Cream cheese frosting has a light and fluffy consistency similar to buttercream and is perfect for piping onto cakes and cupcakes. It has a sweet and slightly tangy taste and pairs perfectly with many cake and cupcake flavors! This is the best cream cheese frosting recipe!
Ingredients for Cream Cheese Frosting
- Unsalted butter – Room temperature for easy creaming.
- Cream cheese – Room temperature full fat cream cheese to combine well with the butter.
- Powdered sugar – Confectioners’ sugar or icing sugar.
- Vanilla extract – Pure vanilla extract adds amazing vanilla flavor.
- Salt – A pinch of salt enhances the flavor and provides some contrast to the sweetness.
How to Make Cream Cheese Frosting
One of the best parts about this recipe is that it takes only 5 minutes to make! It really can’t get any easier! I recommend using an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine unsalted butter and cream cheese. Whip for 2 to 3 minutes on medium speed until smooth.
- Add in the powdered sugar in two batches, mixing on low speed in between each addition.
- Add in the vanilla extract and salt and continue to mix. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Whip the frosting for an additional 2 to 3 minutes on medium-high speed until smooth, light, and fluffy.
To smooth out the cream cheese frosting and remove air bubbles, you can stir it by hand with a spatula or mix on low speed with a paddle attachment for a minute or two.
Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe Tips
Use room temperature butter and cream cheese
The butter and cream cheese should be at room temperature. Not only will it cut down on the overall mixing time of the recipe, but it allows the ingredients to whip up smooth and create a light and fluffy frosting.
Whisk or paddle attachment?
If you are using a stand mixer, you can use either a whisk or paddle attachment. The whisk attachment whips air into the frosting and makes it light and fluffy and the paddle attachment makes it smooth and creamy. If you find there are too many air bubbles, you can either mix the frosting by hand for a few minutes or mix it on low speed for several minutes with a paddle attachment. Use what you prefer! Either way, it will have an amazing texture and will become your favorite frosting!
If you find the frosting becomes too soft, do not add more powdered sugar. Chill the frosting in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes and rewhip. Cream cheese frosting is a bit more delicate than buttercream and does not hold up well in heat and humidity.
What to use it for
This frosting pairs perfectly with carrot cake and carrot cake cupcakes! It really pairs well with so many flavors! I use it on my banana cake and banana cupcakes, pumpkin cake and pumpkin spice cupcakes, red velvet cake and red velvet cupcakes, and more! Of course it is delicious with vanilla and chocolate layer cake and cupcakes!
Storing and serving
The frosting can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. To use, bring to room temperature and rewhip. The frosting is best served at room temperature, so I recommend taking your cake or cupcakes out of the refrigerator at least one hour before serving.
Cream Cheese Frosting Frequently Asked Questions
Does cream cheese frosting have to be refrigerated?
Yes. It is important to keep the frosting chilled because of the cream cheese. You can keep the cake or cupcakes out for a few hours with no problem. However, it is best enjoyed at room temperature.
Can I color the cream cheese frosting?
I typically don’t recommend coloring cream cheese frosting. This icing has a softer consistency than buttercream frosting, and the addition of food coloring tends to make it even softer. If you do want to color it, stick with lighter colors and use gel food coloring.
Can I use this frosting on a tier cake?
Yes and no. If you are making a small tier cake that can be kept in the refrigerator up until serving and has appropriate internal structures, yes. But I generally advise against it with an abundance of caution.
Can I cut down on the powdered sugar?
For this recipe, I recommend using the full amount of powdered sugar. The cream cheese makes the frosting a bit softer than buttercream frosting. The ratios of the ingredients in the recipe create a frosting that mimics buttercream frosting. It is easily piped and holds its shape.
Can I use salted butter?
Sure! Some people find using salted butter to be too salty. With unsalted, you control the amount of salt you add. I love using half salted and half unsalted butter and omitting the additional salt!
Do I need to sift the powdered sugar?
Only if you need to! I don’t sift powdered sugar unless it is lumpy.
Can I use an electric hand mixer?
Cream Cheese Frosting
- Electric hand mixer or stand mixer
- 2 cups unsalted butter room temperature
- 8 oz cream cheese room temperature
- 7 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp salt
- In a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, add room temperature butter and cream cheese. Whip on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally.
- Add half of the powdered sugar and mix on low until combined. Add the remaining half of the powdered sugar and continue to mix.
- Add in vanilla extract and salt.
- Turn the mixer to medium-high speed and whip for 2 to 3 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally. Whip until the cream cheese frosting is light, fluffy, and smooth.