Are you wondering how long can cream cheese sit out safely?
Cream cheese is a type of fresh cheese, with a soft texture, made from milk and cream.
A lot of people are using cream cheese for different cooking styles and baking purposes, but its lifespan can also be very short.
It is important to remember that cream cheese can easily get spoiled, so it must stay in the fridge if it is not going to be used.
However, there are cases when cream cheese is taken out from the fridge and is left out.
If this is your first time using cream cheese, it is important for you to know how long it
Cream cheese is a perishable food that should be kept refrigerated.
However, there are times when you may need to leave it out at room temperature, such as when you are making a recipe that calls for softened cream cheese.
According to the USDA, cream cheese can safely sit out at room temperature for up to two hours.
After two hours, the risk of bacteria growth increases, so it is best to refrigerate the cream cheese as soon as possible.
If you are unsure how long cream cheese has been out at room temperature, it is best to err on the side of caution and throw it away.
Here are some tips for safely handling cream cheese:
- Always keep cream cheese refrigerated.
- Only leave cream cheese out at room temperature for up to two hours.
- Throw away cream cheese that has been out at room temperature for more than two hours.
- If you are unsure how long cream cheese has been out at room temperature, throw it away.
- Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling cream cheese.
- Use cream cheese within two weeks of opening the package.
Below, we have more information about leaving cream cheese out at room temperature, leaving it out overnight, the steps to soften cream cheese two ways, and more.
Cream cheese should not be left at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
Cream cheese contains preservatives, but it’s still made of fresh dairy and therefore it can spoil quickly.
A tip is to keep this time frame in mind when you are running errands.
Cream cheese is not something that you want to leave in your car for an extended time.
Next time you set cream cheese on your counter, go ahead and set a timer so that you keep track of how long it has been out.
Is It Safe To Eat Cream Cheese Left Out Overnight?
No it isn’t safe to consume cream cheese that has been left out overnight.
According to Foodsafety.gov you should throw out cream cheese that has been above 40 degrees for over four hours.
Bacteria can start to grow after 2 hours of room temperature exposure on cream cheese.
Can Cream Cheese Sit Out Overnight To Soften?
No, it is not a good idea to leave cream cheese on the counter overnight or for anything beyond a couple of hours.
Bacteria such as E. Coli can start to grow on soft cheeses after just two hours at room temperature.
Note that if your fridge loses power, you should also throw out cream cheese after 4 hours with no power.
What Is The Best Way To Soften Cream Cheese?
There are multiple options for softening cream cheese.
Thankfully, it actually softens quickly.
Here is the best way to soften cream cheese quickly, as long as you don’t need the block of cream cheese to stay whole:
- Remove cold cream cheese from the refrigerator.
- Unwrap cream cheese and place on a cutting board.
- Preferably with a long, sharp knife (though a butter knife will do), cut the cream cheese into six or eight cubes.
This reduces the surface area of the cream cheese so that the pieces will come to room temperature faster than the whole block.
- Let the cubes sit on the cutting board undisturbed or cover with a large pan lid for 15 minutes.
- Transfer cubes to a bowl and stir. If they still seem stiff, let them sit in the bowl for another five minutes, then use.
Here’s another way to soften cream cheese, with a microwave.
This method uses a microwave heat, which softens the cream cheese quickly, so be careful not to overheat it.
- Remove the cream cheese from the refrigerator.
- To help ensure that the cream cheese softens at the same rate throughout, use a sharp knife to cut it into 1-inch cubes before putting in the microwave.
- Place the cubes in a bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds.
- Stir the cubes and microwave for an additional 15 seconds only if needed, until they are soft and smooth, but not runny.
- Use the softened cream cheese immediately in your recipe.
At that point it should be perfectly soft to use for any recipe.
How Long Can Cream Cheese Sit Out?
2 hours! Cream cheese that is opened and exposed to room temperature should not sit out for more than 2 hours.
Cream cheese is made from fresh milk fat and cream, and we all know that milk gets easily spoiled, which if opened, only lasts for a few days.
The lifespan of cream cheese can highly depend on how it is stored.
If you put the cream cheese in the fridge and is left unopened, it will last for three to four weeks even after its expiry date.
If you buy cream cheese that is wrapped in foil, it can last for a maximum of two months after the expiry date.
Traditionally, a lot of people are using cream cheese for a lot of cooking and baking needs, spreads for bread and sandwiches, and even dips.
Today, cream cheese is a favorite ingredient for frostings and desserts.
Cream cheese is made from fresh milk, and that is why it can spoil quickly at room temperature.
This is why you should not use cream cheese that has been exposed to more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Clues That Your Cream Cheese Has Gone Bad
- The appearance of your cream cheese looks rotten or moldy.
You will know that your cream cheese has gone bad because of its appearance.
If you see any signs of rot or mold, you should not use it anymore.
You also have to check if your cream cheese has a tint of yellow or greenish color.
- There is no consistency in the packaging. It is important to check the packaging of the cream cheese for consistency.
If you see the top of the packaging to be slimy or soft instead of firm, then this is a sign that the cream cheese may be spoiled.
- If you are not sure of the packaging, it is better to open the package and check if the cream looks different.
- The cream cheese has a strong sour smell.
One of the most noticeable sign to make sure that the cream has gone bad is its bad smell.
You will know that the cream cheese is bad if it has a pungent and a more sour smell.
- The taste of the cream cheese is bad.
There are times when you leave the cream cheese in the fridge for a long time but there is nothing wrong with the smell and appearance.
- To be certain that your cream cheese is still suitable for eating, you have to taste it.
It is better to throw away a spoiled cream cheese than to suffer illness from eating it.
You have to be careful in evaluating whether your cream cheese is still edible to eat or that it needs to be thrown away.
If you happen to leave your opened cream cheese outside the fridge, make sure you follow the two-hour rule.
How To Extend The Lifespan Of Cream Cheese
Now that you know how long can a cream cheese sit out, it is also important to know some of the ways to extend the lifespan of your cream cheese.
However, you have to remember to throw away any spoiled cream cheese to avoid illness.
- Temperature matters. When you open your cream cheese but leave some behind, you should immediately put it back in the fridge.
Do not allow your cream cheese to stay at room temperature.
It is better to chill it before and after use.
- Use an airtight container.
Cream cheese is very susceptible to bacteria and unseen molds, which is why it is a must to use an airtight container.
- Use the freezer.
Another way of extending the life of your cream cheese is to wrap it in foil and place it in the freezer.
- Use clean utensils.
If you plan to use your cream cheese as a spread, make sure you use clean utensils to avoid bacteria and other microbes from getting in contact with the cream cheese.
The Bottom Line
As mentioned above, cream cheese can only sit for two hours if left opened outside the fridge.
You can do a lot with cream cheese, from baking to cooking to making dips, but they can easily get spoiled.
It is important to wrap the used cream cheese in an airtight container or in a foil wrapper to maintain its freshness and good taste.