The Best Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

This Cream Cheese Frosting recipe is quick, easy and perfect for frosting cupcakes since it holds its shape for piping! It’s the best cream cheese frosting and can be used on either cupcakes or layer cakes. You have to try this cream cheese frosting!

Cream Cheese Frosting - perfect for piping on cupcakes and cakes!

Cream Cheese Frosting - perfect for piping on cupcakes and cakes!

Frosting is one of the most important parts of a cake and tends to be the best part, in my opinion. Every one needs great frosting recipes that they can work with and cream cheese frosting is a classic and must-have. It’s also quick easy to make and work with, if you have a great recipe and know how to make minor adjustments as needed.

How do you make cream cheese frosting?

To make cream cheese frosting, you’ll need your butter and cream cheese, which should basically be at room temperature. Keep in mind though that if you’re in a pretty warm climate, room temperature may be little too warm. So as you consider the right consistency for the butter and cream cheese, it should be a little cool to the touch, but soft enough that if poked, it makes an indention without your finger going straight through it.

As for ratio of butter to cream cheese, I use a little less butter and a little more cream cheese. If you’re going for a cream cheese frosting, I say really go for it. There’s not a big decrease in butter, but just enough to make sure it doesn’t steal the show.

Once you’ve combined your cream cheese and butter so that it’s nice and smooth (if you have lumps, they are probably too cool and you’ll want to let them come closer to room temperature), it’s time to add the powdered sugar. I know it’s tempting to reduce the amount of powdered sugar and might seem harmless, but this is what adds volume and structure to the frosting. If you reduce the amount of powdered sugar, just know that it’ll affect the final consistency. If you’re looking for a pipe-able frosting, be sure to use the full amount.

The final ingredient is the vanilla extract, which adds nice flavor to the cream cheese frosting for that last final touch!

Cream Cheese Frosting - perfect for piping on cupcakes and cakes!

Cream Cheese Frosting for Cupcakes

So, I make my cream cheese frosting for cakes and cupcakes just a little bit differently. Cupcakes are a little more forgiving when it comes to frosting consistency and having a little thinner frosting. You get away with a thinner frosting because it sits nicely on top of the cupcake and doesn’t need to cling to the sides of something, like with cake.

For my cupcakes, I use four cups of powdered sugar. That’s the standard amount of powdered sugar I use in most of my buttercream frostings to have enough frosting for about 12 cupcakes or so. It works perfectly in this cream cheese frosting to give it volume and enough thickness that it holds it’s shape when piped, but doesn’t go overboard on sweetness.

Cream Cheese Frosting - perfect for piping on cupcakes and cakes!

Cream Cheese Frosting for Cakes

When it comes to cakes, I up the powdered sugar by just a bit. A cup to be exact. Although you’ll find that they way the recipe is written below, I double the frosting for a cake. It’s enough frosting to generously frost a three layer 8-inch cake and have frosting between the layers and on the outside of the cake. It also pipes beautifully if using it for borders and decorations.

Cream Cheese Frosting - perfect for piping on cupcakes and cakes!

What does cream cheese frosting go well with?

Cream cheese frosting pairs well with so many things, you really can’t go wrong. It is probably most often paired with carrot cake, like I did with these Carrot Cake Swirl Cupcakes. Such a classic combination.

You will also find that it’s the classic accompaniment with a Red Velvet Cake. You could even use chocolate cream cheese frosting, as used on these Red Velvet Cupcakes.

Cream cheese frosting goes well with some of these other favorites:

Strawberry Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

How to store cream cheese frosting

While cream cheese needs to be stored in the fridge, there can sometimes be a little wiggle room with cream cheese frosting. Although it safest to store it in the fridge and that’s what I do, if you’re home is kept at about 70 degrees or cooler, the frosting should be fine to sit on the counter for a day or so. If you’re going to leave it out longer than that though, I’d refrigerate it. If you do refrigerate it prior to adding it to your cake or cupcakes, you’ll want to let it sit out and soften up again before using it.

Cream Cheese Frosting - perfect for piping on cupcakes and cakes!

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Recipe

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Author: Lindsay
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 12-14 cupcakes or an 8 inch cake
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: No bake
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This Cream Cheese Frosting recipe is quick, easy & perfect for frosting cupcakes since it holds its shape for piping! It’s the best cream cheese frosting!


Ingredients

Cream Cheese Frosting for Cupcakes

  • 8 oz (226g) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 6 tbsp (86g) salted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups (460g) powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Frosting for Cakes

  • 16 oz (452g) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (172g) butter, room temperature
  • 10 cups (1150g) powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

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 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.


Notes

Note: The frosting for cupcakes and cakes differs only by the amount of powdered sugar used. 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. Feel free to adjust the amount of powdered sugar if you’d like, but keep in mind that less will give you a thinner frosting and more will make it thicker. Both versions of the cream cheese frosting will pipe well, just be sure the frosting doesn’t get too warm.

Note: I like to use salted butter, but feel free to use unsalted. Add about 1/8 teaspoon or so of salt, depending on your preference.

Note: To make a chocolate cream cheese frosting, add 1/2 cup (57g) of natural unsweetened cocoa to the cupcake frosting and 1 cup (114g) to the cake frosting.

Note: Store unused cream cheese frosting in the fridge for 4-5 days or freeze in an airtight container for 2-3 months.

Keywords: cream cheese frosting, cream cheese frosting recipe, how to make frosting, how to make cream cheese frosting, best frosting for cupcakes, best frosting for cakes, best frosting for piping, easy frosting recipe

Enjoy!

Cream Cheese Frosting - perfect for piping on cupcakes and cakes!

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Recipe rating

68 Comments
  1. Kristin

    For warmer climates, would it be possible to use half the amount of butter and sub. the other half with crisco shortening?

  2. Regina Birdsell

    Could you use this frosting to fill a red velvet cake roll?  Do you have any plans on doing a recipe for your own red velvet cake roll?  Your pumpkin roll was wonderful!

    1. Lindsay

      Yes, that should work just fine. I don’t have any plans, but have added it to the list. Glad you enjoyed the pumpkin one!

  3. Lawrence

    This is WAY too good! alterations I made:

    I only had one tsp of vanilla extract and replaced the other tsp with almond extract,
    I used 2 whole sticks of butter instead of a stick and half. (I just forgot to split the stick in half)
    I used about 8 cups of sugar, but I’m not big on overly sweet things.

    I would totally recommend this for all of my fellow frosting haters out there.

  4. Max

    Hi Lindsey, How would I make this as a Cinnamon Cream Cheese frosting? I’m looking to combine this with your Cinnamon Apple Layer Cake. Thanks!

  5. tina boggan

    Lindsay, just want to thank-you for the recipe, it is GREAT , MY HUSBAND LOVES IT ! Also, I gave some cake to a few friends, they loved it as well , I did give them your web address, but that didn’t do any good, they still want ME to make another cake!…SO … here I am again…

  6. Christina

    For a 6 in round 4 layer cake, How much should I make(i only want to make one batch then split) middle will be chocolate cream cheese and the outside will be regular cream cheese frosting, and suggestions?

  7. Samantha

    Is the consistency meant to be like buttercream? I’m a bit scared that it won’t hold on cupcakes for a picnic…. 

    1. Lindsay

      This should hold up well on cupcakes, as long as you don’t have them out in heat for a long period. I use it for cupcakes often.

  8. Klaudia carter

    Omg ! Perfect I added an additional half cup of sugar and some almond extract for a super sweet tooth coworkers birthday and my entire staff harassed me for the recipe . Thank you so much ! 

  9. Clarissa Edwards

    About to make for thanksgiving dessert! To color should i buy gel food coloring as to not make the frosting more runny?

  10. Margaret

    Hi there, i am so glad I found your site. I’m going to be making my daughter’s wedding cake and have used butter cream icing over the years for my children’s birthday cakes. I have made many carrot cakes and have always used cream cheese icing however it didn’t even cross my mind to use this icing for the wedding cake……so thank you for that.
    My question is will the cream cheese icing hold up as well when stacking the cakes? Would you recommend the cake be refridgerated up until a few hours before the reception? If i make the icing a little firmer would that be better? I live in NZ so the weather in November shouldn’t be too hot.

    1. Lindsay

      Cream cheese frosting is definitely tricky. You could try to thicken it a little. I would definitely refrigerate it until a few hours before. You could even try adding a smidge of gelatin to it. Not enough that people are really gonna taste it, but enough that it might hold its place better. I’ve never actually tried it myself, but it could be worth testing it out.

      1. Emma

        Hi
        Just wondering how fondant decorations would hold up on this cake if they are put on after crusting? 
        Many thanks 

      2. Lindsay

        Fondant decorations should probably be added before it crusts to stick best and I’d stick with small ones.

  11. Tracy Blaber

    Such a quick and easy great tasting frosting! Just a bit concerned if it will hold its shape on a cupcake. Should I leave the cakes in the fridge overnight?

    1. Lindsay

      I would suggest refrigerating this frosting. Generally speaking it should hold it shape, but with the cream cheese I would also keep it cool.

  12. Sarah

    This is the best cc icing ever. I have used it for several cakes. Quick note however, you need to have a good mixer for this recipe. I actually burned out my mom’s old mixer and had to buy her another 🙂

  13. JOY A JOHNSTON

    I have read multiple suggestions in different places about using less sugar and more cream cheese to make a thicker frosting as the sugar liquifies and thins out the frosting. I have also noticed beating the cream cheese too long makes it runny because the cream cheese loses it’s integrity. Do you have to be careful about how long you beat yours? I have used the same proportions as this recipe before and was frustrated because of how runny it was. I’m in the southern united states so frosting can be very temperamental with both heat and humidity working against me.

    1. Lindsay

      I’m in the south too (Atlanta). I haven’t personally noticed an issue with mixing cream cheese making it runny before. I do notice that with mascarpone cheese. And I’ve also never known powdered sugar to liquefy and make frosting runny. That said, there’s really no reason to over mix the cream cheese. Things only need to be mixed until they are welcome bind and smooth. Mixing them longer than that isn’t going to help anything. That said, there’s really no reason to over mix the cream cheese. Things only need to be mixed until they are welcome bind and smooth. Mixing them longer than that isn’t going to help anything. There’s no doubt the cream cheese frosting is one of that cream cheese frosting is one of the trickiest, but if you make it when your cream cheese is still a touch cool and not too warm, it’s usually easier to work with. If you’re following this recipe as written and it still a little soft, try popping it in the fridge for 15 minutes or so and then using it.

  14. Nilda

    Making this for a stacked cake a little bit worried since it is cream cheese icing. Also want to make sure it is smooth. Does the confectioners sugar need to be sifted? 

    1. Lindsay

      I don’t usually need to sift my powdered sugar because I go through it very quickly and it doesn’t usually clump. If you think yours needs some sifting, then you definitely can.

  15. Me xx

    Im only on the first step but now it is really bumpy because the butter was already cold from the fridge! I have tried whisking it and beating it but its now really lumpy 🙁 what should I do??

  16. Jackie Wooten

    Your cream cheese frosting looks great. I have 2 6 inch cake I want to frost using your cream cheese recipe. How much butter do I use for the cream cheese to come through?

  17. Kim Thompson

    Would like to substitute the butter for Crisco sticks? Also need frosting for 62 cup cakes how can I adjust?

    1. Lindsay

      Swapping butter for Crisco is an even swap. As for how much frosting you need for 62 cupcakes, I’d say that the cupcake recipe for this frosting should cover about 15 cupcakes, depending on how much frosting you are using for each cupcake. So whatever the math is from there.

  18. Ann Rosser

    Hi can you help me please i have made this topping before using other recipes but saw that you mentioned about a warmer climate, i saw that because of this you used less butter so i tried your
    recipe, i still couldnt pipe the topping so i put it in the freezer for half an hour and it was better to pipe but not like it should be, i do live in Spain and made it yesterday so it was hot any suggestions please,

    Thank Ann

    1. Lindsay

      Cream cheese frosting really can be tricky. You’ll probably want to work with it when it’s still a little cool so that you can pipe it and then get it back in the fridge quickly. Or you can add more powdered sugar to thicken it further.

  19. Vanessa

    Made this today and absolutely delicious, what I failed to read was to put it in the fridge before icing, I now know why my cakes didn’t stack as well 😉 will remember for next time, thank you!

      1. Lindsay

        Yes, but be sure to use gel icing colors so that you don’t thin out the frosting too much.

  20. Fernanda

    Hi! I’m about to try this recipe! Hopefully it will work. I live in a very warm city and I always have the worst time making buttercream of any kind and I’m really looking forward to make this. I have a question, how many cups of salted caramel and icing sugar I need to add to this recipe. I’m really afraid that it will get to sweet. Hope you can help me. I love your recipes. Thank you

    1. Lindsay

      Cream cheese frosting has a tendency to already be softer, so I’m not sure about adding caramel sauce to it. You could add additional powdered sugar, but then you’re going to start losing the flavor of the cream cheese and you’re right – it could be too sweet.

  21. Sak

    Hi, first time baker here. I tried this frosting recipe and it was basically liquid. I’m not sure what I did wrong, I even got a measuring scale to make sure I used the correct weights. I used all 4 cups of icing sugar, that’s all I have in the house. I wonder how much icing sugar you have stocked hehe!
    Any tips on how to save a runny frosting? Thanks! I’m looking forward to trying your cheesecake recipes next.

    1. Lindsay

      That’s very strange. I’ve never had that happen. Perhaps the cream cheese and butter were too soft. Room temperature can vary between people’s homes, so if yours is warmer, that could give you ingredients that are a little too soft. I’d try to pop in it the fridge for a bit and see if that helps. If not, the only thing I can think to try to save it is more powdered sugar.

      1. Emily

        Hi there,
        Awesome recipe! Thank you so much.
        The problem may of been the type of cream cheese used. European cream cheese is sold in tubs and has a much much higher water content than the wrapped up block form. The icing sugar draws out moisture so it could be why you had a soupy mix.
        If this could of been your issue next time try mixing the butter and sugar together first then folding in the cream cheese. Good luck!

  22. Kira

    If trying to make chocolate icing, would I reduce the powdered sugar by 1 cup – so 9 cups powdered sugar and 1 cup cocoa – or just add the 1 cup of cocoa to the 10 cups powdered sugar?

    1. Lindsay

      For the cupcakes version, I’d do just that. For the cake version, I’d double it – so reduce sugar by 1 cup and add 1 cup cocoa.

    2. Andrea

      This is THE BEST CC frosting recipe!!! There’s no need to try any others; it’s my go to recipe from now on.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!❤️❤️❤️

    1. Lindsay

      I have never tried low-fat cream cheese in the frosting. It might change the texture a little bit and it might be a little thinner because of the reduced fat, but it should be okay.

      1. carol

        I was making a wedding cake and accidentally bought low fat cream cheese. I thought I’d give it a try since I had it. Terrible, awful, disastrous mistake. It was like icing with soup. It simply would not hold shape. Even after adding additional sugar, it was still a mess to work with and I’m no newbie to cakes. I decorated professionally for 36 years. Don’t do it, you will only waste your time and money. 

      2. Chloe

        Hi there! Just wondering if you use cream cheese in tubs instead of bricks? The tutorials I watch say that using cream cheese bricks are more stable to use as cake frosting than the ones in tubs as they’re more runny. Thanks!

Lindsay
About Lindsay

I'm a wife and mom to twin boys, a baby girl and a sweet black lab with a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the sugar!

Scripture I’m Loving

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12