Have you ever wanted to learn how to make Homemade Cream Cheese? It’s easier than you might think! And then you can whip up all sorts of fun flavored cream cheeses, too!
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How do you roll when it comes to bagels? Are you a sweet bagel person, or do you prefer the savory flavors? Or perhaps time of day makes a difference – Cinnamon Raisin in the morning and Everything in the afternoon?
I personally used to be a Blueberry kinda guy with plain cream cheese. It didn’t matter whether it was breakfast, lunch or dinner. Blueberry with plain cream cheese. We had a bagel shop on campus when I was in college, and I’d occasionally stop by and get bagels and cream cheese for dinner. Delicious.
Once I met Laura, my eating habits changed quite a bit. (No more eating out of the freezer like a bachelor!) My bagel preferences changed, too. Laura is a champion of a good Everything bagel, and she converted me over.
I typically like sweet breakfast foods, but when it comes to bagels, I’m all in on the Everything – just a bit of caraway seed and extra onion and garlic is how I’d roll if I had my choice!
I stopped by a local bagel shop to pick up bagels for this Homemade Cream Cheese post, and I was met with a quandary. I had a coupon for a dozen bagels, so I figured, “Sure, why not?”
However, when I got there, they were down to just 3 Everything bagels left for the day. I grabbed those, and then I grabbed 2 Cinnamon Raisin for Robbie. (I’m not sure what Robbie would think about an Everything bagel. Stay tuned there!)
After that, it was slim pickings, so I actually stocked up on Asiago Cheese bagels and Garlic bagels. Both delicious. They don’t replace Everything, though. And my breath after one of those? Umph.
How to Make Homemade Cream Cheese
Speaking of bagels, have you ever made Homemade Cream Cheese? If you answered no here, then promise me you’ll put this recipe on the list! Homemade Cream Cheese is surprisingly easy to make, and it’s so creamy and delicious.
Sure, it’s easy to buy a container of cream cheese at the store, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But sometimes it’s fun to make a homemade version instead!
Important Tips for Making Cream Cheese
The key to making Homemade Cream Cheese is fat. Yup, fat. You’ll want whole milk, heavy cream and half-and-half here. In a pinch, you can use all whole milk, but the extra fat content in heavy cream and half-and-half makes the cream cheese creamier.
Normally, it’s a bad thing when your milk curdles. Not for this recipe! When making cream cheese, you’ll heat the milk/cream/half-and-half up and then add lemon juice to force the milk to curdle.
So what is curdled milk? Curdled milk is when you get lumps of solids in your milk. Spoiled milk can form these solids, but that’s not what we’re talking about today.
Today we’re talking about curdling the milk on purpose. To do that, we add an acid to the warm milk. In this case, I used lemon juice, but you can also add vinegar.
If you’ve ever made buttermilk at home, then using vinegar will sound familiar. (Buttermilk isn’t clumpy since you add the vinegar to cold milk. When an acid is added to warm milk, it creates solids.)
From there, you’re 90% of the way to that homemade cream cheese. You simply spoon out the solids (the curds) and let the liquid (the whey) drain out. From there, just put the curds in a food processor and pulse it several times.
You’ll end up with the creamiest, most delicious cream cheese ever!
For this post, I took that homemade cream cheese one step further and made 2 different flavored cream cheeses.
How to make Flavored Cream Cheeses
Honey Walnut Cream Cheese
To make Honey Walnut Cream Cheese, you simply take that fresh cream cheese and add a bit of honey, a sprinkle of cinnamon and a small handful of finely chopped walnuts. Stir all of that together, and *boom* Honey Walnut Cream Cheese.
Roasted Garlic & Herb Cream Cheese
If you’d rather go with a savory cream cheese, I like this Roasted Garlic & Herb Cream Cheese. For this one, you add some roasted garlic along with chopped chives, parsley and dill. Blend all of that together in a food processor or mini-chopper, and you end up with a delicious, herb-y cream cheese. (For the record, this one goes quite well on an Everything bagel!)
I hope this post inspires you to make some fresh cream cheese at home! It’s a fun process, and I promise that bagel will taste even better with your homemade cream cheese on top. Enjoy!
Homemade Cream Cheese
For Plain Cream Cheese
For Honey Walnut Cream Cheese
For Plain Cream Cheese
- Using a large pot, add cream, half-and-half and milk. Place pot over medium-high heat and bring mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally so that milk does not scorch.
- Reduce heat to medium and add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice at a time, stirring for 1 minute after each addition. (Note: This will cause milk to curdle.)
- Continue cooking, stirring often, until curds have completely separated from the whey (liquid). This will take ~3-4 minutes. Remove pot from heat.
- Line a large colander or fine mesh sieve with cheesecloth. Place colander in sink. Using a slotted spoon, transfer curds from the pot into the colander. Let drain for 2-3 hours. (Note: Occasionally stirring curds gently will help them drain faster.)
- Transfer strained curds into a food processer. Add salt and pulse until mixture is smooth. Store cream cheese in refrigerator for up to 7 days.
For Honey Walnut Cream Cheese
- Using a food processor, add cream cheese, honey and cinnamon; pulse until well combined. Stir in finely chopped walnuts.
For Roasted Garlic & Herb Cream Cheese
- Using a food processor, add cream cheese, roasted garlic, chives, parsley and dill; pulse until well combined.
Did you make a batch of this Homemade Cream Cheese? Or did you experiment and make a different flavor of cream cheese? Leave a comment, or snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog). I’d love to see your version!
Looking for more recipes with bagels and/or cream cheese? Check out these other favorites, too: