Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream cheese frosting is so easy to make! This is a classic cream cheese frosting with cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla. It's perfect for icing carrot cake, cupcakes, and cookies. Nothing beats homemade frosting.

Cream Cheese Icing piped onto the top of a cupcake
Elise Bauer

Cream cheese frosting is a baking classic!

It's perfect for practically any cake and any leftovers are great dolloped onto some freshly cut fruit.

Video: How to Make Cream Cheese Frosting

0:48

Cream Cheese Frosting

Swaps and Suggestions for Cream Cheese Frosting

This is the basic recipe. You can reduce the amount of butter if you want a bit more tang, and increase or decrease the sugar according to your taste. Dress up with ginger, vanilla bean, or coconut flakes.

Here are some fun variations!

  • Add 1/2 a cup of unsweetened cocoa powder and a pinch of salt for a chocolate cream cheese frosting
  • Mix freshly grated or dried, flaked coconut to the frosting to make a coconut frosting
  • Intensify a vanilla frosting by adding some scrapings from a fresh vanilla bean to the frosting
  • Add some blueberry syrup for blueberry cream cheese frosting
  • Add a tablespoon of Amaretto or a quarter teaspoon of almond extract for an almond-flavored cream cheese frosting
Cream cheese frosting on top of a cupcake
Elise Bauer

How to Make This Frosting Thicker

Cream cheese frosting is creamy and best suited for spreading with a spatula rather than detailed piping work. If the frosting is too thin for your liking, beat in powdered sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. It may require more powdered sugar than you'd think, so be patient.

You can also refrigerate the frosting to help it thicken a bit. Tightly cover or add to a piping bag and seal. Chill for 30 minutes.

Adjusting the Sweetness

Tweak the sugar level in this recipe to suit your tastes. You can make the frosting with as little as 1 cup of powdered sugar, but the frosting will be thinner. Add more powdered sugar for a sweeter, thicker frosting.

Do You Have to Refrigerate Cream Cheese Frosting?

If your kitchen is around 70°F, then you can leave desserts with cream cheese frosting sitting out for up to a day. If your kitchen is warmer, or your dessert has been out for a while, refrigerate it.

How to Store and Freeze

Refrigerate leftover cream cheese frosting in a tightly covered container for up to 1 week. Let it soften on the counter 15-30 minutes before spreading. Freeze cream cheese frosting for up to 2 months. (Try leftovers sandwiched between graham crackers and frozen like ice cream sandwiches. Divine!)

When storing frosted desserts like cakes, cover and refrigerate for up to 4 days. Let sit on the counter for about 30 minutes before serving.

Use Cream Cheese Frosting With These Recipes

From the Editors Of Simply Recipes

Cream Cheese Frosting

Prep Time 10 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Servings 12 to 18 servings
Yield 2 to 2 1/4 cups

Cream cheese frosting is not as thick as typical American buttercream. It’s best for spreading on top of cupcakes and cakes rather than detailed decoration. You can thicken the frosting by adding more powdered sugar, but this will make it sweeter.

This recipe makes enough frosting to generously frost a single layer 8 or 9-inch cake or the top of a 9x13 cake. It’s enough to generously frost or pipe 12 to 18 cupcakes or minimally frost 24 cupcakes.

Double the recipe to frost a double layer 8-inch cake or a 3-layer 6-inch cake.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (115g) butter, room temperature

  • 8 ounces (1 package, 224g) cream cheese (not low-fat), room temperature

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 2 to 3 cups (240 to 360g) powdered sugar, sifted

Method

  1. Beat the cream cheese and butter together:

    Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together until completely smooth, about 3 minutes on medium speed. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl to ensure that the mixture is mixed evenly.

  2. Beat in the vanilla extract and powdered sugar:

    Beat in the vanilla extract. With the mixer running on low speed to start, slowly add in 2 cups of the powdered sugar.

    Once combined, scrape down the sides of the bowl and increase the speed to medium, beating just until well-combined and creamy.

    If needed, add more powdered sugar 1 tablespoon at a time to the frosting until you get your desired level of sweetness and thickness.

  3. Spread or pipe the frosting to decorate:

    Use a blunt knife or spatula to spread the frosting, or spoon the frosting into a piping bag to decorate your cupcakes or cake.

    Simple Tip!

    If you’re planning to pipe this frosting, add the full 3 cups of powdered sugar. If it isn’t thick enough for piping, add the mixture to a piping bag and seal. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes, or until stiffened enough for piping.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
168 Calories
9g Fat
21g Carbs
1g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
×
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12 to 18
Amount per serving
Calories 168
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 12%
Saturated Fat 6g 29%
Cholesterol 26mg 9%
Sodium 81mg 4%
Total Carbohydrate 21g 8%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 20g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 14mg 1%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 19mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.