Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

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

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

A vanilla cupcakes with a teal wrapper and a big swirl of cream cheese frosting. These cupcakes are topped with a sliced strawberry.

Simply the best Cream Cheese Frosting

There’s a lot of cream cheese frosting recipes on the web, and only so many ways you can make it. However, there’s one thing that makes my recipes different; I start with cold ingredients. This helps make a thick frosting that is perfect for piping on cupcakes or frosting a cake.  This frosting recipe is quick and easy since you don’t have to wait for the ingredients to reach room temperature. 

This is one of my favorite frosting recipes of all time. 

Why you’ll love this frosting recipe

  • 5 simple ingredients
  • Signature tangy cream cheese flavor without being overly sweet
  • Perfect for piping and decorating cakes and cupcakes
  • Quick to prepare
  • The perfect frosting to make ahead of time

vanilla cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and strawberry

My secrets for the perfect cream cheese frosting for decorating 

My recipe uses cold butter and cold cream cheese. Nearly every recipe you’ll find calls for room temperature ingredients, but I find this often leads to runny or thin frosting. However, since you’re starting with cold ingredients, you need to beat the butter first, prior to adding the cream cheese because the cream cheese is naturally softer. Be sure to really beat the butter until it’s light and fluffy. Then add the cream cheese and continue beating until the two are well combined, and scrape down the bowl every so often. Occasionally I let my butter sit out for 20 minutes, and if so, I will add it at the same time as the cream cheese. 

You need to use 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. 

If you find that your cream cheese has become too soft, you can place it in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes to firm up prior to piping. Adding additional powdered sugar will also help, but it will make the frosting sweeter. 

How to make the best cream cheese frosting

  • Cut the butter into 1-inch blocks. Beat the butter for 2-3 minutes until it is light and fluffy.
  • 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.
  • Slowly add confectionary sugar 2 cups at a time and alternating adding the vanilla extract and heavy cream. 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.

A vanilla cupcake with a big swirl of cream cheese frosting with a strawberry on top. There's a big bite taken out of this cupcake.

Why is my frosting runny or thin?

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 a 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. 

How to store this frosting

Generally speaking, desserts made with this frosting should be refrigerated. However, if I serving 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.  

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

Can I make this ahead of time?

Yes, 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 our the fridge and leave on the counter. 

Three vanilla cupcakes with teal polka dot liners, topped with cream cheese frosting and a strawberry.

 Frosting flavor ideas

  • Add lemon extract and fresh lemon zest 
  • Add orange zest 
  • Swap out some of the vanilla for Bourbon
  • Add cocoa powder for a chocolate cream cheese frosting
  • Add salted caramel 
  • Add cinnamon and a splash of maple syrup

Recipe to use with cream cheese frosting

Cream cheese frosting can be very rich, so a little goes a long way here. This is another great frosting recipe that you’ll use time and time again.

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vanilla cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and strawberry

Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

  • Author: Beyond Frosting
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 24 cupcakes

Description

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! 

Ingredients

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
  • 2 tablespoon (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
  • 3 ½ cups (455g) powdered confectionary sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5g) vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) heavy whipping cream (optional)

Instructions

  1. Cut the butter into 1-inch blocks. Beat the butter for 2-3 minutes until it is light and fluffy.
  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. 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.

Notes

  • 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 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 serving 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
254
30g
61mg
14g
31g
0g
1.3g
40mg
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Mixer
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Cream cheese frosting, frosting recipe, how to make cream cheese frosting

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18 Responses
  1. 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. 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. 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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. 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

  4. 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.

  5. Isadora Guidoni

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

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