What Are the Different Types of Cream Cheese?

K. Testa

Cream cheese is available in a variety of different types. It is a soft cheese made from milk and cream, with stabilizers occasionally added to provide some firmness. In many places, this cheese is available in regular, light, and fat-free versions. It usually can be found plain or flavored as well, and there often are alternatives available for those who do not eat dairy products.

Cream cheese frosting is commonly used on red velvet cake.
Cream cheese frosting is commonly used on red velvet cake.

An American dairyman is credited with inventing cream cheese in 1872. Although there was one basic type at the time, the product is now sold in many forms. These include the traditional "brick" style as well as tubs of soft or whipped cream cheese. It can be found in most grocery stores, bakeries and bagel shops.

Cream cheese is made from cream and milk.
Cream cheese is made from cream and milk.

People commonly use regular cream cheese as a spread on sandwiches, bagels, vegetables and similar items. Despite its normally high fat content, many people enjoy the mild flavor and creamy texture. It is a popular ingredient in dips and in sweet items, such as cheesecakes and frosting. One can also find it in various side dishes, such as mashed potatoes, and in appetizers such as crab rangoon.

Some people eat plain bagels spread with a piquant or sweet cream cheese.
Some people eat plain bagels spread with a piquant or sweet cream cheese.

The full-fat versions usually taste richer in recipes, though healthier varieties can sometimes be substituted without causing a noticeable difference in flavor or consistency. Some people prefer cream cheese with fewer calories and less fat, so they opt for lighter versions. In many cases, however, what is commonly referred to as "low-fat" is actually a variety of cheese called Neufchâtel, which originated in France. The texture of French Neufchâtel is quite different from American cream cheese and does not contain as much moisture.

Fat-free versions of this cheese contains even fewer calories than regular and low-fat varieties. In some cases, however, it contains more artificial ingredients and preservatives. Generally, all varieties should be refrigerated and consumed within a few days of opening to maintain freshness.

For those who consider the taste of regular cream cheese to be too plain, flavored types are a popular alternative. Some examples of common flavor varieties include herb, strawberry and honey walnut. Unique flavors are available in certain areas, and many people opt to make their own flavored cream cheese at home.

Orange juice can lend a sweet citrus flavor to cheesecake.
Orange juice can lend a sweet citrus flavor to cheesecake.

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Discussion Comments


I'm very old-fashioned when it comes to cream cheese. I will only eat full-fat, plain cream cheese. I do experiment with bagel flavors, but never with my cream cheese. I don't know how people eat low-fat cream cheese in odd flavors. And why in the world is there something called shrimp cream cheese?!


@fBoyle-- I like vegetable flavored cream cheese too.

Have you tried jalapeno flavored cream cheese? It sounds weird, but it's actually very good. It makes a great dip for chips and vegetables. I buy jalapeno and chives and onion flavored cream cheese all the time for parties.

I even like dairy-free, vegan cream cheese. My sister in law is vegan and I had this type of cream cheese for the first time at her house. It was made from tofu and cashews and it was surprisingly very good.


I eat low-fat cream cheese in vegetable flavor on a sesame seed bagel every morning. Many people don't enjoy the vegetable flavor and go for plain or strawberry flavor. But I'm not a fan of sweet foods.

I've always like cream cheese, since I was a kid. I even buy the cream cheese pinwheels and keep them in the fridge at work. So if I leave the house without having breakfast, I can grab a bagel on the way and eat at the office.

Of course, I have to have a large cup of coffee on the side.

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