Sometimes I’m all about the fun bagel flavors. And other days? All about that cream cheese! Learn how to make flavored cream cheese (with five different flavor options to choose from).
Walking down the dairy aisle at the grocery store and you’ll see a plethora of flavored cream cheeses. Folks love to add flavor to their day, and cream cheese is a creamy, delicious way to do so. But if you take a closer look, you’ll see they seem to stick to a few standards. Chive and onion, strawberry, vegetable, maybe a seasonal item like pumpkin spice. But that’s it. Where’s the adventure?
Making your own flavored cream cheese at home couldn’t be easier. The ingredients are all fresh and you control the sugar, salt, and all the other options. Plain bricks of cream cheese have a long shelf life and are super affordable, so it’s easy to keep some on hand at all times. This way you can make exactly what you want, when you want it, without even changing out of your pajamas!
Ingredients for Flavored Cream Cheese
You can truly get away with just three ingredients here – your cream cheese and a flavor; then add salt for savory options and a touch of sugar for sweet flavored cream cheese and boom – you’re done.
- Cream Cheese: Take your pick! Whether you go for full-fat or low-fat, dairy cream cheese has a familiar tang we all love. But don’t fret if you’re dairy intolerant or vegan – those options will work too!
- Flavoring: We’ll dive into specific below, but basically anything is up for grabs!
Check the prices when you shop for cream cheese. The standard “brick in a box” is often the cheapest option. It’s no-frills and exactly what we want here so we can dress it up! The tubs often cost more per ounce, and especially the whipped varieties – you are literally paying for air!
How to make Flavored Cream Cheese
Truly the hardest part of this recipe is waiting for the cream cheese to soften! Remembering to do that ahead of time is essential to mixing in your flavor options nice and smooth.
Step 1: Prep
Set out your cream cheese ahead of time to soften to room temp. I find I need at least 30 minutes, depending on the temperature in my kitchen. It’s usually easiest to remove the brick from the foil wrapper while still cold so it isn’t sticky. You can also cut the block in half before dropping it into your food processor to speed things up more.
Step 2: Puree
Next up, whip it good! I like to use the food processor here. If you don’t have one, you can try a fork or a whisk, however, cream cheese is pretty sturdy even when soft, so it might be a battle. It’s also no fun to clean out the whisk when you’re done. A hand mixer would work well and then you already have your whipped cheese in a bowl.
Step 3: Assemble
Select your flavor – what are some good combinations with cream cheese? Whether you are in the mood for sweet or savory, gather what you need from the recipe card and add your option to the mixing bowl. Stir well with a rubber spatula to make sure all the flavor is spread evenly throughout.
Step 4: Serve
And now that we waited what seems like forever to soften the cream cheese, back in the fridge it goes! This allows the flavors to meld as well as get things back to a spreadable texture. You can certainly use it right away if you just. can’t. wait but trust me that the flavors will only get better with time!
Flavored Cream Cheese Options
Form fruits to savory, you’ve got options when it comes to making your own flavored cream cheese!
Strawberry Cream Cheese
Add finely diced strawberries and powdered sugar to your softened cream cheese and mix well. Even though fruit is sweet, I find the tang of the cream cheese to need just a touch of sugar to make sure this tastes sweet to the tongue.
Fruit flavored cream cheese is perfect for blueberry bagels. You could also top your strawberry cream cheese with blueberries! This spread would also be delightful on sugar cookies instead of frosting.
Chipotle Pepper Cream Cheese
I started with three peppers, finely diced. You can always start with less and give it a taste, and also stir in a touch of the liquid from the can. A pinch of salt will bring everything together.
Savory flavored cream cheese goes so well on strong bagels, like everything flavor. How amazing would this one be on an asiago cheese bagel??
Passion Fruit Cream Cheese
Take a trip to the tropics by stirring in passion fruit puree or the fiber-packed pulp to your cream cheese. This beauty is definitely a bit more tart than strawberries, so definitely don’t forget the sugar. It’s up to you if you want to use the seeds or not; I think it adds a really fun texture.
This cream cheese, i.e. lilikoi cream cheese, was always a staple on our family vacations to Hawaii growing up. No Hawaiian morning was complete without a tropical toasted bagel before setting off for some snorkeling!
Roasted Garlic Cream Cheese
Roasting garlic is just…amazing. If you haven’t done this, you need to! The garlic pretty much turns to a paste after roasting, so it thoroughly infuses the cream cheese and is a mellow garlic flavor. I only add a pinch of salt and pepper here to really let it shine through. Slather this on a plain bagel and then sprinkle on some “everything” seasoning and you’ll be in heaven.
Chive & Onion Cream Cheese
Yes, chive and onion is one of the standards you can buy premade at the store. But I guarantee they aren’t using fresh chives! This one is great since you can just snip them from your windowsill garden and pop them in. Besides bagels, I might even dip some chips in here before setting it back in the fridge.
Wouldn’t this one be divine inside a grilled cheese sandwich? Spread it inside before adding the other ingredients and griddling.
Watch out for salt: Especially with the vegan varieties, double-check for any added salt before you add any more.
Cut to the Chase: Make sure and dice all your additions quite small. This will release the flavor from the ingredients as well as make sure you get some flavor in every bite. You can even blend the ingredients all together to get an ultra-smooth flavored cream cheese (this would especially work well for the strawberry cream cheese flavor).
Switch it Up: These are all just really basic ideas. No strawberries? Try raspberries! Instead of passionfruit, try a mango puree! The options are endless here.
Go Halfsies: Is it just you in your kitchen? Want both sweet and savory? Go ahead and split your whipped cream cheese into two bowls and try two varieties at once.
Sweet and Savory Pairings
Cream cheese was destined for so much more than just bagels! Here are other fun ways to serve up your homemade flavored cream cheese.
- Strawberry Grilled Cheese, why not try this cream cheese on one slice of bread and avocado on the other? Talk about creamy and delicious!
- Greek Yogurt Cheese, pair both of these cheeses on a board with crackers, veggies, and bagel chips!
- Homemade Bagels, because of course, this is the BEST way to eat your cream cheese. (These bagels are a blast from the past, check the photos 😂)
- 8 oz cream cheese
Flavor (choose one)
- Strawberry: ½ cup finely diced strawberries, 2 Tbsp powdered sugar
- Chipotle Pepper: 3 finely chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, ¼ tsp salt
- Passion Fruit: ¼ cup passion fruit pulp or puree, 2 Tbsp powdered sugar
- Roasted Garlic: 6 cloves roasted garlic, pinch each black pepper and salt
- Chive & Onion: ¼ cup finely chopped chives, ½ tsp onion powder, ½ tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp salt
- Prep: Allow cream cheese to sit out until it is room temperature and soft.
- Puree: Transfer cream cheese to a food processor and blitz until it is creamy and whipped. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
- Assemble: Choose your cream cheese flavor, then add all of those ingredients to the mixing bowl. Fold together using a rubber spatula until evenly mixed.
- Serve: Best if chilled in the fridge for an hour before serving to allow flavors to blend together and cream cheese to firm up.