11 of the Best Cream Cheese Recipes

11 of the Best Cream Cheese Recipes

Buy bricks of cream cheese in bulk for making pasta, party food, and desserts.

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Sweet Buckeye Dip
Photo: Dennis Lee

Soft, mild cream cheese complements a host of different flavors, making it one of the most versatile ingredients in your kitchen. It adds silkiness and richness to virtually any dish, whether you’re cooking Thanksgiving dinner or making a batch of summertime sherbet.

What follows are some of The Takeout’s most genius uses of cream cheese in appetizers, entrees, and desserts. Those sturdy little bricks of cream cheese in your fridge are begging to be put to delicious use, so use these recipes for inspiration.

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Classic Cheese Ball

Classic Cheese Ball

classic cheese ball
Classic Cheese Ball
Photo: Gwen Ihnat

Start off any gathering on the right foot by serving your guests a classic cheese ball, that retro signifier of elegance. Making this cheese ball is so easy, and yields so much wow factor; the outer layer of toasted pecans not only makes it a showstopper, but offers textural contrast and depth of flavor. To serve, consider pairing with sturdy dippers like pita chips, crudités, or apple chips—anything that can stand up to the thickness of the cream cheese. Get the recipe for a classic cheese ball here.

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Smoked Cream Cheese

Smoked Cream Cheese

Smoked Cream Cheese
Cream Cheese heading into the smoker
Photo: Dennis Lee

For the backyard pellet smoker enthusiast, there’s no easier recipe than Smoked Cream Cheese. In fact, it’s hardly a recipe at all: You just cover the blocks of cream cheese in the delectable seasonings of your choice, create a foil basket for them on the smoker, and leave them alone, cooking up low and slow, for a couple hours. Soon, you’ll be rewarded with a deeply smoky, creamy appetizer with nearly the consistency of s’mores marshmallows, and you’ll wonder why this hasn’t been a trend long before now. Read more about Smoked Cream Cheese here.

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Smoked Onion Dip

Smoked Onion Dip

Smoked Onion Dip
Smoked Onion Dip
Photo: Dennis Lee

This Smoked Onion Dip is a riff on the aforementioned smoked cream cheese bricks, elevating the flavor profile with the addition of onions, Worcestershire, and the acidic kick of a bit of apple cider vinegar. The element that ties it all together? A pinch of MSG, which transforms the flavor into something that will please a crowd in a way they can’t even identify. Get the recipe for Smoked Onion Dip here. 

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Pinwheels

Pinwheels

Pinwheels
Cheesy Pinwheels
Photo: Marnie Shure

Cheesy Tortilla Roll-Ups, also known as Pinwheels, would be nowhere without cream cheese. This one-bite wonder is zesty without being spicy, making sure that no partygoer is alienated by its flavor. The process of making them is almost as much fun as eating them—see how good you get at rolling the tortillas as you work you way through a (large) batch of these ideal appetizers. Get the recipe for Pinwheels here.

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Chili Cheese Dip

Chili Cheese Dip

chili cheese dip
Chili Cheese Dip
Photo: Marnie Shure

Make a man a tray of Chili Cheese Dip, and he eats for a day. Teach a man to make Chili Cheese Dip, and he’ll have leftovers for a lifetime. This three-ingredient party dip is so easy that your second-grader could make it unsupervised. All you need is a baking dish, spatula, and a can opener, and you’re in business. Sometimes the simplest recipes are the ones that leave an indelible mark on us. Get the recipe for Chili Cheese Dip here.

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Bagel Skins

Bagel Skins

Bagel Skins
Bagel Skins
Photo: Allison Robicelli, Graphic: Karl Gustafson

We warn you, this recipe is utterly ridiculous. But that’s what makes it fun. A play on loaded potato skins, these Bagel Skins use bagel dough to create a little nest for a hearty heap of delicious fillings, perfect for anyone who prefers their bagels loaded up with gobs of cream cheese, lox, and whatever else. Consider these a more bite-sized option when you don’t have a bagel-sized appetite. Plus, it’s a nice handheld option for passed apps at brunch. Get the recipe for Bagel Skins here.

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Air Fryer Cream Cheese Balls

Air Fryer Cream Cheese Balls

Air Fryer Cream Cheese Balls
Air Fryer Cream Cheese Balls
Photo: Allison Robicelli, Graphic: Karl Gustafson

This recipe for Air Fryer Cream Cheese Balls is all about bringing fun back to your weekday breakfasts. It’s a play on rellenitos de plátano (stuffed plantain balls) filled with cream cheese and encrusted with sweet, cinnamon-y cornflake crumbs. But instead of deep-frying, you can pull a batch of pre-formed balls from the freezer and stick them in the air fryer for a few minutes to achieve the perfect crispy-on-the-outside, creamy-on-the-inside bite. Get the recipe for Air Fryer Cream Cheese Balls here.

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Easy Fettuccine Alfredo Sauce

Easy Fettuccine Alfredo Sauce

Easy Fettuccine Alfredo Sauce
Easy Fettuccine Alfredo Sauce
Photo: Candice Bell (Shutterstock)

This pasta sauce is one of those perfect recipes for both the busy parent and the picky child. An easy fettuccine Alfredo sauce opens up your weeknight dinner possibilities: You can add spinach or broccoli and/or a protein (chicken, salmon) to make a more complete one-pan-dinner dish. You can also prepare this with a pack of those fancy prepackaged raviolis (crab, mushroom), for a pretty spiffy meal in under 30 minutes. You can even use it as a white sauce on a pizza. However you use it, though, you’ll be glad the cream cheese is in it. Get the recipe for easy fettuccine Alfredo sauce here.

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Whipped Nutella Cream Cheese Dip

Whipped Nutella Cream Cheese Dip

Whipped Nutella Cream Cheese Dip
Whipped Nutella Cream Cheese Dip
Photo: Kevin Pang

This Whipped Nutella Cream Cheese Dip pairs everyone’s favorite chocolate-hazelnut spread with whipped cream, whipped cream cheese, powdered sugar, and spices to create a snack reminiscent of fondue (yes, we must go ahead and call it fun-due). For dipping, you can use just about anything that sounds good with chocolate: graham crackers, sliced fruit, pretzel sticks, Ritz crackers, etc. For best results, and for a lesson in patience, let it set up in the fridge overnight. Get the recipe for Whipped Nutella Cream Cheese Dip here.

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Guava Cream Cheese Sherbet

Guava Cream Cheese Sherbet

Guava Cream Cheese Sherbet
Guava Cream Cheese Sherbet
Photo: Allison Robicelli, Graphic: Allison Corr

This is the recipe for anyone who staunchly refuses to buy an ice cream maker. Ultra-creamy Guava Cream Cheese Sherbet sits at the halfway point between ice cream and sorbet and can be made with an electric mixer. Cream cheese gives the sherbet rich, luscious body by adding both butterfat and stabilizers; all you need to do is blend, beat, fold, and freeze. Get the recipe for Guava Cream Cheese Sherbet here.

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Sweet Buckeye Dip

Sweet Buckeye Dip

Sweet Buckeye Dip
Sweet Buckeye Dip
Photo: Dennis Lee

Any Ohioans in the house? For the uninitiated, buckeyes are a ball of peanut butter fudge dipped in chocolate, leaving a little of the fudge visible up top. This Sweet Buckeye Dip is a party-sized ode to the classic bite-sized dessert, one with a fluffy, irresistible base of whipped cream cheese peanut butter all topped with a layer of chocolate and flaky sea salt. You can use graham crackers for dipping, or, more realistically, a spoon. Get the recipe for Sweet Buckeye Dip here.

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