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Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

Browning butter is an easy way to instantly elevate a recipe, and this brown butter cream cheese frosting does just that. Why settle for classic cream cheese frosting when you can take the flavor to the next level?

Small glass jar piped to overflowing with brown butter cream cheese frosting.

Cream cheese frosting is the perfect choice for so many different desserts. It has a light, tangy flavor that perfectly balances out warm spices and sugary sweetness. 

Few things can make cream cheese frosting more appealing–but this recipe does it.

The addition of brown butter adds a new layer of delicate flavor to this cream cheese frosting. In addition to the delicious creaminess, you get nuttiness and a hint of caramel. Each tiny flake of gold is a flavor explosion for your taste buds. 

If you are looking for a way to take a classic cream cheese frosting to a new level, this is the recipe to try. Whether you are making red velvet cake, carrot cake, pumpkin cake, cinnamon rolls, or a chocolate cupcake recipe, there is nothing this brown butter cream cheese frosting can’t take from good to amazing.

Why Make This Recipe

  1. Twist on a Classic: Cream cheese frosting is delicious all on its own but if you really want to impress your guests, serve them cream cheese frosting with a hint of browned butter. It’s easy to achieve but the extra effort will have you looking like a pro!
  2. Versatile Frosting: You can use this browned butter cream cheese frosting anywhere you would use normal cream cheese frosting. From cupcakes and cookies to cakes and cinnamon rolls, this frosting is perfect for it all with a very subtle, caramel, nutty flavor.
  3. So Much Flavor: The flavor of this frosting is truly unbeatable. Tangy, sweet (but not too sweet), nutty, toasty, buttery–what more could you ask for? 

What Do You Need to Make This Recipe

Ingredients 

Ingredients shown are used to prepare brown butter cream cheese frosting.
  1. Unsalted butter: The amount of salt in salted butter is not consistent across brands. To ensure your Brown Butter Frosting doesn’t turn out too salty I recommend using unsalted butter. You could use salted butter if that’s what all you have.
  2. Cream cheese: I prefer to use full fat cream cheese. It holds its shape better than low fat and has more creaminess as well
  3. Vanilla extract: Vanilla provides another layer of flavor that blends into this frosting perfectly 
  4. Salt 
  5. Powdered sugar: To make sure your frosting does not turn out lumpy, I recommend sifting your powdered sugar

Tools

  1. Small pot
  2. Mixing bowl
  3. Electric mixer with a paddle attachment
  4. Fine mesh strainer: For sifting the powdered sugar

How to Make This Recipe

Step One: Brown the Butter

Unsalted butter added to a saucepan.
Melted unsalted butter in a saucepan.
Browned butter in a saucepan.

Place the unsalted butter in a small pot over low-medium heat. Heat the butter until it melts and begins to bubble and foam. Keep heating over low heat, stirring frequently, until the bubbles stop and the butter has turned a brown color and is emitting a nutty smell. 

Place the butter in a bowl and place in the fridge for about 60 minutes. Remove the butter from the fridge and use a spoon to stir it. Allow it to spend the next 10 minutes or so coming to room temperature (your butter should be about 68 degrees Fahrenheit internally before you begin the next steps of the Brown Butter Frosting). 

Step Two: Mix and Whip

Cooled brown butter in a mixing bowl with softened cream cheese.
Brown butter cream cheese frosting in a mixing bowl.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric hand mixer to beat together the butter and the softened cream cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla and the salt and beat again until combined. 

Add the powdered sugar about 1 cup at a time, beating between each addition. 

Pipe onto cupcakes, cookies, cakes, etc. Happy baking! 

Expert Tips

A bite taken out of a chocolate cupcake piped with brown butter cream cheese frosting.
  • You must let the butter cool before you try to use it for your frosting. This step can be time-consuming but it is so important to help your frosting come to the correct texture. If you try to use the melted butter your frosting will not come together and will look runny and greasy.
  • If you don’t want to have to wait for your butter, it may be helpful to brown the butter the day before you need to put the frosting together. Let it sit in the refrigerator overnight and pull it out to come to room temperature before beginning your recipe.
  • All of your ingredients should be at room temperature before you mix them. This will keep your frosting from being lumpy.
  • If your brown butter frosting turns out too thick you can thin it out with just a tablespoon of milk or cream at a time.

How to Brown Butter

Melted brown butter in a glass jar.

Browning butter elevates a recipe and while it is an extra step of work, it’s not difficult. It just takes patience.

Put your butter into a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Choose a pot that allows you to see the color of your butter. I don’t recommend using a black pot for browning butter.

Do not walk away from your pot as the butter melts. Browning butter does require some babysitting.

You will see your butter melt and then begin to bubble. Stir it gently with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula as it bubbles. If your butter seems to be sizzling too quickly, turn down the heat.

The bubbles will eventually die down and reveal small flecks of gold, the milk solids, at the bottom of the pan. You may notice a nutty aroma.

Allow those flecks to turn golden brown or amber and then turn off the heat. You do not want those little brown bits to burn. Make sure all the browned bits are transferred to your bowl to cool.

Storage

Because this frosting is made with previously melted butter and cream cheese, it will become soft easily if it gets too warm. Do not let this frosting sit even at room temperature for longer than 2-4 hours.

Once you use the frosting on your baked goods, store them in the refrigerator.

Store any leftovers of this frosting in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. You can also freeze this frosting in an airtight container. Allow it to thaw overnight in the refrigerator to use.

Why is My Browned Butter Cream Cheese Frosting Runny?

Your delicious frosting may be runny for a few reasons. If you tried to use your brown butter before it was fully cool, your frosting probably turned out runny. You can put it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes and try whipping it up again.

If chilling your frosting doesn’t work you may need to add a little bit more powdered sugar. Add just a few tablespoons at a time until you reach the stiffness you prefer.

If your frosting is too stiff you can thin it out with a few tablespoons of milk or whipped cream.

Why is My Frosting Lumpy?

To prevent lumpy Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting, make sure you use room-temperature cream cheese and butter before mixing together. When you use room-temperature ingredients they melt into each other much more easily. It may help to mix these two wet ingredients completely with medium speed before adding in your powdered sugar and vanilla.

You can take an additional precaution by sifting your powdered sugar.

Do I Need to Add Milk to This Frosting?

Browning your butter makes it very soft, so this recipe can be made without adding any additional liquid. That being said, this recipe is thick enough to be piped onto cupcakes. If you prefer a thinner frosting for brownies or cookies, you can thin it out with a tablespoon or two of milk or heavy cream.

How Much Frosting Does This Recipe Make?

This recipe makes enough frosting for a two-layer cake that is either 8-inch or 6-inch, a 9×13 sheet cake, or 24 cupcakes.

How Do You Use Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting?

You can use brown butter cream cheese frosting for any recipe where you would use traditional cream cheese frosting including:

  • Cinnamon rolls
  • Moist Carrot Cake
  • Banana cake
  • Pumpkin cake
  • Red Velvet cake
  • Applesauce Spice cake

Did you enjoy this recipe for Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting? If so, make sure to check out these other recipes I picked out just for you! 

Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

Browning butter is an easy way to instantly elevate a recipe, and this brown butter cream cheese frosting does just that. Why settle for classic cream cheese frosting when you can take the flavor to the next level?
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Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 3 Cups
Calories: 1087kcal

Equipment

  • Small pot
  • Mixing Bowl
  • Electric mixer with a paddle attachment
  • Fine mesh strainer For sifting the powdered sugar

Ingredients

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 3 ½ cups powdered sugar

Instructions

  • Place 1/2 cup unsalted butter in a small pot over low-medium heat. Heat the butter until it melts and begins to bubble and foam. Keep heating over low heat, stirring frequently, until the bubbles stop and the butter has turned a brown color and is emitting a nutty smell.
  • Place the butter in a bowl and place in the fridge for about 60 minutes. Remove the butter from the fridge and use a spoon to stir it. Allow it to spend the next 10 minutes or so coming to room temperature (your butter should be about 68 degrees Fahrenheit internally before you begin the next steps of the frosting).
  • In a large mixing bowl, use an electric hand mixer to beat together the butter and softened 8 oz cream cheese until smooth. Add the 1 1/2 tsp vanilla and the 1/4 tsp salt and beat again until combined.
  • Add the 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar about 1 cup at a time, beating between each addition.
  • Pipe onto cupcakes, cookies, cakes, etc. Enjoy!

Notes

Recipe Copyright The Domestic Spoon. For educational or personal use only.
  • Unsalted butter: The amount of salt in salted butter is not consistent across brands. To ensure your Brown Butter Frosting doesn’t turn out too salty I recommend using unsalted butter. You could use salted butter if that’s all you have.
  • Cream cheese: I prefer to use full-fat cream cheese. It holds its shape better than low fat and has more creaminess as well
  • Vanilla extract: Vanilla provides another layer of flavor that blends into this frosting perfectly
  • Salt
  • Powdered sugar: To make sure your frosting does not turn out lumpy, I recommend sifting your powdered sugar
  • You must let the butter cool before you try to use it for your frosting. This step can be time-consuming but it is so important to help your frosting come to the correct texture. If you try to use the melted butter your frosting will not come together and will look runny and greasy.
  • If you don’t want to have to wait for your butter, it may be helpful to brown the butter the day before you need to put the frosting together. Let it sit in the refrigerator overnight and pull it out to come to room temperature before beginning your recipe.
  • All of your ingredients should be at room temperature before you mix them together. This will keep your frosting from being lumpy.
  • If your brown butter frosting turns out too thick you can thin it out with just a tablespoon of milk or cream at a time.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 1087kcal | Carbohydrates: 144g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 57g | Saturated Fat: 35g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 15g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 158mg | Sodium: 273mg | Potassium: 121mg | Sugar: 140g | Vitamin A: 1961IU | Vitamin C: 0.01mg | Calcium: 85mg | Iron: 0.2mg
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