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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About to make for thanksgiving dessert! To color should i buy gel food coloring as to not make the frosting more runny?
Yes I would definitely recommend the gel color.
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.
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.
Just wondering how fondant decorations would hold up on this cake if they are put on after crusting?
Fondant decorations should probably be added before it crusts to stick best and I’d stick with small ones.
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?
I would suggest refrigerating this frosting. Generally speaking it should hold it shape, but with the cream cheese I would also keep it cool.
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’m glad you enjoyed it!
How do you get the icing smooth on a cake. I’m having a hard time with this??
Here is my tutorial for frosting a smooth cake. It includes a great video too. https://www.lifeloveandsugar.com/how-to-frost-a-smooth-cake-with-buttercream/
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.
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.
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?
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.
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??
You’re going to want to let it soften first. Cold butter is going to give you lumps.
Used this for a red velvet cake and it was delicious!!! Thank you!!
I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
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?