Cream cheese can make almost any recipe better, whether it be a dessert, appetizer, or full-blown entree. Unfortunately, though, it can be a pain to get cream cheese softened up or melted without lumps being left behind.
Luckily for you, this article will be detailing some methods you can use for melting your cream cheese without lumps to add it to recipes, such as icing, or to soften it up enough to effortlessly spread it onto bagels.
Make sure to read through to the end for two delicious recipes that include cream cheese.
Thawing Cream Cheese
In the case that your package of cream cheese has been stored in the freezer, you will obviously need to thaw it prior to melting it. Thankfully, this is quite simple to do.
You can either transfer your cream cheese from the freezer to your fridge for about 24 hours, which should sufficiently thaw it out, or you can use a microwave to get the job done.
However, if you do end up taking the speedier route, make sure to check on the cream cheese every 10 seconds or so to avoid overheating or burning it. Once your cream cheese is thawed, you can move on to melting it, then making it smooth and lump-free.
Methods for Melting Cream Cheese
There are a few ways you can soften up and melt cream cheese. After taking a look at the techniques covered below, you can check out the section that follows to learn some tips for removing lumps from your cream cheese.
Although this technique will not work for completely melting your brick of cream cheese, it will soften up the cheese, allowing you to more easily melt it if you wish. It should take around an hour for your cream cheese to soften up, and make sure you do not let it sit out at room temperature for more than a couple hours, or it might go bad.
One way you can speed up the softening process is by cutting up your brick of cream cheese into smaller pieces. This will allow the temperature of all the cheese to be increased more rapidly, leading to faster softening.
If you want to get your cream cheese melted or softened as quickly as possible, your best choice might be to use your microwave. Make sure you remove the cream cheese from its packaging and place it into a microwave-safe bowl prior to heating it up.
It should take about 15 seconds with your microwave on high to soften up a whole brick of cream cheese. It is best to shoot low on the duration you heat your cream cheese for, then add a few seconds on to the time if it has not reached the desired consistency.
Hot Water Method
The last method that will be mentioned in this article is one that involves the use of hot water. First, take the brick of cream cheese out of its cardboard box, but leave it wrapped in its foil cover.
Next, put either scalding hot water from your tap or water heated up in the microwave into a bowl. Keep in mind that you should not use boiling water for this method.
Place the brick of cream cheese into the bowl of water, and cover it up, then let it sit in there, making sure to rotate the cream cheese block every five minutes. After roughly 15 minutes, it should be softened.
Removing Lumps Afterward
Although sufficiently melting your cream cheese should help to remove a lot of the lumps, your smooth cream cheese can become lumpy after you mix other ingredients with it that are cooler.
If you find that your cream cheese is not as smooth as you would like it to be, there are a few ways you can address this issue.
Blender or Food Processor
If you have a blender or food processor handy, you have the option of using one of them for blending up your cream cheese to make it smoother and to remove lumps. Simply put the cream cheese into it, and let it work its magic for a few seconds.
Your cream cheese should be super creamy and smooth after using this technique to remove lumps.
If your cream cheese is melted, you can use a whisk to quickly stir it to remove lumpiness. Put your cream cheese into a bowl, and whisk it for as long as it takes to get it smooth.
If you microwaved or otherwise heated up your cream cheese to melt it, this method works even better.
You can use an electric mixer to effectively make your cream cheese smooth and lump-free. Pop the cream cheese into a bowl, and mix it to smooth perfection quickly and effortlessly.
If your cream cheese has been mixed with other ingredients, thus becoming thinner, or if it is melted completely, you can try straining out lumps. You can use a mesh strainer to get that cream cheese extra smooth.
Recipes with Cream Cheese
This section will provide you with two recipes that feature cream cheese so you can put it to good use after you soften or melt it. One recipe is for tasty turtle cheesecake squares, and the other is for a melty crab dip.
Turtle Cheesecake Squares
After you taste these nutty and creamy delights, there is no way you will be able to make these just once. The ingredients for this recipe are broken down by crust, filling, and toppings.
For this recipe, you will need the following ingredients for the crust portion of the squares:
- 2 cups graham crackers, finely crushed
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
For the filling of the cheesecake, you will need these items:
- 4 8-ounce bricks of cream cheese
- 5 eggs, room temperature
- 1-1/4 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup of sour cream
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
As far as the topping goes, you will require the following ingredients:
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup hot fudge
- 1/2 cup caramel syrup
First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. For the crust of the cheesecake squares, combine the crushed graham crackers and butter using a fork, then press the prepared crust onto a baking dish.
Next, soften and smooth up your cream cheese by using a mixer, then beat the sugar into the softened cream cheese, and after that is mixed in, add the vanilla extract and sour cream, combining it all into one mixture. Then, put each of your eggs in one at a time, mixing on the low setting, until you have blended everything together.
At this point, you can pour the mixture onto your prepared crust that is in your baking dish, then pop it into the oven for an hour to 70 minutes, or until it is golden-brown and barely jiggles in the middle. Let it sit out on your counter to cool off prior to placing it in the fridge for an hour or two, after which point you can finally add the yummy toppings.
Melty Creamy Crab Dip
Who doesn’t love a good crab dip? For this delicious, savory, cheesy dip, you will need the following ingredients:
- 1 8-ounce brick of cream cheese
- 2 6-ounce cans crab meat
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 tablespoon onion, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- Ground black pepper
First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Next, combine your softened cream cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise until they create a smooth mixture that is free of lumps.
The next step is to add the onion, parsley, black pepper, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, seasoned salt, crab meat, and cheddar cheese to the cream cheese, and combine everything together. Place the mixture into a baking dish, and put it into the oven after it has finished preheating.
You should bake the dip in the oven for about a half hour, or until the cheese has melted and is bubbling a good amount. You can remove it from the oven, and dig into it while it’s still hot with whatever chips, crackers, or bread you wish to use.
Some people find cream cheese to be a bit annoying to deal with due to the perceived difficulty in regards to making it smooth and free of lumps.
However, after having read this article, you should know better than that—you should realize that it is quite easy to get melted cream cheese to come out completely smooth and ready for effortless blending or spreading.
Once you get your cream cheese to the perfect consistency, make sure to try out one or both of the delicious recipes included above. They are both sure to leave you softening or melting cream cheese many more times in the near future.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.