Cream cheese is a tasty snack, and it's useful to have on hand for recipes, but it doesn't stay fresh in the refrigerator for too long. Fortunately, you can freeze cream cheese for future use. While the thawed cream cheese won't be suitable as a spread, it is useful as an ingredient for cheesecake, frosting, dough, and other recipes.
Uses for Frozen Cream Cheese
You can freeze cream cheese, but the texture will change considerably. It will be more crumbly and less creamy once thawed. Reserve frozen cream cheese for baked or cooked dishes where the change won't be noticeable.
If you want to freeze some cream cheese to use in your next cheesecake or fudge, go for it. You probably won't be happy with the results if you're hoping to top your morning bagel. It won't spread in the same way, so freezing is not a good option if you want to use the cream cheese as a spread right from the package.
That doesn't mean you can't take advantage of a sale and stock up. Unopened cream cheese can be safely stored in the refrigerator for a month past the sell-by date stamped on the box, and freezing extends that by months. Of course, you should always discard any cheese that has mold on it, or that smells or looks bad. Trust your senses and toss anything questionable.
How to Freeze Cream Cheese
Some people recommend adding a layer of wrapping to cream cheese before you freeze it. While extra plastic wrap or a freezer bag won't hurt, it really isn't necessary. Blocks of cream cheese already come sealed in foil and boxed in cardboard, and that's ample protection against freezer burn. Just tuck it in the freezer and try to use it as soon as you can. Frozen cream cheese will keep indefinitely, but it's best to use it within two months.
While it probably goes without saying, you shouldn't waste freezer space on old cream cheese. It's not going to be any better than the day you put it in there. Go ahead and chuck it. No one likes to waste food, but risking your health by eating old cheese is not worth it.
When you're ready to pull cream cheese from the freezer, move it to the fridge and allow it to thaw. Then use it as you normally would for cooking or baking.
Freezing Other Cheeses
If you have limited freezer space, you might find freezing other cheeses to be more worthwhile. Hard and semi-hard cheeses, like cheddar, Parmesan, and mozzarella, tend to freeze better than soft cheeses, like cream cheese.
Once thawed, frozen hard cheeses will be crumbly, though there's often no noticeable change in the taste. For bricks of cheese, only freeze what you intend to shred later. Packaged shredded cheeses are excellent candidates for the freezer.