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Cream Cheese vs. Cream Cheese Spread: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on November 8, 2023
"Cream Cheese" is a soft, mild-tasting cheese made from milk and cream, while "Cream Cheese Spread" is cream cheese blended with additives for a softer texture and spreadability.

Key Differences

"Cream Cheese" is a fresh cheese with a smooth texture and a mild, slightly tangy flavor, often used in cooking and baking, especially in dishes like cheesecakes and frostings. "Cream Cheese Spread," on the other hand, maintains a similar flavor but includes stabilizers or other ingredients that alter its consistency, making it more spreadable at colder temperatures.
In terms of ingredients, "Cream Cheese" is typically made from a mixture of cream and milk, coagulated by an acid to create its signature texture and flavor. In contrast, "Cream Cheese Spread" includes additional components, such as gums or stabilizers, to maintain a spreadable consistency even when refrigerated.
When considering usage, "Cream Cheese" is versatile, utilized in both savory and sweet dishes, and it requires softening before being spreadable if refrigerated. Conversely, "Cream Cheese Spread" is designed specifically for ease of spreading, ideal for use on bread, bagels, and in cold sandwiches, without the need for any preparation.
Nutritionally, "Cream Cheese" is high in fat and provides a good amount of protein, though it's low in carbohydrates. "Cream Cheese Spread" often has similar nutritional content but may contain varying levels of fat, calories, or additives, depending on the additional ingredients used for texture and preservation.
From a shopper's perspective, "Cream Cheese" typically comes in blocks or tubs and is found in the dairy section of grocery stores. "Cream Cheese Spread" is usually presented in tubs or squeezable containers, often located alongside regular cream cheese but sometimes in the deli or bread spread sections, offering added convenience for immediate use.

Comparison Chart


Smooth, but firm
Softer, easily spreadable


Cream, milk, acid
Cream cheese, stabilizers, possibly flavorings


Requires softening to spread; cooking, baking
Ready to spread, cold applications

Nutritional Content

High fat, good protein, low carbs
Varies, often similar, may have extra additives


Usually in blocks or tubs
Often in tubs, sometimes squeezable packs

Cream Cheese and Cream Cheese Spread Definitions

Cream Cheese

A cheese variety that pairs well with sweet and savory flavors.
She loved the contrast of sweet jam and tangy Cream Cheese on toast.

Cream Cheese Spread

A versatile spread for various dishes.
He enhanced the grilled chicken with a spicy Cream Cheese Spread.

Cream Cheese

An essential ingredient in many dessert recipes.
The secret to her heavenly cheesecake is the premium Cream Cheese.

Cream Cheese Spread

Cream cheese often mixed with flavors or herbs.
The garlic and herb Cream Cheese Spread was perfect on rye.

Cream Cheese

A spreadable cheese for snacks and appetizers.
They served crackers with Cream Cheese and fresh herbs.

Cream Cheese Spread

A softer alternative to traditional cream cheese.
Cream Cheese Spread was her go-to for a quick, creamy sandwich.

Cream Cheese

A soft, white cheese made from milk and cream.
She topped her bagel with a thick layer of Cream Cheese.

Cream Cheese Spread

A convenient, ready-to-use cheese product.
She packed a tub of Cream Cheese Spread for the picnic.

Cream Cheese

A mild-tasting, creamy dairy product.
He decided to add some Cream Cheese to his sauce for extra richness.

Cream Cheese Spread

Cream cheese made spreadable with additives.
For breakfast, he preferred a bagel with Cream Cheese Spread.


How long does "Cream Cheese Spread" last once opened?

Generally, about 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Can "Cream Cheese" be frozen for later use?

Yes, though texture may change upon thawing.

Is "Cream Cheese" the same as cottage cheese?

No, cream cheese is smoother and has a different flavor profile.

Can "Cream Cheese Spread" be used in baking?

It can, but results may vary due to its softer texture.

Is "Cream Cheese" gluten-free?

Generally, yes, but check specific brands for confirmation.

Does "Cream Cheese Spread" contain sugar?

Flavored varieties might, but plain versions typically don't.

Can you make "Cream Cheese" at home?

Yes, with the right ingredients and techniques.

Is "Cream Cheese Spread" suitable for lactose-intolerant individuals?

Unless it's lactose-free, it usually isn't suitable.

Are there different flavors of "Cream Cheese Spread"?

Absolutely, from herbs to sweet fruit infusions.

Does "Cream Cheese" need to be refrigerated?

Yes, it should be stored in the fridge.

What's the fat content in "Cream Cheese"?

Regular cream cheese is high in fat, but low-fat versions are available.

Are there vegan options for "Cream Cheese Spread"?

Yes, there are dairy-free alternatives.

Can "Cream Cheese Spread" be warmed or heated?

It can be, but watch for separation due to its softer consistency.

What's the protein content in "Cream Cheese"?

It's moderate, about 2g per ounce on average.

What makes "Cream Cheese Spread" so spreadable?

Additives like gums or stabilizers maintain its soft texture.

What dishes commonly use "Cream Cheese"?

Cheesecakes, frostings, dips, and more.

Does "Cream Cheese" have probiotics?

Not typically, as it's not a fermented product.

How should "Cream Cheese Spread" be stored?

It should be kept refrigerated.

How is "Cream Cheese" typically packaged?

It's often sold in blocks or tubs.

Is "Cream Cheese Spread" healthier than regular cream cheese?

It depends on the ingredients; some may have lower fat, but others might have added sugars or additives.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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