How Long Can Cream Cheese Be Left Out (And Why)?

How Long Can Cream Cheese Be Left Out (And Why)?

Exact Answer: Up To 2 Hours

Cream cheese is a type of soft cheese made from milk and cream. It has a smooth, creamy texture and a slightly salty taste. Cream cheese is used in recipes, such as cheesecake, danishes, and bagels. One can use cream cheese in various dishes, including dips, spreads, and desserts.

One can also eat it as a snack. Although cream cheese is safe to eat after it has been refrigerated, there are some instances where it can be left out of the fridge for extended periods without spoiling. According to food experts, it is up to 2 hours.

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How Long Can Cream Cheese Be Left Out?

Cream cheese at room temperature2 hours
Cream cheese in the refrigerator3-4 Weeks

Cream cheese is a type of soft cheese that is made from milk, cream, and bacteria. It is also commonly used as a filling for bagels and pastries. 

Although cream cheese is best when eaten fresh, one can store it in the refrigerator for two weeks. However, if left out at room temperature for an extended period, it may spoil. This is why food experts recommend leaving the cream cheese for only up to 2 hours at room temperature.

Cream cheese can last in the fridge for up to two weeks or in the freezer for two months. If one decides to store it at room temperature, it will only last 2 hours. It is important to keep cream cheese in its original packaging and avoid exposing it to heat or sunlight.

It’s best to store cream cheese in the fridge, but if one needs to leave it out for a little while, it will be okay. Plan on using it within two hours of taking it out of the fridge or within one hour if it’s been left at room temperature.

The USDA guidelines for safe storage of cream cheese are six to 12 months refrigerated.

It’s also important to remember that cream cheese can spoil even in the refrigerator if it is not sealed tightly. Due to this reason, store-bought packages should be opened on the day of purchase and left out on a countertop for no more than two hours. 

Why Would Cream Cheese Be Left Out For So Long?

There are a few reasons why cream cheese might be left out for so long. The most likely reason is that one did not store the cream cheese in the fridge or forgot it in the back of the fridge. 

When cream cheese is left out at a temperature over 40 degrees Fahrenheit, bacteria will grow and cause spoilage. Cream cheese can last up to two weeks when stored in the fridge, but it will start to spoil after just 2 hours if left out at room temperature.

Cream cheese left out for an extended period can become sour and develop a white film on the surface. The cheese will also start to smell rank and taste sour. 

This occurs because the high level of fat in cream cheese allows bacteria to grow rapidly, and these bacteria produce acid due to their metabolism. Lactic acid causes cream cheese to spoil and develop that sour taste.

Cream cheese can absorb odors quite easily because it contains milk. In addition, the high-fat content of cream cheese makes it more susceptible to becoming rancid than other dairy products such as milk or sour cream due to oxidation reactions with air and light. 

This rancidity produces a distinct off-flavor and “off” smell described when they come across this food item in question. The possibility also exists that the expiration date specified on the product has passed and therefore is not safe for consumption. 


Cream cheese has long been the go-to substitute for sour cream in Mexican dishes, including making enchiladas. One may use cream cheese to prepare dips, sauces, and baked goods that call sour cream or crème fraîche. There are several benefits to substituting cream cheese for other dairy products. 

Cream cheese provides a flavorful replacement with less fat than sour cream, but which many people find easier to digest than crème fraîche because of its reduced bacterial content. Overall, it is best to leave it only for 2 hours at room temperature to stay good for a while.


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Hi! I'm Nidhi.

Here at the EHL, it's all about delicious, easy recipes for casual entertaining. So come and join me at the beach, relax and enjoy the food.

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