The Best Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

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!

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

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

[adthrive-in-post-video-player video-id=”EQqytl4T” upload-date=”2023-01-05T01:28:09.000Z” name=”Cream Cheese Frosting” description=”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.” player-type=”default” override-embed=”default”]

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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

Keywords: cream cheese frosting recipe, best cream cheese frosting, easy frosting recipe


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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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