Whether you need melted cream cheese for a sweet dessert or savory appetizer, the silky texture and smooth taste is the ideal addition to many recipes. Create frosting or a dipping sauce with help from the ultimate guide to melt cheese in the microwave.
Cream cheese is part of cheese family because it is made by combining lactic acid bacteria with cream, which decreases the pH of the cream and makes it coagulate. Afterwards, the whey is drained and the curds are heated with stabilizers resulting in cream cheese that contains at least 33% fat with a moisture content of 55% or less.
Unwrap cream cheese and place on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave your cream cheese for 15 to 20 seconds on medium power. Take it out of the microwave and mix it thoroughly because the middle may be cooler than the outside edges. If necessary, repeat the process once more for a softened and spreadable cream cheese.
Softened cream cheese in the microwave to make it easier to spread and blend with other ingredients. In addition, it helps to smooth out unpleasant lumps that happen when the cream cheese is cold.
Other than bagels or cheesecake, melting cream cheese in the microwave creates opportunity to make all kinds of other dishes. So, is microwaving cream cheese safe?
Is it safe to microwave cream cheese?
Compared to leaving it on the counter or heating in a water bath, the microwave method is the best way to melt or soften cream cheese in a short amount of time.
It is completely safe to microwave cream cheese under one condition, never microwave while the cream cheese is wrapped in the original foil packaging. Aluminum can spark and cause fire when microwaved, so remove the foil wrapper when you melt cream cheese in the microwave.
For the safest and most effective method, always use a microwave-safe plate and divide the cream cheese into cubes if needed.
At what temperature does cream cheese melts?
Not only the amount of cook time and what tools you use to melt, the proper temperature is crucial to follow.
Cream cheese melting occurs at about 130 degrees Fahrenheit (55 degrees Celsius). When it reaches 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius), Cream cheese softens because the solid milk fat starts to liquify.
The fat content and acidity of cream cheese determines how much heat and time it needs to melt. So, adjust the microwave power setting to successfully melt the cheese.
However, there are some cases where cream cheese does not melt, so what is happening?
Why isn’t my cream cheese melting?
Sometimes, cream cheese won’t melt and it actually starts curdling due to the sudden heat change. There are a few different reasons why curdling occurs in milk.
When heating dairy products, you may encounter curdling for several reasons:
- Not having a high enough fat content. Low-fat cream cheese is more likely to curdle than whole-fat cream cheese.
- Too high heat. In order to melt the cream cheese, you need low temperature because curdling can start to occur with extreme heat changes.
- Too much acidity. Any acidic ingredients in the cream cheese can create curdling. Mix recipe ingredients at room temperature before the cream cheese is added.
Curdling in cream cheese is easily fixable. Immediately remove the cream cheese from the heat source and place the bowl on top of an ice bath.
Doing so will halt the melting process. You may need to add a cornflour slurry to stabilize the sauce, but this will affect the flavor depending on what you are making with the melted cream cheese.
How do you melt cream cheese without lumps?
The microwave has a tendency to produce uneven heat. As a result, you may experience unpleasant lumps and clumps when softening cream cheese.
In order to melt cream cheese without lumps, use a whisk to thoroughly mix instead of spoon. Microwave on medium power level in 15 second intervals and evaluate the desired softness after each duration.
The lumps indicate that the cream cheese needs to be microwaved slightly longer, more mixing is required or that the cheese is coagulating because it has been overheated. Either way, lumps can be fixed with these quick fixes.
Things to know before melting cream cheese in the microwave
Leaving a brick of cream cheese on the counter to soften at room temperature may take an hour. It will be hard to reach a spreadable consistency and also won’t taste as fresh.
You don’t want to end up with clumpy or watery cheese to deal with. Here are essential things to know before melting cream cheese in the microwave:
- When heating larger portions of cream cheese in the microwave, add an extra 10 seconds for every 8 ounces.
- Avoid placing metallic wrappers used in the original packaging.
- If any whey liquid is separated from cream cheese when heated, simply stir it back together or add it to your recipe along with the other ingredients.
- To soften the texture without changing the taste, add a teaspoon of milk or cream for every 8 ounce package of cream cheese.
- To thin cream cheese, add 1 teaspoon of melted unsalted butter for every 8 ounce package of cream cheese. However, don’t heat the ingredients together in the microwave.
Heat cream cheese in the microwave to easily soften and liquify before adding it to any recipe. To successfully melt cream cheese in the microwave, you will need a microwave safe dish, medium power level and nuke for 15 second intervals.