How Long Can Cream Cheese Sit Out Before It Goes Bad?

Cream Cheese. How delicious is it? It should be a staple ingredient in any household. Oh, the things that it can transform.

It can make pasta dishes extra creamy, it’s great smothered between a butterfly chicken breast, and it even makes some of the world’s best desserts. It’s a real commodity to be appreciated. 

How Long Can Cream Cheese Sit Out Before It Goes Bad

This is why it can feel like heartbreak to walk into the kitchen the next morning and see that you accidentally left it out all night. Oh no.

Cream cheese should always find safety in its home – the refrigerator. And leaving it out can have some bad consequences. 

So, if you’re wondering about cream cheese and its expiration, keep reading, because we’re about to delve deep into everything you’ll ever need to know. 

The Quick Answer

Okay, so typically you can expect unopened cream cheese that has been stored correctly to last three perhaps even four weeks past the printed expiration date.

Cream cheese wrapped in foil can last over two months past its expiration date when stored right too. 

But what about cream cheese that hasn’t made it back to where it was supposed to be? Unfortunately, it’s likely long gone. You see, cream cheese can spoil pretty quickly because it’s made using fresh milk.

This means that after around the 2-hour mark of being out of the refrigerator, it’ll likely need to be thrown away if you want to avoid a nasty spout of food 


What Is Cream Cheese?

So, before we get into everything you need to know about cream cheese expiration, let’s take a minute to actually discuss what it is. Cream cheese is a kind of spread that was created by William Lawrence all the way back in 1872.

It is made from milk fat and has a super soft consistency and a creamy texture that makes it the perfect addition to most meals. 

In terms of taste, it has an almost salty yet sour taste. Though nowadays there are plenty of different flavors to choose from that can alter just how it’ll taste in your next meal.

It also has a distinctive tartness to it which can make it a great choice for cheesecakes and frostings as well as savory foods. 

Cream cheese is a very common ingredient and so you’ll find it in pretty much any grocery store or supermarket. Or if you’d prefer you can also give making cream cheese a go yourself from home. 

Basically, cream cheese is one of the most popular types of cheese out there because of its versatility and ability to incorporate it into just about anything. 

How Long Is Cream Cheese Good For? 

Cream cheese’s core ingredient is fresh milk fat, and milk is known for expiring fairly quickly. Once opened, you usually won’t get more than a few days out of fresh milk…maybe a week if you’re really lucky. 

So, it’s unsurprising that many people are wary about just how long cream cheese will last. Many question whether it will have the same lifespan as other cheese varieties out there.

And sadly, the answer is no. Because it’s pasteurized, it will have a much shorter shelf life than that of other cheeses. 

With that being said though, it still lasts longer than most people assume. The actual expiration date length will vary from store to store, but usually, it’ll live a little longer than the date on the packet suggests. 

Opened cream cheese stored in the refrigerator can last at least another two weeks after the date. So, it may still have some life in it yet. 

How Long Can Cream Cheese Sit Out Before It Goes Bad (1)

Can Cream Cheese Be Left Out? 

As much as you may not want to hear this, no, it cannot. If you’ve forgotten to pop your cream cheese back in the fridge overnight, sadly it is destined for the trash. 

Cream cheese can only really be left out for a maximum of 2 hours at room temperature before it starts to spoil. You’ll find that many restaurants and buffets also stick to this rule and swap out anything that goes past that time. 

This is because it allows for bacteria to breed and there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll get food poisoning if you attempt to eat it. So, even if you feel like it looks okay, it’s better to be safe than sorry.  

What Happens If You Eat Cream Cheese That Has Been Left Out? 

As I mentioned above, the future doesn’t look great for those who have eaten cream cheese that has been sitting out at room temperature. In fact, you can actually get very sick from raw or unpasteurized milk products. 

When cream cheese has sat out for too long, it’ll be a breeding ground for lots of nasty bacteria, which if consumed, then ends up inside your stomach. 

And this means you’ll be likely to get food poisoning. You’ll want to monitor yourself closely to keep an eye out for any symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, high temperature, etc.

If you notice these symptoms you should visit a medical professional immediately. 

How To Tell If Cream Cheese Has Gone Bad? 

You may be wondering what the telltale signs of gone-off cream cheese are. Well, you’re about to find out! Down below are all the ways to check if your cream cheese is no longer fit for consumption. 

  • Appearance – Usually, a quick glance will let you know if it’s off. If it’s changed color to a yellow or green hue, then it’s time to say goodbye. Similarly, it’s trash time if it has started to grow mold. 
  • Smell – Cream cheese will definitely let you know it’s off by its odor. Cream cheese has this super strong pungent sour smell once it’s spoiled. 
  • Consistency – If you notice that your cream cheese has a sliminess to it or is a lot softer than it should be, it’s time to throw it out. This is often a sign that bacteria and mold have contaminated the product. 
  • Taste – If all looks well, but it’s been in your refrigerator a while and you’re unsure you can always evaluate if it’s good to go by giving it a small taste test. If it tastes normal then it should be fine to use, however, if it tastes bad then it’s time to throw it in the trash. 

How To Prolong Cream Cheese’s Life Span

There are actually a few tips and tricks that will help you prolong your cheese, let’s take a look at them now. 

  • Temperature – Ensure that the cream cheese is never left at room temperature for more than two hours. Always store it inside your refrigerator as soon as you use it. 
  • Container – A great way to combat bacteria is to store your cream cheese in an airtight container. Alternatively, you could also wrap it up in foil. 
  • Clean Utensils – When spreading, scooping, or dolloping your cream cheese, always ensure you use clean utensils that have not been in your mouth or have touched other produce. 
  • Time Of Purchase – Try to purchase your cream cheese as one of the last items in your grocery shop, this means it is not sitting in a basket or trolley for prolonged periods of time. Also, check for any damage to the container before selecting. 

Final Thoughts 

Cream cheese is a great addition to any home, the amount of recipes that you can use it for is mind-boggling, from starters to mains to desserts, it’ll work for them all.

But to ensure that you can use your cream cheese time and time again, you’ll want to ensure that you keep it nice and cool to avoid it spoiling. 

Cream cheese can only be left at room temperature for a maximum of two hours so storing it correctly is absolutely essential.

If you don’t, it will likely begin to develop nasty bacteria that will not only change the smell, appearance, taste, and overall quality of the product, but it may also give you food poisoning which can be pretty nasty. 

So, be sure to always pop your cream cheese straight back into the refrigerator after cooking your meal or scrumptious pud, otherwise, it’ll be destined to make its way to the dumpster. 

Hopefully, thanks to this guide, though, you now know everything there is to know about this soft cheese. You should be a fully certified cream cheese pro!

Mark Williams
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