Softening Cream Cheese to Make Exceptionally Soft and Creamy Frostings

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If you are well-organized in the kitchen and remember to take your cream cheese out of the refrigerator long before you need it to create your frosting, you are much more organized than I am! Since I like to cook on the spur of the moment rather than prepare ahead, I generally need to soften my cream cheese fast.

My favourite way is to cook in the microwave since it is quick, consistent, and leaves little mess. Even after an hour or two of softening at room temperature, cream cheese may still be just semi-soft.

If we do not adequately soften the cream cheese, it will remain lumpy when added to the dessert or icing. In this post, I’ll show you how to soften cream cheese in 30 seconds or less, making it ideal for last-minute cupcake icing or desserts.

However, before we get there, let’s take a closer look at cream cheese to discover what makes it so great for making frostings, pastries, dips, and so much more.

About Cream Cheese

Cream cheese is a kind of fresh cheese that is created from curds that have not been matured or pressed. For a fresh cheese to be considered cream cheese, it must have at least 33% fat, have a moisture level of no more than 55%, and have a pH between 4.4 and 4.9. While Neufchatel cheese is comparable to cream cheese, it has just 23% fat. Many nations have varying standards for cream cheese; for example, if you ever visit the UK, cream cheese must have a fat percentage of between 45% and 65%!

As the fat content of a cheese increases, it becomes a double or triple cream cheese. Brie is a common double, while mascarpone with up to 60% fat content is a triple. If a cream cheese becomes gritty or has a reduced fat level, it is quark; otherwise, it is cottage cheese.

There was a high demand for European cheeses in the United States in the late 1800s, but it was costly to acquire owing to transportation costs, and regrettably, the absence of refrigeration meant that cheese often arrived ruined. There were several forms of cream cheese available, with some early recipes dating back to the 1700s and farms near Philadelphia with a reputation for producing it.

In 1872, William Alfred Lawrence, a farmer from New York State, purchased a Neufchatel cheese factory and created a smooth and creamy block of cheese by adding salt and cream to a block of his own farm cheese. He called his new cheese cream cheese, after the French Neufchatel.

By 1880, the mass manufacturing and distribution of this cream cheese had been commissioned, and Lawrence labeled his cheese Philadelphia Cream Cheese in recognition of the city’s history with high quality dairy products. Cream cheese, which first became available in 1885, quickly became popular.

The Phoenix Cheese Co. of New York purchased the company in 1903, and the brand was purchased by Kraft Foods in 1928. Even today, Kraft (as Kraft Heinz Co.) manufactures the most well-known brand of cream cheese in the United States. Cream cheese was not pasteurized until 1912, when James L. Kraft created pasteurized cheese.

In the year 2000, the United States produced 731.4 million pounds of cream and Neufchatel cheese. That is a significant quantity of icing and cheesecake!

Combination of creams. This lactic acid raises the pH of the cream, causing it to coagulate or separate into curds and whey. The whey is then drained, and the curds are cooked with stabilizers to make cream cheese. Cream cheese, like Neufchatel cheese, must be prepared from cow’s milk. Lactic acid is put into cream or milk.

Certain stabilizers, such as guar gum, provide a harder cheese, while regular cream cheese is crumbly rather than spreadable. Since it is not matured, cream cheese has no rinds and a constant texture throughout. Cream cheese is also unripened, which means it is ready to consume right now.

This is also why, once opened, cream cheese has a shelf life of no more than 10 days and should always be refrigerated, even if unopened. The shelf life of cream cheese varies depending on the variety, although standard cream cheese tends to last longer than reduced fat or flavored cream cheese. After you unwrap a block, instead of wrapping it in foil again, place it in a zip bag or other airtight container for storage.

Soft-spread or whipped cream cheese often includes whipped air, allowing you to spread it right from the refrigerator onto your bagel. Normal foil-wrapped blocks of cream cheese must be brought to room temperature before spreading.

A 1 oz portion of regular cream cheese comprises around 100 calories, however whipped cream cheese contains less calories owing to the air supplied during whipping. Some whipped cream cheeses use skim milk, which reduces the fat level by up to one-third. Unless you purchase flavored cream cheese, which generally has additional carbohydrates, cream cheese is minimal in carbs.

Cream cheese has some nutritional value. It contains calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and traces of selenium. It also contains trace levels of vitamins A and K, as well as folate and choline.

Cream cheese may be used in a variety of savory meals such as pastries, dips, and even stovetop mac and cheese.

Its sweet and mild flavor with a tiny tang makes it excellent for sweeter alternatives like frostings or brownies, as well as, of course, cheesecake. Cheesecake was offered to athletes competing in the 776 BC Olympic Games during the period of the Ancient Greeks! Cheesecake was also used as a wedding dessert in Greece, and cheese molds dating back to roughly 2000 BC have been discovered. These ancient cheesecakes were created using cheese, honey, wheat, and flour then baked and consumed cold.

When the Romans invaded Greece, they adopted the cheesecake recipe. The Romans crumbled the cheese, added an egg, baked the cheesecake under a hot brick, and served it warm. When the Romans spread over Europe, the cheesecake followed. The recipe evolved throughout time, and when the first recipe book was created in 1545, a cheesecake was characterized as a flour-based sweet treat.

In the 18th century, Europeans began to use eggs instead of yeast as a rising agent, and the absence of the yeast taste meant that the cheesecake sweetened and became more of a dessert. When Europeans immigrated to the United States, cheesecake became a popular dessert.

After being offered a cheese pie at a dinner party, Arnold Reuben walked away and experimented until he developed a recipe for the New York Cheesecake. By the 1900s, practically every New York restaurant had its own kind of cheesecake on the menu.

I’m sure you’re thinking about a piece of homemade cheesecake at this moment. No? Really? Nevertheless, let’s get to the main point of this article: the guide on the simplest method to soften cream cheese.

What You Will Need to Follow This Tutorial

  1. Microwave softening cream cheese will not work if the recipe calls for it to be kept cold. If this is the case, you will need to soften at room temperature.
  2. Microwave safe dish A smooth plate makes scraping the cream cheese simpler.
  3. 8 oz. unwrapped cream cheese
  4. Metal spoons are preferable for cream cheese handling and as a softness tester.

If you want to soften it at room temperature, chop it into smaller blocks when you take it out of the fridge to help it soften quicker. Room temperature softening is still the standard method for softening cream cheese, but as stated at the beginning of this essay, it is dependent on you remembering to take it out beforehand. After hanging out, the cream cheese may still be a touch stiff, so beat it in your stand mixer for about a minute or whisk in additional cream or lemon juice. If cream cheese is left out on the counter for an extended period of time, it might get contaminated with germs.

Never leave softened cream cheese out at room temperature for more than two hours. If it has been sitting out for an extended period of time, it may no longer be safe to consume.

The hot water approach. Cover the cream cheese thoroughly with plastic wrap and place it in a dish of hot tap water for 5 to 10 minutes. I dislike this approach because I believe it oversoftens quickly, and no matter how carefully I wrap it, I always end up with cream cheese liquid spilling into the water. You may also use plastic wrap.

Another option is to simply set the block on the countertop and push on it repeatedly with your palm or a pastry roller. This method may take some time and effort, but it will not warm the cheese as much if you need to keep it cold for your dish.

Step by Step Instructions

Step 1: Prepare the cream cheese

Remove the cream cheese wrapper and set it in the middle of a microwave-safe dish.

If you want the cheese to soften quicker, chop it into smaller pieces. If you do, keep a close eye on it since it may over-soften in the microwave.

Step 2: Warm up the cream cheese

Set the microwave on high and place the dish inside. Set the timer to 15 seconds and push the start button.

If you have more than 8 oz of cream cheese, add five seconds to the microwave time for every additional 4 oz.

Step 3: Check the cheese is soft enough

You may use your spoon to see whether it has completely softened in the center. There should be no resistance when pressing the back of your spoon into the cream cheese. If it has readily given way, it should be soft enough for your recipe.

If it isn’t soft enough, return it to the microwave and heat for an additional 5 seconds if your microwave can cook for that long. If not, set it for 10 seconds, but keep an eye on it so it doesn’t soften too much.

Pro tip: If it has become too soft, place it in the refrigerator for a few minutes. Avoid keeping it in there for too long since you don’t want to overheat your refrigerator or enable the cream cheese to re-harden.

Step 4: Remove from microwave

Stir the cheese with your spoon, being careful to include any liquid or whey on the plate, since this will all be utilized in the recipe.

Step 5: Add cream cheese to the mixing bowl/recipe

If you have any softened cheese left over, store it in the fridge. If you must refrigerate it, use it within a day or two to prevent re-heating. It’s probably preferable to use it immediately on your bagel for lunch!


Unless a recipe specifies that the cream cheese should be kept cold, I always use the microwave to soften it rapidly. In this instance, I always soften it at room temperature for about an hour.

I can bake or create a dessert without having to plan ahead of time since I soften it in the microwave. When the cream cheese is softened in this manner, it is less likely to get contaminated as a result of sitting on the counter for a few hours. Depending on the recipe and personal preference, using lemon or cream to soften it may also be beneficial at times.

If you appreciated this lesson, please leave a comment in the box below; it’s always interesting to see how many of you agree with the instruction and expert recommendations offered. Similarly, please feel free to share this post; the more people that see it, the better!


How long to soften cream cheese for frosting?

Just take the cream cheese out of the fridge and set it on the counter to soften. This will take between 30 minutes to an hour.

What is the best way to soften cream cheese?

Time required: 10 to 15 minutes

A dish of warm water can help your cream cheese soften even quicker. All you have to do is immerse the sealed cream cheese block in warm water for 10 to 15 minutes, turning it every 5 minutes or so.

How do you soften cream cheese to make it spreadable?

Take the cream cheese from its cardboard package without opening or puncturing the foil covering. Let the cream cheese to rest in a medium basin of extremely warm water (hot water directly from the faucet works well) for 15 minutes. After 5 minutes, flip the cream cheese to ensure even softening.

How do you make cream cheese more spreadable?

To soften the cheese without affecting its flavor, add milk or cream. In a mixing dish, combine 8 oz (225 g) cream cheese with 1 tsp (4.9 mL) milk or unsweetened cream and whisk thoroughly. If necessary, add a bit more until the cream cheese reaches the desired consistency.

Why did my cream cheese frosting get hard?

Cream cheese consistency:

The stiffness of your frosting will be determined by the consistency of your cream cheese and butter. Cream cheese straight from the fridge will be chilly and may leave lumps when beaten.

Does cream cheese need to be room temp for frosting?

Additionally, ensure that your cream cheese and butter are at room temperature and not too heated. If you like a thicker frosting, add an extra 2 tablespoons powdered sugar at a time until you achieve the desired consistency.

How long is too long to leave cream cheese out to soften?

According to US federal food safety specialists, cream cheese should be left at room temperature for no more than 2 hours. Some specialists advise no more than four hours.

How many hours does it take for cream cheese to soften?

Since cream cheese contains so much fat, it doesn’t take long to reach to room temperature if the environment is somewhat warm. It takes approximately thirty minutes to soften considerably on the counter, and about an hour to completely come to room temperature (again, depending on the temperature outside and in your kitchen).

How do you beat cream cheese until it is fluffy?

In a food processor or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the cream cheese and milk for 1 to 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy. You’ll need to stop and scrape a few times in a big food processor.

What can I add to cream cheese to make it thinner?

Here are a few possibilities:
Milk – For each block of cream cheese, add one teaspoon of milk.
Melted unsalted butter – For each block, add one tablespoon of melted butter.
Lemon Juice – Due to its acidity, one teaspoon of lemon juice is enough to thin down a cold brick of cream.
More to come…
•Feb 6, 2023

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