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32 cream cheese recipes — some sweet, some savory, all dreamy

One package of cream cheese, so many possibilities.
/ Source: TODAY

At the heart of any great dip, cake or casserole is, well, love, of course — but also, probably, a block of cream cheese.

Smooth, whipped or flavored, cream cheese has the ability to bring a luscious quality to sweet desserts and a wonderful creaminess to a range of savory appetizers, sides and main dishes. Aside from spreading it onto your bagel, cream cheese is great for use in both cooking and baking (especially when recipes call for it to be brought to room temperature).

Cream cheese is a staple in many households today. But the spreadable, versatile dairy product has an interesting past. In 1872, the founder of Philadelphia Cream Cheese (who surprisingly lived in Chester, New York) was attempting to make Neufchâtel — a tangy, crumblier cheese product that was popular in Europe at the time — when he accidentally added a bit too much cream and created a richer, more spreadable cheese. This much-appreciated mishap led to cream cheese being mass-produced by 1880, and the spread has been bringing life to many a meal ever since.

So when you're looking up a way to use up the cream cheese in the fridge or need a delicious dish to make for a party or a weeknight at home, look no further. We've rounded up our favorite recipes using this delectable dairy item, creamy and dreamy!

Savory cream cheese recipes

Cream Cheese

First things first, let's take a look at how to make cream cheese from scratch! All it takes is four ingredients, a cheesecloth, 15 minutes of prep time and some patience while it cooks and then sits for 12 to 24 hours.

You can easily whip these delicious 30-minute party snacks up at the last minute and no one will guess that they're made with pre-made crescent dough! You can bake them in your oven, toaster oven or even in your air fryer.

Southern-style mac and cheese is sturdier than most mac and cheese recipes. It's basically a custard-style dish baked with eggs, heavy cream and sharp cheddar cheese. There's no denying it's irresistible!

Jalapeño Popper Dip

Love a hot plate of jalapeño poppers but don't want to go through the fuss of stuffing and frying them yourself? Don't! Instead, skip all the effort and make this super simple, deconstructed version of the jalapeño popper everyone loves. This dreamy dip is a cinch to make.

Easy Queso Dip

As long as there's a bowl of hot, melty cheese dip on the table at a summer cookout, everyone goes home a happy camper. There's a reason TODAY's Jenna Bush Hager is obsessed with queso, and it's not just because of her Texas roots.

Serve these light, smoked salmon toasts with whipped cream cheese for brunch, lunch or as an appetizer while entertaining.

Slow-Cooker Queso

Want to make queso in the slow-cooker for even easier entertaining? This recipe's got you covered. It's gooey, salty, warm and exactly what you need whether watching a game or hanging with friends.

This delicious recipe for mashed potatoes enriched with cream cheese came from Martha Stewart's mother. They're luscious, creamy and all the things great mashed potatoes should be.

So easy to prepare and customize, this crowd-pleasing appetizer is guaranteed to be the life of any any party, from summer cookouts to elegant holiday affairs.

Cheeseburger Dip

A backyard barbecue cheeseburger in dip form! Ever wondered what to do with all that leftover ground beef and cheese? Wonder no more! Beef, cheese and fresh toppings give you all the satisfying flavors of a cheeseburger in a flavorful, shareable dip.

Big Festive Holiday Dip

"This dip is downright addictive — you just cannot stop eating it! I have never taken it to a party without at least three people requesting the recipe," says Elizabeth Heiskell.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Enjoy every delicious bite of a Buffalo wing in a shareable dip. Guests will go crazy for the added flavor and crunchy texture of the zingy banana peppers and crunchy scallions.

Poblano-Corn Cheese Dip

This dip is super forgiving and won't congeal, which makes it perfect for parties. It's also easy to prep ahead and bake right before serving so you don't have to spend too much time in the kitchen.

Pizza Dip

When the pizza craving strikes and you don't want to wait for delivery or spend the time making your own, let microwaved pizza dip come to the rescue!

Sweet cream cheese recipes

Gelatin Delight Salad

"The name sounds like something out of the 1960s, and it probably was, but boy was it delicious! We always had this as a side dish to our savory meal. It tastes more like a dessert and I think that's why us kids loved it so much," says TODAY's Dylan Dreyer.

These sweet treats are bite-sized bits of pure decadence. They are so simple to assemble and cook, can be made super quickly and they have a fancy feel and flavor, even though they're very budget-friendly.

Red Velvet Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting

When it comes to these red velvet brownies, it's all about the frosting. It doesn't get more decadent than a kiss of rich cream cheese frosting.

Serve this sweetly spiced dessert with walnuts, raisins, coconut and pineapple — or keep it simple with only shredded carrots in the batter. Either way, it's a guaranteed treat, especially when each slice gets a luxurious layer of cream cheese frosting.

Valerie Bertinelli's Sugar-Free Cheesecake

This cheesecake has all the sweet creaminess of the classic version but with no added sugar! It's great when you want something a bit lighter to indulge in or are looking for low-sugar options.

No-Churn Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

You don't need an ice cream machine to make this decadent blueberry cheesecake ice cream! This is definitely a project anyone can take on. To develop more flavor in her no-churn blueberry cheesecake ice cream, Jocelyn Delk Adams first cooks the blueberries.

Triple Threat Chocolate Cheesecake

This chocolaty cheesecake is rich, creamy and downright incredible. It's a pretty simple undertaking, just don't wait until the very last minute, as it ideally needs to be chilled in the fridge overnight before you add the topping.

Joy Bauer's Mini Cheesecakes

These mini (but mighty) treats are rich, creamy and oh-so-satisfying when a cheesecake craving strikes. Feel free to get creative with tasty toppings — such as fresh strawberries and a sprinkle of crushed graham cracker or aerated whipped cream and dark chocolate chips. Say cheese(cake)!

This recipe doesn't add any unexpected extras or fancy new flavors. It's a traditional, straightforward red velvet cake that shows off the unbeatable flavors and textures of this iconic classic.

Easy No-Bake Cheesecake

This simple cheesecake requires no baking and uses sweetened condensed milk for a smooth and decadent texture. It is delicious on its own or served with any topping of choice, from fresh berries to chocolate chips or even toasted coconut.

Churro Cheesecake

Combining to incredible desserts, churro and cheesecake, Alejandra Tapia creates a simple cake that is packed with luscious condensed milk, decadent cream cheese, cinnamon sugar and sweet strawberries. And it only takes 10 minutes of prep time!

Hummingbird cake is a classic Southern dessert that's perfect for the holidays with its cream cheese frosting, pineapples, bananas and pecans. The recipe calls for dividing the batter into 12 individual Bundt cake pans, so each person gets their own cake.

These "cupcakes" are individual cheesecakes perfect for serving a crowd. They're so simple and quick to make but look so pretty dressed up with three little cherries on top. "I used to want to eat these by the handful!" says Dylan.

Vanilla Cheesecake Panna Cotta

These silky vanilla bean cheesecake panna cottas are just the thing to end a festive meal. They are rich and creamy, and just the right size to satisfy. Plus, they look like little votive candles on the table! Each panna cotta is around 250 calories — enjoy every bite.

No-Bake Rainbow Cheesecake

This beautiful cheesecake is gelatin-free and a blast to make with kids. The cake takes only 20 minutes of active time to prep, plus a few hours in the freezer. The end result is a wonderfully smooth, creamy cheesecake that can be eaten with a spoon — and you can enjoy different colors with every bite!

Basque Burnt Cheesecake

Given its overly dark and cracked surface, this dessert could be easily mistaken for a baking situation gone wrong. With no crust and a soft, gooey center, it pretty much seems like the anti-cheesecake cheesecake. While vastly different from the classic New York-style recipe, this dessert is truly something to love.

Looking for a fun way to make individual desserts? These mini, no-bake cheesecakes are simple, summery and filled with freshly macerated strawberries. Not only do they look adorable, but they taste amazing, too.

Salted Caramel Flan Cheesecake

Maureen Schulman of Eli's Cheesecake in Chicago created this cheesecake with a nut crust as an alternative to a flour crust. It is sweet, salty, creamy and crunchy all at the same time. It's perfect for hostess gifts and potlucks.