Cut the wait time when making cheesecake, frosting, or dip, and soften cream cheese quickly with one of these simple strategies.
We understand: worrying about things like room temperature eggs or softened cream cheese when they’re asked for in a recipe sounds fussy and minor. But believe our Test Kitchen experts: these little changes make a significant impact in the final outcome of your dishes. In the latter situation, softened cream cheese implies it’s at room temperature and will mix in smoothly with no lumps. While considering how to soften cream cheese, it is critical to understand how to soften cream cheese rapidly. That’s because cream cheese should never be left out of the refrigerator for more than two hours, as that pushes the dairy product into the “danger zone” making it more likely to spoil and/or foster bacterial growth.
With that in mind, here are three quick methods to soften cream cheese so you may follow food safety requirements and ensure recipe success, whether you’re preparing a dip, icing, cheesecake, or other culinary masterpieces.
How to Soften Cream Cheese Quickly
To soften cream cheese in less than 30 minutes, use one of the three ways listed below. That way, you can get to the rest of your recipe in next to no time.
How to Soften Cream Cheese in a Microwave
Time required to soften cream cheese: Less than 1 minute
- Place an 8-ounce block of cream cheese, totally unwrapped, on a microwave-safe dish and microwave for 15 seconds on high.
- Add 10 seconds for every additional 8 ounces of cheese, or until the cream cheese is melted.
Test Kitchen Tip: If a liquid, or whey, oozes out of the cheese as it softens, add it to the mixture with the solids.
How to Soften Cream Cheese in Warm Water
Time required to soften cream cheese: About 15 minutes
There are various methods to soften cream cheese if you don’t want to risk inconsistent heating in the microwave. By doing so in a water bath, you may soften cream cheese in around 15 minutes. This cream cheese softening method works well for recipes that call for one 8-ounce box of cream cheese (or if you do each package in separate bowls for the quickest results).
- 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.
- Flip the cream cheese every 5 minutes to allow for even softening. Gently probe the wrapper to assess its stiffness as you go.
- You should have softened cream cheese after 15 minutes, if not sooner.
- Unwrap and proceed with your cream cheese recipe.
How to Soften Cream Cheese on the Countertop
Time required to soften cream cheese: About 30 minutes
You can soften cream cheese on the countertop with the cheese in the whole block, but to speed up countertop softening time, we suggest slicing and dicing. Otherwise, it will most certainly take an hour.
- Take the cream cheese out of its cardboard package and foil wrapping.
- Cut the cream cheese into 1-inch pieces using a sharp knife.
- Place the cream cheese on a platter, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside on the kitchen counter.
- Allow to sit 30 minutes.
- Carefully probe the plastic wrap to verify its stiffness; once softened, continue with the cream cheese preparation.
You’ll never be more than a few minutes away from whipping up a batch of cream cheese frosting for Carrot Cake, dipping fruit in Cream Cheese and Yogurt Fruit Dip, or getting the batter for your favorite cheesecake recipe ready to bake.