Homemade Cream Cheese

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!

Homemade Cream Cheese

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.

Homemade Cream Cheese on Bagels

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!

Homemade Cream Cheese Recipe

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.

Homemade Honey Walnut Cream Cheese

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!

Have you ever made Homemade Cream Cheese?  It's easier than you might think!  And then you can whip up all sorts of fun flavored cream cheeses, too!

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

Homemade Cream Cheese

Have you ever made Homemade Cream Cheese?  It's easier than you might think!  And then you can whip up all sorts of fun flavored cream cheeses, too!
5 from 9 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Draining Time: 2 hours
Servings: 16 servings
Calories: 306kcal

Ingredients

For Plain Cream Cheese

  • 2 cups heavy cream not ultra-pasteurized
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 4 cups whole milk not ultra-pasteurized
  • 6 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • cheesecloth for draining

For Honey Walnut Cream Cheese

  • 1 cup cream cheese
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon
  • cup finely chopped walnuts

For Roasted Garlic & Herb Cream Cheese

  • 1 cup cream cheese
  • 1 bulb roasted garlic
  • 1 Tbsp chopped chives
  • 1 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 Tbsp chopped dill

Instructions

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!

Have you ever made Homemade Cream Cheese?  It's easier than you might think!  And then you can whip up all sorts of fun flavored cream cheeses, too!

Looking for more recipes with bagels and/or cream cheese?  Check out these other favorites, too:

Homemade Everything Bagels | Spicedblog.com

Homemade Everything Bagels

Cinnamon Cream Cheese King Cake

Cinnamon Cream Cheese King Cake

Packed with pumpkin and plenty of Autumn spices, this Pumpkin Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is a tasty way to celebrate the season!

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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42 Comments

  1. Fascinating! I had no idea you could make cream cheese at home. You know you make homemade “ricotta” in a very similar way, only you don’t process it, just leave the curds. (It’s not real ricotta but can be used in the same way.) I’m going to have to give this a try!

    1. Yes! I have made ricotta the same way you mentioned, Frank. It’s surprisingly tasty! I’ve also made mozzarella, but I recall that one taking a little longer – still an easy one, though. Either way, try cream cheese next time. It’s a fun kitchen experiment!

  2. I wish you had some photos of the process. It’s fascinating. Not too different than making paneer, but that ends up getting pressed. Is your recipe produce cream cheese as thick as Kraft Philadelphia?

    1. Next time I make this, I’ll have to add some process shots. My “photo studio” is down in the basement storage room – not exactly close to the kitchen. I’ve never made paneer, but it does sound similar. And, yes, I found this cream cheese to be very similar to storebought. It tastes like fresh butter, but in a cream cheese texture – quite nice!

      1. My cheese didn’t curdle for some reason, I used while fat milk, heavy cream, and half and half, and lemon juice.
        I’ve made cheese from whole milk but thought I’d try this recipe… Not sure what went wrong

        1. Hey Christine! I’m sorry this didn’t work for you. Without being there in your kitchen, it’s hard to say what went wrong. I’m assuming you heated the milk + cream mixture until it was simmering? Other than that, it’s a pretty simple recipe so I’m completely confused here. Ah – were any of the milks or creams “ultra pasteurized”? That would definitely cause them to not curdle.

  3. 5 stars
    Wow I never had tried making one at home, definitely I can use this recipe many times over as my lovely wife loves flavoured cream cheese specially those with apricots

  4. I’ve made homemade ricotta and it’s very good, but I imagine homemade cream cheese is more useful, at least in my house! I love this idea, David! My bagels would definitely appreciate a homemade topping! Love the variations you gave, too! And, like you, Im totally and “Everything Bagel” person these days!

    1. Yes! I’ve made homemade ricotta, too, Laura. It was a fun experiment, but I agree that cream cheese is a more useful recipe. This homemade version is so creamy…and kinda cool that you can make it at home, too!

  5. 5 stars
    In fact, I am not a bagel person. Shocking, I know! But those a couple of times a year I turn into a bagel guy, I’d choose (95.3%) a savoury one. You cannot beat a smoked salmon bagel, I believe. Then, great job on making cream cheese. I know that’s not complicated, but I haven’t tried it myself yet. I want to try homemade mascarpone too (In terms of the ratio “price of ingredients – price of store-bought mascarpone it’s quite attractive!) And while I really like cream cheese with herbs and garlic for bruschetta and flatbread, this honey walnut cinnamon variation is so splendid!

    1. Ah, smoked salmon on a bagel is quite nice! Perhaps with a few capers sprinkled on top? We do enjoy bagels in our house, and we’ve been on a kick eating them for lunches lately. You make a good point about mascarpone, though – it is quite expensive. I wonder if we can make that one at home…we should figure out how!!

  6. 5 stars
    Homemade cream cheese is the best. It’s fun to make and much tastier than that stuff from Phillidelphia. Now, you need to get some hay and smoke some of that cheese, Danish style.
    Bagels are yummy, but I much prefer savory or plain.

    1. You’re telling me about that smoked cheese, Ron! I guess I just need to make a trip over to your neck of the woods to get some hay. 🙂 Oooo…can we smoke cream cheese? What would we do with that??

      1. David, cream cheese is wonderful smoked. I do mine in an electric smoker, but I’m sure you could impart some flavor with a smoke gun as well. I love it smeared on a cracker with a dab of fig jam on top. It’s also very good in dips and baked potatoes.

        1. Ok! You’ve convinced me for sure. I’ve never had smoked cream cheese (or even heard of it), but it sounds like something that is right up my alley! I have several soup recipes that use Neufchatel and now I’m wondering about smoking that first. Yum for sure!

  7. 5 stars
    Not gonna lie…a bagel with cream cheese (specifically this homemade cream cheese) sounds pretty darn good to me! Like bananas and bread, I always have cream cheese on hand…you know, for cream cheese emergencies, lol 😉 I’m totally trying this recipe out, David! Love the different versions!!

    1. Yes! I love a good bagel, and I have to say that homemade cream cheese really takes that bagel to a whole new level. We’ve fallen into a routine of toasting a bagel for lunch, and it’s been quite tasty. Also, I understand cream cheese emergencies – we can’t be having any of those!! 🙂

  8. So interesting, I’ve never made cream cheese myself before! We are definitely cream cheese fans in my house. I recently had an everything bagel that did NOT have any garlic or onion, but it did have all kinds of other interesting seeds, and it was so good! My go-to is a sesame bagel though.

    1. An everything bagel without garlic or onion!? What kind of sorcery is that? Haha. I do enjoy bread that has all sorts of seeds and grains in it, so I suspect I would probably like that bagel, too. Either way, you should make cream cheese sometime! It’s such a fun kitchen activity.

  9. OMG, This is the same exact procedure, I make Indian cheese “Paneer. Instead of grinding it, I just set the separated milk solid under a heavy weight, set them for couple of hours, cut them into shapes, and use it in my recipes… My kids love a lot of cream cheese on their bagel, so I buy them a lot often, never knew the process is so easy and very similar. Now I cannot wait to try your homemade version.

    1. Someone else mentioned paneer above, too – I didn’t realize that paneer is so similar to cream cheese! Making cream cheese is SO easy…I was skeptical the first time I made it, but it totally works. And then you can add in other flavors and seasonings, too. I hope you get a chance to try this one, Aarthi!

      1. I tried this cream cheese recipe, and it came out so good. Added seasoning , and some dried herbs to it, and it tasted delicious, thanks David!

        1. Hey Aarthi! I really appreciate you stopping back by to let me know. Isn’t this such a cool recipe? And homemade cream cheese is so creamy, too! I love how you can take this and make several different flavors from a single batch. Either way, thank you!!

  10. hi david
    i haven’t made cream cheese but i have made mascarpone which is pretty much the same thing i guess:) Bagels are not such a big thing here in australia tho they are becoming more popular. when we lived in Philly with our friend for a while, she got us some bagels as a special treat to have with lox and cream cheese. (Her BIL was Jewish.) I have to say we were not totally overwhelmed by them:-) tho they were nice enough… I think i liked philly steak sangers more – tee hee.

    1. Yes! Mascarpone is indeed similar to cream cheese. Ben mentioned making mascarpone above, and now I’m intrigued by that one. Mascarpone is tasty, but it can get rather pricey in the store. I didn’t realize that bagels aren’t as popular in your neck of the woods. Interesting! There are a lot of ways to eat bagels. Cream cheese (especially homemade) is great, but I also enjoy just butting the bagels and toasting them in the oven. Yum! Thanks, Sherry!

    1. I’m with ya, Kathy! I was skeptical the first time I made cream cheese, but it totally works – and it’s surprisingly easy, too. I hope you get a chance to try this out! Just make sure you have plenty of everything bagels around when you make a batch! 🙂

    1. I was amazed at how easy it is to make homemade cream cheese – it’s so creamy and good! And of course you can get creative with seasonings/herbs/etc. Thanks, Valentina!

  11. 5 stars
    I’ve always thought of making cream cheese, but didn’t know how to do it. I’m gonna have to try out your recipe, David! My eldest loves cream cheese (he’s fancy)… and it would be a fun project to tackle! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Making cream cheese is surprisingly easy, Michelle! You do need a variety of milks/creams, but beyond that it’s quite simple. And of course you can play around with adding herbs + seasonings for various flavored cream cheeses. Robbie enjoyed helping me with this project, and I hope your son has fun with this one, too!

  12. 5 stars
    Thanks David. As you’ve made the whole process of making cream cheese sound pretty simple I’m tempted to try this. I mean what could be more delicious than some of my homemade bread served with some homemade cream cheese on top? Yum. I think I’d add some fresh chives to mine.

    1. Making cream cheese truly is simple, Neil! I don’t know the correct “translations” from American dairy products over to European products…but I can promise you this is an easy one. And of course then you can have fun playing with different herbs + seasonings. I do enjoy fresh chives, too!

  13. This has been on my to-do list ever since I saw a recipe a while back, but that one used only milk. I even ordered this cool reusable cheesecloth from Amazon. I like that your recipe also uses cream and half and half. I know that will make it better! I’m going to use your recipe with my new cheesecloth and I will report back! (I love everything bagels so much, I bought a jar of the seasoning, and though I haven’t tackled bagel making yet, I make a semolina-rye bread with a hefty coating of Everything Bagel seasoning, and it’s sooo good. Now you need to teach us how to make bagels—for those of us who can’t get the good ones!)

    1. Hey Kim! I’m glad this one is on your list of recipes to make – it’s an awesome one! Reusable cheesecloth, eh? Sounds kinda cool. So a cream cheese recipe with only milk could work I’m sure, but the additional fat from the cream and half and half is what makes the cream cheese so, well, creamy. I wonder how the milk only one would turn out? Either way, I do love this recipe…like a lot!

      Funny that you mention bagels. I’ve had blueberry bagels on my list of things to make for, oh, forever. I did do a post a long time ago (6 years!) for Everything Bagels. It’s a long process, but SO worth it. 🙂 https://spicedblog.com/homemade-everything-bagels.html

  14. I see it says it makes 16 servings. But does not specify what a serving size is. Just wondering how many tsp, tbsp, ounces it actually makes? Thanks!

    1. Hey Brenda! That’s a great question – I estimated the servings based on how many servings we got from a batch. However, I recognize that the amount could change based on personal preferences. I haven’t made a batch of this homemade cream cheese since last winter, but if I recall it was somewhere ~2.5 – 3 cups of cream cheese. I hope this helps! And I do hope you get a chance to make this cream cheese – I’m always amazed how easy it is to make cream cheese at home!!

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