Cream Cheese Frosting
An easy recipe for cream cheese frosting made with four simple ingredients and ready in just a few minutes. This frosting pipes perfectly and can be used on so many different desserts!
*Post and pictures updated July 2020*
Today we’re talking about one of the best frostings in the world, cream cheese frosting. Over the years I’ve shared several ways to use this frosting, but I felt that this recipe needed it’s own post because it’s one of my absolute favorites!
One of the reasons I love this cream cheese frosting recipe is because it pairs well with so many different desserts. Not only that, but it’s also:
- Incredibly easy to make
- Made with just 4 ingredients
- Super delicious!
I’m also sharing tons of helpful tips on how to ensure that this frosting turns out perfect for you. I guarantee this is the best cream cheese frosting you will ever try!
To make this frosting you’ll need some cream cheese, unsalted butter, powdered sugar, and pure vanilla extract. Let’s discuss each of these ingredients:
- Cream Cheese: Make sure to use brick-style cream cheese for this recipe. You want to avoid the containers of cream cheese spread because they have ingredients added to thin them out, which will make your frosting runny. For the best results I suggest full-fat cream cheese too.
- Unsalted Butter: As always I use unsalted butter, so that’s what I used here. However, if you only have salted butter on hand, you can use that instead.
- Powdered Sugar: This helps to thicken the frosting and sweeten it.
- Pure Vanilla Extract: To add a little flavor to the frosting. I highly recommend sticking with pure vanilla extract instead of imitation.
How To Make Cream Cheese Frosting
To make this homemade cream cheese frosting, you’ll start by adding your softened cream cheese to a mixing bowl and mixing it until it’s smooth. Then, add the softened butter and mix until the cream cheese and butter are fully combined.
Next, you’ll add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and continue mixing until everything is well combined and the frosting is smooth and creamy. I recommend stopping to scrape down the sides of your bowl once or twice and mixing again to ensure that everything is thoroughly mixed together.
Once the frosting is ready, you can use it on top of just about any dessert or refrigerate it until you’re ready to use it.
Does cream cheese frosting need to be refrigerated?
Since this frosting has cream cheese in it you will need to refrigerate it. If you need to make the frosting ahead of time, simply mix it together, cover it tightly, and refrigerate it for 1 to 2 days. When you’re ready to use it, let it come to room temperature, and mix well before frosting your dessert.
Can you freeze this frosting?
Yes! Store the frosting in a freezer bag or container in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to use it, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature and mix well before using it.
How can I thicken my frosting if it’s too soft or runny?
I recommend refrigerating the frosting for 15 to 20 minutes and that should help make it easier to pipe. You can also try mixing in 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to help thicken it.
Can I reduce the amount of powdered sugar?
You can reduce the powdered sugar in this recipe by 1/2 to 1 cup. Just keep in mind that the less powdered sugar that you use, the softer your frosting will be when it’s mixed together.
- Make sure to use a block or brick of cream cheese for this frosting and avoid using cream cheese that’s in a tub.
- Let your cream cheese and butter sit at room temperature for about one hour. This will ensure a smooth and creamy frosting!
- This recipe will yield about 2 cups, which is enough to frost one dozen cupcakes or a 9×13 cake. If you’re frosting a layered cake, I recommend multiplying this recipe by 1.5.
Different Ways To Use This Frosting
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 (8-ounce) package brick style cream cheese softened
- 1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter softened
- 2 cups (240 grams) powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle or whisk attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using a handheld mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the butter and mix for about 30 seconds to 1 minute until well combined and smooth.
- Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and continue mixing until fully combined, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Pipe or frost on cooled cupcakes, cakes, or other desserts.
I love this recipe! We used it for my daughters baking competition and it was easy and quick! Hope she wins! Thank you! Fingers crossed
So glad you liked the frosting! And best of luck!
Thank you for for sharing your cream cheese frosting! My family loves the way I bake the Danielle way. The tips and notes I’ve learn from you really help me a lot. More power!
I made your carrot cake w/cream cheese frosting and it’s really wondeful!
I only have some problems with the frosting, which is more on the runny side most of the times. So frosting a double layer cake or piping cupcakes doesn’t really work. If I put it in the fridge for a long time, the water separates and can be discarded. Then it’s thicker. But as I understand the recipe the frostong should be piping ready grom the beginning.
I must admit though that I reduced the amount of icing sugar to 80-100g (instead of 240g) – could this be the reason? Or is it crucial not to beat the cream cheese and butter for too long?
Sorry to hear that, Melanie. Reducing the sugar could be one reason it was not thick enough. Did you also make sure to use the blocks/bricks of cream cheese spread or did you happen to use the cream cheese spread in a tub?
Cream cheese in a tube?!? I don’t think we have that in Germany. 😉
Next time I will try a bit more sugar. And I will just frost the cake with some refrigerated frosting – I think it has to settle a bit. Thanks for the reply!
Um, sorry, tub not tube….
Yes, it was in a tub, we don’t have the blocks in Germany as far as I know, so maybe that’s the problem. Never occured to me that there are different types of cream cheese (apart from plain and w/herbs)… 😉
Btw: The carrot cake still tastes delicious even after 6 days in the fridge! Yummy!
That would be why it was so runny. I’m glad it still tasted good though! I have a regular buttercream recipe on my site that you could use for this cake too.
I live in England now. Don’t have the blocks here…do you think the tubs will work? I used for my cheesecake and it was runny as well. Shall I try it with a tub?
If the tubs say that it’s a spread/spreadable, it won’t work well for this recipe. Do you have anything that isn’t a spread? If so, that may work okay.
I want to try the récipe but when reading the ingredientes there is something i dont get ..how come 1/2 cup is 115 gr and 2 cups is only 240gr.
I dont want make a mistake, thank you!!
Hi, Maria! All ingredients have different weights. For example, 1/2 cup of butter is denser and will weigh more than 1/2 cup of powdered sugar. Just like 1/2 cup of rocks will weigh more than 1/2 cup of feathers.
Used this last night on a strawberry cake it was very good.
This recipe seems simple and delicious! I saw a previous comment regarding freezing the frosting. However, can it be made 1 or 2 days ahead and refrigerated until the day it needs to get piped? Planning to make this for mini cupcakes for a ladies tea party. Thank you!!
That would be fine! Just make sure to let it come to room temperature and mix well before using it to frost your cupcakes.
Hello! Is Powdered Sugar in this recipe the same as Confectioner’s sugar? Or are you referring to the regular granulated white sugar?
Hi, Bianca! Powdered sugar is the same as confectioners’ sugar.
If I should add some cocoa powder do you think it would make a good chocolate frosting?
I actually have a chocolate cream cheese frosting recipe here 🙂
The frosting tasted great, but wasn’t stiff enough to pipe. I had to add another cup of sugar to make it stiff. Frosting between layers didn’t work with original recipe as the layers started sliding as the frosting was runny. I am not sure if the cream cheese was too soft that created this problem. It tasted good though.
Did you make sure to use a block of cream cheese and not cream cheese spread in a tub? The spread can cause the frosting to be runny.
Hi Danielle. I also had the same problem. I used the brick cream cheese but frosting was runny and actually came out of center of the cake. Any thoughts?
Sorry to hear that, Lucy. Was the cream cheese pretty warm when you mixed it up? Or did you happen to use a reduced fat cream cheese?
Loved the recipe thank you. In the UK too so only spreadable cream cheese available. I just thickened it up a bit with some xanthun gum I had to hand but corn flour would also work I guess. 1.5 tsp xanthum gum worked fine and didn’t change the taste.
Delicious and simple. I did chill my cupcakes for a little since the frosting was a bit runny but it was easy to manage a pipe onto cupcakes since I’m an amateur and don’t have great control yet. Loved this recipe!
I used this recipe for a dessert at church, everyone loved it and asked for my secret! Thank you for sharing your amazing recipes.
I just tried this frosting, it’s really super easy to make and the taste is so good. My mom loves cream cheese frosting and loves this recipe. I’m going to try this recipe again. Thank you.
P erfect recipe! Did reduce the sugar but just a tad, probably not en o ugh to really know. Less than 1/4 cup. Was afraid it may be too sweet…
Piped perfectly. Used on banana muffins. Not too sweet and so far so good. Will eat tomorrow at my daughter’s cross country meet. Let you know how everyone reacts!
I’m new at this whole baking thing. My daughters birthday is approaching, so I decided that I am going to bake her some cupcakes! Well I found two good recipes and baked them. I was just missing ONE THING, the FROSTING. So I started to google recipes. I came across one that looked very good! Well let’s just say I didn’t execute that recipe WHATSOEVER….. Then I came across your cream cheese frosting. I decided to give it a try. MAN AM I GLAD THAT I FOUND THIS RECIPE!!!!
This recipe is so simple and DELICIOUS! I gave a cupcake to one of my friends and she thought that I bought these cupcakes from a bakery! All because of this FROSTING!
So happy to hear that the recipe turned out great for you, Breanna!
I’m sure if you remember me but I commented on your vanilla cupcake recipe and was asking if I could use the recipe for my website. I am also wondering if I can do this recipe and at the end I can add some food coloring? This frosting tasted so good the first time I made it but i’m designing a cake for my friend and she asked if the cake could be purple and black. I asked her if she has any request on the flavor and she recommended this website for the cream cheese frosting.
Hi, Isy! Yes, you can absolutely use it on your website! You can also add food coloring to the batter and frosting. I would just be careful if you’re using liquid food coloring, you don’t want to add too much because it can thin out the batter and frosting. Gel food coloring may be a better option if you’re wanting a dark color for the cake/frosting.
Hi. If I am frosting something tonight for tomorrow, should I keep it in the fridge?
Yes, since this has cream cheese in it you’ll want to keep it refrigerated.
Hi, could I use the spread cream cheese instead of the brick cream cheese? I live in Belgium and I haven’t found any brick styled ones. Thank you
Cream cheese spread has ingredients added to it to thin it out so it’s spreadable, which will cause the frosting to be runny. Are you able to find anything that doesn’t say it’s a spread?
I can not find cream cheese that is not spreadable but I was wondering if your trick for the stiffened wipped cream would also work with this frosting?
Hi, Sophie! I’m not sure if it would work with this recipe. You may be able to add some cornstarch to it, maybe 1-2 tablespoons and see if that helps to thicken it.
It was beautiful and delish, nothing was left in the bowl. Other recipes I tried didn’t work but this one does.
Hi Daniel. I was just wondering I could put red food coloring to make red frosting for my cupcakes. Is it ok if while I am making this I can drop some red food coloring in the frosting? If so, how much do I put in?
You can add food coloring, but you’ll want to use liquid food color sparingly because it can thin out the frosting. If you’re wanting a bright red color, gel food coloring would be a good option here.
Hello, I would like to make this recipe for a mini cake I am making for just two people. Is it ok to simply cut the recipe in half? or will offset the flavors? Thanks!
Yes, it’s fine to cut this recipe in half!
Just made this! Worked perfectly. Piped perfectly. Thank you so much.
What the heck does 3-3 1/2 cups mean. I’m not much of a baker
I’m not quite sure what you mean? Are you referring to something in this recipe or another one?
Hi! If I want to cut down the sugar in this recipe, how much can I reduce without affecting the texture too much? I’m baking for home consumption so it doesn’t have to be piped too fancy but I’d still like it to hold and stay on the cupcake. Thanks 🙂
You could reduce it down to 1 cup if you’re not worried about piping it.
If I don’t have a mixer and just need to use a spoon to mix — would that be alright?
Hi, Allison! As long as your cream cheese and butter are softened enough you can mix it by hand with a rubber spatula or spoon. If you have a whisk, that may be better to help avoid too many lumps in your frosting.
A bit of advice from an old grandma who has been baking for a long time……always use real full fat stick butter, real full fat brick cream cheese. And I always use a name brand cream cheese (named for a city in PA). Lessons I’ve learned over the years ?
Mary, you are right on the money. Some butters have more water content and I’ve also learned that the other brands of cream cheese don’t work as well. Both things can result in less-than-stellar results in frosting.
I have to make 9 dozen cupcakes for a wedding. 3 dozen of them are spice cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and apple pie filling. My question is, is there a way to ensure the frosting will withstand Ohio heat? The reception is outside. Should I use shortening?
Hi, Kristy! Shortening has a higher melting point than butter, so it’s a better option for frosting if you want it to hold up longer in warm weather. If you prefer, you can swap out the butter in this recipe for an equal amount (1/2 cup) of shortening. However, since the frosting does have cream cheese in it I do recommend refrigerating it or keeping it in a cool area until right before serving.
Too too runny. Did everything you said on recipe
Did you make sure to use a block of cream cheese? Or did you happen to use cream cheese in a tub?
Love this. I’ve been baking for 40 years and until now, my attitude regarding frosting has been to hurl the general ingredients into a bowl and mix it up with unpredictable results. Silly me. What a difference a recipe makes!
Most of the time, depending on the cake I like to add almond extract as well as vanilla (2:1), ie: 1 t vanilla to 1/2 t almond extract, I just love that amaretto flavor and I get lots of compliments and yummy noises from my eaters!
Made this recipe for a strawberry poke cake added some home made strawberry jam and a little less sugar went well with a strawberry box cake with strawberry jello poked after jello set in refrigerator for 12 hours to let jello set frosted the cake with the strawberry cream cheese frosting very good thanks for the recipe!!!
Unfortunately I followed this recipe to a T, I have taking plenty of baking and cake decorating classes and iced many cakes and cupcakes and unfortunately this was much too runny for any sort of stiff cake/cupcake icing consistency. I used the block of cream cheese, butter and right amount of sugar and needed to add about an extra cup and a half of powdered sugar to get it even close to being pipe ready and it is still much too runny, let me know if you remake it and have better success another way?
Hi, Regina! Was your cream cheese or butter too warm when you mixed it together? Did you happen to over mix the frosting? Keep in mind that this is cream cheese frosting, so it will be softer than buttercream.
So I loveee the taste first off… but everytime I make it, it comes out like a drizzle, but too thick to actually be drizzled and to runny to be in a piping bag ( I’m 13 and have a mini baking business and I haven’t found a recipe that works…) I tried cornstarch and it didnt work either =[ P.S I love your recipes and website <3
Hi, Sky! Are you making sure to use a brick/block of cream cheese? If you’re using cream cheese that’s in a tub, it can cause the frosting to turn out thinner. Are you also making sure your cream cheese and butter aren’t too warm when you mix everything together?
yes, I made sure it wasnt too warm and it was blocked…
Ok, are you making sure to use butter too and not something else like margarine? If you made any adjustments to the recipe, that could affect it as well.
Can I use Food Color (Gel) on this recipe of Cream Cheese Frosting?
Yes, that would be fine!
How many grams of sugar would that be putting it on the cup cake?
I’m not sure, I’d recommend using an online nutrition calculator to get an estimate. It will also depend on how many cupcakes you frost.
Quick, easy, and very good ? ? Thank you!
I am an amateur in baking but this recipe is amazing. It’s easy to follow with simple ingridients yet has an amazing taste.