Cream Cheese Rules the Dairy Aisle, and Here’s Why

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Of all of the treasures in the dairy aisle, the best one is hard to pick. Eggs are pretty great because they’re essential to breakfast sandwiches, egg salad and cake, and you can eat them for pretty much any meal, but they lose a few points for versatility because you have to cook them. Cheddar cheese is awesome because it’s good melted on just about anything and makes a killer sandwich, but you can’t really turn it into a dessert. Yogurt wins for being healthy (usually), but that’s really all yogurt has going for it.

But cream cheese? Cream cheese is the dairy aisle MVP because it’s so versatile. What else can you smear on a bagel, whip into frosting, swirl into mashed potatoes or turn into a hot, cheesy dip? Cream cheese is the best, and here are 11 reasons why.

Cream Cheese Frosting (above) is the best part of any carrot cake, hummingbird cake or red velvet cake, but try it on your favorite banana cake, chocolate cake or coconut cupcakes, or serve it with strawberries.

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Spread tortillas with whipped cream cheese and add veggies and deli meat for a fun lunch or after-school snack; it’s so easy, kids can make it themselves.

Move over, mayo. Everything salmon burgers — burgers flavored with “everything” spices, just like everyone’s favorite bagel — get topped with a smear of cream cheese sauce, plus lettuce, tomato and onion.

If you haven’t been adding cream cheese to your macaroni and cheese, do it. Immediately. It’ll change your life. Cream cheese makes the mac extra rich and creamy and adds a little tang, too.

And guess what? You can use cream cheese to make lightened-up pasta recipes, like Low-Calorie Fettuccine Alfredo (now do you see why cream cheese is the best?). A little bit of low-fat cream cheese, or Neufchatel cheese (which tastes pretty much the same as the full-fat kind), plus low-fat milk and Parmesan cheese make this fettuccine so creamy, you’ll forget it’s lighter. You can even make a vegan version, using soy cream cheese.

If you want to make the world’s creamiest mashed potatoes, add cream cheese after you mash them.

The next time you have a craving for lox and cream cheese, add them to a frittata or omelet — with a bagel on the side.

One more beyond-the-bagel way to eat cream cheese for breakfast: Stuff your French toast with it.

Bacon-Ranch Cream Cheese Wellington is a cross between baked Brie in pastry and a more kid-friendly cream cheese log. The result is elegant enough for entertaining, but the bacon and ranch flavors mean kids will love it too.

And finally, the most-important use for cream cheese: cheesecake. There are endless ways to make it, but cream cheese is essential.

Essential Reading for Cream Cheese Lovers:

Is Cream Cheese Healthy?

How to Make Carrot Cheesecake

5 Fun Ways to Make Cheesecake