How many calories in a serving of Light cream cheese?

Cream cheese is a popular soft, mild-tasting fresh cheese made from milk and cream. It has a smooth, creamy texture and is commonly used as a spread for bagels, a topping for baked goods like cheesecake, or an ingredient in recipes like dips or frostings.

Light or reduced-fat cream cheese options provide a lower calorie alternative to regular full fat cream cheese for people looking to manage their calorie or fat intake. But how many calories are actually in a serving of light cream cheese? Let’s take a closer look.

What is Light Cream Cheese?

Light cream cheese is a lower fat version of regular cream cheese. It is made by using milk and some cream, but contains less fat and calories than regular full fat cream cheese.

The fat content of light cream cheese can range from 20-30% milk fat, compared to around 33% for regular full fat cream cheese.[1] To reduce the fat and calories, ingredients like milk, whey protein, and stabilizing gums may be added.[2]

Light cream cheese has a similar smooth, spreadable texture to regular cream cheese, but is lower in fat and calories. Popular brands of light cream cheese include Philadelphia Light and Neufchatel.

Nutrition Facts for Light Cream Cheese

The nutrition information for light cream cheese can vary slightly between brands. But in general, a 1 ounce serving (about 2 tablespoons) of light cream cheese contains approximately:[3]

– Calories: 35-45
– Fat: 2-3g
– Saturated fat: 1-2g
– Protein: 2-3g
– Carbohydrates: 1-3g
– Calcium: 4-5% Daily Value
– Sodium: 70-110mg

So a serving of light cream cheese provides around 40 calories, mostly coming from fat. It is lower in calories and fat compared to regular cream cheese, which contains about 50 calories and 5g of fat per ounce.[4]

Serving Sizes for Light Cream Cheese

Here are some common serving sizes for light cream cheese and their calorie amounts:

– 1 tablespoon (0.5 ounces): Around 20-25 calories
– 2 tablespoons (1 ounce): Around 35-45 calories
– 1⁄4 cup (2 ounces): Around 70-90 calories
– 1⁄3 cup (2.6 ounces): Around 90-120 calories
– 1⁄2 cup (4 ounces): Around 140-180 calories

As you can see, the calories add up quickly if you consume multiple servings of light cream cheese. Sticking with smaller 1-2 tablespoon portions can help keep calories in check.

Uses for Light Cream Cheese

Here are some of the most popular ways to use light cream cheese:

Bagel spread – Spread a thin layer (1-2 tablespoons) of light cream cheese on a bagel for a lower calorie breakfast or snack.

Cheesecake – Use light cream cheese instead of regular cream cheese when baking cheesecake to cut back on fat and calories per slice.

Vegetable dip – Mix light cream cheese with herbs and spices to make a lower calorie dip for raw vegetables.

Frosting – Light cream cheese can be used to make lighter frostings for cakes and cupcakes.

Stuffed peppers – Mix light cream cheese with vegetables like spinach to stuff into peppers or mushrooms.

Pasta sauce – Stir a few tablespoons into hot pasta along with Parmesan cheese for a quick light cream sauce.

Breakfast sandwiches – Spread light cream cheese on a breakfast sandwich instead of higher calorie sauces.

Ways to Reduce Calories in Light Cream Cheese

If you are looking for ways to further reduce the calories when using light cream cheese, here are some tips:

– Use only 1 tablespoon (or less) per serving.
– Look for light cream cheese that is 45 calories or less per ounce.
– Mix it with low fat Greek yogurt to make a lower calorie spread.
– Combine it with herbs, spices, garlic, or lemon juice rather than higher calorie ingredients.
– Spread it thinly or mix it into recipes rather than eating it plain in large amounts.
– Substitute half the light cream cheese called for in recipes with low fat ricotta or cottage cheese.

Light Cream Cheese vs Regular Cream Cheese Calories

Comparing light cream cheese to regular full fat cream cheese shows the calorie differences:

Light Cream Cheese (1 ounce)
Calories: 35-45
Fat Grams: 2-3

Regular Cream Cheese (1 ounce)

Calories: 50-60
Fat Grams: 5-6

As you can see, light cream cheese cuts the calories by about 20-25% compared to regular cream cheese.

If you consume a larger serving size, the calorie savings become more significant:

Light Cream Cheese (2 tablespoons)
Calories: 70-90

Regular Cream Cheese (2 tablespoons)

Calories: 100-120

So two tablespoons of light cream cheese provides around 25-30 fewer calories than regular cream cheese. Over time, substituting light for regular cream cheese can make a notable difference in your daily calorie intake.

Tips for Choosing Light Cream Cheese

Keep these tips in mind when purchasing and using light cream cheese:

– Check the nutrition label and choose options lowest in calories and fat per serving.
– Avoid flavored or whipped light cream cheeses, which often have more added sugar and calories.
– Since it contains less fat, light cream cheese is not as stable for baking. Add stabilizers like gelatin or guar gum if substituting in baked goods.
– Light cream cheese has a higher water content, so drain excess liquid if substituting in recipes.
– Store opened light cream cheese tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
– Allow it to soften at room temperature before spreading.

Health Benefits of Light Cream Cheese

Consuming light cream cheese in moderation can provide health benefits compared to regular cream cheese, including:

Fewer calories – Light cream cheese cuts calories by 20-30%, which can help with weight management.

Less fat – The lower fat content also reduces saturated fat intake, which is associated with heart health.

More protein – Offers 2-3g protein per serving to help keep you full.

Calcium – Provides some calcium, around 4-5% DV. Helps strengthen bones.

Just be mindful of portion sizes, as the calories can still add up if you consume too much. Overall though, light cream cheese can be part of a balanced diet.

Low Calorie Cream Cheese Alternatives

In addition to light cream cheese, other lower calorie alternatives can provide the creamy texture of cream cheese with less fat and calories. Options include:

Low fat cottage cheese – Blend until smooth for use on bagels or in dips. About 80 calories in 1⁄2 cup.[5]

Low fat ricotta cheese – Has around 100 calories in 1⁄2 cup.[6]

Greek yogurt – Mix in herbs and spices. Contains about 60 calories in a 6oz container.[7]

Neufchatel cheese – Lower fat, lower calorie type of cream cheese with about 70 calories in 2 tablespoons.[8]

Cream cheese spreads – Some brands offer options with around 30 calories per tablespoon.

Recipes with Light Cream Cheese

Here are some healthy and delicious recipes using light cream cheese:

Lighter Cheesecake with Mixed Berries
Uses light cream cheese in the filling and tops it with fresh berries for a lower calorie dessert.

Smoked Salmon Pinwheels

Spread light cream cheese onto whole wheat tortillas with smoked salmon and vegetables.

Corn and Light Cream Cheese Stuffed Peppers
Mix light cream cheese with corn, onions, and spices to stuff into baked bell peppers.

Pumpkin Maple Overnight Oats
Stir light cream cheese into overnight oats along with pumpkin puree and maple syrup.

Southwestern Egg Scramble
Add light cream cheese to scrambled eggs along with salsa, black beans, and avocado.

Pasta Primavera with Light Cream Sauce
Toss hot pasta with sauteed veggies and a quick light cream cheese sauce.


In conclusion, light cream cheese provides a lower calorie alternative to regular cream cheese, with around 35-45 calories per one ounce serving. Paying attention to portion sizes and using it as an ingredient in recipes rather than eating it plain can help keep calories in check. Overall, light cream cheese can be part of a balanced diet when consumed in moderation.

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