Cream cheese is the key ingredient in many dip recipes. Really, who doesn’t love cream cheese? It is such a magical ingredient because it is so versatile and easy to work with. Cream cheese is good hot or cold and has a wonderful creamy texture which makes it a great base for dips. The slightly tangy taste adds great flavor that can be used in sweet or savory recipes.
Below are some simple and helpful tips for using cream cheese in dips.
Softening cream cheese-
The temperate/consistency of the cream cheese definitely does affect the end product especially in dip recipes. Recipes will usually call this out by specifying the ingredient as: 8 ounce block cream cheese, softened. You can easilyC soften cream cheese by leaving it out and letting it come to room temperature. Or if you are like me and often forget to prep, simply put the block of cream cheese on a plate and microwave for about 30 seconds to soften (or a minute for 2 blocks). If your cream cheese is too cold and hard, when you begin to mix it with other ingredients then this can create lumps so be sure not to skip this step J
Substitute for cream cheese-
Neufchatel cheese is similar to cream cheese, but contains less fat. I accidently bought a package of this one time and used it for a dip. I really could not tell much of a difference either in taste or consistency. For dip recipes, substituting Neufchatel cheese in place of cream cheese should yield perfectly fine results especially since dips are warmed and not really baked for a long period of time. If substituting, the same quantity should still be used.
What about whipped/spreadable cream cheese (the kind that comes in a tub)?
I don’t recommend using whipped cream or spreadable cheese in dip recipes that call for block/packaged cream cheese. Whipped cream cheese contains a good amount of air that has been whipped into it to make it easy to spread. You would need to use a larger amount to get the quantity specified in the recipe and this could affect the texture and creaminess of the dip. Spreadable cream cheese is also usually more expensive so it is better to save it for the purpose it was designed for 🙂 In a pinch, you could probably make it work, but just remember you’ll need to use more spreadable cream cheese to make up for the air.