Eating a bagel without cream cheese is like eating tortilla chips without salsa. You could do it, but why would you? The entire time, you’ll probably feel like something’s missing. Cream cheese fills the void, taking your bagel from a simple carb to a full breakfast, and most of the time, plain, white cream cheese is good enough. (It’s a classic for a reason.) But sometimes, you want something a little spicier, a little sweeter, a little funkier on your bagel. That’s where flavored cream cheese comes in, and these days, it seems like there are as many cream cheese options as there are different types of bagels.
Cream cheese is a great base for almost any ingredient, from sweet to savory. Sure, there are some traditional flavored cream cheeses, like scallions or sundried tomatoes, but folks around the world have been getting creative, making gourmet cream cheeses that sound good enough to eat straight up with a spoon.
No matter what flavor you’re craving, there’s an irregular cream cheese flavor out there for you. Here are 11 of the most unique cream cheese flavors from around the world, some of which you can make in the comfort of your own kitchen.
The Bagel Store in Brooklyn went viral with its rainbow bagel, which is served with a schmear of equally bright birthday cake cream cheese. Sprinkles are optional, but the rainbow comes standard.
The chipotle avocado cream cheese at Tompkins Square Bagels is basically guacamole for your bagel. Called the Jonas cream cheese, it has a slightly green tint from the avocado, while the chipotle and little bit of red onion adds a bit of a kick.
Lox and cream cheese is a classic combination that’s already pretty luxurious. But the folks at Russ and Daughters in New York City have taken fishy luxury one step further, with a malossol fresh black whitefish caviar cream cheese.
Cookies and Cream
Cookies and cream-flavored cream cheese isn’t necessarily revolutionary as far as crazy cream cheese flavors are concerned, but it’s certainly unexpected to find a store serving up bagels with flavored cream cheese in China. Enter Mrs. Shanen’s, a Beijing-based bagel store that stocks bagels of all varieties along with clever cream cheese flavors like cookies and cream.
Brooklyn Bagel offers a different, adventurous cream cheese flavor every week; some recent offerings have been Reese’s Pieces and blue cheese and chive. But the store also has some unique spreads that are always on offer, like the jalapeño asiago.
H&H Midtown Bagels East is known for its bagels made the old-fashioned way, and its flavored cream cheese offerings are nothing to scoff at either. The most unique of its schmear options is definitely the apple butter-flavored cream cheese.
This Hungarian-inspired cream cheese, called Lipatauer (and pronounced “Lip-tower”), from legendary Michigan deli Zingerman’s contains fresh garlic, capers, toasted caraway, anchovy, and paprika. It’s certainly not for those who are wary of a little funk with their bagel.
You don’t have to go to a bagel store to enjoy a gourmet cream cheese. Thrillist came up with a pizza-flavored cream cheese for your bagels that will render microwaved pizza bagels obsolete.
It seems like you can get every food item in pumpkin spice once fall comes around, and cream cheese is no exception. Philadelphia makes a seasonal pumpkin spice-flavored cream cheese that would probably taste great on a cinnamon raisin bagel.
Another at-home cream cheese recipe makes the most of fermented cabbage. Mix two parts of cream cheese with one part kimchi to make a salty, spicy, somewhat briney kimchi cream cheese schmear.
Hot Smoked Trout
A New Jersey native moved to Melbourne, Australia and opened his own bagel store down under. Called 5 & Dime Bagel, the store offers New York-style boiled and baked bagels with a variety of cream cheeses, including a hot smoked trout flavor that seems to be a play on a classic whitefish spread.