Cream cheese dips have a unique texture and flavor. It adds a delightfully tangy, creamy punch to all kinds of foods; that’s what makes it a favorite for all kinds of sweet and savory dips. But what do you do with the leftovers?
Most pre-frozen dairy products have extra ingredients added to make sure they defrost or reheat properly.
Not all dairy products freeze very well, however, and trying to freeze them can feel like a guessing game with no way to know if you’ll ruin your food.
So, can you freeze cream cheese dip? Unfortunately, freezing cream cheese dip will cause the texture to change severely, as the fat and protein bonds within cream cheese will break after the water molecules expand and crystallize during the freezing process. Some cream cheese dips which incorporate stabilizers, like sugar or some heavy creams, can help save the dip, but not always.
It can seem complicated to figure out whether the delicious cream cheese dip you just made can be frozen, but it’s easier than you think. It helps to understand the science behind what happens to cream cheese during the freezing process.
The problem with cream cheese dip when it comes to freezing isn’t the ‘dip’ part. It’s the ‘cream cheese’ part. Cream cheese is roughly 50% water. Shocking, right?
All that water expands as it turns into ice when you freeze it. That’s why ice cubes always seem to be stuck in their trays.
Because all of the water in cream cheese is bound up with all the proteins and fats, this expansion can ruin the texture.
As the water freezes, the protein and fat bonds break. These broken bonds are what turn the texture from soft and creamy to watery and crumbly.
Since the water is no longer bonded to the fats or proteins, it floats around on top of your dish.
The proteins and fats needed that water; it was a part of maintaining proper texture. Without it, the body of the dish seems crumbly.
Unfortunately, those broken bonds are permanent. Even though the water will become denser (shrink) as it melts, there isn’t a way to make new bonds with the fats and proteins.
This doesn’t mean that your cream cheese dip is ruined if you freeze it, though.
This change when freezing cream cheese is perfectly safe. The flavor of the dish is not affected by this change.
There are some dishes that freeze better than others and many types of cream cheese dip can be frozen with little effect on the end result.
Whether or Not to Freeze
Now that you understand a bit about what will happen to the cream cheese in your cream cheese dip if you decide to freeze it, we can think about some types of dip that may be good for freezing.
For example, a layered dip with toppings placed on top of cream cheese may not be good for freezing. Since the actual cream cheese isn’t mixed up with other ingredients, the texture change will be more noticeable.
If you have a dip that is served warm like taco dip or buffalo chicken dip, freezing is a great idea. This will keep the meat in your dip fresh. Warming up the dip before serving helps to evaporate extra water and keep the dish creamy.
It can be frustrating when you defrost a dish and it seems more watery than when fresh. This is the water that used to have strong bonds with the proteins and fats in a dish.
Freezing warm cream cheese dips means that you will need to reheat before serving, which means that you don’t have to worry about the water particles affecting the texture of the dip.
While warm dips are the best candidate for freezing, some cold cream cheese dips freeze well also. This has a lot to do with what other ingredients are part of the dip.
A dessert dip with added sugar should freeze well as the sugar is a stabilizer. This means when the dip freezes it can help reduce how much the cream cheese separates.
Hot or cold, most dips with lots of additions will also freeze well. If the cream cheese is thoroughly mixed in with other ingredients the change in texture is much less noticeable.
Try adding an extra splash of milk or cream to dips that call for it. This will help them freeze well.
How To Freeze
When freezing cream cheese dip the most important thing is to get as close to airtight as possible. More air means more humidity which can ruin the texture of the dip.
Ideally, you would vacuum seal your cream cheese dip, but if this isn’t possible there are alternatives.
Besides vacuum sealing, the best freezing method is to use a food storage container with a secure lid. Try to fill it all the way to the top.
Leaving very little empty space in the container reduces how much air comes in contact with the dip. We only want creamy goodness in there, so make sure to tightly secure the lid and freeze!
If you use something like a bowl without a lid, be sure to securely double wrap it.
Place a piece of cling film or parchment paper in the bowl, touching the top of the dip. Then place another piece of film or wax wrap over the top of the bowl and freeze.
When using a lidless container to freeze your cream cheese dip, be generous with your wrapping! Whether you use disposable cling film or a reusable wax-coated canvas wrap, it’s important to be thorough.
This helps prevent air or humidity from making its way into the dish.
Some people like to use glass canning jars in the freezer. This is very convenient but is not recommended for cream cheese dips.
Glass is only a viable freezer option for foods that have low moisture content. Otherwise, as the water freezes, you risk breaking the jar.
Another option for freezing is to place the dip in ice cube trays. This is great for large batches as it helps with portion control.
Instead of reheating a large batch of dip you won’t finish, you can pop out only what you need. If you do this, cover the ice cube tray with cling film or wax wrap.
Now that we’ve gone over the ins-and-outs of freezing cream cheese, let’s review a few more questions you might’ve found yourself asking as you read through this article.
Can you freeze cream cheese?
Yes, you can freeze cream cheese. However, the texture will suffer. To reduce how much the cream cheese separates, store it as air-tight as possible. Either vacuum sealing or double-bagging is preferred.
Because of the texture changes, it is only recommended to freeze plain cream cheese if you plan to add it to other ingredients later. Another option is to serve it warm. Once defrosted, mix well to reincorporate extra water.
How do you make frozen cream cheese creamy again?
The truth is frozen cream cheese will never be as luscious and creamy as fresh cream cheese.
The freezing process causes the water in the cream cheese to expand as it turns to ice. This breaks some of the molecular bonds in the cream cheese, which is not reversible.
The best way to make frozen cream cheese creamy again is to warm it up. If the cream cheese is part of a dish like chip dip, you can add a touch of cream for extra fat to help the dish reheat well.
Can you freeze taco dip?
Taco dip will store well in your freezer and doesn’t take any special tricks to freeze. When freezing taco dip, add a little bit of cream to the dish. This will help the taco dip keep its yummy creamy texture after freezing.
Once it has been frozen, though, only eat taco dip served warm. Otherwise, the texture may be unpleasant. The freezing process can make the dairy ingredients in the dip crumbly if they’re not reheated.
Can you freeze cream cheese frosting?
Cream cheese frosting actually freezes better than plain cream cheese or cream cheese dip. This is because of the added sugar in the frosting. It acts as a kind of stabilizer.
During freezing, it can help reduce how much the mixture ‘separates’ and helps prevent poor texture. If you are going to freeze cream cheese frosting it is best to store it in an airtight container.
How do you defrost cream cheese?
The best way to defrost cream cheese is to move it from the freezer to the fridge overnight. This defrosts the cream cheese more slowly.
This helps reduce the effect on texture as the cream cheese warms up. Once defrosted, mix well to reincorporate any excess water.
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