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

Updated: Sep. 01, 2023

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

Cream Cheese In PackagesTaste of Home

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 the Taste of Home Test Kitchen comes in. As professional cooks and bakers, they want to know what brands will make recipes really sing. Find out which options their pros loved most.

What the Test Kitchen looks for in a great cream cheese

Cream Cheese on bagels with different brands labeledTaste of Home

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). The 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 smear across a bagel or did it crumble?

The Test Kitchen-preferred cream cheese brands

After sampling and slathering it on plenty of bagels, the Test Kitchen found the best cream cheese brands to suit any taste. Need more breakfast ideas? Try one of these best pancake mixes.

Tangiest: Philadelphia Original

Kraft Philadelphia Cream Cheese On Bagel And In PackageTaste of Home

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. Here, Philadelphia delivers! The 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, this is the one to buy.

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Mildest flavor: Dutch Farms Original

Dutch Farms Cream Cheese On Bagel And In PackageTaste of Home

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.

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Best for no-bake desserts: Prairie Farms

Prairie Farms Cream Cheese On Bagel And In PackageTaste of Home

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, the Test Kitchen tasters agree this quality helps no-bake recipes maintain their shape while giving them that slightly tangy flavor we crave.

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Best budget brand: Great Value

Great Value Cream Cheese On Bagel And In PackageTaste of Home

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 hazelnut cheesecake look? It also lends itself well to dips and appetizers. But these recipes are just the tip of the iceberg! We’ve got plenty more to experiment with.

Check out more Test Kitchen-preferred products

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

Taste of Home
Originally Published on Taste of Home