Cream Cheese vs Butter: A Comparison

cream cheese vs butter

Question: What are the differences between cream cheese vs butter?

Answer: Cream cheese and butter are often compared because of their ingredients and nutrition. This likely because they are routinely substituted for each other on bagels and other foods. Let’s take a look at their ingredients and nutrition to see which one is the healthier option.


Butter: Sweet Cream, Salt (only in salted butter).

Cream Cheese: Pasteurized Milk and Cream, Salt, Carob Bean Gum or other stabilizers, cheese culture.

Both products are derived from milk and contain minimal ingredients. Butter is made with just cream while cream cheese is made from a mixture of milk and cream with other minor ingredients. Before we look at the nutrition facts below, we can assume that regular butter contains higher calories and fat because it is made solely with cream.

What about light or reduced-fat product? The advantage to eating full-fat dairy is that ypu consume minimal ingredients. You will obtain a slew of additional ingredients by eating light or reduced-fat cream cheese or butter. For example, let’s take a look at the ingredients of reduced-fat cream cheese and light butter.

Reduced-Fat Cream Cheese:  pasteurized milk and cream, whey protein concentrate, contains less than 2% of salt, carob bean gum, guar gum, sorbic acid (as a preservative)*, vitamin a palmitate, cheese culture

Light Butter: butter (cream, salt) water, buttermilk, food-starch-modified, tapioca maltodextrin, salt, distilled monoglycerides, lactic acid, potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate. pgpr, natural flavor, xanthan gum, vitamin a palmitate, beta carotene.

Cream Cheese vs. Butter: Nutrition Facts

You can see below that you save over double the calories and fat by using regular cream cheese over regular butter. This is a huge difference if you are watching calories. When comparing reduced-fat cream cheese to light butter, there is only a 30 calorie difference. For most people, this is not a big difference. However, with light or reduced-fat products you must consider the extra ingredients.
ProductServing SizeCalories Total FatSaturated Fat CholesterolSodiumCarbohydratesDietary FiberSugars ProteinVitamin A (% dv)Vitamin C (% dv)Calcium (% dv)Iron (% dv)
Philadelphia Regular Cream Cheese2 Tbsp (31g)807g4.5g7mg125mg7g0g1g2g6040
Land O Lakes Salted Butter2 Tbsp( 28g)20022g14g60mg180mg0g0g0g0g16000
Philadelphia 1/3 Less Fat, Regular Cream Cheese2 Tbsp (31g)705g3.5g7mg120mg1g0g2g2g6040
Light Butter2 Tbsp( 28g)10012g7g30mg200mg0g0g0g0g16

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