Cream cheese is a versatile ingredient used in many different recipes, from sweet baked goods like cheesecake and carrot cake to savory treats like wontons and loaded bagels.
This week, I headed over to my local Trader Joe’s to check out their cream cheese offerings and find out just how good their cream cheese really is.
Trader Joe’s sells several different types of cream cheese, including their popular Vegan Cream Cheese, Onion & Chive Cream Cheese Spread, Whipped Cream Cheese, Organic Whipped Cream Cheese, and Hot Cocoa Inspired Cream Cheese Spread.
Their longest-selling cream cheese offering is their classic Trader Joe’s Cream Cheese, currently available for just $1.69 for an 8-oz package.
All cream cheese offerings at Trader Joe’s are available for under $3.
If you’re looking for Trader Joe’s products that contain cream cheese as a key ingredient, you have a few good options to choose from. Trader Joe’s sells Edamame Rangoons in their frozen section, which are basically cream cheese-filled wontons with edamame and wasabi. They also released a seasonal jar of Sweet Picanté Peppers stuffed with cream cheese at the end of 2022, but supplies are already gone for the season.
Ingredients and Nutrition
To get a feel for the general quality of Trader Joe’s Cream Cheese, I decided to try their classic variety, which comes in a cardboard box with an inner foil package.
This TJ’s Cream Cheese contains just seven ingredients–pasteurized milk, pasteurized cream, cheese culture, salt, guar gum, carob bean gum, and xanthan gum.
In a 2-tablespoon serving, you’ll be consuming 9 grams of fat (including 6 grams of saturated fat), 30 mg of cholesterol, 95 mg of sodium, 2 grams of carbs, 1 gram of sugar, and 1 gram of protein. You’ll also get 2% of your daily value of calcium.
According to the sticker on the front of the package, this cream cheese is proudly made with milk from cows not treated with rBST (growth hormones). That said, the dairy used is not organic.
Considering that the majority of the calories in this cream cheese come from saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium, this definitely should not be considered a healthy food. That said, if you eat it on occasion in a decadent dessert or in small portions as a snack, it’s fairly harmless.
My Honest Review
I really wanted to like this cream cheese… but I was disappointed.
I prefer cream cheese that’s rather tangy flavor wise and fairly soft texture wise. Unfortunately, TJ’s Cream Cheese delivers neither.
It’s pretty bland when it comes to flavor, missing the characteristic tanginess of other cream cheese brands, and it’s also extremely thick, making it difficult to spread.
Many have wondered how TJ’s Cream Cheese compares to Philadelphia Cream Cheese, but I personally think there is no comparison. Philadelphia Cream Cheese has that classic cream cheese tanginess and perfect spreadability, while TJ’s version does not.
The relative lack of tanginess in TJ’s Cream Cheese could be due to the lack of whey in its recipe. Whey protein tends to have a creamy and tangy flavor, and it’s high up on the ingredients list in the Philadelphia product.
TJ’s Cream Cheese has also come under fire from cream cheese fans for how gummy its texture is. With the inclusion of three different types of stabilizer gums (guar, carob bean, and xanthan), TJ’s Cream Cheese just isn’t as smooth and spreadable as Philadelphia Cream Cheese, which does not contain xanthan or guar gums.
Even though I like that the packaging of TJ’s Cream Cheese doesn’t contain any plastic, the foil package makes it hard to use and share. If you buy any cream cheese packaged like this, I recommend transferring it to a different container after you get it home.
Trader Joe’s Vegan Cream Cheese Reviews
Since Trader Joe’s classic Cream Cheese didn’t quite live up to my expectations, I decided to look into some TJ’s cream cheese options that shoppers are happier with.
If you’re in the market for a good vegan cream cheese, Trader Joe’s might be your best bet. While the reviews aren’t positive across the board, those who like TJ’s Vegan Cream Cheese seem to think that it is the best vegan cream cheese alternative ever made.
Here are a couple more reviews vouching for TJ’s as the best source for vegan cream cheese:
Trader Joe’s Onion & Chive Cream Cheese Spread has also received more favorable reviews than their classic offering, so maybe I’ll try that out next time if I feel like taking another chance on TJ’s Cream Cheese. At this point, though, I’m not sure that I will.