Easy Cream Cheese Recipes for Any Occasion
La Creme de la Cheese
Go ahead.... call me cheesy. It won't bother me a bit. I've loved cheeses of all kinds since I was a little girl eating slices of American processed cheese slices right out of their shiny little cellophane wrappers. My tastes have expanded since then (fortunately), but cheese is still one of my favorite foods. I use several common varieties on a near daily basis - bleu, gouda, parmesan, mozzarella, cheddar, monterey jack, and of course, cream cheese. In fact, if I was forced to choose only one kind of cheese for the rest of my life, I'd struggle to choose between cheddar and cream cheese, but I think cream cheese would ultimately win because it's so versatile.
I'm no brand loyalist. As you can see in my photo, I purchase generic brands as well as brand name cheeses, and always have the most common choices on hand. With a teenager and a fellow cheese-lover at home, we couldn't live without 'em. Even though they're inexpensive and readily available, they can still add a touch of elegance to appetizers, sandwiches, and main meals.
Keep reading to discover how you can use cream cheese to create fast, inexpensive, and oh-so-yummy dishes for your family and friends.
On short notice, this easy and versatile appetizer is a simple crowd-pleaser that's literally ready in under five minutes.
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: <5 minutes
- 1 can meat chili
- no beans (I am a brand loyalist here - I like Wolf brand chili.)
- 1 8 -oz pkg. cream cheese
- 1 c. shredded cheddar (optional)
- Pour chili into a microwaveable serving bowl. Use the back of a spoon to spread it evenly. In a separate bowl, soften cream cheese in the microwave for 30-40 seconds on high. Then add it over the chili and again, spread evenly with the back of a (clean) spoon. Spread shredded cheese as a third layer if desired, and heat through in the microwave for 2 minutes. Serve with your favorite crackers.
Cream Cheese Snag and Snack
Can a cream cheese snack could be any easier than spreading cream cheese on a bagel? Maybe not, and there are plenty of tasty bagels to enjoy with it, but I prefer crackers with cream cheese and hot jam. No, I don't mean heated jam. I mean pepper jam, like the ones below. The combination of slightly salty, slightly sweet flavors is ultra satisfying.
Sandwiches with Cream Cheese
While attending college in Lawrence, Kansas, I discovered this sandwich upgrade at an upscale local deli. Their menu consisted of sub sandwiches - all served with cream cheese and alfalfa sprouts. Roast beef, cheddar cheese, and cream cheese served warm or cold with alfalfa sprouts, tomatoes, and onion slices. Their ham and turkey sub with bacon also boasted cream cheese and sprouts. Both were delicious, and made a nice change of pace from traditional subs.
Since then, I've added cream cheese to sandwiches to spruce them up for my family, who also love this subtle boost. Although I like alfalfa sprouts, I don't keep any on hand. I prefer regular lettuce. I've also been known to soften the cheese a bit and stir in chives for warm sandwiches served with soup.
In Seattle, hot dogs are often served with brown mustard and... you guessed it! Cream cheese. I haven't tried this yet, but only because I don't often eat hot dogs. I imagine it would go well with polish sausage, though, so I may try it yet.
Until I do, though, here's another favorite in my household, which I adopted from this original reciple I found last year at AllRecipes:
Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
- 2 ounces cream cheese
- 1 T sour cream
- 10 pickled jalapenos
- 1/2 c. shredded Colby-Jack cheese
- Four slices sourdough bread
- Butter for grilling
Mix the first three ingredients. Butter one side of each slice of bread, and spread mixture on other side. Assemble two pieces of prepared bread with buttered sides out and grill over medium heat until golden.
(Note that original recipe calls for ciabatta rolls and tortilla chips, which I've never actually tried.)
Main Dishes Featuring My Favorite Fromage
Fromage, the French word for cheese, has such a sensual ring to it, n'est-ce pas? I've found that sauces with cream cheese have a subtle, rich flavor that could also be described as sensual, but diners won't suspect the "secret ingredient" because it blends so smoothly.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: <20 minutes
Pasta with Alfredo Sauce
- 8 -oz pkg of pasta (I've used spaghetti
- angel hair
- and bow ties)
- 1/2 cup butter
- 8 -oz pkg. cream cheese
- 2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 1/2 c. milk
- 6 ounces grated parmesan
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- salt to taste
- 12 -oz can white chicken breast meat
- drained well (optional)
- Boil pasta according to package directions. In a separate pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add cream cheese and garlic powder, stirring constantly with a wire whisk. (Do not use a spoon. A whisk will help your sauce turn out smooth instead of lumpy!) Once the cream cheese is melted and the mixture is smooth, add milk a little at a time, stirring with the whisk until smooth each time. Add parmesan and pepper, once again using whisk to stir out lumps. When smooth, add chicken if desired and heat through. Serve over cooked, drained pasta.
Whit's Chicken Enchiladas
I found this recipe for Whit's Chicken Enchiladas about a year and a half ago at my favorite recipe site, AllRecipes.com. The first time I made them was for a dinner with two of my husband's pals, who pestered my husband about them until I agreed to make more for him to take to work so they could enjoy them once more. Although I'm reproducing Whit's directions below, by joining the All Recipes site, users can save their favorite recipes for easy reference.
When I made it the second time, I used canned chicken to cut down on my time in the kitchen considerably.
- Prep time: 30 min
- Cook time: 30 min
- Ready in: 1 hour
- Yields: 8
- 4 bone-in chicken breast halves
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 4 -oz can diced green chile peppers
- 1 jalapeno pepper
- chopped (I recommend using gloves and removing stems and seeds under cold running water first.)
- 1 clove garlic
- 8 -oz pkg. cream cheese
- 2 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 1/2 cup water
- 8 10 -inch flour tortillas
- 1 c. heavy cream
- Boil chicken in enough water to cover for about 20 minutes until cooked through. Remove from water, let cool enough to remove skins and bones (discard). Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. While it heats, chopped the cooled chicken and set aside. Add chile peppers, garlic, cream cheese, and half of the Monterey Jack cheese. As the cheeses melt, slowly stir in water. (I reserved the water that I used to cook the chicken for a little extra flavor.) Add the chopped chicken and remove from heat.
- Although White simply recommends using a 9"x13" pan, I lightly greased mine for easier cleaning. Spoon chicken mixture into tortillas and roll them, placing them seam side down in baking pan. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over all, and pour heavy cream over it. Bake for 30 minutes, until enchiladas are golden brown.
- Garnish with your favorite mix of toppings: lettuce, onion, tomatoes, sour cream, black olives, and guacamole.
When your meals look good, they'll taste even better - no matter what you've prepared. These versatile serving dishes will provide all you need for casual potlucks, family gatherings, and formal presentations.
Cream Cheese for Dessert
When I first heard the phrase "dessert cheese," I found it odd but the idea intrigued me. I knew that cream cheese formed the basis for cheesecake, and is often used in carrot cake frosting, but that was the grand extent of what I knew about it being used to satisfy a sweet tooth. Boy, did I have a lot to learn!
Cream cheese can be used for cake frosting, to make pie crusts, or as standalone dips and spreads. Although I don't eat many desserts, I've selected two from the site I mentioned above All Recipes for you, because they are so quick and easy. In fact, they'd be an ideal way to let your children have fun contributing in the kitchen.
Prep Time: <5 min
Total Time: <5 min
Cream Cheese Fruit Dip
- 8 -oz pkg. cream cheese
- 3/4 c. packed brown sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Fresh fruit for dipping
- Mix well. Serve chilled with strawberries, apple slices, or dollop over berries. Refrigerate leftovers.
- How easy was that?!
Coffee Cream Cheese Spread
This looks like it would be wonderful on breakfast toast or on buttery crackers as an hors d'oeuvre, and it's just as easy as the fruit dip recipe above. For an elegant presentation among friends, why not make both? Imagine how pretty your platter will look with colorful fresh fruit, crackers, and two delicious dips.
A user who calls herself NewportNewlywed2010 served this dip with sweet dessert crisps as shown in this picture.
Prep Time: <5 min.
Total Time: <5 min.
- 2 3 -oz pkg cream cheese
- 1/4 c. confectioner's sugar
- 1/2 tsp. instant coffee granules
- Mix well. Serve cold.
- Recipe also available here.
My Cheesy Conclusion is Your Beginning
I hope you've found some useful ideas here. I'm a bit informal, and each time I make a dish, I seem to do something just a bit differently. Go ahead and be creative with these recipes, and if you find a useful tip, please share it. I'll probably try it.