The best cream cheese is rich, creamy, and delicious. Whether it’s strawberry, chive, or plain, cream cheese should serve up flavor and thick richness.
After living in New York City for almost ten years, I can tell you that one of life’s great joys is walking into a bagel shop and seeing an entire glass deli case filled with big mounds of different flavored cream cheeses. There are so many delicious options: cheddar jalapeño, cinnamon raisin walnut, scallion herb. Another thing New Yorkers get right when it comes to cream cheese is the amount they use. They pile gobs of it onto each warm bagel they serve. To me, that’s perfect. I want my bagel to be 50% cream cheese and 50% bread.
Sadly, I don’t live in the bagel paradise that is NYC anymore, so I’m always on the hunt for tips, tricks, and products that will help me make the best bagels at home (this list of the best store bought bagels is a good place to start). And the biggest component of that is the cream cheese. Lucky for me and other cream cheese lovers out there, the Sporked team was tasked with finding the best cream cheese on the market. In two separate taste tests, we tried both iconic and niche cream cheeses to figure out which should befriend your bagel when breakfast rolls around. Don’t do dairy? We ranked the best vegan cream cheese, too.
- Philadelphia ⅓ Less Fat
Philadelphia Reduced Fat Cream Cheese Spread is one of the few low-fat products on the market that I would recommend you buy. Of course, it isn’t as good as the original, full-fat version, but you already knew that. I would argue that if you need to cut fat, this is a great option. I don’t know if I could tell the difference between this and the original if I used it to make buffalo chicken dip or slapped it on a bagel with some slices of tomato and salt.
Credit: Ryan Martin / Instacart
- Great Value Brown Sugar & Cinnamon
I would not put this on a bagel because I am not a sweet bagel lover. If you are, though, you’ll love this stuff. It is super sweet and will turn anything you put it on into a cinnamon roll. This stuff is like Cinnabon in a container. Save yourself a trip to the mall food court and just put this cream cheese on toast, a bagel, or fruit.
Credit: Liv Averett / Walmart
- Tillamook Seriously Strawberry Cream Cheese
Chunks!!! Of!!! Strawberries!!! I couldn’t believe it when I opened this tub of Tillamook Strawberry Cream Cheese and found big pieces of actual fruit folded into the cream cheese. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fruit cream cheese with real fruit bits. After marinating in the cream cheese, the strawberries have a slightly gelatinous texture that is super pleasing. I didn’t know I wanted chunky, sweet cream cheese, but now that I know, I’m never going back.
Credit: Ryan Martin / Walmart
- Clover Sonoma Cream Cheese
Clover Sonoma Cream Cheese has a gentle sweetness that sets it apart from the other cream cheeses we tried. Because it has such a stand-out flavor, I think it would be a great addition to a cheeseboard. Pair this with a jar of pepper jelly, a few dried figs, maybe some Spanish chorizo. You’ll have a delicious platter for a party or a dinner for one to be eaten on the couch while watching a documentary about cults.
Credit: Ryan Martin / Amazon
- 365 Whole Foods Whipped Cream Cheese
365 Whole Foods Whipped Cream Cheese tastes like you’re consuming a cloud. I know you are technically getting less cream cheese for your money per tub, but the whipped texture is just so dreamy that I can’t stop myself from purchasing it. This brand of whipped cream cheese in particular has a nice, airy consistency without losing the slightly sour twang of thicker cream cheese. The spreadability is off the charts, so this cream cheese pairs best with bagels and toast—but it’s also delicious just eaten off a spoon, which is my preferred method.
Credit: Ryan Martin / Whole Foods
- Tillamook Very Veggie Cream Cheese
The best cream cheese of the vegetable variety is made by Tillamook, and that’s not surprising at all. Tillamook makes incredible dairy products (we love their ice cream and shredded cheese, too). This is the best veggie cream cheese because it actually tastes like vegetables. You get bell pepper and onion and even a hint of celery. It’s so bright and fresh. I will absolutely buy this cream cheese again.
Credit: Liv Averett / Total Wine
- Philadelphia Spicy Jalapeño Cream Cheese
I was impressed that Philadelphia Spicy Jalapeño Cream Cheese actually has some kick to it! Jalapeño is such a complementary flavor to cream cheese and Philadelphia is the best cream cheese, so this is essentially perfect. This doesn’t need anything at all other than a warm bagel. If you do want to do something kind of freaky with this, take a page from my mom’s book and make tuna salad with this cream cheese, a can of tuna, and diced raw red onion. You’re skeptical, I know, but it is really tasty!
Credit: Ryan Martin / Walmart
- Philadelphia Original Cream Cheese
Philadelphia Cream Cheese: The cream cheese so delicious they named a city after it. I’m just kidding. They didn’t name the Pennsylvania city after the cream cheese brand, but they did name a sushi roll after it. And it’s well deserved! The Original Philadelphia Cream Cheese is pretty perfect. It’s sensationally creamy and perfectly balances richness and tang. Contrary to everything I believe, I think a thick schmear of this is best on a plain bagel with zero toppings. You need to let the pure cream cheese flavor shine through! But, obviously, it would also be good with my regular bagel order, too (red onion, capers, cucumber, thinly sliced radish, dill, and smoked salmon). I know there are lots of fun flavors, but the plain original is surprisingly the best Philadelphia cream cheese that exists.
Credit: Ryan Martin / Walmart
Best Low Fat
Best for a Cheese Board
Best of the Best
Other Products We Tried: Trader Joe’s Onion + Chive, Great Value Veggie, Philadelphia Veggie, Philadelphia Buffalo, Philadelphia Honey Pecan, Philadelphia Red Pepper, Philadelphia Brown Sugar Cinnamon
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