An easy and delicious alternative to buttercream frosting. Use this classic cream cheese frosting on carrot cakes, cupcakes and more.
Cream cheese frosting beats vanilla buttercream for me anyday. I love the combination of sweet and tangy. You can use it on so many delicious treats. I’ve used it on carrot cake, red velvet cupcakes, key lime cupcakes and almost anything cinnamon or pumpkin flavored!
How to Make Cream Cheese Frosting
Making cream cheese frosting is easy. All you need is an electric mixer, cream cheese, unsalted butter, quality vanilla extract and confectioners sugar. Mix it all together until smooth and creamy!
Tips for Making Cream Cheese Frosting
- Use full fat cream cheese that comes in a brick. Do not use reduced fat cream cheese or cream cheese spread. This may lead to a runny frosting.
- Use only unsalted butter. This way you have control over how much extra salt you add to the recipe. You never know how much salt is in a “salted” butter.
- Use buttercream and cream cheese that is softened. This allows for easier mixing. Having both out at room temperature for about an hour should do the trick.
- Use pure vanilla extract not imitation vanilla for the best flavor.
- Use paddle attachments not whisk attachments on your mixer. Whisk attachments can create air pockets which don’t look pretty when frosting your cakes and cupcakes. A paddle will still get you a fluffy frosting.
- Mix on low speed after adding the sugar so powdered sugar doesn’t go flying everywhere! Increase the speed once all the sugar has been incorporated.
- Easily thin out or thicken your frosting to adjust to your needs. Add powdered sugar a small amount at a time for thicker frosting and add milk a teaspoon at a time for thinner frosting.
Yes! This cream cheese frosting can be piped. It holds a shape but it is not as sturdy as buttercream. You might want to use a vanilla buttercream in warmer months or pipe using a simple round tip rather than a star shaped tip.
Can you make colored cream cheese frosting?
Yes! You can add a few drops of food dye gel after you mix in the sugar and then mix until blended.
You can add ½ to 1 teaspoon of your favorite extract such as coconut, almond, or lemon. You can also try these other flavor variations.
Cinnamon: add three teaspoons of cinnamon powder when mixing the sugar.
Pumpkin Spice: add ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice when mixing the sugar.
Chocolate: add ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder when mixing sugar.
Cookies and Cream: Crush 8-10 chocolate sandwich cookies (such as Oreo) in a food processor. Stir the crumbs into the frosting.
What does cream cheese frosting go with?
Try this frosting out with any of these recipes. Note: some of these recipe links contain their own cream cheese frosting instructions but I recommend this updated version!
Carrot Cake (shown above)
Key Lime Cupcakes
Butterscotch Pumpkin Butter Bars
Cookies and Cream Chocolate Cake
Sweet Potato Cake
- 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 3 cups confectioners sugar
- Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or hand mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Begin with a low speed at first and then increase to medium speed.
- Add the salt and vanilla and mix to combine.
- Add the sugar and beat at a slow speed until the sugar is incorporated. Stop t0 scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Increase the speed and mix until smooth and combined.
- Adjust the consistency by either adding either confectioner's sugar for a thicker consistency or a milk (a teaspoon at a time) for a thinner consistency.
Unused frosting can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and in the freezer for up to 1 month.
This recipe can easily frost a six inch cake with leftovers, an 8 inch cake thinly frosted or 12 cupcakes.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 32 Serving Size: 2 Tablespoons
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 91Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 39mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 0gSugar: 10gProtein: 0g
This nutrition information is only an approximate provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. Information comes from Nutritionix, an automated nutrition calculator.