The Best Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

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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!

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.

cream cheese frosting piped onto chocolate cupcake

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.
salt, vanilla, butter, cream cheese and powdered sugar in glass bowls on marble table

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.
cream cheese frosting in a metal mixing bowl

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.

cream cheese frosting on metal mixer blade standing on marble table

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

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.

Watch This Video

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cream cheese frosting piped onto gray plate with piping bag in the corner

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Author: Lindsay
  • 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


Share a Comment

Have a question? Use the form below to submit your question or comment. I love hearing from you and seeing what you made!

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  1. Christy

    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?

    1. Lindsay

      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.

  2. Juliet

    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?

  3. Sherry Foster

    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.

    1. Lindsay

      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.

    1. Lindsay

      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.

  4. Kristin

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

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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…

  9. 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?

  10. 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.

  11. 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 ! 

  12. Clarissa Edwards

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

  13. 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

        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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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 🙂


    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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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??

  19. 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?

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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!

  25. 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!

About Lindsay

I'm a wife and a mom to twin boys and a baby girl! And I've got a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the treats!

Scripture I’m Loving

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29