Skip to Content

What type of cream cheese is used in cakes?

Cream cheese is a popular ingredient used in many cake recipes. The soft, creamy texture of cream cheese makes it a perfect addition to cakes, helping to add moisture and richness. But not all cream cheese is created equal when it comes to baking. The type of cream cheese you use can make a big difference in the final texture and flavor of your cake.

Types of Cream Cheese

There are a few main varieties of cream cheese that you’re likely to encounter when baking:

  • Regular cream cheese – This is the most common and accessible type of cream cheese. Regular cream cheese has a fat content of around 33%. It has a smooth and creamy texture that works well in most cake recipes.
  • Reduced-fat cream cheese – As the name suggests, reduced-fat cream cheese has 25-30% less fat than regular cream cheese. Many bakers don’t recommend using reduced-fat cream cheese in cakes as it can alter the texture.
  • Whipped cream cheese – Whipped cream cheese has air beaten into it, giving it a lighter, fluffier texture. It can be more difficult to incorporate smoothly into cake batters.
  • Neufchâtel – Neufchâtel is a French-style cream cheese that contains slightly less fat (around 23%) and more moisture than regular cream cheese. It melts easily and has a smoother, silkier texture.

The Best Cream Cheese for Cakes

When it comes to choosing the right cream cheese for cakes, regular full-fat cream cheese is usually the best option. Here’s why:

  • Texture – The high fat content of regular cream cheese gives cakes a soft, moist crumb. Lower fat options may dry out cakes or alter the texture.
  • Flavor – Full-fat cream cheese has a rich, tangy flavor that balances sweet cake batters. Lower fat cream cheeses are less flavorful.
  • Performance – Regular cream cheese is easy to blend into smooth batters and frostings. Whipped or reduced-fat versions may not incorporate as evenly.

While you can use reduced-fat or whipped cream cheese, the results likely won’t be quite as ideal in terms of texture. Neufchâtel may be used successfully in some cake recipes, but the different fat and moisture levels require recipe adjustments.

When to Use Alternatives

There are some instances where using an alternative to regular cream cheese might work in a cake:

  • Reduced-fat cream cheese – If you want a lighter cake texture, reduced fat may be an option. Stick to simple cakes and adjust recipes to improve moisture.
  • Whipped cream cheese – Whipped cream cheese can work well in airy genoise sponge cakes where a lighter texture is desired.
  • Neufchâtel – This can be a great choice for cheesecakes or cake fillings, as its smooth, creamy nature gives great results.

Just keep in mind that the overall quality and flavor of the cake may be reduced. It’s best to look for recipes specifically designed for lower fat or whipped cream cheese options.

Tips for Using Cream Cheese in Cakes

Here are some useful tips to ensure the best results when using cream cheese in cakes:

  • Bring cream cheese to room temperature before using to improve smoothness and incorporation.
  • Beat until completely smooth before adding other ingredients like sugar or eggs.
  • Use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese for the best smoothness and aeration.
  • Add cream cheese gradually to cake batters to prevent curdling.
  • If using a cream cheese frosting, chill it first to improve spreading consistency.

Cream Cheese Cake Recipes

Here are some classic cake recipes that use cream cheese:

New York Cheesecake

This creamy, dense cheesecake relies on cream cheese for its signature texture and tangy flavor. Regular full-fat cream cheese is mixed with eggs, sugar, and vanilla.

Red Velvet Cake

Cream cheese frosting is an essential component of red velvet cakes. The rich cream cheese balances the light cocoa flavors in the cake.

Carrot Cake

Carrot cake gets its signature moistness from cream cheese. Cream cheese also adds tang and balances the sweetness of the cake.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Pumpkin and cream cheese are blended together in the filling for this seasonal cheesecake. Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger add fall flavor.

Lemon Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Cream cheese provides moisture, structure, and tangy flavor that complements the lemon zest and juice in this pound cake.


When it comes to baking moist, delicious cakes with creamy flavor, regular full-fat cream cheese is the best choice. While lower fat or whipped varieties can be used successfully in some recipes, regular cream cheese provides superior texture, richness, and taste in most cakes. With proper mixing and handling, cream cheese can be easily incorporated into cake batters and frostings.