36 Ways To Use Cream Cheese When You Cook

If you had to name one cream cheese recipe without thinking, would it be cheesecake? There's nothing shabby about a classic New York cheesecake, but there's so much more you can do with this deliciously creamy ingredient. Of course, there's no denying that a cream cheese frosting on a carrot sheet cake is delicious. If you're used to incorporating it into recipes without actually cooking it, then it's time to explore its full culinary potential. 

When was the last time you baked with cream cheese or turned it into a creamy sauce? You can make spicy snacks, creamy dips, and even cookies with this spreadable cheese. It's often used along with other types of cheese too, and it contrasts particularly well with crunchy textures and spicy flavors. 

From savory bites to main meals and desserts, here are some of the delicious ways you can use cream cheese when you cook. 

1. Ultimate Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Bombs

The velvety cream cheese filling is the bomb when it comes to bacon-wrapped chicken bombs. The creaminess cuts through the barbecue sauce-glazed saltiness of the meat. It also packs a powerful flavor bomb of its own with cheddar cheese, jalapeños, garlic powder, and onion powder mixed in.

With a cheesy, spicy filling, the many different textures hit your taste buds with each bite. And if you assemble these ahead of time, you've got a winner of a chicken dinner that you simply have to pop in the oven 20 minutes beforehand.  

Recipe: Ultimate Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Bombs

2. Copycat Starbucks Cream Cheese Danishes

A copycat recipe is the highest form of culinary admiration. If you can't get enough of the cream cheese danishes at Starbucks, then it's time to bring those doughy, creamy delights home by making your own version. The contrast between flaky puff pastry and cream cheese melted to perfection is divine. 

To enhance the sweetness, add granulated sugar and vanilla extract to the softened cheese. Lemon juice gives the coffee-time snacks a refreshing tang. Go one step further and serve them with fruity preserves. 

Recipe: Copycat Starbucks Cream Cheese Danishes

3. Spinach Artichoke Bites

Puff pastry is buttery and feels special enough for canapes. However, if it's not paired with the right ingredients, it could taste a little dry, which is not what you want if you're making a plateful of bites for a social event. Spinach and artichokes bring a pleasant-tasting bitterness to this recipe, which is lifted by the tanginess of sour cream. 

However, the cream cheese is responsible for the soft centers. You can use Neufchâtel cheese instead of cream cheese, but the latter is milder with a luxuriously higher fat content. 

Recipe: Spinach Artichoke Bites

4. Simple Sopapilla Cheesecake

Most cheesecake recipes are similar, with a biscuit base and cream cheese filling that firms up in the fridge. What sets this simple sopapilla version apart is that you bake it in the oven. Lay out crescent dough sheets and sandwich the sugary, creamy mixture between them. 

To get this right, it's important to soften the cream cheese first. You'll then be able to easily mix in the vanilla extract and sour cream and spread it smoothly. Drizzle honey on the creamy filling and cinnamon-sugar butter on the second sheet of dough.

Recipe: Simple Sopapilla Cheesecake

5. Cheesy Calzones

You're going to love these pizza pies loaded with a creamy, cheesy filling. Instead of adding marinara sauce to a crust and topping with cheese, the tomato sauce is served on the side. Sausage and baby spinach with parmesan and mozzarella bring plenty of flavor, but they need cream cheese to create that melted-middle sensation. Without it, these calzones could be a little dry. 

If you want to cut down on the fat, opt for turkey sausage and low-fat cream cheese for the filling. As a nice change from regular pizza, these calzones are delicious in their own right. 

Recipe: Cheesy Calzones

6. Mummy-Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers

You don't need to wait for Halloween to make these mummy-wrapped jalapeño poppers. Wrap the peppers in crescent dough and add stuffed olive eyes for an imaginative take on a bar snack classic. Whatever ingredients you add to the filling, the star attraction is cream cheese. It contrasts perfectly with the flaky pastry and crunchy casing.  

Cheddar cheese and cooked bacon bits give the cream cheese flavor and substance, while lime juice, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder are scarily good seasonings.

Recipe: Mummy-Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers

7. Authentic Disney Grilled Cheese

The delicious grilled cheese sandwich served at Disney is no fairytale. What makes it truly magical is preparing it for yourself at home. Aside from cheese slices and artisan-style bread, can you guess the secret ingredient in this version? That's right, it's cream cheese. It gives the hot sandwich a tangy flavor and silky texture.

Elevate the creaminess by combining heavy cream and shredded hard cheese with the cream cheese. Spread the mixture between two slices of bread and cheese and grill it to melted perfection. 

Recipe: Authentic Disney Grilled Cheese

8. Jalapeño Poppers

For a simple party recipe, fill jalapeño halves with cream cheese topped with breadcrumbs, then bake them in the oven. These bites are spicy, creamy, crispy, and brilliant. What more could you ask for to get a social occasion popping? You don't need a whole lot of ingredients either. 

Don't miss out on adding milk to the cream cheese to make the filling easier to spoon into the scooped-out peppers. Sriracha pumps up the heat, so add it according to how fiery you like your poppers — you might want to wear gloves. 

Recipe: Jalapeño Poppers

9. Easy Loaded Potato Skins

It's easy to make stuffed baked potatoes shine; it just takes a little more effort. Once they are cooked, all you need to do is scoop the flesh out of the skins and mash it with tasty ingredients. Load it back into the cavities, sprinkle it with grated cheese, and bake once again. 

A strong cheddar and crunchy bits of bacon are classic contenders for most popular baked potato add-ins. Cream cheese promises a creamier consistency that elevates the main flavors, ensuring the skins won't dry out with a double-bake. 

Recipe: Easy Loaded Potato Skins

10. Stuffed Chicken Breasts

If you've baked chicken in the oven, you'll know that it can soon turn from succulent to dry. Stuffing the meat allows flavors to permeate and also results in a juicier result. With cream cheese as the main ingredient binding the others together, you don't even need to make a sauce or gravy. As the chicken breasts cook, the cheese softens into a rich consistency. 

Spinach and artichokes bring a savory taste that pairs with both chicken and cheese. Mozzarella and garlic emphasize the Italian flavor profile, giving the filling a gorgeously gooey texture.

Recipe: Stuffed Chicken Breasts

11. One-Pot Mac And Cheese

One-pot dishes are the best, especially when they are creamy, cheesy, and velvety. This recipe calls for four cheeses to elevate the flavor, and the difference in taste and texture that they bring to this cheesy pasta dish is incredible.

Mozzarella gives each forkful a stretchy, cheesy yumminess. Parmesan transforms the dish with a salty sharpness. Mature cheddar offers the most classically cheesy taste. And last, but by no means least, cream cheese adds a tangy smoothness that creates the base of the cheesy sauce. 

Recipe: One-Pot Mac And Cheese

12. Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta

Cajun spices and creamy, Southern-style comfort food come together in a chicken pasta dish that's mouthwateringly good. This one-pot recipe is fuss-free, though you'll need to keep an eye on it and stir regularly. You want to ensure that the chicken doesn't stick to the bottom and the milky sauce doesn't start to burn. 

The final transformation comes when you add cream cheese. Keep stirring so the creamy sauce covers the bell peppers, onion, meat, and penne pasta. Garnish with fresh basil. 

Recipe: Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta

13. 3-Ingredient Alfredo Sauce

Alfredo sauce has to be one of the all-time classics loved by diners across the U.S. There's always the temptation to think that iconic food is complicated to make. With just three ingredients, it doesn't get much simpler than this recipe. You don't need to heat cream and reduce it or add flour to change the consistency. 

Instead, use cream cheese which is not too dissimilar in fat content to heavy cream. Heat the cream cheese with a little water, add garlic powder, and grated Parmigiano Reggiano, then toss the sauce with pasta.

Recipe: 3-Ingredient Alfredo Sauce

14. Instant Pot Creamy Penne Pasta

Quite often sauces are either tomato or cream-based. This pasta sauce takes the acidity and sweetness of crushed tomatoes and combines them with heavy cream for a special sauce for penne. Two more ingredients bring out the flavors in this simple dish. 

The first is Italian seasoning and the second is cream cheese with its mild cheesy, tangy flavor. By adding the cream cheese and heavy cream after the cooking finishes, you can knock this dish out of the park in a matter of minutes in an Instant Pot. 

Recipe: Instant Pot Creamy Penne Pasta

15. 15-Minute Creamy Spinach Pasta

One of the best ways to use cream cheese when you cook is in place of a white sauce, and this recipe is a classic example. Once the pasta is cooked along with mushrooms and garlic, stir in the cream cheese right at the end of the cooking time, on low heat. There's no need to make a roux and slowly add milk and cheese.

Because the spinach takes no time to wilt, add it along with a citrus lemon juice blast once the pasta is nice and creamy. 

Recipe: 15-Minute Creamy Spinach Pasta

16. Baked Mac And Cheese

This classic dish is an all-around cheesy favorite. Once you've made a white sauce with cumin, chili powder, and Dijon mustard, add the grated cheddar first so it melts in the hot milky sauce. Next, stir in cream cheese so that you get a light, smooth, and soft consistency. 

The mozzarella should go in afterward as it thickens the sauce and makes the texture stringy. All that's left is parmesan, which you add to the top with crunchy panko before baking. 

Recipe: Baked Mac And Cheese

17. Creamy Shrimp Diablo

Adding cream cheese to a white sauce transforms the consistency into a luxurious result. It coats fettuccine or linguine well and absorbs the flavor of other ingredients. This recipe's diablo element comes from adding heat to the cream cheese sauce with chipotles and adobo sauce, cayenne pepper, and Cajun seasoning. 

Balance the heat out with salty parmesan and add more milk to stop the sauce from turning from thick to a little too gloopy. To finish it off, toss cooked garlicky prawns back into the pan with the cooked pasta. 

Recipe: Creamy Shrimp Diablo

18. Slow Cooker Cream Cheese Chicken

The lengthier part of this dish is cooking the chicken breasts in a slow cooker with broth and cream of chicken soup. Once the meat is cooked through and succulent, making the creamy sauce is as quick as a flash. However, it's what ultimately gives this dish its name. 

Turn the appliance off and stir cream cheese into the pot. As soon as you've got a smooth sauce and the cream cheese has melted with the heat from the other ingredients, it's ready to serve with pasta.

Recipe: Slow Cooker Cream Cheese Chicken

19. Everything Bagel Chicken

It's traditional to enjoy a bagel and cream cheese, so try incorporating these flavors into a hot dish. Many recipes that use cream cheese involve adding seasonings and other ingredients, but this one keeps it pure. You want the contrast between the melted cream cheese filling and the homemade bagel seasoning coating the chicken breasts.

Stuff the breasts with cream cheese then make the seasoning with sesame and poppy seeds, minced garlic, dried onion, and kosher salt. Make sure the filling isn't poking out so that it melts inside rather than leaking. 

Recipe: Everything Bagel Chicken

20. Sausage And Cream Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

Cream cheese creates just the right amount of creaminess to stuff mushrooms. It isn't overly cheesy or too sauce-like, and it adds a buttery texture that complements flavorful Italian sausages and the intense taste of sharp cheddar, along with the aromatic depth of garlic and onion powder. 

Instead of tossing the mushroom stems you remove to make a well for the stuffing, fry them up with the meat. Stir in the cream cheese once the meat is cooked and the pan is off the heat. 

Recipe: Sausage And Cream Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

21. Crab Stuffed Mushrooms

A creamy, spicy seafood stuffing elevates a simple stuffed mushroom dish into a gourmet offering that's perfect for a dinner party or soiree. The crab is undoubtedly a star ingredient, but it's not the only one. 

The cream cheese works so well and gives an extra tang to this dish thanks to the combination of horseradish and Worcestershire sauce. Add Sriracha to boost the fieriness, and swap out green onions for onion powder or shallots for a sweeter note. Let the cream cheese soften before mixing it into the filling. 

Recipe: Crab Stuffed Mushrooms

22. Cheesy Stuffed Mushrooms

Instead of mushrooms and bacon on toast, create tasty bites with the same ingredients. Even better, add a cheesy filling to enhance these stuffed mushrooms. Cream cheese is the ideal consistency for the task, as it melts into a soft center and combines with the other elements in each spoonful. 

Saute mushroom stems, garlic, and bacon, and add the mixture to cream cheese. Stir in breadcrumbs, cheddar cheese, and onion powder, then scoop the mixture into Portobello mushrooms and bake them in the oven. 

Recipe: Cheesy Stuffed Mushrooms

23. Easy Stuffed Mushrooms

Stuffed mushrooms are somewhat of a retro dish these days, but they have stood the test of time because they are so delicious. They are also super easy to make at home with the help of cream cheese. 

The flavors come from parmesan, artichoke hearts, and spinach, seasoned with garlic powder. Add these ingredients to cream cheese and fill the mushroom caps. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs, bake, and spritz with lemon juice to garnish. Serve them as an appetizer or choose large Portobello mushrooms if you want a heartier main course. 

Recipe: Easy Stuffed Mushrooms

24. Easy Cloud Bread

One of the best ways to use cream cheese when cooking may not be what you would expect. This light and airy cloud bread is made by combining cream cheese with egg yolks, garlic and onion powders, and Italian seasoning. 

To create a fluffy texture, fold egg whites whisked with cream of tartar into the cheesy yolk mixture. The meringue peaks should mix in without being crushed. You want to end up with a foamy dough that you can spoon onto a tray to bake individual clouds. 

Recipe: Easy Cloud Bread

25. Easy Kolache Cookies

Baking cookies is therapeutic, especially when they are simple to make with only a few ingredients. The fact that you can combine cream cheese, unsalted butter, and flour to make a dough somehow unclutters your thoughts. To avoid the stress of it becoming sticky when you roll it out, chill the dough for at least half an hour in the refrigerator or 10 minutes in the freezer.

Use your fingers to create a dip in the center of your cookie dough cutouts to add fruity jam, then bake. 

Recipe: Easy Kolache Cookies

26. Easy Lemon Cream Cheese Cookies

Light and lemony, the cream cheese in these cookies enhances their tangy taste. As well as making them less sweet, this incredible ingredient keeps the texture pleasantly light. 

Before you add eggs and flour, whip the cream cheese, softened butter, and sugar. Roll the dough into balls and place them on a baking sheet. Perfect the disc shapes by dipping the bottom of a glass in sugar and using it to flatten and sweeten the cookies.

Recipe: Easy Lemon Cream Cheese Cookies

27. Hot Maryland Crab Dip

One of the most mouthwatering ways to use cream cheese when you cook is by making a creamy, spicy Maryland crab dip. Keep an eye on this dish while it bakes as it can turn from incredible to inedible if it dries out in the oven.

Cream cheese is the base ingredient, then add mayo, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce if you like it fiery, and Old Bay seasoning. Be careful folding the lump crab meat into the mixture and use a sharp cheddar with mozzarella to make it cheesy.

Recipe: Hot Maryland Crab Dip

28. Crispy Sauerkraut Balls

When deciding what to cook with cream cheese, crispy sauerkraut balls might not initially come to mind. However, that's exactly what this recipe calls for to hold the sausage meat and fermented cabbage together into tasty bites. With Gouda and seasonings in the mix, you get a flavorful meatball that's wonderfully creamy and cheesy. 

Let the meat and veggie mixture cook before adding the cheese and shaping it into spheres. Coated in panko and fried in batches, the softness inside is even more appetizing once you bite through the crunchy exterior.

Recipe: Crispy Sauerkraut Balls

29. Baked Cheeseburger Egg Rolls

You've heard of a cheeseburger, right? But what about cheeseburger egg rolls with cream cheese? It's a fusion recipe that tastes amazing. Once you've fried ground beef and onion with a few seasonings, melt the cream cheese and grated cheddar into the meat. 

Load the egg roll wrappers with whatever toppings you like, such as lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles. Bake the rolls in the oven and serve with a dip like ketchup, Siracha-mayo, or burger sauce. Make enough to go around as they are too delicious not to devour. 

Recipe: Baked Cheeseburger Egg Rolls

30. Spinach Artichoke Flatbreads

If you haven't already realized it, spinach and artichoke is a delicious veggie combination that tastes incredible with cheese. It's a classic as a dip, in pastry bites, and for stuffing mushrooms. It also transforms flatbread, though this recipe wouldn't be what it is without the luxurious decadence of cream cheese. 

The smooth, creaminess is the perfect base for other cheeses, including parmesan, mozzarella, and Gruyère, as well as sour cream and mayo to enhance the richness of the topping. This is a fantastic flatbread you may not want to share.

Recipe: Spinach Artichoke Flatbreads

31. 3-Ingredient Jalapeño Poppers

When you want a snack to pop in your mouth, a salty, creamy, hot bite is an instant flavor hit. Jalapeño poppers are a classic that everyone loves, and they are easy to make, especially if you don't add breadcrumbs and seasonings.

All you need for this recipe are the eponymous chili peppers, cream cheese, and sausages. If you want to keep the fat content down, then you might opt for chicken sausages. Fill the jalapeño halves generously so that they remain nicely loaded after the cream cheese melts. 

Recipe: 3-Ingredient Jalapeño Poppers

32. Grilled Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers

The best snacks are the ones that are elevated by a moreish ingredient. If you're a fan of jalapeño poppers, then wrapping them in bacon may sound like a mouthwatering upgrade. The salty crispiness of the bacon tastes amazing with the soft, spicy chili pepper stuffed with cream cheese. 

Perfect for parties and watching the game at home, cheddar cheese and chili powder power up the flavors, too. Once grilled, the filling is extra creamy with melted cheese. Add a barbecue glaze for a sweet, caramelized finish. 

Recipe: Grilled Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers

33. Baked Clam Dip

Rustling up a retro-style clam dip is one of the easiest ways to use cream cheese when you cook. Bring out the tangy taste of cream cheese by mixing in sour cream before building the flavor. Make sure to drain canned clams before chopping and adding them to the creamy base. 

Grate onion into the mixture so that it's fine enough to melt into the other ingredients. Spice it up with hot sauce and smoked paprika. All you need now is a salty cheese crust so sprinkle parmesan on the top before baking. 

Recipe: Baked Clam Dip

34. Crab Rangoon

Fried wontons are so snackable thanks to the sweet taste of this cream cheese and imitation crab meat filling. To give the creamy stuffing a little heat and umami essence, add chopped green onions and minced garlic. 

Don't overfill the wrappers so that you can easily create a seal when you fold them in half. Dab some water along the seal to make the join tight so the filling doesn't leak out. Serve with a dipping sauce such as sweet chili or for a salty taste, soy and ginger.

Recipe: Crab Rangoon

35. Bean Dip

When it's made well, you can't beat a good bean dip. And what you'll love about this version is that there aren't any fancy ingredients. You only need cream cheese, canned refried beans, taco seasoning, and shredded Mexican cheese. 

Bang this out in 10 minutes and let it bake for half an hour so that the cream cheese melts into a creamy dip. The gooey cheese melted on top is a must for scooping with tortilla chips. This is a party crowd-pleaser, for sure. 

Recipe: Bean Dip

36. Easy Buffalo Chicken Dip

Memorize the recipe for this buffalo chicken dip, because everyone who tastes it is going to want to know how to make it. Soften cream cheese to blend it more easily with mayo and your favorite hot wing sauce. 

Since store-bought rotisserie chicken tastes better than homemade a lot of the time, use this shortcut rather than making it yourself. Crumbles of blue cheese are the final ingredient before you bake this creamy dip. Once it's bubbling, sprinkle on a few more of the salty crumbles and serve with celery, crackers, and bread. 

Recipe: Easy Buffalo Chicken Dip