This Cream Cheese Frosting is perfect for topping cupcakes and frosting cakes! It pipes beautifully and holds it’s shape, it’s perfectly sweet and tangy and it’s easy to make with just 5 ingredients. I’ve been using it for years on Carrot Cake and Red Velvet Cake and it’s a hit every time!
Table of Contents
- The Best Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe
- Why You’ll Love This Easy Frosting
- What You’ll Need
- How to Make Cream Cheese Frosting
- Tips for Success
- Can Cream Cheese Frosting Be Used for Piping?
- How Do I Thicken Cream Cheese Frosting?
- Can I Add Cornstarch to My Cream Cheese Frosting?
- Can I Color Cream Cheese Frosting?
- Can I Add Flavors to Cream Cheese Frosting?
- How to Store Homemade Cream Cheese Frosting
- Ways to Use This Frosting
- More Frosting Recipes to Try
- Watch This Video
- Cream Cheese Frosting
The Best Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe
Whether you’re looking for a frosting that’s less sweet than a traditional Vanilla Buttercream, or simply love cream cheese frosting, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve been using this frosting recipe for years and it really is the best. It’s not too sweet, but it’s not too tangy either.
One of the requirements for me with cream cheese frosting is that it be pipe-able and hold it’s shape. In order to to do that you’ll need a slightly thicker frosting. To achieve that consistency, this recipe has a touch more powdered sugar in it. If you don’t want to be able to pipe your frosting, you could reduce that.
Additionally, this cream cheese frosting recipe as written is going to be great for cupcakes, but I actually thicken it up a touch more for cakes. If you like a thicker layer of frosting on the outside of your cake, you’ll want it a little thicker, which again means a touch more powdered sugar. Otherwise, you might find your frosting sliding right down the sides of your cake, which would definitely be a bummer.
Why You’ll Love This Easy Frosting
- Not too sweet. Not everyone loves a super sweet American buttercream. This frosting is a wonderful alternative. Another great alternative would be Ermine Frosting.
- Pipe-able. Cream cheese frosting has a tendency to be a little thiner than traditional buttercream. While this recipe is still thinner, it’s also thick enough that you can pipe it without any issues.
- Quick and easy. With just 5 ingredients and 10 minutes, you’ll be on your way to the best cream cheese frosting.
- Amazing flavor. It’s perfectly sweet and tangy, so it goes with almost everything.
What You’ll Need
You should have most things on hand, especially if you bake often. Scroll to the recipe below for exact measurements.
- Cream cheese – You want your cream cheese to be room temperature, so that you don’t end up with a lumpy frosting. You also want to be sure to use full fat (not reduced fat) brick-style cream cheese. Not the cream cheese spread in the tub. The brick-style cream cheese is thicker and gives you a thicker frosting. We don’t want it runny!
- Unsalted butter – This should also be room temperature.
- Powdered sugar – This thickens the frosting and adds volume. Adjusting it will give you a thinner or thicker frosting.
- Vanilla extract – For flavor.
- Salt – Also for flavor, plus it can cut down on the sweetness even more.
How to Make Cream Cheese Frosting
- Beat cream cheese and butter. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter with a mixer until smooth.
- Add powdered sugar. Add half of the powdered sugar and mix until well combined and smooth.
- Add flavorings. Add the vanilla extract and salt and mix until well combined.
- Finish it off. Add the remaining powdered sugar, as needed, to get the right consistency of frosting.
Tips for Success
- Start with room-temperature ingredients. If your butter and/or cream cheese is too cool, you will find yourself with a lumpy frosting. If the ingredients are too warm (maybe you microwaved them in a hurry), you will end up with a runny frosting that won’t fluff up properly.
- Choose the right cream cheese. You need full fat brick-style cream cheese. Reduced fat is going to be thinner, as is the kind sold in tubs for spreading.
- Use enough powdered sugar. I know this frosting shouldn’t be too sweet, but you also don’t want it too thin. If you intend to pipe the frosting, use the full 4 cups of powdered sugar, if not more.
Can Cream Cheese Frosting Be Used for Piping?
Absolutely. Just be sure to add the full amount of powdered sugar and use full fat brick-style cream cheese to get a thicken enough frosting that will hold it’s shape.
How Do I Thicken Cream Cheese Frosting?
- You can add extra powdered sugar. With this you run the risk of over-sweetening the frosting, so you don’t want to add too much.
- Add cornstarch. You can add a bit of cornstarch. Add it one tablespoon at a time, mix, and reassess. For this recipe, I wouldn’t recommend adding more than 4 tablespoons or it can get kind of sticky.
- Chill the frosting. If your environment is a little warm, you’re frosting may be thin due to the temperature. Chill it for 20-30 minutes to cool it down and it should pipe better. However, if your frosting is simply too thin, this won’t work, since the frosting will eventually come back to room temperature and soften again.
Can I Add Cornstarch to My Cream Cheese Frosting?
You can. Cornstarch works as a thickening agent in a long list of recipes, sweet and savory. Simply adding it to the frosting will thicken it, similarly to powdered sugar. Just add one tablespoon to the frosting and mix. Repeat until the desired thickness is achieved. Keep in mind that too much cornstarch can start to make the frosting a bit sticky.
Can I Color Cream Cheese Frosting?
Yes! You’ll want to use gel icing colors so that you don’t thin out the frosting. Wilton and Americolor are great options.
Can I Add Flavors to Cream Cheese Frosting?
Of course. Feel free to add any dry-ish flavor to the frosting (cinnamon, nutmeg, citrus zest, etc.) without changing the recipe. If you want to add flavor via a liquid (think lemon juice or some sort of fruit) you will need to adjust the recipe to account for the added moisture. Often that means adding more powdered sugar, so consider that before deciding flavorings.
How to Store Homemade Cream Cheese Frosting
This frosting can sit at room temperature for two hours. So once you make this frosting, it’s already at room temperature and it should be refrigerated within 2 hours. After refrigerating it, it’ll be cold and firm so you’ll have a little more time that it can sit out. Once at room temperature, place it back in the fridge within 2 hours. You can also refrigerate the frosting for 3-4 days. Allow the frosting to come to room temperature before spreading or piping. The frosting can also be frozen for up to a month.
Ways to Use This Frosting
- Carrot Cake
- Red Velvet Cake
- Banana Cupcakes
- Pumpkin Cupcakes
- Spice Cake
- Strawberry Cupcakes
- Lemon Cupcakes
- Sugar Cookies
- Red Velvet Cookie Cake
More Frosting Recipes to Try
You might have reached the pinnacle of frostings here but just in case you are looking for other ideas, here are a few other recipes that really get my taste buds dancing.
- Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe
- Ermine Frosting
- Whipped Cream Frosting
- Homemade Strawberry Frosting – Two Ways
- Mascarpone Whipped Cream Frosting
- Fudgy Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Watch This Video
Cream Cheese Frosting
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: 2 1/2 cups
- Category: Dessert
- Method: No bake
- Cuisine: American
This Cream Cheese Frosting is perfect for topping cupcakes and frosting cakes! It pipes beautifully and holds it’s shape, it’s perfectly sweet and tangy and it’s easy to make with just 5 ingredients. I’ve used it for years and it’s a hit every time.
- 8 oz (226g) cream cheese, room temperature
- 6 tbsp (86g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 cups (460g) powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp salt
1. Add the cream cheese and butter to a large mixer bowl and beat until well combined and smooth.
2. Add about half of the powdered sugar and mix until well combined and smooth.
3. Add the vanilla extract and salt and mix until well combined.
4. Add the remaining powdered sugar and mix until well combined and smooth. Add more or less powdered sugar, as desired for consistency purposes.
Amount: This recipe will make just over 2 1/2 cups. It should be enough for 12-14 cupcakes with a swirl on top. If using less frosting per cupcake, it’ll frost more cupcakes.
Cakes: I find that a little thicker consistency frosting is nicer on a cake so that things stay in place on the sides of the cake. For a cake, I typically double the frosting and add two additional cups of powdered sugar. You don’t have to do this, but it’s what I recommend if you use a thick layer of frosting on the outside of your cakes.
Chocolate version: To make a chocolate cream cheese frosting, add 1/2 cup (57g) of natural unsweetened cocoa.
How to store: Store unused cream cheese frosting in the fridge for 3-4 days or freeze in an airtight container for one month.
- Serving Size:
- Calories: 3284
- Sugar: 478.6 g
- Sodium: 1022.2 mg
- Fat: 147.2 g
- Carbohydrates: 492 g
- Protein: 14.7 g
- Cholesterol: 412.2 mg
Keywords: cream cheese frosting recipe, best cream cheese frosting, easy frosting recipe
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I am making a 3 tier birthday cake. 10 in, 8 in and 6 in. How much of the ingredients do I need to have enough to cover the cake, boarders and splatter paint?
That really depends on how much frosting you like on your cake. I’d at least double this recipe for an 8 inch cake. Hopefully you can judge how much you may need off of that.
Is this a crusting Cream Cheese frosting Lindsay? Thanks so much!
I love your recipes! Question about the cake version of this recipe. It states it covers an 8-inch cake. Is this cake a 3- or 4-layer cake?
It would be a three layer 8 inch cake, like most of the cakes on my site (just for reference).
I am making your Easy Moist Chocolate Cake today, and would like to try this cream cheese frosting. I am making a 9×13 cake. Would I make the amount for cupcakes, or the cake version. I will only be frosting the top of the cake.
It depends a little on how much frosting you like. You could get by with the amount for cupcakes, but it will be a thin layer. You may want to do one and a half recipes worth of the cupcake amounts.
HELP….. I need enough frosting for a 3 layer 9″ cake. Can you please tell me the amounts?
It depends a little bit on how much frosting you typically like to use. I would at least double this recipe. If it were me, I may use 2 1/2 recipes worth or even more, if you need extra for decorating.
Going to try this, sounds great