Oatly Cream Cheese Review: Here’s Our Honest Opinion 

SELF reviews the brand-new plant-based spread.
Oatly Cream Cheese on Cinnamon Rolls and a Bagel
Ashia Aubourg/Oatly/Amanda K Bailey

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The world’s largest oat milk company is back at it with a new nondairy product made from—you guessed it—oats. Oatly’s plant-based cream cheese debuted this month nationwide, and you can find it in grocery stores like Albertsons, Wegmans, and Fresh Direct. The cream cheese comes in two flavors (plain, and chive and onion) and it’s supposed to taste just like the dairy stuff.

But we’ve heard that before. As a food writer tapped into the trends in this space, I’ve come across a bunch of plant-based products touted as tasting indistinguishable from their dairy counterparts. And, I have to say, many of them fall short. So when Oatly sent me a couple of tubs, I decided to give it a go to see how they really compare.

I know what makes a good cream cheese: I went to school in New York and spent my undergrad years practically living off bagels slathered with it. I’m also an avid baker, and I love incorporating the spread into carrot cake frosting and melting it onto warm cinnamon rolls. So for me, a great cream cheese must taste good on its own and complement my homemade pastries. I kept this same criteria in mind when testing this plant-based dupe. Here are my overall thoughts on how it measures up.

How the Oatly Cream Cheese line spreads and tastes

In terms of texture, Oatly nailed it in terms of mimicking the smooth yet thick schmear of cream cheese. I could move my butter knife quickly across the carton to scoop up enough for my bagel. I’ve tried other plant-based options where it’s a battle getting it out of the tub, making it difficult to spread onto pastries.

But many plant-based companies have mastered making vegan foods look like the real thing, so for me, this wasn’t enough. It also needs to have the mild, tart flavor of milk-based cream cheese, which a lot of nondairy options struggle with. In fact, I often notice they are too sour.

What pleasantly surprised me about Oatly’s plain option was how close its taste came to dairy cream cheese. It mimicked the mild, creamy bite the spread usually gives, and even included that slight (but not overwhelming) tang. It had a light oat-y afternote, similar to that of its famous nondairy milk, but I didn’t mind it. The chive and onion version hit the savory spot—it was bursting with garlicky flavor. When spreading it, I was able to see fresh pieces of herbs slathered onto the bagel (which I loved!).

After trying the plant-based spread on its own, I wanted to see what it would taste like with other added ingredients. I love incorporating toppings to my bagels, whether that’s some sautéed spinach or some type of protein like a fried egg or smoked salmon. When I tested the latter with the chive and onion Oatly schmear, it maintained its flavor even against some powerful seafood bites. The combination of herbs paired with spicy fish was so delicious, I’d consider nixing my non-vegan cream cheese for this one.

But before I cemented my verdict, I needed to see how it fared with a baking project. I pulled out my KitchenAid stand mixer and got going on some cinnamon rolls. I whipped the plain Oatly spread with some powdered sugar and lemon zest to make a cream cheese icing—and wow, did it live up to the test. The consistency was fluffy and easily spreadable: It melted perfectly on the hot rolls without separating. What’s more, the spread’s flavor paired deliciously with added sweetener, giving the frosting a sweet yet tangy note.

What’s in Oatly Cream Cheese?

As I was falling in love with this cream cheese, I had to stop myself and read the back label to make sure I wasn’t actually eating dairy. I was glad to see that the first two staples listed on the tub were oats and water. It’s the same proprietary base used in their infamous oat milk, so if you drink that often, you probably won’t see much of a difference with their schmears. I noticed both the beverages and the spreads shared that familiar creamy taste.

What it doesn’t include? Like other plant-based spreads, Oatly nixes any traces of animal fat, like dairy milk, making it a great cream cheese dupe for folks who are vegan, lactose intolerant, or who are simply looking to mix in more veggie-forward options. But because these types of ingredients are important to maintain texture and taste, Oatly opted to incorporate palm oil to fill that void. That way, when you add the schmear to hot foods—like a toasted bagel or warm cinnamon roll—it won't immediately melt off the sides. And that held true in both cases with me: The product remained spreadable, but didn’t drip off.

Final thoughts

If living a plant-based life is crucial to you, you’re probably hyped about the drop of this product. And after trying it, I can honestly say it’s a plant-based cream cheese that actually tastes and looks like the real thing. It’s a victory for folks who can’t process dairy milk, for those looking for vegan options, and for someone like me who finds joy in baking with all kinds of new ingredients.

My only recommendation for Oatly would be to drop a whipped version. Because who doesn’t love an extra light and airy spread?

Oatly Chive and Onion Plant Based Cream Cheese