How Long is Cream Cheese Good For

Lastest Updated April 21, 2024
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Have you ever wondered how long is cream cheese good for? I know I have. And I have finally found out the answer. Unopened cream cheese is good for 2-3 weeks past the expiration date.

The shelf life of this popular product is affected by different factors such as the type of cheese, how it is stored, heat exposure, processing method, and packing date. Additionally, soft cheeses will spoil quicker than their harder opponents like the popular cheddar cheese due to their moisture content.

In today’s article, I will talk about the history of cream cheese, teach you how to store cream cheese the right way, and even share recipe ideas for leftover cream cheese, so let’s get started.

What is Cream Cheese?

Cream cheese is a soft cheese with high-fat content. Produced of unskimmed milk enriched with extra cream, this popular cheese comes in different forms.

There are many delicious varieties of cream cheese. You can either buy regular, whipped, reduced-fat, or even flavored cream cheese. It’s often mixed with veggies and/or fish, or even nuts, so it’s super-versatile. And super delicious.

Modern packing and processing techniques help cream cheese keep the spreadable and smooth texture that we all love for a longer period. But it doesn’t last as long as hard cheeses (one notable example is Gruyere cheese).

How long is cream cheese good for? According to the popular Philadelphia Cream Cheese, an unopened one is good for 30 days past the “best when purchased by” date on the carton under normal conditions of 40° at all times. However, once opened, it should be used within ten days.

However, this depends on different factors. So the recommended time to leave cream cheese out might not be as long as you think. Keep on reading to learn more about those factors and how to store your opened/unopened cream cheese the right way.

How Long is Cream Cheese Good For?

Cream cheese often comes with a use-by date or sell-by date on the package. As usual, you can expect it to last longer than that. Many types of cheese contain stabilizers and preservatives.

Meaning, they can last for up to 30 days past the date on the package. However, keep in mind that dairy products aren’t known for their predictability and longevity when it comes to shelf life.

That means, this product too can just as well spoil 7 days past the date on the package or even a whole week before that date. Such events occur quite often if the cheese was compromised before it found its way onto the shelves. Opened cream cheese, on the other hand, lasts for only 10 days.

Once you open the package, you should consume it within 7-10 days for best quality, perhaps a few days more. Never leave an unopened cream cheese out of the fridge for over two hours.

How Do You Know if Cream Cheese Has Gone Bad?

Like any dairy product, cream cheese will spoil over time. And since softer cheeses spoil faster than hard ones due to their moisture content, it’s just a matter of time before your cheese goes bad.

Typically, unopened cream cheese will last for about 2-3 weeks past the expiration date if you keep it in your refrigerator, of course. Once it’s opened, it will last for 1-2 weeks before starting to spoil.

The shelf life, however, depends on different factors such as processing techniques. For instance, certain containers are heat processes to stay fresh for up to 6 months in the fridge. Some packed cream cheeses will even stay shelf-stable for months at a time before opening. Thus, the type of cheese matters.

If you suspect that your cream cheese has spoiled, it’s best to check the packaging to determine if it has been processed for longer shelf life. For opened cream cheese, some signs can help you determine if it’s spoiled or not. That being said, let’s learn how to tell if cream cheese has gone bad or not.

Signs That Indicate That Your Cream Cheese is Spoiled

Noticeable Changes

If you notice any changes in the appearance of your cream cheese, toss it out. Signs of mold, greenish or yellowish dots, or a slimy surface, aren’t good signs. The same goes for dried cream cheese. If the cream cheese isn’t creamy anymore, it’s probably and unfortunately spoiled.

For a quick fill-in for cream cheese, opt fo Neufchatel cheese. While you can distinguish Neufchatel cheese and cream cheese with ease if you know what to look for, their somewhat idental flavors allow you to use them interchangeably in many recipes.

The Smell is Kinda Off

The sniff test is super helpful in this situation. If your cream cheese has a funky, off, or sour smell, throw it out. It’s likely spoiled and will cause stomach problems or spoil your dish.

Tastes Sour

Often, if cream cheese appears and smells okay, the taste is okay as well. However, it’s better to be safe than sorry, so double check before spreading it on your favorite bread slices.
If both the appearance and smell seem okay, tasting the item makes perfect sense. Just ingest a smaller piece to test the waters. It won’t kill you or make your stomach hurt, I promise.

Extra tip: If there’s some liquid on the surface of your cream cheese, it’s a result of separation. Meaning, it’s 100% harmless and doesn’t indicate that your cream cheese has gone bad.

Is Cream Cheese Good 6 Months After Expiration Date?

Typically, unopened cream cheeses will last for 2-3 weeks past the expiration date. Containers of cream cheese are heat processed to stay fresh for up to 6 months in the fridge. Some packaged cream cheeses will even stay good for months at a time before opening.

How Long is Cream Cheese Good For Out of the Fridge?

You shouldn’t leave your cream cheese out of the fridge for over 2 hours. Otherwise, bacteria like E. coli will develop. Bacterias like this grow faster between 40°F and 140°F.

According to the food safety professionals at the US government, cream cheese shouldn’t be left outside for over 2 hours. If you left your cream cheese out overnight, toss it.

How to Store Unopened Cream Cheese?

Cream cheese has a sell-by or best before date instead of a date of expiration. This gives sellers an idea of when they can sell dairy products like cream cheese.

After passing the best-by date, cream cheeses will still be safe to consume until some time. For instance, unopened products in plastic packages can last for 3-4 weeks in the fridge after the sell-by date.

The same goes for flavored and reduced-fat cream cheeses. Foil-wrapped blocks, on the other hand, can last up to 2 months past the best-by date if kept frozen.

How to Store Opened Cream Cheese?

Once used, any type of cream cheese, whether it’s foil-wrapped or in plastic containers, can last for 7-14 days in the fridge. Used foil-wrapped cheese can survive for 60 days in the freezer.

The shelf life of dairy products like cream cheese will be compromised if improperly stored. And just like other spoiled food, this one can cause foodborne diseases if accidentally ingested.

How to Properly Store Cream Cheese?

Proper storage can extend the life of any food including cream cheese. To make sure your cream cheese lasts longer and doesn’t contract bacteria, follow the next buying and storage tips.

  • When shopping the next time, get all dairy items including cream cheese last before going to the cashier to check out.
  • Don’t forget cream cheese at room temperature for over 2 hours. If that happens, toss it.
  • Store cream cheese in the fridge at a temperature of 40°F or lower.
  • To keep the consistency of cream cheese in plastic containers, don’t freeze it. This type of cream cheese doesn’t have a hard structure as foil-wrapped blocks.
  • Store the foil-wrapped cream cheese refrigerated if still unopened. Once used, move your cream cheese to freezer bags, airtight containers, or wraps.

How to Store Cream Cheese Frosting?

Store prepared cream cheese frosting in the fridge in airtight containers. Utilize freezer bags or sealable plastic food bowls. Refrigerate for up to three days but don’t freeze.

Otherwise, you will ruin the consistency of your product. It will get stiff after refrigeration. However, you can utilize a whisk or electric beater to loosen it up before utilizing it.

Can You Freeze Cream Cheese?

Do you have a large batch of cream cheese at home but not too sure whether cream cheese is freezable? Although freezing is the best method of preserving food, it’s understandable to worry that the low temperature might alter cream cheese’ taste and texture.

To cut the long story short, you can freeze cream cheese to some extent. But since the consistency will turn crumbly, you need to keep previously frozen cream cheese for meals in which it will be utilized.

Keep in mind that once defrosted, your cream cheese will probably no longer spread on a slice of bread or a bagel. It will also have a bit of unpleasant taste until heated completely.

One great way to solve this issue is blending cream cheese with other ingredients and cooking the mixture. For example, you can whip up some decadent sweet treats with cream cheese. No one will be able to tell that they’re made from thawed cream cheese.

To freeze cream cheese properly, wrap it tightly so that no air can come in touch with the cream cheese. This will prevent the cream cheese from drying out or absorbing other smells.

However, the freezer will dry out your cream cheese over time, so you shouldn’t leave it frozen for more than a few months. Thaw it overnight in the fridge. Then, use it for cooking.

What Happens if You Eat Expired Cream Cheese?

If you do eat expired cream cheese, you could develop food poisoning symptoms like vomiting, stomach cramps, fever, diarrhea, and nausea. And you should get medical help right away.

Can Expired Cream Cheese Make You Sick?

Consuming a small amount of expired cream cheese won’t make you sick or kill you. Also, if you notice a liquid on top of cream cheese, don’t worry. It’s just a result of separation, so it’s harmless.

However, if you’re truly concerned that bad cream cheese might adversely affect your health, you can simply opt for some alternatives for cream cheese. Depending on your needs and preference, you can choose one that’ll perfectly replicate the taste and texture of cream cheese.

5 Uses for Leftover Cream Cheese

Using leftover cream cheese in other meals is a good way to ensure it doesn’t have time to go bad. The following delicious recipes don’t require special cooking skills or visiting a cooking class. Make a mouth-watering meal or dessert in just minutes and surprise your loved ones today.

Life is Great but Cheese Makes it Better

If there’s a half-open container of cream cheese sitting in your fridge, now you know what to do with it, how long is cream cheese good for, and how to store it properly.

Always keep your cream cheese in the fridge. If you accidentally leave it out of the fridge overnight, toss it. Also, make sure the lid is closed, or utilize a plastic container if it’s resealable.

The unopened cream cheese is good for a few weeks past the expiration date, while open cream cheese lasts for 7-14 days. Do you have any questions or cooking tips and tricks for me?

If so, drop a comment below. Also, don’t forget to share this useful article with your social media friends and family. Not everyone knows how long is cream cheese good for.

Cream Cheese Good
Jamie Scott

Jamie Scott

Editor in Chief, Senior Content Writer


Home Cooking, Meal Planning, Recipe Development, Baking and Pastry, Food Editor, Cooking-video Maker, Western Food Evaluation Expert


Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts

  • Program: Bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts
  • Focus: Gained foundational knowledge in French and European culinary techniques. Participated in workshops and hands-on training sessions under the guidance of seasoned chefs.

Local Community College, New York, NY

  • Program: Associate’s Degree in Nutrition
  • Focus: Acquired basic understanding of nutrition principles, dietary needs, and the importance of balanced diets in daily life.

Jamie Scott is a skilled culinary expert and content creator specializing in Western cuisine. With over 15 years in the culinary field and formal training from Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, Jamie deeply understands how to blend nutrition with delicious flavors. His passion for cooking matches his commitment to making healthy eating accessible and enjoyable.

On, Jamie brings a fresh perspective to classic dishes and beverages, offering readers insightful recipes, cooking tips, and a fresh view on meal planning that emphasizes taste, health, and simplicity.

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