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These Cheese Danishes Are Flaky, Buttery Bliss for Just $1 — Easy 25-Minute Recipe

Plus, learn to make your own strawberry jam topping!

A special occasion brunch deserves a showstopper — and we mean beyond the usual scrambled eggs and toast. When we think of a savory handheld treat that really wows, one thing comes to mind: cheese Danishes. These buttery, golden pastries have a rich cream cheese filling and sugary frosting. We love how this recipe comes together in under 30 minutes thanks to store-bought puff pastry dough — at a fraction of the cost of what you’d get at a bakery (just about $1 each!). Plus, we have expert baking hacks, including getting flaky pastry, as well as a homemade strawberry jam recipe to spoon on top. Here’s your guide to cheese Danishes.

What are cheese Danishes?

Cheese Danishes first originated in Denmark, where similar pastries filled with fruit and cheese were a staple for centuries. However, Danish pastries themselves likely evolved from viennoiserie, a rich and flaky bread tradition brought to Denmark by Austrian bakers in the 18th century. We can thank viennoiserie for pastries like croissants!

Danishes pastries feature a base of laminated puff pastry dough. The lamination process includes layering thin sheets of butter within the dough, creating a light and flaky texture. But while others have various fillings like custard, almond paste or even chocolate, cheese Danishes have a gooey cream cheese filling topped with sweet elements like frosting or fruit jam.

Love cream cheese? Use it in Grilled Cheese Sandwiches for extra creaminess.

Homemade strawberry jam recipe

You won’t want to skip adding some fruit jam on your cheese Danishes. Although store-bought jams offer convenience, making your own at home adds a touch of personalization and fresh flavor. This single-jar recipe from Kylee Cooks takes about 10 minutes with 3 simple ingredients (no thickener!).

Small-Batch Strawberry Jam

homemade strawberry jam in mason jar to top cheese danishes
Westend61/Getty

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. fresh strawberries
  • 1½ cups granulated white sugar
  • 2 Tbs. lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. lemon zest, optional

Directions:

  • Active Time: 2 minutes
  • Total Time: 12 minutes
  • Yield: 1 jar
  1. Wash and slice the strawberries, removing the hulls and green tops. Then, add them to a saucepan and mix the sugar in well.
  2. Stir continually over medium heat and bring the strawberries to boil. Once boiling, add the lemon juice and zest (if using). Boil for about 15 minutes, or until the jam reaches 220°F. Stir often to prevent burning.
  3. Pour into a jar and allow to cool before covering and refrigerating. Use within about 2 weeks of making.

Want another fruity topping idea? Try this easy Blueberry Compote recipe!

How to make the best cheese Danishes

Store-bought puff pastry dough can be key when it comes to saving time (and effort). But if you still want to impress your loved ones, we have a few expert tricks to ensure your cheese Danishes turn out like you just got them from a bakery. Chef April Franqueza, pastry chef at High Hampton Resort, and Chef Trung Vu, instructor of Pastry & Baking Arts at the Institute of Culinary Education, share what to know.

1. Thaw your dough

First, thaw your puff pastry dough completely. Close-to-frozen dough will be difficult to work with, might crack and won’t rise properly. Chef Vu recommends placing it in the fridge, however, so it stays cool. “Warm dough tends to lose its shape,” he says. “And if it gets too warm, butter can start to melt out of the dough, damaging the flaky layers Danishes are known for.”

2. Perfect your filling

Chef Franqueza uses “a mix of cream cheese, vanilla and confectioners sugar” for her filling base. But what if you don’t like cream cheese? “I would likely only use something like mascarpone cheese, as it has a similar viscosity and would still bake nicely,” explains Chef Franqueza.

Resist the urge to fill your pastries all the way with the cheese filling. Too much can cause them to overflow or burst during baking. Chef Franqueza also recommends using “a plastic bag to make a faux piping bag, and when ready, cut the corner off to allow you to pipe directly onto the Danish.”

3. Bake at this temperature

“While you oven is preheating, give the pinwheels a brush of egg wash (simply a beaten egg) to give them extra color and shine,” says Chef Franqueza.

Chef Vu says to “start on a high oven temperature and then reduce to bake through. The high oven temperature will ensure the Danishes get a good oven spring, that initial (and final) rise of the dough when it meets the hot oven.  A hot oven will also instantly turn water or moisture in the dough into steam, helping to create those flaky layers in Danishes we all love.”

4. Cool before icing

After baking, allow the cheese Danishes to cool before adding any frosting or other toppings. This prevents any melting into the pastry. Additionally, use a fork instead of a spoon when drizzling your frosting for lines instead of pools.

Easy cheese Danishes recipe

This buttery, flaky and budget-friendly recipe from Budget Bytes takes 25 minutes to make and costs just about $1 per serving! With a touch of vanilla extract as well as frosting, you might not have to worry about storing leftovers. You can also double the recipe using both sheets.

Cheese Danish

cheese danishes spread out on rectangular platter against white background
Impromptu Photography / Cindy Gillespie/Getty

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cream cheese, softened 
  • ⅓ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed 
  • 1 egg, yolk and white separated
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbs. milk

Directions:

  • Active Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Then, place your oven’s rack in the center and preheat it to 400°F. In a bowl, mix the cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, egg yolk and salt until smooth.
  2. Unfold the sheet of puff pastry, dust off excess flour, and place it on the baking sheet. Cut down the seams of the folds so you have three equal-sized strips. Halve the strips.
  3. Use a fork to perforate around the sides of each puff pastry rectangle, leaving a half-inch border. This prevents the puff pastry from rising in the middle.
  4. Add 2 heaping tablespoons of the cream cheese mixture to each square. Then, spread evenly, making sure to leave the borders clean.
  5. Beat the egg white until frothy. Dip a pastry brush into the beaten egg white and trace lightly along the borders. This will give the puff pastry a glossy finish and golden color.
  6. Bake 10 minutes, then rotate the baking sheet, front to back. Continue to bake for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the borders of the puff pastry have risen and are golden brown. After, use a spatula to remove the pastries from the sheet pan and cool on a rack.
  7. In a bowl, mix the powdered sugar, vanilla and milk. Finally, drizzle over cooled Danishes.

Storage and reheating cheese Danishes

“If they are to be consumed in the same day or by the next day, I would leave the Danishes at room temperature,” says Chef Vu. “Refrigerating will hasten bread becoming stale, but freezing (2 months) is a good option if you want to enjoy these breads down the line.”

To thaw, Chef Vu prefers to “flash the frozen bread in a very hot oven or toaster oven until warmed through. For a Danish, which is pretty flat, it should not take more than 5-10 minutes to reheat.”

Personalize your cheese Danishes

Beyond the classic combination of cream cheese, frosting and fruit jam, cheese Danishes offer a blank canvas for creativity. So, don’t be afraid to experiment with different flavors and textures to personalize your pastries. Below, we have a few ideas to inspire you.

1. Switch up your cheese

For a savory twist, consider using goat cheese or ricotta instead of cream cheese in your filling (try making Whipped Ricotta!). Pair it with roasted vegetables for a nice savory-sweet balance. Additionally, a sprinkle of chopped fresh herbs like chives or thyme adds a touch of freshness and visual appeal.

2. Zest some citrus

Elevate your cream cheese filling with a fragrant zest of citrus fruits like lemon, orange or grapefruit. The bright acidity cuts through the richness of the cheese. For an extra boost, consider using a citrus marmalade instead of traditional jam.

Chef Franqueza also suggests “adding a few fresh berries during the baking process” or you can “purchase pre-made pie filling (think cherry or lemon curd) and pipe that into the center as well.”

3. Add chocolate

Who doesn’t love chocolate? Fold in some dark or semisweet chocolate into your cream cheese mixture for a decadent bite. Or you can top off your cooled Danishes with melted chocolate or chocolate ganache instead of the frosting.


For more delicious pastries, try some of these recipes below:

You Won’t Believe How Easy It Is To Make These To-Die-For Croissant Doughnuts

Store-Bought Puff Pastry Is a ‘Lazy’ Dessert Staple — Here’s Why (Plus 3 Recipes)

Baker’s Butter Trick Guarantees Deliciously Flaky Biscuits — Easy Recipe

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