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
Recipe

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

Description

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.


Ingredients

  • 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

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 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.


Notes

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.

Nutrition

  • 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

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82 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 ! 

Lindsay
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