Cream cheese is a 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 and crackers and as an ingredient in various baked goods like cheesecake. Determining cream cheese measurements like 1/3 cup can be helpful for recipes that call for specific amounts.
What is Cream Cheese?
Cream cheese is a fresh, unripened cheese made by curdling milk and cream with an acid like vinegar or lemon juice. The curds are drained, pressed and sometimes aged for a short period of time. Unlike other cheeses, cream cheese is not aged for long periods so it maintains its fresh flavor.
The exact ingredients can vary between brands but cream cheese is generally made from a mixture of milk, cream, whey, milkfat, salt, stabilizers and preservatives. It has a mild, tangy flavor and soft, smooth, spreadable texture.
Common Uses for Cream Cheese
Cream cheese is very versatile and can be used in both sweet and savory applications:
– Bagels, toast, English muffins – Cream cheese is commonly spread on bagels, toast or English muffins as a breakfast topping or snack.
– Cheesecakes – Cream cheese is a key ingredient in New York style cheesecakes, giving them their distinctive smooth and creamy texture.
– Frostings and fillings – Cream cheese frostings and fillings are popular for cakes, cupcakes, pastries and more.
– Dips and spreads – Cream cheese is the base for dips like spinach artichoke dip. It’s also used to make creamy spreads for crackers, pretzels and fresh veggies.
– Cream cheese stuffed foods – Jalapeno poppers, chicken cordon bleu and crab rangoon all use cream cheese as an ingredient.
– Pastas and casseroles – Alfredo sauce, macaroni and cheese and other creamy pasta dishes often use cream cheese.
– Desserts – Cream cheese is used in desserts like pumpkin and chocolate cream cheese brownies.
How Much Does Cream Cheese Weigh?
The weight of cream cheese depends on the quantity you are measuring:
– 1 tablespoon of cream cheese weighs around 0.5 ounces or 14 grams
– 1/4 cup of cream cheese weighs around 2 ounces or 57 grams
– 1/3 cup of cream cheese weighs around 2.6 ounces or 75 grams
– 1/2 cup of cream cheese weighs around 4 ounces or 113 grams
– 8 ounce package of cream cheese contains approximately 1 cup or 226 grams
– 1 cup (or half a block) of cream cheese weighs around 8 ounces or 226 grams
So in summary, a 1/3 cup measurement of cream cheese equates to around 2.6 ounces or 75 grams in weight.
Cream Cheese Measurement Conversions
Some common cream cheese measurement conversions are:
– 1 tablespoon = 0.5 ounces = 14 grams
– 1/4 cup = 2 ounces = 57 grams
– 1/3 cup = 2.6 ounces = 75 grams
– 1/2 cup = 4 ounces = 113 grams
– 8 ounces = 1 cup = 226 grams
– 16 ounces = 2 cups = 452 grams
When a recipe calls for a 1/3 cup of cream cheese, you can also substitute:
– 5 tablespoons
– 85 grams weighed on a kitchen scale
– Around 1/4 of an 8 ounce block
Tips for Measuring Cream Cheese
Here are some tips for accurately measuring cream cheese for recipes:
– Use standard dry measuring cups and level off the top with a knife or spatula. Do not scoop directly from the container.
– For tablespoons, use proper measuring spoons and level off.
– For accuracy, weigh the cream cheese on a kitchen scale if possible.
– Bring cream cheese to room temperature before measuring. Cold cream cheese can be difficult to smoothly measure and incorporate into batters and doughs.
– Be sure to check your recipe, as some will specify packed or sifted cream cheese.
– When doubling a recipe, double check your cream cheese measurements.
How to Soften Cream Cheese
Cream cheese is easier to measure and use in recipes when it is soft and at room temperature. Here are some tips for softening cream cheese:
– Let wrapped cream cheese sit on the counter for 30-60 minutes until soft and spreadable. Avoid extended sitting time outside the fridge.
– Unwrap and slice cream cheese into cubes to speed up softening on the counter top.
– Microwave in 10 second bursts, checking frequently, until soft enough.
– Place wrapped cream cheese in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes.
– Use a cheese grater to grate cold cream cheese into a recipe, which helps incorporate it more smoothly.
– Avoid any steaming, boiling or melting which can cause cream cheese to break down.
Storing Cream Cheese
Proper storage is important for maintaining the freshness and shelf life of cream cheese:
– Keep cream cheese tightly wrapped in its original packaging until opened.
– Once opened, rewrap tightly in plastic wrap or foil and store in the refrigerator.
– Use opened cream cheese within 1-2 weeks for best quality.
– Cream cheese can be frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before use.
– Discard cream cheese if mold develops or if it smells sour or odd. Do not taste questionable cream cheese.
– The expiration or “Use By” date on the package should be followed for food safety.
Cream cheese offers these nutrients per 1/3 cup serving (75g):
– Calories: 342
– Fat: 34g
– Saturated Fat: 21g
– Trans Fat: 1g
– Cholesterol: 105mg
– Sodium: 396mg
– Carbohydrates: 4g
– Protein: 6g
As a dairy product, cream cheese is high in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol. It provides some calcium but is low in vitamins and minerals. Nutritional values can vary between brands based on ingredients and additives.
Low Fat and Non-Dairy Options
There are some lower fat and non-dairy options for cream cheese:
– Low fat or Neufchatel – These contain less fat and calories than regular cream cheese.
– Fat free – Made with skim milk and zero fat but often has added thickeners.
– Dairy-free – Brands made from alternate bases like soy, coconut or cashews for vegan diets.
– Lactose-free – Uses lactase enzyme to break down the lactose for easier digestion.
Check labels closely as fat content, texture and flavor will vary between brands. Substitutions may affect the outcome in some recipes.
Cost of Cream Cheese
Cream cheese prices can range between:
– $2 to $4 for an 8 ounce block
– $3 to $6 per pound of regular or whipped cream cheese
– Low fat: $0.50 to $1 more per block
– Name brands like Philadelphia tend to cost more than generic store brands
– Reduced fat or fat free: $1 to $2 more per pound or block
– Organic cream cheese: $1 to $3 more per pound or block
Watch for sales, coupons and store discounts for the best deals. Stock up when cream cheese goes on sale.
Should Cream Cheese be Refrigerated?
Yes, for food safety reasons cream cheese must always be refrigerated:
– The CDC recommends cream cheese be kept at 40°F or below to prevent bacterial growth.
– The nutrients and emulsifiers that give cream cheese its smooth texture can break down at room or warm temperatures.
– Mold growth is more likely if left unrefrigerated for more than 2 hours.
– Refrigerate unused portions promptly after opening the package.
– Discard if moldy or if the cream cheese has an off smell, flavor or appearance.
– Never leave cream cheese or cream cheese-based dips and spreads out on the counter or buffet table for more than 2 hours.
Proper refrigeration preserves the quality and helps prevent foodborne illness. Keep cream cheese cold up until preparation or serving time.
Cream cheese is a versatile ingredient used in both sweet and savory recipes. When a recipe calls for 1/3 cup of cream cheese, that equates to around 2.6 ounces or 75 grams by weight. Be sure to bring cream cheese to room temperature before measuring for accuracy, and use proper measurement tools such as smooth, leveled tablespoons and cups. Check for low fat or non-dairy alternatives if needed. Always store cream cheese properly refrigerated. Following these tips will help ensure your recipes turn out perfectly. Let us know if you have any other cream cheese measuring questions!