These cheese danishes are so perfectly sweet and flakey that you won’t need to go to the bakery to satisfy your danish craving. Easily make these at home yourself!
What is a Cheese Danish?
A cheese danish is a type of flaky pastry that has a sweet cream cheese center encased in a golden brown, buttery crust. Its crust is made of a multi-layered, yeast-leavened pastry dough that has multiple layers of butter that create the flakiness we all love. The cheese filling is a smooth mixture made with vanilla extract, cream cheese, sugar, and lemon juice. It is then scooped into the middle of the pastry and baked until gooey and warm. Optionally, cheese danishes can also be topped with a sugar glaze or a sprinkle of nuts.
Fun fact: Cheese danishes, or danishes in general, originated in Denmark, but were actually made by bakers from Austria.
How to Make Cheese Danishes
The first step to make cheese danishes is to prepare the danish dough, which is easy to make and can be prepared in advance. The remaining steps are even easier. Here’s an overview of the recipe to get you started.
- Beat the cream cheese mixture: In a medium bowl, combine all filling ingredients together and beat until smooth. Make sure to separate the egg yolk and egg white! Feel free to use a stand mixer and mix on low speed until combined. Here’s our favorite mixer.
- Roll out the pastry dough: Roll the danish pastry dough and cut into squares.
- Brush the edges: Brush the edges of the squares with egg wash (using leftover egg whites) and fold edges into the center. Press down slightly to seal. Brush over the entire pastry again.
- Fill the center: Scoop about a tablespoon of filling into the center of the pastries.
- Bake: Place pastries on a baking sheet, then bake at 400°F for 20 min or until pastry is golden brown.
Glaze bonus: Make your danish extra fancy with a bit of glaze. Combine 1/2 cup of powdered sugar with 1 tbsp of milk. Drizzle the glaze over the tops of the slightly cooled danishes.
Pro Tips for a Top-Notch Danish
Here are our top five tips to make sure your danish tastes and looks its very best.
- Keep dough cold: Avoid allowing the dough to warm up. Cold dough (or rather, the cold butter in the dough) is what makes the danishes extra flaky.
- Use a cookie scoop: To make filling the danishes easier, use a small cookie scoop. This will also help ensure an even amount of cream cheese filling in each danish.
- Add fruity flavor: If you like a fruity flavor, add a teaspoon of your favorite jam into the center of the cheese filling. Our favorites are apricot jam or prune plum jam. Alternatively, add a few fresh berries into the center.
- Garnish with nuts: For more texture, add a few slices of almonds or your favorite nuts on top of the danish.
- Allow the danish to cool: Cheese danishes are so tasty and comforting when enjoyed straight out of the oven. Give the filling a little time to cool so that you don’t burn yourself, but when the flakey crust and filling is still warm, there’s no better tasting pastry in the world!
Making Danishes for Later
Cheese danishes can be made ahead of time just like the danish dough. Assemble the danish and refrigerate it for up to a day. Keep refrigerated until ready to bake. Alternatively, bake the danishes and simply reheat when ready to serve later.
Storing and Reheating Danishes
Baked cheese danishes store well in the refrigerator or the freezer. They can also be enjoyed cold or warm. However, we prefer them warmed — they taste just as good as out of the oven!
- Fridge: To store for three days, simply refrigerate cooled danishes in an airtight container.
- Freezer: To store for up to three months, place baked danishes on parchment paper and freeze on a sheet pan. Once fully frozen, transfer them to a freezer safe ziploc bag.
- Reheating: To reheat, place individual danishes into an oven or air fryer and heat until warmed through.
What other toppings can I add to cheese danishes?
You can add a dollop of your favorite jam, a few pieces of chopped fruit or berries, or chocolate chips into the filling center. Alternatively, make a sugar glaze and drizzle over the tops. Garnish with chopped almonds or your favorite type of nuts.
Can I store cream cheese danishes on the counter?
It is best to avoid storing on the counter as the cream cheese custard can go bad. Cream cheese danishes can be stored in the fridge for up to three days or freezer for three months in airtight containers.
How can I adjust the size of my cream cheese danish?
To make danishes smaller (or larger), simply adjust the size of the squares when cutting the danish dough. Use less filling for smaller squares, or more filling for larger squares.
More Perfect Pastry Recipes
- Puff Pastry Cheese Turnovers – Gooey cream cheese filling in puff pastry
- Apple Turnovers – Freshly sliced apple slices baked in puff pastry
- Pear Tartlets – Sweet pear slices over baked puff pastry
- Easy Rolled Baklava – My shortcut version of this decadent treat.
- Beignets – New Orleans inspired, these are pillowy soft and oh so delicious!
- In a medium size bowl, combine together cream cheese, sugar, egg yolk (leave egg whites aside), lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Beat together until perfectly smooth.
- Roll out danish pastry. Cut it into 4 inch square pieces.
- Brush the edges with egg whites, fold edges to the center. Brush the entire pastry with egg whites.
- Scoop a spoonful of cream cheese filling in the center of pastry.
- Place them on a lined baking sheet. Bake at 400°F for about 20 minutes or until outside is golden brown.