cheese

Pitcher and glass of milk on a wooden cutting board

You can also stir in other ingredients to help soften this ingredient. Here are a few options you can try:

  • Milk – Add one teaspoon of milk for each block of cream cheese. This liquid is neutral-tasting, so it would only mellow down the flavor slightly.
  • Melted Unsalted Butter – Add one tablespoon of melted butter for each block. As a result, you’ll get a smooth and silky end product.
  • Lemon Juice – One teaspoon of lemon juice is enough to thin down a cold block of cream thanks to its acid content. Use this ingredient if you want a more bright and tart taste.
  • Whipped Cream – Incorporate one tablespoon or more of whipped cream to soften and add a bit of sweetness.

How Long Can Cream Cheese Sit Out?

Cream cheese is one of those dairy products that have to be refrigerated to extend its shelf life. So, how long does cream cheese usually last? It’s safest to let cream cheese sit at room temperature for a maximum of two hours. Longer than that and harmful bacteria would quickly spread.

Refrigerated, cream cheese would stay good for up to two weeks on average. Remember to keep each block sealed in a plastic wrap or airtight container for best results.

Softened Cream Cheese Recipes

Slice of carrot cake on a plate

Now that you know how to soften this delectable ingredient, you’ve opened up endless options on what to do with cream cheese. Get inspired with some of these recipes: 

  • Olive Cheese BallsStir in seasonings as well as herbs and spices with cream cheese and coat it with nuts for a tangy appetizer that you’ll surely love.
  • Cream Cheese Banana BreadFor a twist on your regular banana bread, incorporate this ingredient into the batter for delightfully tart dollops of filling throughout the baked good.

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Kaye is a writer and a recent oat milk convert. With a background in Language Studies, she has founded a deep appreciation of cultures, traditions, and the power of words. In her spare time, she enjoys testing some of the trendiest and most accessible recipes on the internet.