A cream cheese sauce is any sort of sauce that is made using cream cheese as either a base or a flavor ingredient. The smooth texture of cream cheese, combined with its mild flavor and the ease with which it can be melted, makes it a good choice for both sweet and savory sauces. Cream cheese sauce can be adapted to fit almost any style of cooking and is an excellent choice for home cooks because of the ease with which it can typically be prepared.
Typical cream cheese is very rich, and contains more than one-third dairy fat. It is also very soft and very moist. These two properties make it an excellent cheese for use in sauces. The high fat content ensures a rich and creamy sauce, and the high moisture content makes the cheese very soft, pliable, and easy to work with.
One very common variety of cream cheese sauce is a modified version of an Alfredo sauce. Alfredo sauce is normally made with a mixture of parmesan cheese and butter. A similar flavor profile and consistency can be obtained using cream cheese in place of some of the parmesan and butter. This type of sauce is simple to prepare and has an excellent creamy character.
Many other varieties of savory cream cheese sauce are possible. Pasta sauces often blend cream cheese with Italian flavors such as oregano and basil. A mixture of cream cheese and sour cream produces a very rich sauce which blends especially well with the earthy flavors of mushrooms and onions and could be used on pasta or to create a modified version of Eastern European cuisine, where this flavor combination is common.
Cream cheese sauce can also be used for sweet sauces. A sauce built using several sweet ingredients and a cream cheese base will be both sweet and pleasantly rich and hearty. This type of sauce could be made with fresh fruit, fruit syrup, maple syrup, a melted mixture of butter and brown sugar, or even chocolate. This sort of cream cheese sauce can be used with dessert dishes, but also works well in rich and sweet breakfast preparations and can be served with waffles, crepes, or pancakes.
Sauces based on cream cheese are rich and flavorful, but they are not necessarily health food. Cream cheese is very rich and high in both fat and calories. This may be a concern for some cooks. Low-fat cream cheese is available, but even low-fat cream cheese sauce will typically still be rich and relatively high in calories.