An 8oz softened block of cream cheese sits on a plate on a counter top surround by ingredients to make a cheese ball

How to Soften Cream Cheese (3 Ways – With & Without A Microwave)

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Many recipes require the use of softened cream cheese, like cheesecake, spinach dip, and even some potato salads. But what do you do if your cream cheese is too hard to use?

There are two easy ways to soften cream cheese without using a microwave. You can bring it to room temperature on the countertop, or you can try submerging it in warm water. The third, fastest option is microwaving it. The first two methods take time, but the last method takes less than two minutes! Read on for more information about each of these methods and how they work.

Why do you need to soften cream cheese before use in most recipes?

soft cream cheese ball How to Soften Cream Cheese (3 Ways - With & Without A Microwave) Dairy

If your recipe calls for soften creamed cheese, there is a reason, and it is important to soften it before use. When cream cheese is cold, just out of the refrigerator, it is harder to work with. Think about how many times you have fought with your bagel in the mornings to get an even spread.

In general, softened cream cheese is easier to work with and spread, especially when you are cooking or baking with it.

For example, when making cheesecake, you will need to let your cream cheese come to room temperature to ensure that you get the right consistency of cheesecake. No one wants to eat lumpy cheesecake!

For recipes like slow cooker beef stroganoff that call for melted cream cheese, you’re less likely to deal with chunks and floating bits and pieces if you soften your cream cheese beforehand. Again, no one wants a mouthful of cream cheese on its own. The main reason recipes call for softened cream cheese is so that you get the right texture and constancy by avoiding lumps of cold cream cheese.

3 Ways To Soften Cream Cheese With or Without A Microwave

Although there are more than three ways to soften cream cheese, you will find the three easiest methods in this post. For the fastest results, you want to utilize the microwave. For semi-quick results, a warm water bath is the way to go, and when you are not in a rush bringing it to room temperature is will work just fine.

how to soften cream cheese in microwave

microwave softened cream cheese How to Soften Cream Cheese (3 Ways - With & Without A Microwave) Dairy

To soften cream cheese in a microwave, remove the outer foil, place an 8oz block on a microwave-safe plate, and microwave for 15-second intervals until you can squish the block down with a spoon. Depending on how well your microwave works and how even it cooks, you may want to flip the cream cheese over between every interval.

You want to avoid microwaving the cream cheese for any significant length of time; otherwise, you will have runny liquid instead of the soft cream cheese your recipe calls for.

how long does it take for cream cheese to soften in a microwave?

Using the microwave to soften your cream cheese is the quickest method and takes almost no time at all. It takes about 2 minutes to soften cream cheese in the microwave, so if you don’t have much time on your hands, this is a perfect option.

how to soften cream cheese without a microwave

If you’re a microwave-free household or just prefer not to use one, these next two methods are for you!

How to Soften Cream Cheese At Room Temperature

To soften cream cheese at room temperature, you will need to let it come to the right consistency on its own. You can do this by placing the cream cheese on the counter and just leaving it. To speed up softening, remove the cream cheese from the cardboard carton as it acts as an insulator and place the foil-wrapped cream cheese on the counter.

softened whipped cream cheese How to Soften Cream Cheese (3 Ways - With & Without A Microwave) Dairy

how long does it take for cream cheese to get to room temperature?

Softening cream cheese at room temperature can take anywhere from 1 to 2 hours, depending on how cold your refrigerator is and how cold your kitchen is.

Can I leave cream cheese out overnight to soften?

No, it is not a good idea to leave cream cheese out overnight. The acid in the cream cheese will cause it to spoil and build bacteria. While leaving it out for 2-3 hours will not cause spoilage, you don’t want to let it sit out too long. In fact, at the 2-hour mark, cream cheese has been known to start growing bacteria.

how to soften cream cheese using warm water

The second easiest way to soften cream cheese without a microwave is to submerge the cream cheese in a bowl of water and let it sit for about five minutes. The warmth of the water will cause it to melt and become softer, creating a smoother texture. You can use hot water from the tap to fill up a bowl, remove the cardboard packaging and place the unopened cream cheese block into the water (if you’re using an open package of cream cheese place in a Ziploc bag and make sure to seal it tightly).

Can I use boiling hot water?

No, you want warm or hot tap water when softening cream cheese. Boiling water will cause it to melt too quickly and can potentially ruin the texture of the cream cheese.

how long does it take for cream cheese to soften in warm/hot water?

It takes about five to ten minutes to soften cream cheese using a bowl of warm water. It will depend upon the temperature of the water and how cold your cream cheese is. You shouldn’t have to replace the water when softening one 8oz block of cream cheese, but if you find that it isn’t soft after 10 minutes, go ahead and change it out. If you are trying to soften more than one block of cream cheese at a time, you will need to replace the water around the five-minute mark.

How to tell whether cream cheese is softened?

room temperature cream cheese How to Soften Cream Cheese (3 Ways - With & Without A Microwave) Dairy

You can tell your cream cheese is soft by lightly squeezing the package or by using a knife. If the cream cheese is soft, you will be able to squeeze it or cut through it with little resistance. If not, continue one of the methods above until your desired consistency is reached!

There are many more ways to soften cream cheese just pick one that works best for the recipe you’re using

Soft cream cheese can be a game-changer in so many recipes. Whether you need it to spread on toast, use it as an ingredient for your next cheesecake or just want some tasty appetizer dip, there are two easy ways to soften cream cheese without needing a microwave. If you’re in a pinch, the quickest way to soften cream cheese is by microwaving. Remember – never put metal into a microwave! For more kitchen help, check out our other posts. Got a cooking question? Submit it here, and your question might be featured on FAQ Kitchen. We hope this helps make your life easier when cooking today!

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