How long is cream cheese good for?

In this article, we will answer the question “How long is cream cheese good for?”, and “how to store cream cheese?”

How long is cream cheese good for?

The shelf life of the cold-pack product is only a few weeks, whereas the hotpack cheese has a shelf life of up to 3 months in refrigerated storage. Improperly stored or packaged Cream cheese can undergo lipid oxidation, which can limit its shelf life.(1)

Homemade cream cheese vs store-bought cream cheese

The homemade cheese will only last long as the most quickly expiring ingredient. While the additional ingredients enhance the taste of the homemade cream cheese, they can sometimes limit its shelf-life.

Store-bought cream cheese comes with an expiry date and usually lasts longer than its homemade counterpart.

Cream cheese is a fresh dairy product. A mild cream buttery flavor and slight dairy sour taste, total absence of bitterness, along with a creamy texture, and a consistency that varies from brittle to spreadable and with shiny appearance, characterizes this acid-coagulated fresh cheese product. 

Its versatility allows many different applications throughout the food industry. The cheese provides an adequate matrix to add flavors, fibers, herbs, condiments, air  or, to supplement with pre- and probiotics (2)

How to store cream cheese?

Like buttermilk, yogurt, or kefir, cream cheese should be refrigerated at all times. 

Cream cheese is often sold in plastic tubs, in cartons, or wrapped in metal foil, and is often blended with various flavors, herbs, and spices.(1)

Mold spoilage of cheeses has been considerably reduced by the use of new packaging technologies. Packaging material can be coated with antimycotic agents.

Excluding oxygen by the use of vacuum and modified atmosphere packaging is also used to limit growth of molds on cheeses sold commercially. Usually, the use of more than 50% carbon dioxide and less than 0.5% oxygen prevents spoilage molds from growing on cheeses in modified atmosphere packages.

 However, package leakage and pinhole defects can be problems with these types of packages, allowing molds to grow and cause spoilage (3)

Once opened, it should be sealed tightly to prevent spoilage. If the original packaging of the cream cheese is not resealable, consider transferring it to an air-tight container or a freezer bag. Alternatively, wrap it up in plastic or aluminum foil and secure it with rubber bands.

Can you freeze cream cheese?

Cream cheese can be frozen but the quality won’t be the same. Cream cheese will dry out during freezing and become crumbly after thawing. 

In some recipes, the altered texture won’t be a big problem. But the thawed cheese cannot be used as a sandwich spread.

How the cream cheese behaves during freezing depends a lot on its initial consistency, ingredients, and overall quality.

For freezing cream cheese, use heavy-duty freezer bags or aluminum foil wraps. An ice cube or muffin tray can also be used.

How to store cream cheese frosting?

Store the prepared cream cheese frosting in an air-tight container, saleable plastic food bowls of freeze bags in the fridge for up to 3 days. Refrigeration will stiffen the frosting. 

Therefore, beat it using a whisk or an electric beater to soften the peaks. For storing muffins, cakes, or cupcakes with cream cheese frosting put them in an air-tight container and keep them in the fridge.

How to tell If the cream cheese has gone bad?

Defects in these cheeses include whey separation from the product during storage and a grainy chalky texture, especially in the lower fat types. Improperly stored or packaged Cream cheese can undergo lipid oxidation.

If the pH of the cheese is too high (i.e., >4.7), the texture will be soft and the cheese will lack flavor. At a very low pH (<4.6), the texture may become too grainy and the flavor too acidic.(1)

Molds are involved in fermentation, spoilage, and mycotoxin production.(3)

If the cream cheese develops discolored patches or spots due to mold growth or becomes slimy to touch, it has gone bad. Similarly, crumbly cream cheese won’t provide the same flavor and should be discarded.

If the cream cheese smells sour, or a sour taste, get rid of it.

What are the health implications of consuming contaminated cream cheese?

Spoiled cream cheese may cause food poisoning. Symptoms, such as lesions from the oral cavity to the caecum, difficulty in swallowing, stomach pain, fever, bloody diarrhea and vomiting appear 2-5 days after ingestion of contaminated food. (3)

Other FAQs about Cream cheese that you may be interested in.

How long can you use cream cheese after expiration date?

Is cream cheese cheese?

Can you freeze cream cheese frosting?


In this article, we answered the question “How long is cream cheese good for?”, and “how to store cream cheese?”


  1. Lucey, J. A.  Cheese Acid- and Acid/Heat Coagulated Cheese. Encyclopedia of Dairy Sciences, 698–705.(2011).
  2. Wolfschoon Pombo, A. F.  Cream cheese: Historical, manufacturing, and physico-chemical aspects. International Dairy Journal, 117, (2021).
  3. Sørhaug, T.  Yeasts and Molds Spoilage Molds in Dairy Products. Encyclopedia of Dairy Sciences, 780–784.(2011).
  4. Mertens, K., Schneider, O., Schmoock, G., Melzer, F., & Elschner, M. C.  Fate of  Bacillus anthracis  during production of laboratory-scale cream cheese and homemade-style yoghurt. Food Microbiology, 46, 336–341, (2015).

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