Bold Baking Basics, Homemade Ingredients

How to Make the Best Ever Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

4.43 from 273 votes
My light and fluffy cream cheese frosting is perfect for cakes, cupcakes, donuts and more. Tried and true, this is the best cream cheese frosting.
Learn how to make cream cheese frosting with my best ever cream cheese frosting recipe.

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Hi Bold Bakers!

WHY YOU WILL LOVE THIS RECIPE: My easy yet incredible Cream Cheese Frosting recipe is truly the king of all frostings because it has the best of both worlds! The perfectly salty taste from cream cheese, subtle sweetness from the sugar, and luscious creaminess from the butter make it the best recipe you’ll ever need and love! 

IMPORTANT NOTE: This recipe was updated and improved on 3/31/2023, to include definition, additional notes for ingredients and step-by-step instructions, and answers to the most frequently asked questions and Pro Chef Tips.

Add a slather of it anywhere and I think you will agree it improves any cake, dessert or even breads like my Best-Ever Cinnamon Rolls. Learning how to make this recipe is a must for you Bold Bakers — spread it on classics like my Best-Ever Carrot Cake3 Layer Microwave Red Velvet Cake,  Crazy Cupcakes (Red Velvet Cupcakes), Red Velvet Donuts and the most recent Microwave Carrot Cake Bowl!

Table of Contents

What is Cream Cheese Frosting?

Cream cheese frosting is considered to be a lighter variant of buttercream frosting for decorating or filling baked goods. Besides softened butter, cream cheese is the main ingredient and both are creamed with powdered sugar until light and fluffy then flavored with vanilla extract. Compared to butter having 80% of milk fat, cream cheese contains only 33%-45% milkfat so cream cheese adds lightness to a classic cream cheese frosting.

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Tools You Need

Ingredients You Need

1) Sifting powdered sugar aerates it to incorporate extra air into the frosting for a light result.

2) Sifting powdered sugar will remove any lumps to ensure a smooth frosting consistency.

  • Cream cheese: 

1) Use brick-syle / American-style FIRM cream cheese instead of tub-style/European-style SPREADABLE cream cheese. This will help to avoid an overly soft runny result. Make your own using my Easiest Cream Cheese Recipe if needed.

2) Full-fat cream cheese will yield a richer and thicker result than reduced-fat or fat-free cream cheese.

3) Make sure your cream is naturally softened at room temperature (between 70°-76°F/20°-24°C) for an easy mixing and lump-free result.

  • Butter:

1) Either salted butter or unsalted butter will work. I always use salted butter unless specified otherwise because salt enhances flavors. You can make butter using my How to Make Homemade Butter recipe.

2) Make sure your butter is at room temperature: when you push the butter and it makes an indent, but your finger doesn’t easily squish right through. Perfectly softened butter will not only contribute to a thorough mixing without separating the fat to cause an oily frosting but also help with a smooth creamy frosting.

  • Vanilla extract: Vanilla extract enhances flavors in baking! Try my recipe of Homemade Extracts, you will save money and never run out!

How to Make The Best Ever Cream Cheese Frosting

Besides being absolutely delicious, this recipe is incredibly simple to make.

  1. Creaming to Incorporate Air: In one bowl, use the stand mixer or hand mixer with a WHISK attachment (not a paddle attachment!) to cream butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed until soft and fluffy. This will incorporate air into the mixture and build an aerated structure to hold sugar without being weighed down.
  2. Combine sugar: Then, add in your SIFTED powdered sugar and a dash of vanilla for smooth and creamy bliss. Sugar will coat air bubbles to stabilize the frosting. Reducing sugar will lead to a flatter thinner result.
  3. Result: Once your ingredients have been combined, you’ll discover rich, thick and perfectly balanced frosting. This frosting is light in flavor from the soft and tangy cream cheese and is complimentary for any dessert.

How to Store

Homemade Best Ever Cream Cheese Frosting can be covered and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

You will find this recipe is super easy to work with and beautiful. This light, fluffy, and shiny frosting is absolutely convenient as it can be kept in the refrigerator until ready for use.

Can you Freeze Cream Cheese Frosting?

You can freeze cream cheese frosting for up to 3 weeks.

  • I like to vacuum-seal extra frosting and freeze it! You can always transfer your frosting to an air-tight container and pop it in the freezer.
  • To use from frozen, allow the frosting to thaw in the fridge until it’s soft. After thawing just give the frosting a good whip up with a spatula then use as directed in my recipes.

What desserts go well with Cream Cheese Frosting?

I can think of endless ways to use this frosting.

Best Ever Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting or 3 Layer Microwave Red Velvet Cake.

3 Layer Microwave Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Especially my NEW Microwave Carrot Cake Bowl!

A spoonful of a Carrot Cake Bowl recipe with cream cheese frosting and walnuts

Best Ever Cinnamon Rolls

Ultra-Moist Carrot Cake Cupcake Red Velvet Cupcake

So if you’re like me, you must give this frosting a go!

FAQs

1. What to do if my cream cheese frosting runny? Why is my cream cheese frosting runny?

  • First, make sure you use cream cheese blocks / sticks instead of spreadable ones from the tub which has more other ingredients to affect the result. You can also make your own at home using my Easiest Cream Cheese Recipe.
  • Second, make sure your cream cheese and (especially) butter are at room temperature. This will make the whipping much easier without overdoing it to separate the fat, leading to a runny texture.
  • Third, cream butter and cream cheese until fluffy before adding in sugar. This will build up a structure to hold the sugar otherwise sugar will weigh down the mixture and make it runny.

2. Why is my cream cheese frosting grainy?

  • First, you need powdered / icing sugar that is fine enough to achieve a smooth result.
  • Second, make sure to whip ROOM TEMPERATURE cream cheese and butter until pale in color and light in texture to have a structure to hold the added sugar, otherwise, it would get grainy or collapse.
  • Third, sift powdered sugar to remove any lumps.
  • Last but not least, slowly add in powdered sugar which will help the sugar be distributed evenly.

3. How much frosting does this recipe yield? How much do I need?

This recipe yields 3-31/2 cups of frosting.

You can use this recipe to decorate two dozen standard-size cupcakes or one 8-inch cake.

Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips

Adjust its Consistency:

  • If your frosting is too thin, add 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar at a time and mix at medium speed until it gets to a desired consistency.
  • If your frosting is too thick, add 1 tablespoon of milk or cream at a time and mix at medium speed until it gets to a desired consistency.

Reduce its Sweetness:

I do not recommend cutting back on sugar in Cream Cheese Frosting.

  • Because sugar is vital in incorporating air into and stabilizing the structure of cream cheese frosting. When sugar is beaten into the light and fluffy cream cheese and butter, it dissolves in the film on the surface of the air bubbles. This sugary syrup film prevents the bubbles from drying out and tightening up too fast.
  • Cutting back on sugar by ¼ less is the farthest you can go.
  • Another trick to reduce the sweetness is to add in a splash of lemon juice or ¼ tsp of salt.

Make it Chocolate flavor:

To make Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting, sift 1 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder with powdered sugar together, then proceed per this recipe add this mixture to the lightly creamed cheese and butter mixture.

Use This Recipe With These Desserts!

IMPORTANT NOTE: This recipe was updated and improved on 3/31/2023, to include definition, additional notes for ingredients and step-by-step instructions,  and answers to the most frequently asked questions and Pro Chef Tips.

Don’t forget to follow Bigger Bolder Baking on Pinterest!

Watch The Recipe Video!

Gemma's Best Ever Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

4.43 from 273 votes
My light and fluffy cream cheese frosting is perfect for cakes, cupcakes, donuts and more. Tried and true, this is the best cream cheese frosting.
Author: Gemma Stafford
Servings: 3.5 cups
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
My light and fluffy cream cheese frosting is perfect for cakes, cupcakes, donuts and more. Tried and true, this is the best cream cheese frosting.
Author: Gemma Stafford
Servings: 3.5 cups

Ingredients

  • 5 cups (1 lb 4 oz/ 575g) powdered sugar, sifted lightly to remove any lumps
  • 2 cups (16oz/454g) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ½ cup (4oz/115g) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high cream together the cream cheese and butter.
  • Once light and fluffy add in the powdered sugar and vanilla and whip until it is smooth and creamy.
  • This can be stored covered in the fridge for up to 4 days.

 

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Frauke
Frauke
4 years ago

Here’s a tip for those who couldn’t get the frosting thick enough to pipe or spread on a cake. If you live in Europe, like I do, the cream cheese over here is very different from the United States. It contains much more water. Sugar ist hygroscopic and the cream cheese will release it’s water as soon as it comes in touch with the powdered sugar, leaving you with a liquid mess. The all important thing is to cream together butter and powdered sugar first(!) until pale yellow and fluffy. This way the hygroscopic sugar crystals are covered in non-hygroscopic… Read more »

Nisha
Nisha
4 years ago

Hi Gemma, love ur recipes. Am an amateur baker and you are such an inspiration. My doubt is even after refrigerating the frosting, if it turns out runny, how can I fix it? Also, saw in a comment that creaming first butter and sugar helps to avoid runny frosting. Is it advisable cos majority of recipes I saw creams the butter and cheese first. Thanks!

Priya B
Priya B
2 years ago

I am from India. I developed my own tweaks for this frosting. This recipe has failed thrice for me. It always ends up looking more like a liquid glaze rather than a frosting (still tasty though). Frauke’s tip was helpful and made a lot of sense. I put 210g powdered sifted sugar, 150g butter (cold but not rock hard), 300g cream cheese (cold). Whipped the butter and sugar until pale and light. The consistency should be quite stiff. If not refrigerate for a while. (add sugar in three batches else the sugar will fly everywhere) Then add cream cheese and… Read more »

Tabassum Iqbal
Tabassum Iqbal
4 years ago

I made the cream cheese just like you did but instead of whey, I added a teaspoon of yogurt. It was amazing. I made frosting for crepe cake.

Jah
Jah
4 years ago

Hi is it 5 cups of powdered sugar coz I warched the video it looks like its not 5 cups,,, sorry????????????

Tammy
Tammy
3 years ago

Hi Jemma,
I’m trying to look for your recipe how to do whipped cream frosting, and i couldn’t find one. I try to do it, but it was deflated and runny, what did I do wrong? I whipped cream and added with sugar, and vanilla). Thank you

Last edited 3 years ago by Tammy
Tania Bosch
Tania Bosch
4 years ago

Very, very soft (almost runny) but will try making it again using the tips in the comments section.

Almanza Dsouza
Almanza Dsouza
4 years ago

Hi gemma, I tried making your cream cheese was simply awesome now I’ll make the frosting of the same

Helen
4 years ago

I am not a lover of cream cheese frosting as I really don’t have much of a sweet tooth but if you add about a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to it, it just adds a lovely zing and takes off the sickly sweet taste

LENA
LENA
27 days ago

Hi Gemma. I need a Cream Cheese frosting without icing sugar, heavy cream or wheat flour. Can it be done?

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About Us

Meet Gemma

About Us

Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, a cookbook author, and the creator of Bigger Bolder Baking. I want to help you bake with confidence anytime, anywhere with my trusted and tested recipes and baking tips. You may have seen one of my 500+ videos on YouTube & TikTok or as a guest judge on Nailed It! on Netflix or the Best Baker in America on Food Network. No matter your skills, my Bold Baking Team & I want to be your #1 go-to baking authority.

 

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