From the flaky, buttery pastry, to the sweet creamy filling, to the bright lemon glaze, this Cream Cheese Danish is out-of-this-world good.
This recipe for a homemade cream cheese danish could not be easier to make, thanks to taking a shortcut and using store-bought puff pastry. While absolutely perfect served plain, you can also opt to add berries or chocolate to your danish, for a delicious twist.
Short-Cut Cream Cheese Danish
Most people THINK that making danishes at home is quite complicated. But that is simply not the case!
By using store-bought puff pastry, you can whip up a danish that is light, flaky, and tender at home effortless with spectacular results.
Made with only 6 ingredients, this recipe for a Homemade Cream Cheese Danish comes together easily in just a few simple steps and makes a show-stopping addition to any brunch, especially when paired with a Spinach Frittata and Oven Baked Bacon.
Notes on Ingredients
- Puff Pastry: Frozen or refrigerated puff pastry makes these danishes incredibly easy to prepare. I purchase a brand without hydrogenated oils that both Walmart and my local grocery chain carry. Whole foods and Trader Joe's also have a brand without hydrogenated oils as well. If you do use frozen puff pastry, be sure to place it in the refrigerator to thaw the day before making.
- Cream Cheese: You can use regular cream cheese or low-fat cream cheese, but do not use fat-free cream cheese as the flavor will not be the same.
- Powdered Sugar: Powdered sugar is the best choice of sweetener to use for this recipe, as it will dissolve perfectly into the cream cheese and is used for the glaze on the pastry as well.
- Eggs: An egg yolk is used for the filling of the danish and a whole egg is used for an egg wash that helps give the pastry its beautiful golden color.
- Fresh Lemons: I use the lemon zest and lemon juice in the cream cheese filling for a pop of flavor and the fresh lemon juice to make the glaze. The lemon really pairs beautifully with the sweetened cream cheese to add citrus notes and to balance the overall sweetness of these danishes.
How to Make a Cream Cheese Danish
- In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon zest, egg, vanilla, and lemon juice until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Set mixture aside.
- Roll out the puff pastry on a lightly floured surfaced, Silpat or parchment paper, lightly until smooth.
- Unfold the puff pastry and place it onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Use a rolling pin to lightly roll out the puff pastry, just enough to remove the creases from the dough.
- Spread cream cheese filling down the center of the puff pastry, in about a 2-3 inch wide section.
- If you are adding any toppings to your danish, add to the top of the cream cheese mixture at this time.
- Cut ½ inch diagonal strips up each side of the dough and then fold those pieces over the filling, alternating sides to resemble a braided pattern.
- Tuck any excess dough under the ends to seal the danish.
- In a small bowl, mix together an egg with 1 tablespoon of water. And then use that egg wash to brush the exposed puff pastry. This will help the danish to get golden brown with baked.
- Bake until golden brown and the puff pastry has browned and is cooked through.
- Remove from the oven and place the baking sheet onto a cooling rack and let cool for 15-20 minutes before glazing.
- While the pastries are cooling, mix together the powdered sugar and lemon juice until smooth. You want the mixture to drizzle slowly off a fork. Add 1 tablespoon more powdered sugar at a time to thicken or ½ teaspoon more lemon juice to thin.
- Drizzle the lemon glaze over the cream cheese danish after it has cooled.
- Allow the glaze to harden a bit and then slice and serve.
If you want to avoid having to cut up a large danish, you can make mini or individual cream cheese danishes, which are perfect for a party.
- Prepare the filling and roll out the puff pastry as the recipe directs.
- Cut the pastry in half and then each half into fourths.
- Place each square of pastry onto a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper.
- Fold up each corner of the square, to resemble the shape of an octagon.
- Add approximately 2 tablespoons of the cream cheese mixture to the center of each pastry. Gently spread out just to flatten the cream cheese. You want the corners of the pastry that were folded over to be covered with the cream cheese mixture just slightly.
- Brush the exposed puff pastry with an egg wash and bake for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees F.
Preparing in Advance
This pastry is perfect for entertaining at breakfast or brunch, as it is a crowd-stunner. You can get prep the danish in advance and then freeze until ready to bake so that you have less to do the morning you are entertaining guests.
- Prepare the danish as directed up to making the egg wash. Place the baking tray, with the assembled danish, directly in the freezer and freeze for several hours or overnight until the danish has frozen solid.
- Once frozen, you can carefully remove the danish and tray from the freezer, and place in an airtight container, or wrap well in plastic wrap and foil.
- When ready to bake, place frozen pastry onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet and brush with an egg wash. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 400 degrees, or until golden brown.
- Glaze as directed.
Flavor Options for Danishes
You can add flavor and variety to these cream cheese danishes by topping the cream cheese mixture with up to 1 tablespoon of a variety of toppings. Here are some of my favorite ideas.
- Chocolate Chip Danish: Sprinkle ¼ to ½ cup of chocolate chips or chocolate chunks on top of the cream cheese mixture before baking--the chocolate will melt slightly into the cream cheese mixture as the danish bakes.
- Blueberry Danish: Top the cream cheese mixture with ½ cup fresh blueberries, blueberry jam, or blueberry pie filling before baking.
- Raspberry Danish: Use ½ cup of raspberry preserves or jam on top of the cream cheese mixture before baking. I do not recommend fresh raspberries for this recipe.
- Lemon Danish: Top the cream cheese mixture with ⅓ cup of lemon curd before baking.
- Cherry Danish: Use ⅓ cup cherry pie filling on top of the cream cheese mixture before baking.
More Brunch Recipes
- Mini Breakfast Quiche
- Easy Breakfast Casserole
- Green Chile Egg Casserole
- Homemade Breakfast Sausage
- Overnight French Toast Casserole
If you enjoyed this cream cheese danish, I would love for you to leave a comment and review below. Also, be sure to let us know what your favorite flavor topping is!
Cream Cheese Danish
- 1 (13-17 ounce package) puff pastry thawed if frozen
- 8 ounces cream cheese softened
- 1 egg yolk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 cup powdered sugar sifted
- 2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Mix together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon zest, egg, vanilla, and lemon juice until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
- Unroll the puff pastry and place it onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Lightly roll out the puff pastry just to remove lines from packaging.
- Spread cream cheese filling down the center of the puff pastry, in about a 2-3 inch wide section. If you are adding any toppings to your danish, add to the top of the cream cheese mixture at this time.
- Cut ½ inch diagonal strips up each side of the dough and then fold those pieces over the filling, alternating sides to resemble a braided pattern. Tuck any excess dough under the ends to seal the danish.
- In a small bowl, mix together an egg with 1 tablespoon of water. Brush the exposed puff pastry with the egg wash.
- Bake for 22-25 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and cool for at least 10 minutes before glazing.
- For the glaze, mix together the powdered sugar and lemon juice until smooth. You want the mixture to drizzle slowly off a fork. Add 1 tablespoon more powdered sugar at a time to thicken or ½ teaspoon more lemon juice to thin.
- Drizzle the lemon glaze over the puff pastry.
This post was orginally published in 2019 but was updated in 2021 with options to prepare indvidual danishes or one large danish.