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The Best, Easy Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

This super simple cream cheese frosting is an easy way to elevate the flavor of many of your favorite desserts. With just five ingredients, you can whip up a frosting perfect for spreading, piping or eating with a spoon!

Bite taken out of a carrot cake cream cheese frosted cupcake.

There are very few desserts that are not made better with the addition of cream cheese flavor. Anything made with red velvet, chocolate cupcakes, pumpkin cake, even applesauce cookies are elevated with the addition of cream cheese.

Once you’ve got your favorite cream cheese frosting nailed down, it’s easy to add it to all those things and more! 

Cream Cheese Frosting is so easy to make and this recipe comes out with the perfect texture, flavor and structure every time. It’s light, creamy, tangy, luscious, and perfect for any cake, cupcakes or cookies your heart desires. 

Why Make This Recipe

  1. Simple: There are just five ingredients in this recipe and it’s probably nothing you need to make a special trip to the store for. If you’ve got some cream cheese and butter, you’re already halfway there!
  2. Instant Elevation: Sure, you could opt for a homemade buttercream for your next cake or cupcake, but the flavor of cream cheese makes just about any dessert taste more decadent and luxurious. If you really want to take your dessert to the next level, go for the cream cheese frosting!
  3. Make Ahead: You can make this cream cheese frosting ahead of time and store it in the fridge or freeze it for several months. Bring it out and let it come to room temperature and it’s ready to use!

Ingredients for Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients shown are used to prepare cream cheese frosting.
  1. Unsalted Butter: Using unsalted butter allows you to control the amount of salt in your frosting. If you don’t have any unsalted butter on hand, you can use salted butter, but you probably won’t want to add any additional salt to the recipe. Make sure it is softened to room temperature (but definitely not melted) before you try to use it.
  2. Cream Cheese: You want to use full fat cream cheese that comes in a brick. Reduced fat, whipped or spreadable cream cheese will be slightly softer and will produce a much softer frosting. Again, allow your cream cheese to soften to room temperature.
  3. Vanilla: Vanilla extract really helps balance out the tang of the cream cheese and enhance the creamy flavor. 
  4. Salt: Just a dash of salt is all that’s needed to take the edge off the sweetness of the frosting. 
  5. Powdered Sugar: Powdered sugar is needed to thicken up your frosting, making it the perfect texture for piping or spreading.

Tools

  1. Electric mixer or hand mixer
  2. Large or medium mixing bowl

What Type of Cream Cheese Should I Use for This Recipe?

The type of cream cheese you select for your cream cheese frosting does matter. I’ve found some cheaper brands will end up a little lumpy and not melt into a perfectly smooth frosting or some have too much liquid and will result in a frosting that is too runny.

Always choose a full-fat cream cheese for the best flavor and make sure you purchase the bricks, not a plastic tub of cream cheese. The bricks have the right amount of liquid to give you the perfect texture.

How to Make This Recipe

Step One: Cream the butter and cheese

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream together the butter and softened cream cheese on high speed until smooth and creamy 

Step Two: Add powdered sugar

Add in the powdered sugar about 1 cup at a time, mixing between each addition until just combined.

Add in the vanilla extract and salt and mix again.

Step Three: Mix well

Cream cheese frosting ingredients beat together in a mixing bowl.

Beat on low speed for 30 seconds to combine, then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes

Once your cake or cupcakes are cooled, pipe/spread the frosting on top or between the cake layers. Enjoy!

Expert Tips

Easy cream cheese frosting piped over vanilla cupcakes that are served on a wooden platter with pink flowers laying amongst them as garnish.
  • The most important step of this recipe actually happens before you even begin. It’s very important to let your cream cheese and butter soften to room temperature. This allows them to mix into each other more consistently and will give you a smoother, more professional finish. If you are attempting to take a short cut and soften your butter in the microwave you run the risk of it melting which will not work for this recipe.
  • Try sifting your powdered sugar before mixing to ensure no lumps form.
  • If you want more structure to your frosting for piping you may want to refrigerate it for 30 minutes after mixing and before using.
  • If you feel like your frosting is too sweet, try adding a small splash of lemon juice to balance out the flavor.

What to Use Cream Cheese Frosting On

Sea salt sprinkled over a single square cut fudgy brownie.

Cream Cheese Frosting is an excellent addition to just about any dessert. It pairs perfectly with warm spices, chocolate or fruit. I love it on:

FAQs

Close up of thick creamy cream cheese frosting piped over a cupcake.
Why is My Frosting Runny?

If your frosting turns out too runny there are a few things you can try. The most likely problem is your butter or cream cheese were too warm or melted when you began mixing. Try refrigerating your mixture for 30-60 minutes to let it firm up a bit and then gently mix.

If that does not work, you can add more powdered sugar. I would add just a few tablespoons at a time.

One final trick you can try is adding some cornstarch. Again, add only a tablespoon at a time. I would not recommend adding more than three tablespoons of cornstarch.

Can I Use This Frosting For Piping?

Yes, this cream cheese frosting is great for piping on cakes or cupcakes. It will soften in warm weather, so if you really want your frosting to keep its shape I recommend keeping it cool in the refrigerator.

If you want to ensure the frosting’s stability, try mixing in a tablespoon of cornstarch.

How Much Frosting Does This Make?

This recipe should make enough frosting to frost a double layer cake or two dozen cupcakes, depending on how thickly you frost your cupcakes. If you are piping on a tall swirl you may want to double the recipe.

Does Cream Cheese Frosting Need to be Refrigerated?

Cream cheese frosting is safe to sit at room temperature for up to eight hours. If you live in a warm climate or are worried about your frosting melting, it’s a good idea to store your frosted baked goods in the refrigerator and allow them to come to room temperature just before serving.

How Do You Store Cream Cheese Frosting?

Store any leftover cream cheese frosting in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.

You can also store cream cheese frosting in the freezer for up to three months. Thaw it to room temperature and whip it up one more time before using.

Variations of Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream Cheese Frosting is delicious on its own, but with a few simple additions you can change the flavor entirely! I love adding dry fruits, different spices, and other additions to my cream cheese frostings to get fun and unique flavors. Here are some of my favorite options I think you should try!: 

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

Cream cheese frosting piped over vanilla cupcakes on a serving board with a pretty pink flower garnished beside them.

The Best, Easy Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

This super simple cream cheese frosting is an easy way to elevate the flavor of many of your favorite desserts. With just five ingredients, you can whip up a frosting perfect for spreading, piping or eating with a spoon!
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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cream cheese frosting
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 3 Cups
Calories: 1165kcal

Equipment

  • Electric mixer or hand mixer
  • Large or medium mixing bow

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream together the butter and softened cream cheese on high speed until smooth and creamy
  • Add in the powdered sugar about 1 cup at a time, mixing between each addition until just combined.
  • Add in the vanilla extract and salt and mix again.
  • Beat on low speed for 30 seconds to combine, then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes.
  • Once your cake or cupcakes are cooled, pipe/spread the frosting on top or between the cake layers. Enjoy!

Notes

Recipe Copyright for The Domestic Spoon. For educational or personal use only.
  • Unsalted Butter: Using unsalted butter allows you to control the amount of salt in your frosting. If you don’t have any unsalted butter on hand, you can use salted butter, but you probably won’t want to add any additional salt to the recipe. Make sure it is softened to room temperature (but not melted) before you try to use it.
  • Cream Cheese: You want to use full-fat cream cheese that comes in a brick. Reduced fat, whipped or spreadable cream cheese will be slightly softer and will produce a much softer frosting. Again, allow your cream cheese to soften to room temperature.
  • Vanilla: Vanilla extract helps balance out the tang of the cream cheese and enhances the creamy flavor.
  • Salt: Just a dash of salt is all that’s needed to take the edge off the sweetness of the frosting.
  • Powdered Sugar: Powdered sugar is needed to thicken up your frosting, making it the perfect texture for piping or spreading.
  • The most important step of this recipe happens before you even begin. It’s very important to let your cream cheese and butter soften to room temperature. This allows them to mix into each other more consistently and will give you a smoother, more professional finish. If you are attempting to take a short cut and soften your butter in the microwave you run the risk of it melting which will not work for this recipe.
  • Try sifting your powdered sugar before mixing to ensure no lumps form.
  • If you want more structure to your frosting for piping you may want to refrigerate it for 30 minutes after mixing and before using.
  • If you feel like your frosting is too sweet, try adding a small splash of lemon juice to balance out the flavor.

Nutrition

Serving: 1Cup | Calories: 1165kcal | Carbohydrates: 164g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 57g | Saturated Fat: 35g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 15g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 158mg | Sodium: 274mg | Potassium: 121mg | Sugar: 160g | Vitamin A: 1961IU | Vitamin C: 0.01mg | Calcium: 85mg | Iron: 0.2mg
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