Cream Cheese vs Cream Cheese Spread: 8 Main Differences

If you are in the mood for adding some cream cheese to a recipe, you might end up with a cream cheese block or a jar of cream cheese spread. Sounds confusing? Cream cheese and cream cheese spreads are similar.

Simply put, cream cheese is the original product turned into a cream cheese spread. This close relationship leads to confusion between these two types of cream cheese.

If you want to understand their differences, this comparison will give you in-depth knowledge. We will dive deeper into the characteristics and distinctions.

Cream Cheese vs. Cream Cheese Spread
The main differences between Cream Cheese and Cream Cheese Spread are their taste, flavor diversity, source, texture, uses shelf life, nutritional value, and ease of use. Both are soft products, but the cream cheese spread is softer and fluffier.

What is Cream Cheese?


Cream cheese is in the category of white, soft, and fresh cheese. This American cheese type has been associated with a famous cheese brand for a long time. Cream cheese is made from full cream cow’s milk, which must have around 33% fat content.

Also, the milk is mixed with high-fat dairy cream. The product must retain decent moisture throughout the making of soft cheese. However, the moisture level should not be over 55%.

Making cream cheese is easy. You can easily prepare it at home if you have some knowledge about making cheese curds. There is no need to age this cheese; it should be consumed fresh. This could explain why this cheese is considered affordable.

Cream cheese is used to garnish bagels or create creamy frosting for cakes. This is due to its rich, creamy, and slightly sweet flavor. Cream cheese can go along with various sweet and savory dishes. It can be used to create soups and pasta.

Also, it is a necessary ingredient for making cheesecakes and cake frostings.

What is Cream Cheese spread?


As the name suggests, the spread of cream cheese is a spreadable variety. Cream cheese becomes spreadable when it gets heavily whipped. The whipping process increases the smoothness of the cheese.

As the cheese gets smoother, its fat content decreases. Despite being made from cream cheese, the spreadable product is not identical to the original cheese.

Cream cheese spread is different in terms of taste and texture. Whipping is not the only change that happens to the fresh cream cheese to turn it into a spreadable one. There are other ingredients added, such as external flavors and stabilizers.

This product is primarily added or topped to bagels and bread. Crab dip is one of the most famous dips prepared with a cream cheese spread. Enjoying cream cheese spread on a raw snack is more common, as this product has an obvious savory or salty taste.

Differences between Cream Cheese and Cream Cheese Spread

Cream cheese and cream cheese spread have many similarities in appearance and origin. They are not, however, the same thing. Typically, you can make the cream cheese spread out of cream cheesebut not the other way around.

1. Taste

One of the major differences between cream cheese and cream cheese spread is their taste. Both items taste creamy, but the cream cheese is richer and creamier.

Also, cream cheese has a noticeable sweetness along with a slight tanginess. Cream cheese spread, on the other hand, is savory and saltier.

2. Flavor diversity

Another major way to distinguish between cream cheese and cream cheese spread is the diversity of flavors. You can try different brands of cream cheese, and they will taste almost the same. Cream cheese spread, on the other hand, offers more diversity in flavors.

This is a result of the diversity of the included ingredients. For instance, some spreadable cream cheeses with a herb flavor, while others taste like garlic.

3. Texture

Cream cheese and cream cheese spread are both considered soft cheese products. However, they have a different level of softness. Cream cheese spread is smoother and thus more spreadable.

Cream cheese remains noticeably firmer. This is why it is not as easy to spread as spreadable cheese.

4. Source

This is another reliable difference between cream cheese and cream cheese spread. A cow’s pasteurized milk is the main source for making cream cheese. The milk can be the sole source, or it could be mixed with high-fat dairy cream.

Cream-spread cheese, on the other hand, is not made from milk directly. It is made from whipping cream cheese and mixing it with other ingredients.

5. Uses

The resemblance between cream cheese and cream cheese spread might lead you to believe they can be used interchangeably. But this is not entirely true. Cream cheese is used in more recipes. It can be integrated into numerous sweet and savory dishes.

Cream cheese spread, on the other hand, is commonly used on savory dishes or baked goods such as bagels. Cream cheese spreads lack the slight sweetness of cream cheese.

6. Shelf life

This huge difference sets cream cheese and cream cheese spread apart. Cream cheese is better consumed fresh, as it has a much shorter shelf life. You can keep it in the fridge for about 12 days.

Cream cheese spread has a longer shelf life and can be stored properly for months. This is due to the added preservatives.

7. Nutritional value

When it comes to nutritional value, cream cheese is an absolute winner. Cream cheese has a higher fat content because it is made directly from high-fat milk. Whipping this rich cheese decreases the fat content.

Cream cheese has higher levels of calcium, too. On the other hand, cream cheese spread is not considered a very healthy product. It has more salt and less dairy content. It also contains artificial flavors and preservatives.

8. Ease of use

Due to the increased fluffiness and smoothness of cream cheese spread, it is considered easier to use. You take it out of the fridge and spread it over a bagel or toast. You cannot do the same with cream cheese, although it is relatively soft. You will notice some resistance while you try to spread it.

Cream Cheese vs Cream Cheese Spread: are they the same?

Cream cheese and cream cheese spread are not the same cheese products. They might appear very similar at first glance but are not identical. Cream cheese spread is made of existing cream cheese after some processing, while the latter is directly made of whole dairy milk.

The former is fluffier, softer, and more spreadable. However, the nutritional value of cream cheese is different from that of this cream cheese spread. The former has more health benefits and nutritional value.

Cream cheese will not last for months or even weeks. It is a fresh cheese with a short shelf life on the shelf or in the fridge. Due to the artificial ingredients, Cream cheese spread can last for months with proper storage conditions.

Lastly, cream cheese spread is easier to use but has fewer uses than cream cheese.

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