Recipe for Cream Cheese Frosting

This homemade cream cheese frosting recipe is simple to prepare, somewhat sweet and tangy, and will soon become your new favorite! It pipes wonderfully and retains its form; you’ll be slathering it on everything.

For these pistachio cupcakes, try my mascarpone whipped cream or the cannoli icing for a less sour choice.

I know you’ve undoubtedly seen a lot of recipes named “The BEST cream cheese frosting.” And, although I may be a bit prejudiced here, this is the greatest one.

Every time I put this on anything and present it to my husband, he compliments me on it. Each and every time. I’m sure I could offer him three different baked pastries on the same day with this heaped on top and he’d tell me every. single. time.

Fortunately, it’s a fast and easy recipe with just four ingredients, and I may try it one of these days.

What is the difference between cream cheese frosting and cream cheese icing?

Since so many people use the phrases frosting and icing interchangeably, this may be perplexing! These are, in fact, two distinct entities.

  • Frosting is thick and fluffy and is often used to decorate cakes. It may also be used as a filling between layers of cake in a layer cake.
  • Icing is thin and shiny, and it is often used to decorate cookies. It is also suitable for use as a decorative feature on cakes.

Yet, in the context of cream cheese, cream cheese frosting is often used to frost cakes and cupcakes, and cream cheese icing is frequently used on cinnamon rolls and other pastries.

Key Ingredients

  • The cream cheese And, well, there’s cream cheese icing. Blocks of room temperature cream cheese, unlike the spreadable sort used on bagels.
  • unseasoned butter It gives the icing structure and taste. And make sure the butter is at room temperature! If you’re not sure what it implies, read this article to learn more about it and why it’s essential.
  • Vanilla extract in its purest form I use clear vanilla extract in my frosting since it adds no color, but you could also use pure vanilla extract. But keep in mind that it will add some color and darken your frosting somewhat.
  • granulated sugar It adds sweetness and structure to the frosting and may be adjusted up or down according on your own sweetness preference.
  • Paste of white food gel (optional) This is entirely optional and just a matter of personal choice. I prefer to use Brilliant White food gel paste in my cream cheese frosting to remove some of the yellowish color that comes with butter-based frostings.

What type of cream cheese is best for frosting?

I always use a typical full-fat cream cheese block from a reputable brand, such as Philadelphia. Some off-brands have an unappealing texture, and because cream cheese is the star of this dish, you want the greatest quality you can buy.

You DO NOT want to use spreadable cream cheese, such as that used on bagels.

Do I have to use clear vanilla extract?

Absolutely not! I use clear vanilla extract since it adds no color to the frosting, but you could also use pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste (aff link) for a stronger taste. But keep in mind that it will add some color and darken your frosting somewhat.

What is white food gel?

White food gel, such as AmeriColor Brilliant White Gel Paste Food Color, may be used to enhance the color of baked products and frostings.

In the case of this cream cheese frosting, I use it to decrease some of the yellow tint that naturally occurs when a butter-based frosting is used. There’s nothing wrong with the way it appears naturally; I simply want it to be a brighter white to contrast with the cupcakes or cake it’s sitting on!

Is gel food coloring the same as paste?

The objective of gel food coloring (aff link) and gel paste food coloring is the same, although gel paste is thicker and more concentrated. Gel paste enables you to use less product to have the same result.

It isn’t as critical in a thick frosting recipe like this, but when dealing with anything thinner and more delicate like royal icing or meringue, you don’t want to add too much liquid and thin down your batter or icing.

How to make cream cheese frosting

Step 1: Cream the cream cheese and butter together using a stand mixer (aff link) fitted with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer.

Step 2: Using the electric mixer on low speed, gently integrate and thoroughly combine the powdered sugar.

Step 3: Add vanilla extract and blend for a few seconds on high speed.

Step 4: If desired, add a few drops of Brilliant White food gel paste and mix well. Continue to apply gel a few drops at a time until the desired degree of white is achieved.

Buttercream vs. cream cheese frosting

If you’ve ever wondered what the difference between buttercream frosting and cream cheese frosting is, the answer is there in the name!

  • Buttercream frosting is made using butter and powdered sugar. It is famous for its sweet taste.
  • Cream cheese frosting contains powdered sugar and substitutes half of the butter with cream cheese. This has a tangier taste that is less sweet.

How to stiffen cream cheese frosting

If I can avoid it, I don’t want to add any more sugar to my frosting since I worked so hard to get the taste and amount of sweetness that I want! So what’s a lady to do when the frosting isn’t firm enough to pour onto the freshly baked cupcakes?

Wonderful news! Just place the cream cheese frosting in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. The frosting will thicken and get thicker as it cools in the refrigerator.

If that isn’t enough, add 1 tablespoon of meringue powder to the frosting and whisk until combined. This should also help to stabilize it.

How to use cream cheese frosting for cake decorating

Cream cheese frosting can be used in the same ways as buttercream frosting can!

Instead, put the frosting to a piping bag equipped with your preferred piping tip and decorate as desired. A sheet cake or layer cake may be frosted using an icing spatula.

Carrot cake, red velvet cake, and pumpkin cake are some of the classics that go well with cream cheese icing.

These are some of my favorite dishes to serve with this frosting (some of which aren’t cake):

  • Cupcakes in the color red velvet
  • Cake with Carrots
  • Cupcakes with Hummingbirds
  • Carrot Cake Donuts Baked
  • Cupcakes with Cranberry Delight
  • Red Velvet Donuts Made in the Oven

Storage Tips

Leftover frosting may be stored in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

To freeze, place the frosting in a freezer-safe, airtight container and place in the freezer for up to 1 month. Let it to come to room temperature before using to frost baked products.

Helpful Tips

  • Place your mixing bowl in the refrigerator or freezer to chill. I began doing this with my mascarpone whipped cream and now I do it with every frosting I make. It helps stabilize the frosting by lowering the temperature as you whisk it.
  • Scrape down the bowl’s sides. By scraping down the sides of the bowl while you mix the frosting, you ensure that all of the ingredients are properly blended and that there are no random streaks of butter or cream cheese left on the top edges of the bowl.
  • Make use of unsalted butter. To be honest, I never use salted butter for anything, particularly my frosting recipes. I want to be able to completely regulate the sweetness of my frosting, and adding salted butter may lend an unwanted salinity to the frosting that you may struggle to rectify with powdered sugar.


How to store cream cheese frosting

Cream cheese frosting may be stored in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to 5 days. This is true for icing on or off a baked product.

How long does cream cheese frosting last in the fridge?

Cream cheese frosting may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

How to freeze cream cheese frosting

The frosting may be kept in the freezer for up to a month in an airtight container. Let it to come to room temperature before using to frost baked products.

How to stiffen cream cheese frosting

Just place the cream cheese frosting in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. The frosting will thicken and get thicker as it cools in the refrigerator. If that isn’t enough, add 1 tablespoon of meringue powder to the frosting and whisk until combined. This should also help to stabilize it.

The Best Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

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Prep Time: 10mins
Total Time: 10mins
Servings: 24cupcakes’ worth (4 cups of frosting)
    ✓ Read the recipe beginning to end
    ✓ Check oven calibration
    ✓ Check expiration dates
    ✓ Properly measure ingredients
    ✓ Check butter temperature


This homemade cream cheese frosting recipe is easy to make, slightly sweet, tangy, and will quickly become your new favorite frosting! It pipes beautifully and holds its shape – you’re going to be putting this frosting on everything.


  • Hand held mixer
  • Mixing Stand
  • blending bowls


  • 8 oz. room temperature cream cheese
  • 1 cup room temperature 8 ounces unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons clear vanilla extract (pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste may be used)
  • 4 cup sifted sugar
  • Food gel paste in bright white


  • Cream cheese and butter should be combined in a large mixing dish using an electric hand or stand mixer on medium high speed until creamy.
    8 oz cream cheese, 8 oz unsalted butter (1 cup)
  • Pour in the vanilla extract. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the powdered sugar. Increase the speed to high and continue to beat until the frosting forms firm peaks.
    4 cups powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons clear vanilla extract
  • Taste examination Add extra powdered sugar if you want it sweeter. Add a bit more vanilla essence if you want less cream cheese taste and more vanilla.
  • Now is the moment to color the icing if you wish to. I suggest using soft gel paste food coloring since it does not thin down your frosting as much as regular food coloring gel. Add a drop of color at a time and beat until the desired color is achieved. If you want to use numerous colors, split your frosting into separate bowls and add the appropriate color to each one separately. Start with three drops of white food gel paste, beat thoroughly, and then add more if required.
    Bright Paste of white food gel
  • Refrigerate the frosting for 10-15 minutes before icing your baked items for optimum results. This helps it to chill and thicken, making piping and spreading easier. Enjoy!


Storage: Store cream cheese frosting in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. This applies to the frosting on or off of a baked good.Freezing: The frosting can be stored in a freezer-safe, airtight container in the freezer for up to 1 month. Bring it to room temperature and re-whip before using to frost baked goods.

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 180kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 30mg | Sodium: 31mg | Potassium: 16mg | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 363IU | Calcium: 12mg | Iron: 0.02mg


Which cream cheese frosting is better?

Duncan Hines Creamy Cream Cheese Frosting is the best cream cheese frosting. Cream cheese frosting, in my view, is the best of the “American-style” frostings, which are produced by beating fat (such as butter or shortening) with powdered sugar.

Is there a difference between cream cheese icing and cream cheese frosting?

Frosting, in general, is thick and fluffy, and it is used to cover the exterior (and typically the inside layers) of a cake. Icing is a thinner, glossier version of frosting that may be used as a glaze or for elaborate decoration.

What is the best way to thicken cream cheese frosting?

Refrigerating cream cheese frosting for 5-10 minutes is the best method to thicken it. The frosting will stiffen up as the butter cools. You may also use meringue powder to thicken and stabilize the icing. I’ve done this many of times and it always works.

Should you refrigerate cream cheese frosting before frosting?

Absolutely, cream cheese frosting must be refrigerated since it is perishable. Nevertheless, cream cheese frosting may keep at room temperature for up to two hours, so you don’t have to worry about eating cold cake.

How do you make homemade frosting taste better?

Fast and Simple Taste Enhancements

1 teaspoon of vanilla essence complements every taste and amplifies any additional addition. Additional flavors to consider are lemon, almond, orange, peppermint, or any essence that matches the icing or cake. Coffee syrups with flavors. 2 tablespoons, or more as desired.

What frosting do professionals use?

Swiss meringue buttercream is arguably the most common buttercream among pastry chefs. It is exceedingly smooth, making it a favorite option for frosting cakes. It has a much richer butter taste than American buttercream but is much less sweet.

Can you over beat cream cheese frosting?

Lastly, over-whipping cream cheese may cause it to break down and become runny. Thus, as soon as it looks fluffy, light, and firm, switch off the mixer and proceed to decorate!

Should I use milk or heavy cream for frosting?

In this recipe, heavy cream or heavy whipping cream works well. You may substitute milk, but bear in mind that the frosting will be less creamy. Vanilla Extract: This flavoring enhances the icing. For the greatest taste, I suggest using pure vanilla extract.

What are the pros and cons of cream cheese frosting?

Cream cheese icing

Pros: Excellent as cupcake icing or cake filling. Many people believe it is also the ideal frosting for red velvet cake. Cons: Because of the cream cheese, this frosting is significantly softer than AMBC.

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