Flavored cream cheese can be pricey at the bagel shop but super affordable and easy to make at home. So many flavors to try!
I’ve always liked cheesecake, but I didn’t like cream cheese until I was an adult. I’m not sure why, but I didn’t. But, once I fell in love, I fell hard.
Nowadays, one of my favorite breakfasts/snacks/desserts is a bagel with cream cheese and jam. Super yum!
Or if I’m feeling a little savory, cream cheese with onions and sliced tomatoes. Double yum!
Flavored cream cheese is a great way to elevate even the simplest of meals, whether it’s bagels or crackers, to something special. In fact, a simple bagel buffet can be pulled together as a feast for about ten bucks!
What is flavored cream cheese?
Cream cheese is a soft, unriped cheese with a smooth creamy texture, a mild tang, and a spreadable quality.
Cream cheese is often sold mixed with other ingredients, such as herbs, spices, or fruit. You can find commercial varieties flavored with strawberry, smoked salmon, jalapeno, garden vegetable, blueberry, etc.
Flavored cream cheese is delicious on bagels, sandwiches, crackers, wraps, quick breads, muffins, and anywhere else you might use a spreadable cheese. These flavored cream cheeses are great to make the night before you have a bagel brunch.
Serve strawberry cream cheese at tea time with Buttermilk Biscuits or muffins. Spread spiced cream cheese on pumpkin bread for a tasty bedtime snack. Tuck a container of green onion cream cheese into a Bagel Box.
Don’t limit your snack just to cream cheese, though. There are a variety of fruits and vegetables that you can serve as toppings to cream cheese and bagels, such as:
- sliced strawberries
- sliced apples
- sliced bananas
- sliced cucumbers
- sliced tomatoes
- sliced red onion
The main ingredient you’ll need, of course is cream cheese. Soften this in advance of preparation for the smoothest texture and easiest mixing.
Today I’ve included three different variations, similar to what you’d find at the bagel shop or in the deli section of the grocery store: Green Onion, Strawberry and Brown Sugar Spice.
For these you’ll also need:
- green onion and parsley, salt and pepper
- strawberry jam
- brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg
In reality, flavored cream cheese is an easy and economical thing to make yourself at home. Once you get the method down, you’ll easily be able to make any flavor you like.
Making flavored cream cheese is not difficult.
Simply soften a block of cream cheese and stir in fresh herbs, spices, chopped vegetables or fruit, jam, or fruit zest.
You can choose any number of combinations and flavors. You can even go as simple as to mix a bit of honey into the cheese.
I’ve based these recipes on half a block of cream cheese. I don’t like to keep something like this longer than three days, so I want a small amount that we can use up before it’s past its prime. The method is easy enough, you could mix up more in a jiffy if need be.
One of the things that I’ve noticed about bagel shops is that they rarely offer you the cream cheese for free. It’s a hefty price to get a little cup of “schmear”, as they say. A container of flavored cream cheese costs about $4 at the bagel shop and about $2-3 at the grocery store.
To prepare your own homemade cream cheese you’re looking at a cost of $0.75 to $1.00, depending on where you source your cream cheese and how expensive your mix-ins are.
How to save even more
Save even more when you work the Good Cheap Eats System:
Shop your pantry first – Likely, you have on hand multiple items for flavoring cream cheese. Maybe it’s plum or apricot jam instead of strawberry or shallots instead of green onions. Use what you have and save!
Plan your meals to save money – Make sure that the cream cheese doesn’t go to waste. Plan meals that will make good use of it within 5 days.
Make a plan for leftovers – Only making 4 ounces of flavored cream cheese? Be sure to find a use for the other half package. Got jam that needs using? Make Jam-Filled Chocolate Chip Muffins with the rest of the jar.
Visit the store with the best prices – ALDI has the best price on cream cheese, hands-down. Shop where you know you will save.
Shop the sales and clearance – In lieu of shopping at ALDI, watch for cream cheese sales at your local grocery store. They usually get as low as $0.75 to $0.99 cents a package; usually cream cheese is good for several months so you can stock up and save.
This recipe really couldn’t be easier than it is, but having the right kitchen tools can really make your time in the kitchen more enjoyable. Over time, I’ve honed my collection so that they are perfect for my needs.
Here’s what’s helpful for this recipe:
- stainless steel mixing bowls – A good set of mixing bowls makes kitchen work so pleasurable.
- hand mixer – My Hamilton Beach version is going on a decade and still kicking.
- Rubber spatula – I like to get every last bit of cream cheese out of the bowl. A rubber spatula makes that easy.
- offset spatula – awesome for baking, but also for spreading cheese or butter.
- glass containers with lids – Great for storing the prepped cream cheese.
Flavored Cream Cheese
For all variations
- 4 oz cream cheese
For green onion cream cheese
- 1 green onion , finely chopped
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- black pepper
For strawberry cream cheese
- 2 to 3 tbsp strawberry jam
For brown sugar and spice cream cheese
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp ground ginger
- In a medium mixing bowl, whip the cream cheese until light and fluffy.
- Add the ingredients for ONE variation, whipping until fully incorporated.
- Chill until ready to serve.
This post was originally published on September 30, 2013 as part of the DIY Convenience Foods series. It has been updated for content and clarity.