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Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

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This Cream Cheese Frosting recipe is quick and easy. This frosting is thick and velvety with that signature tangy flavor. It’s the perfect frosting for decorating cakes and cupcakes.

If you love cream cheese frosting, you’ll love my cream cheese whipped cream and my chocolate cream cheese frosting

Three cupcakes frosted with cream cheese frosting and a strawberry on top

Simply The Best Cream Cheese Frosting

There are a lot of cream cheese frosting recipes on the web, however, there’s one thing that makes my recipe different. I start with cold ingredients, which help make a thick frosting that is perfect for piping on cupcakes or frosting a cake. 

This is one of my favorite frosting recipes of all time and I could eat it by the spoonful. It has the silkiest, rich flavor without being overly sweet. This frosting recipe is quick and easy since you don’t have to wait for the ingredients to reach room temperature.

I’ve made many variations of this recipe and of course it’s a staple for carrot cake, red velvet cupcakes, and my pumpkin cupcakes, which are just to-die-for.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • 5 simple ingredients
  • Signature tangy cream cheese flavor without being overly sweet
  • Stiff and holds it’s shape, which makes it perfect for piping and decorating cakes and cupcakes
  • Quick to prepare
Overhead of a frosted cupcake with cream cheese frosting and a strawberry on top

Two Secrets for The Best Frosting Consistency

Most cream cheese frosting recipes are too soft or runny to use for decorating beautiful cakes and cupcakes. But I have solved the problem for you.

Start with cold ingredients: My recipe uses cold butter and cold cream cheese. I find that room temperature ingredients can lead to runny or thin frosting.

Use the proper cream cheese: You need to use a brick of full-fat cream cheese. This is especially important because the consistency of the reduced-fat or fat-free cream cheese or even whipped cream cheese can cause the frosting to be especially soft and runny. 

How to Make Cream Cheese Frosting

Before beginning, I like to cut the butter and cream cheese into smaller cubes, as it helps the mixer to better incorporate them.

Beat the butter: First, beat the butter for 2-3 minutes until it is light and fluffy. You’ll need to scrape down the bowl a few times, but it should be beaten until it reaches a consistency where it could easily be spread on toast.

Add the cream cheese: Then add the cream cheese and cream together for 2-3 minutes until they are fluffy and free of lumps. The frosting will first appear to resemble cottage cheese, but continue beating it until it works itself out and reaches a smoother consistency.

Add the powdered sugar and liquid: Slowly add confectionary sugar 2 cups at a time and alternate adding the vanilla extract and heavy cream. I recommend adding only 1 tablespoon of heavy cream at first, and then adding additional if needed. Make sure the powdered sugar is fully incorporated before adding the next batch,

One final mix: Once all the ingredients have been added, give that bowl once final scrape down and beat the frosting for another minute or two.

A white spatula with cream cheese frosting being held over a glass mixing bowl

Why Is My Frosting Runny and How to Fix It

Did you use the right type of cream cheese? You need an 8-ounce block of full-fat cream cheese. Do not use reduced or fat-free, or any type of whipped cream cheese as they are too thin and contain more water. 

Did you use room temperature ingredients instead of cold ingredients? This recipe was specifically developed using cold ingredients. If you used room temperature, you may need to add additional powdered sugar to help thicken the frosting, or you may need to refrigerate the frosting prior to using it.

How to fix it: To fix a thin frosting, one option is to add additional powdered sugar, 1/2 cup to 1 cup at a time. However, this can quickly make the frosting overly sweet. So instead, I recommend refrigerating it for 20-30 minutes to firm it up before piping.

A mixing bowl with cream cheese frosting and a white spatula

Does Cream Cheese Frosting Need to be Refrigerated?

Generally speaking, desserts made with cream cheese frosting should be refrigerated. However, if I serve my dessert within 24 hours, I will leave it at room temperature, as I live in a mild climate, and keep my house cool.  If you live in a hot humid environment, always refrigerate your desserts.  

If you refrigerate your cakes or cupcakes, be sure to remove them from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes prior to serving. Cakes and cupcakes are best served at room temperature. 

Can I Make This in Advance?

This is the perfect frosting to make ahead of time. Prepare the frosting as you normally would, and then store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Thirty minutes prior to using, take the frosting out of the fridge and leave on the counter. If it still seems too thick, go ahead and put it back in the mixer and beat for about 2 minutes until it’s light and fluffy again.

A frosted vanilla cupcake with a bite missing

Flavor Variation Ideas

  • Fresh Fruit zest: Adding some zest from a fresh lemon or orange really compliments the tangy cream cheese
  • Add alcohol: Swap out some of the vanilla for Bourbon
  • Make it chocolate: Add cocoa powder for a chocolate cream cheese frosting
  • Salted Caramel: I love adding some salted caramel to the frosting, which I paired with my Sweet Potato Cake
  • Fall flavors: Add cinnamon and a splash of maple syrup. This would pair so well with my pumpkin or gingerbread cupcakes.

Recipe to Use with Cream Cheese Frosting

A close up of a frosted cupcake with a strawberry

Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

  • Author: Julianne Dell
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 24 cupcakes


This Cream Cheese Frosting recipe is quick and easy and it’s the perfect cupcake frosting because it holds its shape nicely for piping. You need to try this, it’s the best frosting! 


For 24 cupcakes or a 2 layer cake

  • 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, cold
  • 16 ounces (452g) cream cheese, cold
  • 67 cups (780g) powdered confectionary sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) vanilla extract
  • 12 tablespoon (15-30ml) heavy whipping cream (optional)

For 12 cupcakes or a 9×13 inch cake

  • ½ cup (113g) unsalted butter, cold
  • 8 ounces (226g) cream cheese, cold
  • 4 cups (520g) powdered confectionary sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5g) vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) heavy whipping cream (optional)


  1. Cut the butter into 1-inch blocks. Beat the butter for 2-3 minutes until it is light and fluffy and reaches a spreadable consistency.
  2. Then add the cream cheese and cream together for 2-3 minutes until they are fluffy and free of lumps, scape down the bowl occasionally.
  3. Slowly add confectionary sugar 2 cups at a time and alternating adding the vanilla extract and heavy cream. Reserve 1 tablespoon of heavy cream and add only if needed. Beat on low speed until the powdered sugar has combined then increase speed to medium-high and beat for 1-2 minutes. Repeat until all the powdered sugar has been added.


  • How to store this frosting: You can refrigerate the frosting in an airtight container for several days. Allow the frosting to come to room temperature, at least 20-30 minutes before using.
  • Ways to flavor this frosting: lemon extract, fruit zests like lemon or orange, Bourbon, cinnamon, maple syrup.
  • How to adjust the consistency of your frosting: If you find the frosting is too thin, refrigerate for 30-60 minutes before using. Add an additional 1/2 cup of confectionary sugar at a time for a stiffer consistency, if desired.  If you find the frosting is too sweet, add 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream and a pinch of salt and beat until well combined.
  • Storing frosted cupcakes: Generally speaking, desserts made with this frosting should be refrigerated. However, if I serve my dessert within 24 hours, I will leave it at room temperature, as I live in a mild climate, and keep my house cool.  If you live in a hot a humid environment, always refrigerate your desserts. Serve at room temperature for best results.
Nutrition Information:
1 cupcakes worth
  • Category: Frosting
  • Method: Stand Mixer
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: homemade frosting, cream cheese icing, cake frosting, cupcake frosting

Leave a Comment

Recipe rating

31 Responses
  1. Deb Ann

    I see that you begin with a flat beater for the frosting. My question is do you keep using the flat beater for the entire process or do you change to the whip at some point?
    Thanks Deb

  2. Tis

    The icing tasted lovely but was runny and seemingly unrescuable. I froze it, in case I can defrost and re whip for another cake.

    I followed the direction and the video so I’m unsure why the outcome didn’t work.

    Any tips?

    On another note, I made the chocolate one and it was amazing!

  3. Sandi Meyers

    I specifically looked for a cream cheese icing I could pipe. It tasted good but there was no way it could be piped for any kind of design. Will keep searching for a better more stable recipe.

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Hi Sandi- this should have been very stable and pipeable without any issues. So it seems something didn’t go right for you. Did you use cold, full-fat cream cheese? Perhaps next time try adding less liquid.

  4. maryann

    Terrific cream cheese frosting! Used it to top a banana cake so I added a little maple with the vanilla and a pinch of cinnamon (no heavy cream needed). Very happy with this frosting. Used the amounts recommended for a 13×9 cake – and it was the perfect amount for frosting my cake (and I like a LOT of frosting on my cake)! Will definitely use again. Thank you!

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Yes! That is awesome Maryann, thank you so much for sharing your feedback. I love the changes you made!

  5. Aydin

    Wonderful finely someone who can explain things so simple and to be a successful outcome thanks so much one ☝️ fan

  6. Debbie

    Your recipe says to use equal amounts of butter and cream cheese however your recipe calls for 8 oz of butter and 16 oz of cream cheese can you clarify?

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Hi Debbie- it’s one stick of butter for every 8 ounce block of cream cheese. I can see how that would be confusing by referring to it as “equal amounts”. The recipe ingredients are correct.

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      I have not done it myself but you should be able to- I recommend using GEL coloring as opposed to traditional food coloring.

      1. Carol

        I made white chocolate coconut cupcakes for my son and daughter-in-law’s shower for this coming Saturday. Your frosting was magnificent. I took some white chocolate chips and melted them added them to the frosting. I also added some raspberry Emulsion and coconut emotion, in place of the vanilla. It was so good. By the way, I double the recipe but only used the 6 to 7 cups of flour for the double patch and it was perfect. Then I took some of that, and put about three cups into a measuring cup and added HR of Knott’s pure seedless red raspberry jam, and that’s what I’m going to use to fill the cupcakes with. When they’re done, I’ll let you know how it all went together. But tasting the frosting with that chocolate in it and the additional emotions was so so good! Thank you again for this wonderful recipe and technique

  7. Linda

    I have a cream cheese recipe that has no confectioners sugar. It’s cream cheese, unsalted butter, and melted white chocolate. It’s the best.

  8. Anna

    Hello. I came across your site on Pinterest for a cream cheese frosting and the simplicity of your recipe sounds great. What I want to make sure is, if I’m reading this correctly, we can either whip the cold butter first- then whip the cream cheese together OR have the butter stand out for 20 min then we can whip the butter and cream cheese together?

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Correct. I normally use cold butter, whip it and then add the cream cheese when the consistency is more similar to the cream cheese. But if the butter is already at room temperature, you can add them together

  9. VV

    Plan on making this tonight, has any one had experience using it in the layers of a cake? Just want to make sure it would hold up under 2-3 layers and not get runny.

  10. Isadora Guidoni

    Cream cheese frosting is probably my favorite ever! Looking forward to make this recipe!

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