Cream cheese is a stiff but spreadable dairy product produced by adding a coagulant, like rennet, to milk or cream. It stands on its own as a spread for crackers or bagels, but cream cheese is also a common ingredient in icings, dips and other recipes. When cream cheese is too thick or stiff to use the way you would like, you can thin it down to a workable consistency.
Warm it Up
Place a small amount of cream cheese in a microwave-safe dish. For example, if you need to thin a cup of cream cheese, start with about 1 tbsp.
Warm the cream cheese in the microwave until it has melted.
Use a fork to mix the melted cream cheese into the rest of the cream cheese. This thins it out.
Warm additional small amounts of cream cheese, then add them to the thick cream cheese until you reach the appropriate consistency.
Add Yogurt or Sour Cream
Add 1 tbsp. of yogurt or sour cream to the cream cheese. This method is best for preparations like cold dips, when you do not want to raise the temperature of your cream cheese.
Mix them together with a fork.
Continue to add additional yogurt or sour cream to the cream cheese until you achieve the desired consistency.
You can also use milk to thin out your cream cheese or mix it in a stand mixer until it breaks down.
- "How to Cook Everything"; John Wiley and Sons; Mark Bittman et al.; 2008
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration; Code of Federal Regulations Title 21; April 2010
- Food Network; Overnight Cinnamon Rolls; Alton Brown; 2006
James McElroy began his journalism career in 2001 and his stories have appeared in newspapers around the world, including "The Columbus Dispatch" and "The Star-Ledger." He studied journalism at the E.W. Scripps Graduate School of Journalism at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio.