How Long Can You Leave Cream Cheese Out?

I love cream cheese. Whether it’s spread onto an everything bagel or used to make a delectable cheesecake, I simply can’t get enough. Of course, it’s a dairy product – so it can’t be left sitting out for too long. But how long is too long? How long can cream cheese sit out?

According to the USDA, cream cheese can be left at room temperature for no longer than two hours. If the degree exceeds 90F, it can only be left out for one hour. Place cream cheese in the refrigerator before the two-hour mark to ensure it stays fresh and safe to consume.

Hey, there! Michelle here. I’ve spent the last ten years teaching myself how to bake. I use all types of beautiful ingredients in my recipes, including cream cheese. I’ve created this article to ensure you know precisely how long cream cheese can be left out – you know because I don’t want you to end up ill.

Let’s see how long your cream cheese can stick around at room temperature!

How Long Cream Cheese Can Sit Out – The Truth

Some foods can be left out at room temperature. For instance, those yummy avocados (avocado toast, anyone?) and potatoes. 

Cream cheese, on the other hand? Not so much. Cream cheese is a dairy product, and if there’s one thing that’s true about dairy, it can’t be left sitting out for too long. But how long is too long?

According to the USDA, cream cheese cannot be left at room temperature for longer than two hours. At this point, it enters the “Danger Zone,” where harmful bacteria like Staphylococcus begin to multiply, which can lead to illness if consumed.

If the degree is above 90F, the timeframe shortens to a single hour.

At room temperatureUp to two hours
Above 90 FOne hour

How to Store Cream Cheese

Two hours (or one) isn’t a whole lot of time. So, unless you’re planning to use it within the recommended timeframe, you’ll need to store it. 

The best place to store your cream cheese is in the refrigerator. You can leave it in its original packaging until you’re ready to use it. If it came in a resealable container, you can leave it there. However, if it came in a foil wrapper, you’ll need to place it in a resealable freezer bag or airtight container after opening.

Cream cheese can last about ten days in the fridge when opened and properly stored. Stash it toward the back rather than the sides, as the temperature won’t fluctuate as much.

You can also place your cream cheese in the freezer for up to two months. Ensure it’s in its original sealable container, or place it in an airtight container or resealable freezer bag.

How to Know Cream Cheese is Bad (4 Signs)

Eating spoiled cream cheese is a great way to end up sick with diarrhea, vomiting, stomachaches, and other “fun” symptoms. To avoid this perilous outcome, check your cream cheese for signs of spoilage, which include:

1. Discoloration

First, check over your package of cream cheese. Cream cheese is typically white, although it might have a subtle cream shade. If you see yellow or other colorful spots sprinkled throughout your cream cheese, it’s bad and should be thrown out.

2. Odd Texture

Cream cheese is desirably smooth. Spoiled cream cheese is anything but. That said, your cream cheese is bad if it’s starting to showcase a disgusting slimy texture. It may also have dried out, causing the cream cheese to look oddly chunky and chalky.

3. Unpleasant Odor

This dairy product doesn’t have a very noticeable smell. If anything, it’s a delicately sweet scent. But if you notice that your cream cheese is emitting an unpleasant odor, it’s time to say goodbye. Toss the cream cheese ASAP and buy fresh – your belly will thank you.

4. Mold

If you open the container or package and find that your cream cheese is riddled with blue, black, or green fuzzy areas, don’t chance it (and honestly, why would you want to eat that to begin with?).


Unfortunately, cream cheese can’t be left sitting out very long. So if you’re not planning to use it within two hours, toss it in the fridge or freezer. Oh, and before you leave, take a look at these interesting, frequently asked questions!

Can you put softened cream cheese back in the fridge?

I don’t recommend putting softened cream cheese back in the refrigerator, especially if you used the microwave or warm water to do so. That said, try to make sure you soften only what you need. Otherwise, you’ll end up wasting the leftovers, and that’s certainly something I personally try to avoid.

Can I eat cream cheese that sat out overnight?

Definitely do not eat cream cheese that has sat out overnight. At this point, it is likely riddled with bacteria that can cause food poisoning – even if you can’t see it. Cream cheese cannot sit out for longer than two hours at room temperature. So, make sure it’s placed in the fridge or freezer before heading to bed.

How long can a bagel and cream cheese sit out?

Just because the cream cheese is sitting atop a bagel, it doesn’t mean the rules change. You’re still given a two-hour window to consume it. That said, a bagel with cream cheese can only sit out for two hours before it needs to be tossed. 

Cream Cheese Only Has a Two-Hour Window at Room Temp!

Cream cheese is another dairy product that simply can’t hang at room temperature for too long. In fact, it must be thrown out if left sitting at room temp for two hours and just one hour if the temperature is above 90F. If you want to keep your cream cheese safe and delicious, place it in the fridge or freezer.

Did you know how long you could leave cream cheese at room temperature? Do you have anything interesting to add? We love to hear from our readers, so comment below!

About Michelle
I have been a lover of sweets since day one. This led me on a self-taught baking journey starting at the age of 13. It's been over 10 years since the start of my baking adventures, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Now, people rave about my delectable treats, whether it’s a chocolate cake or a strawberry crepe.

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