14 Ways To Use Up That Leftover Block Of Cream Cheese

It happens all too often, and few home cooks have been unaffected. You've gathered everything you could possibly need (and then some) for that recipe you've been dying to try. But when all is said and done, after you've executed the dip (or cake, or entrée) perfectly, your guests have eaten it, and you've safely stowed its leftovers away, you're left with half a package of cream cheese. You're not a bagel connoisseur and aren't one to slather cream cheese onto a piece of toast in the morning, so what are you supposed to do with this lingering ingredient? Throwing it out isn't an option — you're an adult, and groceries are expensive. You have to use it up somewhere, somehow.


Luckily, we've found quite a few ways to make good use of that leftover cream cheese, and this everyday spread is more versatile than you might think. From decadent frostings to a secret omelet ingredient to the start of a rich pasta sauce, cream cheese is the fridge staple you didn't know you needed. Here are 14 ways to use up that extra block.

1. Create a delicious cream cheese frosting

Perhaps one of the most delicious ways to use up cream cheese is to use it in the finishing touch on your cakes, cupcakes, and brownies à la cream cheese frosting. Famously topping everything from red velvet to carrot cake, cream cheese frosting is the perfect foil for desserts that don't need the sometimes-cloying sweetness of buttercream frosting or whipped cream topping. The cream cheese's tang is a welcome respite from sweet desserts like cinnamon rolls and brownies, too.


To create a delightful, classic cream cheese frosting, you'll need 8 ounces of softened cream cheese, 8 tablespoons of softened unsalted butter, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, 3 cups of powdered sugar, and a pinch of salt. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and salt, then very slowly add the sugar about 1 cup at a time. (Be careful not to add it too quickly or you'll have a mess on your hands.) You can also add a bit less sugar or simply add it to taste if you're not looking for anything too sweet. Once everything is incorporated, you can start smearing the frosting on everything from cinnamon rolls to brownies to pound cake right away. You can keep any leftovers in the refrigerator for about a week.


2. Mix it into your eggs

If you're looking for the creamiest, most delicious eggs you've ever (or never) had, look no further than that leftover cream cheese in your fridge. Adding this staple to scrambled eggs in place of more standard cheeses like cheddar, Swiss, or even American will give you a creamier result; the eggs will become delightfully soft, and the cream cheese will add to the dish's overall richness. Try cubing it and adding it to your eggs while the cubes are still cold — that way, it won't completely melt during the cooking process.


If you're not a fan of scrambled eggs, you can also add cream cheese to your deviled eggs by whipping it together with the yolks, giving the famed hors d'oeuvre a smoother, creamier, richer taste. By the same token, you can also create an egg salad that arguably improves upon the original by adding in that extra cream cheese. Polish egg salad (aka pasta jajeczna) usually combines mashed, hard-boiled eggs with herbs, mayo, salt, and pepper, but swapping out the mayo with cream cheese gives the salad a heftier texture and creates a tangier, more interesting bite.

3. Make a dip for fruit

If guests are coming over and you completely forgot to make a dip for your guests to pick at, that leftover block of cream cheese chilling in the fridge just might come to your rescue. Not unlike cream cheese frosting, a cream cheese dip for fruit is an easy appetizer or dessert — it's fast, simple, and requires little effort on your part. There are endless ways to riff on a sweetened cream cheese dip, too. You can deck it out with chocolate, caramel, and nuts or lighten it up with Greek yogurt. Also, you can serve it with nearly any fruit or other dippables — strawberries, pretzel rods, pound cake, apples, and even animal crackers all work beautifully.


This caramel pecan cheesecake fruit dip is one of the more decadent examples of the classic dish. Start with ½ cup of pecans and an 8-ounce block of cream cheese. You can toast the pecans, but this isn't necessary. Chop the pecans and set them aside. In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, 1 cup of marshmallow fluff, ½ cup of vanilla yogurt, and 2 tablespoons of premade caramel sauce (though you can, of course, make your own). Once everything is mixed, add in the pecans and drizzle the dish with a bit more caramel. Serve with your choice of fruit slices, pretzels, and anything else you'd like to dip.

4. Mix it into your mashed potatoes

If you've never tried mashed potatoes with a dollop of cream cheese swirled in, it's time to live a little. As with eggs, adding cream cheese to mashed potatoes lends them a creamy richness that you can't normally achieve with just butter, milk, potatoes, salt, and pepper. Mashing in butter and milk can help smooth out the potatoes' texture — taming some of their starchiness and adding an unctuous element — but adding in cream cheese gives the potatoes a tangy bite and can work for everything from classic Yukon golds to mashed sweet potatoes.


To achieve the creamiest mashed potatoes possible, boil your sweet (or plain) potatoes as usual. Once they're cooked and drained, add in your cream cheese — use a ratio of 8 ounces of cream cheese to 5 pounds of potatoes — at the same time as your milk (you can also use half-and-half or cream) and butter. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and fresh chopped herbs. You can also use a flavored cream cheese here; a chive-and-onion, jalapeño, or even garlic variety would work well.

5. Spread it on your sandwich

Obviously, one of the most classic things you can do with cream cheese is to spread it on a bagel or a piece of toast for breakfast. While you're at it, throw on some smoked salmon, some sprigs of fresh dill, a few slivers of fresh red onion, and a smattering of capers, and you've got arguably one of the tastiest breakfast or brunch meals anywhere, ever. But if you're not looking for a breakfast bagel, you can easily use that cream cheese in your regular sandwich-making, too.


For example, adding cream cheese laced with garlic to your everyday ham and cheese sandwich may give you the condiment upgrade you've been searching for. To achieve this flavorful spread on your own, simply mash (or finely chop or crush) a few cloves of fresh garlic into whatever leftover cream cheese you have. Drizzle in a bit of high-quality extra virgin olive oil, then sprinkle in salt, pepper, and freshly chopped herbs — rosemary works particularly well here. Combine all your ingredients, then smear the mixture on your bread of choice and build your sandwich.

6. Add it to your tuna salad

If you're one of the people who like eating canned fish mashed with mayo, salt, pepper, and perhaps a few other bits and baubles — spread on a good piece of bread or used as a dip for all kinds of crackers — cream cheese may be the critical element you've been missing. The idea of fish (tuna, to be exact) and any cheese may seem a bit off-putting, but the combination of tangy cream cheese and oil-rich tuna is actually a marriage you may have been missing out on.


To try the concoction for yourself, drain your can of tuna and mix it with your leftover plain (or whipped) cream cheese. You can add in a bit of plain Greek yogurt, sour cream, or mayonnaise here not just for taste, but also to help thin out the cream cheese. From there, you can simply add a splash of vinegar, as well as salt, pepper, chopped celery, parsley, dill, and capers for a delicious, rich, and more decadent take on tuna salad.

7. Make beer cheese dip

If you've frequented (or even just visited) a brewery in the last year, you've likely come into contact with beer cheese. This gooey, delightful dip is often served alongside a big, soft pretzel and marries two delicious food staples: a classic, lager-style beer and gooey, melty cheese. Thankfully, you don't have to wait for your next visit to the bier hall for your next fix of this decadent dip, and the leftover cream cheese in your fridge could be a big help when the time comes to whip it up.


While it may sound intimidating, you can make your very own beer cheese. When selecting a beer, look for a variety that isn't too hoppy (more lager, less IPA). When you're putting the sauce together, consider throwing in some natural flavors like shallots, garlic, and peppercorns. As for the cream cheese, simply throw some in the food processor with whatever cheese you plan to use (cheddar is a popular choice) and some milk. You can serve this dip with everything from crudité to, yes, big soft pretzels.

8. Have a fondue party

If you're the kind of person who just can't get enough cheese, then may we recommend a fondue party, complete with multiple cheesy dips? You may have thought fondue parties peaked in the '80s, but a shindig centered around melted cheese and crudités is timeless. If you have a selection of cheeses — a few bags of shredded cheddar, half a hunk of gouda, some slices of Swiss, and yes, half a block of leftover cream cheese — then you're well on your way to a solid party.


Cream cheese and other spreadable cheeses aren't ideal choices for your main fondue cheese; however, they can play a background role in the delicious dip. What makes them a great standby choice is their ability to melt easily and stay stable at a heated temperature. Many other cheeses — including more traditional fondue choices like gruyere and gouda — will start to congeal and clump. The presence of stabilizers in cream cheese (and other spreadable varieties) will keep your fondue cheese from breaking into fats and solids. Cream cheese won't add any special flavor to your fondue, but it can help the more prominently flavored cheese shine even brighter.

9. Create a creamy pasta sauce

Maybe you're on the lookout for an easy meal for one. Instead of ordering from the nearest red-sauce joint (again), you're on the prowl for an easy pasta recipe that can use up some of the pantry and fridge leftovers you have lurking around. The good news is that your leftover cream cheese can (and should) help you create a deliciously creamy pasta sauce that will perfectly coat and cling to your noodle of choice.


If you've also got some leftover tomato sauce and want to up the ante, cream cheese can add a hearty richness that you wouldn't be able to achieve otherwise. A bit of cream or half-and-half added to a bright, acidic tomato base will create a classic, blush-colored sauce, as seen in penne alla vodka and other dishes. Adding cream cheese instead of regular cream preserves that rich mouthfeel but adds a tang you wouldn't otherwise get. To add cream cheese to your tomato sauce, just put some in while you're heating your finished sauce on the stove. Mix well, pour over pasta, and enjoy.

10. Make a no-bake cheesecake

If you're craving cheesecake and are short on time, that leftover block of cream cheese is your ticket to a quick, easy, delicious dessert. Cream cheese is the main ingredient in both classic cheesecakes and easier no-bake varieties, so having it on hand is useful regardless of your level of cheesecake comfort or expertise. A bit of sugar and butter, some leftover cookies or graham crackers, and a bit of cream cheese are all you really need to create this dessert.


For a springtime dessert that's ready in just two hours, try a no-bake strawberry cheesecake recipe that incorporates some fruits of the season. Make or buy a graham cracker crust and set it aside. For the filling, blend room-temperature cream cheese, strawberries, sugar, and vanilla. In a large bowl, fold the cream cheese mixture in with whipped topping and strawberry preserves. Spread this mixture over your graham cracker crust in a springform pan, freeze for a few hours, and serve. You can even get creative and swap out the strawberries and preserves with different fruits, like fresh blackberries, lemon, or even cherries. (No one would be upset if the whole cheesecake was topped with ganache, either.)


11. Use it in your homemade ice cream mix

If you've never tried your hand at homemade ice cream, having a bit of leftover cream cheese may be the incentive you've needed to explore this new culinary frontier. The secret ingredient for Jeni's Ice Cream was, surprisingly, cream cheese, so using it to create your own home-cooked masterpieces makes sense.


With both eggs and cream cheese in your ice cream, you can achieve a delightful, custardy base that tastes like frozen cheesecake. A base like this is also endlessly adaptable, so with a few practice rounds under your belt, you can become an ice cream master and start putting your own spin on your homemade flavors. While you'll likely need an ice cream machine to make the magic happen (depending on your recipe), your cream cheese can simply be added to your ice cream base. Once you feel like you've got the basics down, add in a ribbon of caramel or some dark chocolate chips. Even fresh fruit like raspberries would be a lovely addition.

12. Level up your French toast

Want to keep your cream cheese in the breakfast sphere where you feel it ultimately belongs? If eggs are too pedestrian and bagels aren't your morning carb of choice, just add that cream cheese to your next pancake or French toast recipe. The beauty of cream cheese in French toast is that it can swing either savory or sweet. Cream cheese pairs just as well with smoked salmon and chives as it does with fruit and chocolate, making it a perfect breakfast heavy-hitter.


To create your stuffed French toast, grab a few slices of thick-cut Challah or brioche. Create a cavity in each piece of bread by cutting a pocket into the bottom of each slice. Next, create a cream cheese filling by whisking together softened cream cheese with vanilla, milk, and sugar. Fill the pocket of each piece of bread with the cream cheese mixture. Once your slices are sufficiently stuffed, proceed with your French toast as usual — battering, dunking, and cooking.

13. Stuff some chicken breasts

If you need a go-to weeknight dinner, just cook up some classic chicken breasts. Easy to prepare and endlessly versatile, chicken breasts lend themselves just as easily to Mexican preparations as they do to French. If your usual chicken breast recipe is a little bit tired, you can put that leftover cream cheese to good use and stuff it in your chicken breasts for an easy, delicious dinner.


Stuffed chicken Valentino, for example, hails from a Queens, New York restaurant and pays homage to other delightful stuffed chicken recipes like chicken Kyiv and chicken cordon bleu. In this preparation, you'll combine your leftover cream cheese with parmesan, fresh spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, slivered basil, chopped parsley, snipped chives, minced garlic, crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper. Then, you'll slice your chicken breasts lengthwise to create a pocket. Then, just fill it with this delightfully cheesy filling. A piece of prosciutto helps hold things in place as you pan-sear each stuffed breast until it's cooked through. Serve alongside fresh pasta or risotto.

14. Use it in skillet cornbread

Are you planning to dish up an hours-long pot of chili for game day? Or perhaps a delightful pot of hoppin' John ready to bring some luck? Either way, cornbread is the perfect accompaniment. Even without a big pot of something bubbling on the stove, cornbread baked in a seasoned cast iron skillet and drizzled with honey and butter is one of the best ways to help use up that block of cream cheese.


There are hundreds of ways to mix up the perfect cornbread, from honey sage skillet cornbread to a version utilizing green chilies and tomatillos. No matter your recipe of choice, you can include cream cheese to give this staple side a moist and delightful bite that you would otherwise miss out on. Just combine warmed cream cheese with the rest of your cornbread ingredients, plus any other mix-ins you feel like adding.