The Cream Cheese Brands You Should Be Buying, According to the Pros

There are lots of cream cheese brands out there. Our Test Kitchen tried the most popular ones and found the best options for spreading on your bagel, turning into cheesecake or making into a tempting dip.

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Cream cheese is one of those essential ingredients we keep in our fridges. Open up a package and you can easily turn it into the ultimate dip for your next party, an elegant cheesecake or served as-is for breakfast or brunch. But do you know what cream cheese brands are best for your cooking, baking and snacking?

That’s where our Test Kitchen comes in. As professional cooks and bakers, we want to know what brands will make recipes really sing. Find out which options our pros loved most.

What Our Test Kitchen Looks for in a Great Cream Cheese

For this test, we sampled seven of the most popular cream cheese brands in a blind tasting. These were all regular, plain cream cheese brands (no added flavors, no low-fat options). Our Test Kitchen crew sampled each brand with the following in mind:

  • Flavor: How did the cream cheese taste? Did it have good tang? Was it rich?
  • Texture: Was the cream cheese too soft or firm? Was it dry? Was it perfectly smooth?
  • Spreadability: How easy was the cream cheese to spread? Did it easily smear across a bagel or did it crumble?

Want to learn more about how our Test Kitchen chooses their favorite products? Check out our testing methods.

Our Test Kitchen-Preferred Cream Cheese Brands

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After sampling and slathering it on plenty of homemade bagels, our Test Kitchen found the best cream cheese brands to suit any taste.

Tangiest: Philadelphia Original Cream Cheese

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When you reach for a block of cream cheese at the store, you’re hoping to get a tangy, creamy spread perfect for your morning breakfast (or plenty of other cream cheese recipes). Here, Philadelphia delivers! Our Test Kitchen team found the Philly brand to be pleasantly tangy with a very soft, smooth texture. If you’re looking for cream cheese to spread over your bagel with a bit of smoked salmon, this is the one to buy.

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Mildest Flavor: Dutch Farms Original Cream Cheese

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We get it: not everyone is a big fan of the tanginess of cream cheese. Some folks are just in it for the creaminess, and that’s OK! If this sounds like you, reach for Dutch Farms Original Cream Cheese. This cream cheese had a very mild flavor accompanied by a firm but spreadable consistency. Because this cream cheese is a bit mild, it would blend nicely into savory recipes and dips. Obatzda, anyone?

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Best for No-Bake Desserts: Prairie Farms

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If you’re a fan of no-bake desserts—especially no-bake cheesecakes—you’ll want to pick up Prairie Farms cream cheese. This cream cheese was the firmest we sampled. While that made it harder to spread across bagels, our Test Kitchen tasters agree this quality makes it perfect for no-bake recipes. The texture helps recipes like No-Bake Blueberry Cheesecake and Cookie Butter Pie maintain their shape while giving them that slightly tangy flavor we crave.

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Best Budget Brand: Great Value Cream Cheese

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If you’re purchasing a lot of cream cheese to make cheesecakes or other creamy desserts, chances are you don’t want to spend more than you have to. The good news is that you can get excellent cream cheese for less at Walmart. Great Value cream cheese is cheaper than other brands (it’s less than $2 for eight ounces) but manages to deliver on all our criteria. This cream cheese was super smooth and spreadable—perfect for stirring into any recipe. It didn’t have the strongest tang, so it might not be ideal for eating plain on a bagel—but it would be great paired with other toppings!

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What to Make with Cream Cheese

Sure, you can buy a package of cream cheese just to spread on your morning bagel. But there are so many possibilities for this ingredient. Cream cheese is, of course, a dessert superstar—how good does this chocolate swirl cheesecake look? It also lends itself well to dips and appetizers, particularly this five-cheese spinach dip. But these recipes are just the tip of the iceberg! We’ve got plenty more to experiment with.

Also check out our cream cheese dip recipes no one can resist.

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Note: This blind taste test was performed by our staffers and was not part of a sponsorship. All opinions shared are our own, and have not been influenced by advertisers.

Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is a former Taste of Home editor and passionate baker. During her tenure, she poured her love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. Lisa also dedicated her career here to finding and testing the best ingredients, kitchen gear and home products for our Test Kitchen-Preferred program. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.