How to Make Cream Cheese with Only One Ingredient

It is so simple to make cream cheese with only one ingredient whether you are affected by a shortage or just want to learn how to do it!

Have you ever wondered how to make cream cheese – with only one ingredient?

You might just be interested because you like making all sorts of foods from scratch.

But maybe you are affected by the cream cheese shortage at the end of 2021, beginning of 2022.

Whatever the reason, let me tell you that it is not only super simple to make cream cheese at home – you will only need one ingredient!

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Why you’ll love this recipe

It couldn’t be simpler than that: take one ingredient, do something to it, and then you have another food.

That is essentially what this recipe is all about.

What is the one ingredient for this cream cheese

There are actually quite a number of recipes on the internet that claim the same thing. Making cream cheese with only one ingredient.

However, I have tested some of them and was underwhelmed. Not only that, actually I was a bit disappointed.

I have experimented with using yogurt for making cream cheese. The result tasted like really thick yogurt to me.

However, when you think about cream cheese, one thing that stand out is the word “cream”. Therefore, I took sour cream, and voila, I had my recipe!

cream cheese from one ingredient

Useful tools and equipment

Here are my recommendations for best results:

  • medium bowl: as you are making this recipe, you will be collecting a lot of whey. I like using a medium stainless steel bowl to catch it.
  • cheesecloth: as you are straining the sour cream, you want to keep back the solids and drain the whey. I like using a cheesecloth that I double up.
  • colander/strainer: initially I like to line a colander with the cheesecloth. This allows me to pour the sour cream in there and then to let it drain.

How to make the cream cheese

This is my simple process:

  • Line a colander or strainer with cheesecloth. I recommend folding it in half to double it up.
  • Place the colander over the medium bowl. If it sits too low in the bowl you can use some other tools or spatulas to bring it higher up.
making cream cheese
  • Dump the sour cream into the cheesecloth. Let it drain for several hours.
  • After some hours, you might like to tie the corners of the cheesecloth and hang it from something to let gravity help drain more whey from the sour cream.
  • Once your cream cheese has reached the desired consistency, place it in a container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate.
draining cream cheese

Cream cheese substitutions and variations

As I have mentioned above, some recipes recommend using whole-fat plain yogurt. While you get a nice consistency, the taste reminded me too much of yogurt and lacked the creamy taste of cream cheese.

However, it really depends on how you’re planning to use your cream cheese. Yogurt-based cream cheese might be fine for making cheesecakes.

We love eating smoked salmon on bagels and cream cheese. For that, we do prefer using sour cream to make cream cheese.

Then, of course, you can always make cream cheese with cultures that you purchase. Cultures for Health has some good ones. I bet there are some other sources out there that sell cream cheese cultures.

cream cheese from only one ingredient

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Cream Cheese Starter Culture

Medium bowl

Stainless Steel Colander


cream cheese from only one ingredient
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Cream Cheese from only 1 Ingredient

This is a super simple method to make your own cream cheese at home from only one ingredient! It is perfect on bagels, with smoked salmon, in cheesecakes, or any recipe with cream cheese.
Prep Time2 minutes
time to drain8 hours
Total Time8 hours 2 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8 oz
Calories: 720kcal
Cost: $2.50


  • cheesecloth


  • 16 oz sour cream (full fat)


  • Line a colander with the cheesecloth (folded in half) or a very clean dish towel. Place the cloth-lined colander over a medium bowl.
  • Dump all of the sour cream into the colander. Let the whey drain into the bowl underneath.
  • For a firmer cream cheese, you can take the cheesecloth by the corners, tie them into a knot and hang it from a cabinet knob over the bowl.
  • Let the cream cheese drain until it has the desired consistency.
  • Transfer the cream cheese to a container with a tight fitting lid. Use in your favorite recipe or store in the refrigerator for later.


Calories: 720kcal
Tried this recipe?Mention @ourgabledhome or tag #ourgabledhome!

Let me know if you have any questions or comments!

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How to Make Cream Cheese from only One Ingredient


    1. Hi Pam, 16 oz of sour cream will make about 8 oz of cream cheese (depending on how much you let the whey drain out) ~ Anja

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