How Long Does Cream Cheese Last?

How long does cream cheese last? The shelf life of cream cheese is influenced by a variety of factors, such as the form of cheese, the processing method, packaging date, its exposure to heat, and how it is stored. Cream cheese is a soft cheese with a high fat content. It is made from unskimmed milk enriched with additional cream. It comes in a variety of forms such as regular,, reduced-fat, whipped and even flavored cream cheese. It is often mixed with vegetables and/or fish or even nuts. Modern processing and packaging methods help cream cheese retain its smooth, spreadable texture for a longer period of time.

However, it is important to note that cream cheese does not last as long as hard cheeses. So how long does cream cheese last? When properly stored at or below 40°F, the shelf life of cream cheese is:

How Long Does Cream Cheese Last?

Cream Cheese Expiration Date

(Unopened) Refrigerator Freezer
Past Printed Date Past Printed Date
Cream Cheese lasts for (Foil Wrapped) 3-4 Weeks 2 Months
Cream Cheese lasts for (Plastic Container) 3-4 Weeks --
Flavored Cream Cheese lasts for 3-4 Weeks --
Reduced Fat Cream Cheese lasts for 2-3 Weeks --
Neufchatel Cheese lasts for 2-3 Weeks --
(Opened) Refrigerator Freezer
All Cream Cheese lasts for 1-2 Weeks --

In general, the harder the cheese the longer it keeps. Of course, cheese lasts for a shorter period of time if it is not stored properly. But, like a lot of other dairy products, it usually has a sell by date, which is simply the last date the product should be sold, not consumed. Because of this distinction, you may safely use it on your bagels even after its sell by date or best by date has lapsed (see above table).

How to tell if Cream Cheese is bad, rotten or spoiled?

Practicing proper hygiene and food safety techniques will help prevent foodborne illness.

Although not a perfect test, your senses are usually the most reliable instruments to tell if your cream cheese has gone bad.

While fresh regular cream cheese has a light cream color and a spreadable texture; spoiled cream cheese will taste sour, have a slightly sour smell and a cracked or lumpy texture under a watery surface.

Expired cream cheese may even develop mold. Once mold is visible on a soft cheese, you should throw away the entire cheese product (you can cut out mold on hard cheese). Although some molds on cheese are harmless, some may produce toxins and soft cheeses should be tossed at the first signs of mold.

There are, of course, certain health risks associated with spoiled foods so always remember to practice food safety and enjoy your foods before their shelf life has expired!

How to store Cream Cheese to extend its shelf life?

Prior to purchase, you should leave it in grocery refrigeration until you are ready to check out. Once at home, you can help regular, reduced fat, flavored and whipped cream cheese keep fresh longer by storing them in your refrigerator at 40°F or lower immediately after use. Most containers come with a lid which keeps our moisture and other contaminants.

Once foil wrapped cream cheese is opened, it will keep better if placed in an air tight container because re-sealing the end of the foil does not make an air tight seal. Because bacteria grows more rapidly in moist environments, soft cheese does not keep as long as hard cheese. Cream cheeses should not be kept out room temperature for more than an hour (2 hours maximum) and you should not contaminate with utensils that have touched meat, or anything else for that matter.

For a long-term option you can freeze cream cheese but, although it is safe, it is NOT recommended as you will end up with a very crumbly product.

Some benefits of proper food storage include eating healthier, cutting food costs and helping the environment by avoiding waste.

Interesting facts about Cream Cheese:

  • Most cream cheeses contain natural or artificial preservatives that inhibit the growth of mold and other types of bacteria that cause spoilage.
  • Neufchatel cheese has about one third less calories than regular cream cheese and was first made in Neufchatel, France.
  • Whipped cream cheese has a similar shelf life to regular cream cheese.
  • Flavored cream cheese has a similar shelf life to regular cream cheese because of additives and sterilization methods.
  • Plastic containers and foil packaging preserve the moisture content of cream cheese and shield the cream cheese from other causes of spoilage.
  • Cream cheese processed by the hot-pack method (this is most grocery varieties like Kraft) have a shelf life of 3-6 months. Cold-packed cream cheese is good for just 2-3 weeks unopened in the refrigerator.
  • To find a suitable substitute for cream cheese if you've run out check our cheese substitution page.
  • How long is Cream Cheese good for when prepared in a dish?

    How long does cream cheese last? That depends. How long do pineapples last? In general, cream cheese lasts only as long as the quickest expiring ingredient with which it is mixed.

    What are our shelf life resources?

    In determining how long Cream Cheese lasts, our content incorporates research from multiple resources, including the United States Department of Agriculture and the United States Food & Drug Administration. In addition, we scoured the web for informative articles and reports related to food safety, food storage and the shelf life of Cream Cheese.

    *An important note about expiration dates...

    Although the Cream Cheese shelf life information on Eat By Date is generally reliable, please remember that individual cases will vary and that our advice should only be taken as an opinion and not a replacement for your health care professional. Please eat responsibly!