While cream cheese is a natural partner for bagels, it also shows up in more festive food, where it lends a decadent texture and rich, tangy taste. From party appetizers to luxuriously creamy main dishes—and let’s not forget fluffy cream cheese frosting at dessert (or brunch)—this spreadable wonder is a favorite ingredient any time of day, or year. These are some of our favorite cream cheese recipes, from classic to unexpected.
And if you find yourself stuck with extra cream cheese at any point, check out 28 ways to use up leftover cream cheese.
Nothing screams ‘“party!” better than a cheese ball. So retro but still so loved, the cheese ball is best served with plenty of crackers and kitsch. Add in spicy elements like chopped jalapenos or pepper jelly for an extra kick! Try this Easy Cheese Ball recipe—or level up with our Giant Cheese Ball recipe (for which you’ll need about 25 ounces of cream cheese).
You can have jalapeño poppers, and then you can have Jalapeño Popper Wonton Cups!.The elements of this appetizer are transformed into easy-to-fill snacking cups for easy transport. Get the Jalapeño Popper Wonton Cups recipe.
The best cheesecake is light, fluffy, and supremely decadent—perfect with fresh berries and homemade whipped cream, or a fresh strawberry sauce. Our Strawberry Cheesecake recipe uses four blocks of cream cheese, so better stock up. And check our other cheesecake recipes for more options.
This recipe for Creamy Tomato Pasta takes one pot and less than 30 minutes to make—a weeknight dinner dream! Simply throw in all of the ingredients into one large pot and simmer away. The pasta will soak up the creamy cheese and result in a rich and savory pasta. Get the Creamy Tomato One Pot Pasta recipe.
Cinnamon rolls usually sport one of two toppings: a thin powdered sugar glaze or a thick cream cheese icing. Our Iced Cinnamon Roll recipe includes a cream cheese glaze that’s like the best of both worlds. (And while they might take a bit more skill, these Cinnamon Roll Macarons are a delightful way to get your cinnamon bun fix for dessert too.)
Show off seasonal fruit in these mini tarts—perfect for elegant dinner parties and afternoon gatherings. Simply fill with chopped fruit in its peak season and top with a dollop of whipped cream. Get the Mini Cream Cheese Fruit Tarts recipe.
These ridiculously decadent brownies are swirled with what amounts to rich cheesecake batter. Two desserts in one, these treats will be the star of any sweets spread. Get our Cream Cheese Swirl Brownie recipe.
Cream cheese is cut into this simple biscuit recipe (that only takes three ingredients!), making them light-as-air and stacked with delicate layers. Fill with fruit jam, fried chicken, or just more butter. Get the Cream Cheese Biscuit recipe.
Looking for a cream cheese appetizer that’s not in a ball? These wontons are filled with mashed avocado and cream cheese, and deep-fried for extra crispiness. The fresh jalapeño cuts through the richness with some heat, but you can omit the seeds for less intense spice. Get the Jalapeño Avocado Cream Cheese Wontons recipe.
For an easier appetizer that’ll disappear just as quickly, this classic creamy spinach dip can’t be beat (though adding artichoke hearts is a good idea). Get the Creamy Spinach Dip recipe.
Go ahead: Fold softened cream cheese into this super decadent ice cream base and we promise you won’t even miss the cheesecake part. Top with fresh berries and graham cracker crumbs for an alternative take on this classic dessert. Get the Cream Cheese Ice Cream recipe. (Or try our Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream recipe that mixes spiced cookie butter into the custard too.)
Related Reading: These Blueberry Cheesecake Popsicles Are Another Summer Stunner
Need an appetizer in less than five minutes? These three-ingredient snacks are made by filling premade phyllo cups with softened cream cheese and topped with pepper jelly—a quintessential Southern snack. Get the Cream Cheese and Pepper Jelly Phyllo Shells recipe. (If you don’t have phyllo shells and a trip to the store isn’t possible, spread our Red Pepper Jam and cream cheese on any old cracker.)
Jazz up your weeknight meals by stuffing regular chicken breasts with a creamy herb filling and and wrapping it in crispy, savory bacon. Balance out this dish with a side of blanched green beans or a fresh garden salad for good measure! Get the Bacon-Wrapped Cream Cheese Stuffed Chicken recipe.
The best part about this brunch favorite is that you can make all of the components the night before! Fold fresh berries into softened cream cheese for easy filling in the morning. Get the Strawberries and Cream Stuffed French Toast recipe.
The thick layer of cream cheese frosting may be the best part about carrot cake; the way it harmonizes with the warm spices and sugar in the tender cake is so good you shouldn’t just make it once a year. Get our Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting recipe.