Difference between Cream Cheese and Cream Cheese Spread

Updated on June 27, 2017

As popular cooking and baking ingredients, cream cheese and cream cheese spread are mostly used interchangeably. But while these dairy products are similar in a number of ways, there are still subtle differences between the two.

Definitions

Cream Cheese
Cream cheese

A product of cream and milk, cream cheese is a soft cheese distinct for its mild flavor. During its manufacture, carrageenan and carob bean gum are used as stabilizers, which mainly function to maintain the integrity and structure of cream cheese. Compared to other types of cheese, cream cheese has a shorter shelf life and is ideally consumed fresh.

The recommended fat content for cream cheese is dependent on the country’s food guidelines. For instance, the minimum percentage of milk fat content for Britain and the US are 45% and 33%, respectively.

Cream cheese spread
Cream cheese spread

Cream cheese spread, on the other hand, is spreadable whipped cream cheese. It is made with cream cheese and whipping ingredients. Because of the incorporation of air in the product, it has a light, spreadable texture.

A popular variety of cream cheese, cream cheese spread is available in different flavors. For instance, yogurt or pepper jelly may be added to cream cheese to alter its texture and taste.

Cream Cheese vs Cream Cheese Spread

So what’s the difference between cream cheese and cream cheese spread? Although these dairy products are both varieties of soft cheese, there are still slight differences between the two.

Firstly, cream cheese is a type of soft cheese that does not undergo an aging process. Meanwhile, cream cheese spread is just a variety of cream cheese.

Secondly, cream cheese is made with cream, milk and stabilizers such as carrageenan and carob bean gum, while cream cheese spread is basically whipped cream cheese with additional ingredients. Homemade cream cheese spread can be made by beating cream cheese and adding milk into the mixture until the desired consistency is acquired.

These dairy products also differ in texture and consistency. Since cream cheese spread is diluted with milk or other whipping ingredients, it is lighter and more spreadable than cream cheese.

Despite their strong similarity in terms of taste, cream cheese and cream cheese spread are mostly used in different ways. As the name suggests, cream cheese spread is used as a spread or as a dip for sandwiches and other snacks. Cream cheese, on the other hand, is ideal for making cheesecakes, cookies, cakes, and cream cheese frosting. It is also used to add texture and consistency to sauces.

Lastly, the shelf life of cream cheese spread is longer than regular cream cheese.

Comparison Chart

Cream CheeseCream Cheese Spread
A type of soft cheese that does not undergo an aging processA variety of cream cheese
Made with cream, milk, and stabilizers such as carrageenan and carob bean gumMade by whipping cream cheese and adding milk or yogurt
FirmerLighter and more spreadable
Used in making cheesecakes, cookies, cakes, cream cheese frosting, and saucesUsed as a spread or a dip
Shorter shelf lifeLonger shelf life