Two Questions About Cream Cheese…

1.) Made a cheesecake last night… and while I have always bought Kraft Philadelphia brand in the past, prices have gone crazy so went With Safeway’s Lucerne brand for half the price.

Other than texture, can’t say I noticed any difference… but have to admit I was pretty liquored up at the time, plus there may have been an issue on my part that may have affected texture.

Do you think there is any reason why one should pay twice as much for the iconic Kraft brand?

2.) Regarding texture… I unwrapped the cream cheese, broke it up into smaller pieces, and put it in the mixer bowl on the counter for 2+ hours. But it was just not warm enough in my kitchen for it to get soft. This meant I had to beat longer than I normally would and believe that was the reason the texture was a bit off.

So does anybody have a foolproof method for softening cream cheese (I have tried a number of times in the microwave and they were all failures)?

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re question 1, I don’t find a measurable difference between Kraft and cheaper store and small producer product.

and avoiding question 2, I have switched from making industrial cream cheese cheesecakes to Italian-style ricotta cheesecake. While as sensuous, it hasn’t the cloying “cream cheese” flavor. And ricotta
blends easily with the other ingredients without clumping.


I leave it on the counter in the foil wrapper, but not in the paperboard box overnight to soften. No problems after doing that for decades.
As for brands, I buy store brand. Sometimes I’ve bought a two pack at Wally’s World for half the price of one single 8oz. Kraft package. I have not had any success with plant based cream cheese in baking, if anyone out there has suggestions.


Maybe you can find this?

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Not sure that would work here this time of year. Last night, when the heat was on kitchen was in the high to mid 60’s. Overnight it dropped to the mid 50’s. Is that really warm enough for it to soften? This is why I think I need a method to accelerate the softening.

Sure wish my oven had a proofing settng.

Sierra Nevada is delicious, as is Nancy’s and Gina Marie. So delicious I’d save them for bagels, etc.
In my cold kitchen I’ve had success leaving it over something warm, say 80F-ish.

I only use Philadelphia cream cheese for baking because whenever I use another brand the result is a runny texture. I also only use the bricks, not the tubs.

Where I live, it costs about $2.50 for an eight ounce brick. A less expensive brand wouldn’t be worth the savings.


Here that same brick is six bucks.

If I’m making cheesecake, I would pay the six dollars. If I couldn’t afford Philadelphia cream cheese, I would make something different.

For how long? I am considering putting in a ziploc bag and submerging it in a bowl of warm water.

i generally observe the bagel rule: if it’s not good enough to go on my bagel, it’s not good enough to go into my cheesecake. for this reason i stick with philly (always the bricks, never the tubs), or better (i like Gina Marie). that being said, i’ve never attempted it with generics. it might very well work fine, given there are a lot of flavours that can compensate (like making a perfectly fine cocktail with cheap booze). as for softening, i leave it out all day and night. i have gotten in started in the microwave to speed up the process, but the softening must be finished by time alone. over beating the batter really does influence texture negatively and leads to cracking i find.


I like artisan brands on bagels, but only Philadelphia for baking. Other brands produce runny baked goods.

The texture certainly was not runny. I would define as a bit too custardy or gelatinous. My feeling is this was due to either having to beat longer than normal, or the addition of a jumbo egg instead of a large (or maybe both).

If you have a Costco Membership (or a friend with one) it is about $2.60 for a 8oz Block in a Pack of 6.
Overmixing is often the reason that Cream Cheese based things get to thin/liquid.

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Here in Japan, I nearly almost only use Philadelphia Cream Cheese for my cheesecake (the recipe I use is the classic one from the back of their box and is ALWAYS a hit here. The other brands I have tried have been bad and a quick comparison of the ingredients usually show why as often the cheaper brands use some kind of gum in them. However, I am sometimes able to find this brand from Denmark.

It only has cream, skim milk and salt in it. And not only is it better in the recipe and for other uses, it’s lower priced as well. I also looked at Philadelphia here in Japan and I was disappointed to find it has locust gum in it. IIRC, it wasn’t always that way. If I could find it more often, it would be my “go-to” brand.




Interesting. I look at the ingredients for the Kraft vs Lucerne:

Kraft: Pasteurized Milk And Cream, Whey Protein Concentrate, Salt, Carob Bean Gum, Xanthan Gum, Cheese Culture

Lucerne: Pasteurized Milk and Cream, Cheese Culture, Salt, Guar Gum, Carob Bean Gum, Xanthan Gum.

Yeah… one more “gum” in the Lucerne, but more cheese culture.


Have you had success with plant based (non dairy) ‘cream chrese’? I’m looking for one that I can make a ‘cheese’ cake with.

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I have not tried.

I have only deviated from Philly by trying Aldi’s brand of cream cheese. While I have found many of Aldi’s subs to be of equal quality with name brand, we are not happy with their cream cheese and went back to buying Philly (mostly loading up when it’s bogo).

I don’t know if others’ off brands (e.g., Safeways) might be good equivalents, but Aldi definitely is not either for daily usage (crackers, bagels) or for baking (cookies, cream cheese cakes, etc.).

For softening, I just leave the brick on the counter for 2 hours summer, 3 hours winter.

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I’m not picky when it comes to cream cheese, but one of the few things that Mrs. ricepad makes is cheesecake, and it MUST be Philadelphia. She has sent me back to the store more than once (I’m a slow learner) for bringing home a different brand. She’ll let the cream cheese soften on the counter for several hours and never had a problem, even in December (when our house is typically about 67F inside - we like it a little chilly).