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Cheese Danish

Cheese Danishes are delicious breakfast pastries with a rich, creamy filling and a flaky, buttery crust. Think they sound too complicated to make at home? Think again!

Tray of homemade cheese danishes

Setting aside recipes like Sour Cream Coffee Cake Loaf and Apple Cinnamon Muffins, breakfast pastries are often quite time-consuming to make, which is the last thing you want first thing in the morning. These cheese danishes are a wonderful exception, pairing a lusciously creamy cheese filling with store-bought puff pastry for ease and simplicity. 

Why You’ll Love This Cheese Danish Recipe

  • Easier than you think. Using puff pastry sheets makes these pastries a breeze to prepare, but they look just as good as the ones you’d buy at your favorite bakery!
  • Customizable. You can add your own twist to the recipe by adding toppings like fruit, nuts, or chocolate chips.
  • Instant crowd-pleaser. Whether you serve them for a holiday breakfast or bring them to a brunch potluck, everyone will love these cheese danishes—and they’ll be impressed with your baking prowess! (Don’t worry, you don’t have to tell them how easy they were to make.)
Overhead view of ingredients for cheese danishes

What You’ll Need

Scroll down to the recipe card to find the ingredient quantities and recipe instructions.

For the Pastries:

  • Cream cheese – Use the kind that comes in blocks, not tubs.
  • Granulated sugar
  • Egg – You’ll need to separate the eggs; starting with cold eggs makes it easier to separate the yolks from the whites. The yolk goes into the filling, while the white is used as an egg wash.
  • Lemon juice – This amps up the tangy flavor of the cream cheese, adding a nice brightness. Fresh lemon juice is best.
  • Vanilla extract – Use store-bought or homemade vanilla extract.
  • Puff pastry sheets – You’ll find these in the frozen section of the grocery store.

For the Glaze:

  • Confectioners’ sugar – Also called powdered sugar.
  • Milk or heavy cream – Whichever you have on hand will work.
  • Vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract – Vanilla bean paste will give you lovely flecks of vanilla bean, but extract is just fine too.

Is Phyllo Dough the Same as Puff Pastry?

No, phyllo dough and puff pastry are not the same. Although both are made from flaky layers of thin dough, they have different textures and uses in cooking. Phyllo dough is thinner and more delicate, and used for making Mediterranean dishes like spanakopita or baklava. Puff pastry is thicker and has a flakier texture with a rich, buttery flavor, making it perfect for sweet treats like cheese danishes.

How to Make Cheese Danishes

  • Prepare. Preheat your oven to 400°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.
  • Make the filling. Use an electric mixer on medium speed to beat the cream cheese, sugar, egg yolk, lemon juice, and vanilla until the mixture is smooth.
  • Cut the pastry sheets. Dust a work surface lightly with flour. Roll one sheet of puff pastry into a 10-inch square. Cut this into 9 smaller squares.
  • Prep the pastry. Transfer the squares to the prepared pan and use a fork to poke holes partially into the pastry, leaving a 1 & 1/2 inch border. Brush each square of puff pastry with the egg white. (You may not use all of the egg white.)
  • Finish assembling. Top each square with about a tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture.
  • Bake. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 12 to 16 minutes, or until the pastries are lightly browned.
  • Cool. Set the pans on wire racks to cool—you can either cool the danishes completely or just cool them enough that they’re safe to handle and eat.
  • Make the glaze. While the cheese danishes cool, whisk together the glaze ingredients. Adjust the amount of milk or cream to get the consistency you like.
  • Finish. Drizzle the glaze over the pastries, then serve.
Homemade cheese danishes on wire cooling rack

Tips for Success

This easy cheese danish recipe is a breeze to make. Here are a few tips to help make sure yours turn out perfectly:

  • Soften the cream cheese. This will make it easier to mix and ensure a smooth, creamy filling.
  • Use good quality puff pastry. This is the key ingredient for a flaky, buttery crust. Look for all-butter puff pastry if possible.
  • Don’t overfill the pastries. A tablespoon of filling is enough! It might not look like much, but it will spread during baking. If you add too much, you won’t get those nice crisp edges and your cream cheese may overflow.

Variations

  • Fruit danishes. Instead of the cream cheese filling, use your favorite fruit jam or preserves to make a fruity version of this pastry.
  • Chocolate chip cream cheese danishes. Fold mini chocolate chips into the cream cheese filling for a little extra decadence.
  • Skip the glaze. Instead, you can dust the finished cream cheese danishes with powdered sugar.
Overhead view of homemade cheese danishes on platter and plates

How to Store

Store leftover cream cheese danishes in an airtight container or wrap them with plastic wrap. They will keep for 2-3 days in the refrigerator, although they are best enjoyed fresh out of the oven.

You can eat the leftover danishes straight out of the refrigerator or let them come to room temperature. To enjoy warm, reheat the pastries in a preheated oven at 350°F for about 5 minutes. (The microwave works too, but they won’t be as flaky and crisp.)

Platter with stack of cheese danishes

Can I Freeze This Recipe?

Yes, you can freeze cheese danishes before or after baking. If freezing before baking, follow the recipe instructions until baking. Instead of baking, flash-freeze the pastries on a tray for 1-2 hours. Once frozen, transfer them to a freezer-safe bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to bake, simply follow the recipe instructions, adding a few extra minutes to the baking time.

If freezing after baking, cool the pastries completely before wrapping them individually in plastic wrap. Place them in an airtight container or freezer bag and store in the freezer for up to 2 months. To reheat, thaw overnight in the fridge and bake at 350°F. Note that if you have a choice, it’s best to freeze cheese danishes before baking, not after.

Hand lifting cheese danish from tray

More Breakfast Recipes

Cheese Danish

Yield 18 pastries
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes

Cheese danishes pair a rich, creamy filling with a flaky, buttery crust. This version starts with store-bought puff pastry so it's super easy!

Overhead view of cheese danishes on square plates and tray

Ingredients

For the pastries:

  • 8 ounces (226g) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, separated
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (17.3 ounce/490g) package puff pastry sheets

For the glaze:

  • 3/4 cup (83g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract

Instructions

To make the pastries:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.
  2. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese, sugar, egg yolk, lemon juice, and vanilla until smooth.
  3. Roll one sheet of puff pastry to approx. 10 inch square. Cut into 9 squares.
  4. Transfer the squares to the prepared pan. Use a fork to dock the pastry, leaving a 1 & 1/2 inch border. You don't need to poke holes all the way through; just lightly poke with a fork.
  5. Brush each pastry with the egg white.
  6. Top each square with about a tablespoon of cream cheese mixture. (A #50 scoop works very well.) Place it just in the center; it will spread as it bakes.
  7. Bake for 12 to 16 minutes, or until the pastries are lightly browned.
  8. Place the pans on wire racks to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

To make the glaze:

  1. Stir together the confectioners’ sugar, 1 tablespoon milk/cream, and vanilla. Add more milk or cream, a small amount at a time until the glaze is thick but pourable.
  2. Drizzle the glaze over the pastries before serving.

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    2 Comments on “Cheese Danish”

  1. Just to be clear, when you say score the pastry, do you mean poke holes with a fork or run lines down the pastry? Thanks in advance.

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