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

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on January 2, 2024
Cream Cheese is a soft, mild-tasting fresh cheese made from milk and cream. Cream Cheese Spread is a cream cheese blended with additional ingredients for spreadability and flavor.

Key Differences

Cream cheese is a fresh cheese product characterized by its soft, smooth texture and mild flavor, made from milk and cream. Cream cheese spread, while similar in base, includes additives that enhance spreadability and may include flavorings or seasonings.
In terms of texture, cream cheese typically has a denser and richer consistency, suitable for cooking and baking. Cream cheese spread is softer and more spreadable, making it a convenient choice for spreading on bread or crackers.
Cream cheese is often used as a key ingredient in recipes like cheesecakes, frosting, and savory dishes. Cream cheese spread, on the other hand, is tailored more for immediate consumption as a spread or dip, often featuring various flavors like herbs or fruit.
The production process of cream cheese involves curdling milk and cream, then draining the whey without aging the cheese. In contrast, cream cheese spread is processed further, incorporating emulsifiers and stabilizers to maintain a spreadable consistency.
Shelf life and storage conditions also differ; cream cheese generally requires refrigeration and has a shorter shelf life compared to some cream cheese spreads that may have preservatives to extend their usability.

Comparison Chart

Base Ingredients

Milk and cream
Milk, cream, and additional ingredients


Denser and richer
Softer and more spreadable


Cooking, baking, frosting
Spreading on bread, dip


Curdled and whey-drained
Additional emulsifiers and stabilizers

Shelf Life

Shorter, requires refrigeration
Longer, some varieties shelf-stable

Cream Cheese and Cream Cheeses Spread Definitions

Cream Cheese

Soft, fresh cheese from milk and cream.
Cream cheese is a key ingredient in cheesecake.

Cream Cheeses Spread

Softer texture than regular cream cheese.
The cream cheese spread was easy to spread on my bagel.

Cream Cheese

Dense and rich in texture.
Cream cheese frosting is popular for cakes.

Cream Cheeses Spread

Cream cheese blended for spreadability.
The cream cheese spread was perfect on toast.

Cream Cheese

Requires refrigeration.
Store cream cheese in the fridge to maintain freshness.

Cream Cheeses Spread

Often includes flavorings or seasonings.
I bought a garlic herb cream cheese spread.

Cream Cheese

Used in both sweet and savory dishes.
Cream cheese adds richness to pasta sauces.

Cream Cheeses Spread

May have a longer shelf life.
This cream cheese spread can be stored unrefrigerated.

Cream Cheese

Characterized by a mild, slightly tangy taste.
The bagel was topped with cream cheese.

Cream Cheeses Spread

Contains additives like emulsifiers.
Cream cheese spread remains spreadable due to stabilizers.


What is cream cheese?

A soft cheese made from milk and cream with a mild taste.

What is cream cheese spread?

A spreadable version of cream cheese, often with added flavors.

Is cream cheese spread good for cooking?

It's better suited for spreading due to its softer texture.

Does cream cheese have a strong flavor?

No, it has a mild, slightly tangy taste.

Is cream cheese natural?

It's made from natural ingredients but includes processing.

Are there flavored varieties of cream cheese spread?

Yes, including options like herbs, fruits, and spices.

Can I make frosting with cream cheese spread?

It's possible but regular cream cheese is preferred for texture.

Can cream cheese be used in baking?

Yes, it's commonly used in recipes like cheesecakes.

Do both need refrigeration?

Cream cheese does, but some cream cheese spreads may not.

Can I freeze cream cheese?

Freezing can alter its texture, so it's not recommended.

Are there vegan options for both?

Yes, there are vegan alternatives available.

Is cream cheese spread suitable for a cheese platter?

It's more casual, so it's less common on formal cheese platters.

Is cream cheese gluten-free?

Pure cream cheese is, but check labels for additives in spreads.

Can I use cream cheese spread in dips?

Yes, it's commonly used in flavored dips.

Can I make cream cheese spread at home?

Yes, by blending cream cheese with desired flavors and ingredients.

Does cream cheese spread come in single servings?

Yes, it's often available in individual packets.

Is cream cheese considered a healthy food?

In moderation, it can be part of a balanced diet.

Is cream cheese spread lower in fat?

Not necessarily; it depends on the specific product.

How long does cream cheese last once opened?

About 1-2 weeks in the fridge.

Are there lactose-free versions of both?

There are lactose-free and dairy-free alternatives.
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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