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Warning! This homemade cream cheese frosting is irresistible and may cause friends and family to beg you for more. With just 4 ingredients and 4 easy steps, this easy frosting is incredibly versatile and perfect to top cakes, cupcakes, and more!

cream cheese frosting on wire whisk with text overlay
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Homemade Cream Cheese Frosting is so versatile!

I’m a little obsessed with this thing called CREAM CHEESE FROSTING!!

Yeah. I know, I’m a little late to the game, but I just figured I didn’t like it. Just like I thought I didn’t like cheesecake when I was younger because it had the word “cheese” and I’m not a huge cheese fan.

Homemade cream cheese frosting is an essential recipe for a baker! It pairs well with so many cakes and cupcakes – further down in the post I’ll be sharing all my recommendations.

This frosting recipe is incredibly easy to make and most likely you have all the ingredients on hand already.

cream cheese frosting being spread onto a cake

Ingredients for Homemade Cream Cheese Frosting

  • cream cheese, softened
  • unsalted butter, softened
  • vanilla extract
  • powdered sugar
  • Optional: salt and dash of milk or heavy cream
ingredients to make cream cheese frosting on white metal tray with text overlay

What is the best cream cheese to use?

The best cream cheese to use for cream cheese frosting is full-fat, brick-style cream cheese. This type of cream cheese typically comes in an 8-ounce (226-gram) package and has a higher fat content compared to reduced-fat or whipped cream cheese varieties. The full-fat cream cheese provides the best texture and flavor for a rich and creamy frosting.

How to Make the Best Cream Cheese Frosting

This recipe makes enough frosting to frost a 9×13 inch cake, a two layer 8 inch cake or 24 cupcakes.

  1. Place room temperature unsalted butter and cream cheese in a mixing bowl.
  2. Use an electric mixer on medium and beat together for 1-2 minutes, until whipped and fluffy.
  3. Add in the vanilla extract and powdered sugar, beat again on low for 1-2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until everything is incorporated.
  4. If the frosting is too thick, add a splash of milk or heavy cream, beat until creamy.
how to make cream cheese frosting collage

Can I Make Cream Cheese Frosting Ahead of Time?

You can make the frosting ahead of time and store it in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 1 week. The frosting will thicken in the fridge because it’s cold. Before using, place the frosting on the counter and allow it to come to room temperature. Give it a quick whip with an electric mixer before using.

How to Store Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

How long does cream cheese frosting last at room temperature?

Cream cheese frosting on cake or cupcakes can be left at room temperature for up to 8 hours. Beyond that, it is recommended that it be refrigerated.

close up of cream cheese frosting

Troubleshooting this recipe for Cream Cheese Frosting

Why is frosting runny?

This could be because the frosting was over whipped. To fix, add more powdered sugar, however this can push the frosting to the sweeter side.

Why is frosting lumpy?

The frosting can be lumpy if the cream cheese or butter were cold when you mixed the frosting together.

How to fix lumpy Cream Cheese Frosting

If you are desperate, you can put the bowl of frosting in the microwave for 10 second intervals to soften the cold ingredients.

Be sure to use room temperature ingredients. A quick way to get cream cheese and butter to room temperature is to microwave them for 5 second intervals until soft.

Does cream cheese frosting harden?

This frosting will develop a crust over the surface but it will not harden completely.

Cake and cupcakes to pair with the Best Cream Cheese Frosting

Cookies to pair with Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

cream cheese frosting in white bowl with metal knife in bowl

If you love cream cheese and are looking for a savory recipe, try smoked cream cheese on the grill!

Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe FAQs

What is Cream Cheese Frosting?

It’s a type of frosting that calls for creaming butter, cream cheese and powdered sugar together to make a tangy frosting.

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

Cream cheese frosting combines cream cheese, powdered sugar, and occasionally vanilla extract for a tangy, creamy texture, perfect for spreading on cakes and cupcakes. Cream cheese buttercream incorporates both cream cheese and butter, resulting in a richer, thicker flavor that’s well-suited for cake decorating and piped designs. Your choice between the two depends on the desired texture, flavor, and intended use for your baked treats.

What is the difference between whipped and regular cream cheese frosting?

Whipped cream cheese frosting is lighter and fluffier due to the incorporation of air during whipping, making it ideal for a smooth and airy finish on cakes and cupcakes. Regular cream cheese frosting is denser and thicker.

Why is my cream cheese frosting not white?

The natural color of cream cheese is typically off-white or slightly yellowish. This color can influence the frosting’s hue. If you add vanilla extract to your cream cheese frosting, it can contribute a slightly beige or off-white color, particularly if you use a pure vanilla extract with a brownish tint.

How do you thicken cream cheese frosting for piping?

To thicken cream cheese frosting for piping, follow these steps:
Chill the Cream Cheese: Start with chilled cream cheese to ensure it’s firmer and less prone to becoming too soft during the mixing process.
Use More Confectioners’ Sugar: Gradually add more confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar) to the frosting while mixing. This will increase the frosting’s thickness and stiffness.
Add Cornstarch: If needed, you can add a small amount of cornstarch to the frosting. Cornstarch helps absorb excess moisture and can contribute to a thicker consistency.
Refrigerate: If the frosting is still too soft, refrigerate it for a short period (15-30 minutes) to firm it up before piping. Be cautious not to refrigerate for too long, as cream cheese frosting can become too stiff to pipe if over-chilled.
Adjust the amount of sugar and cornstarch as necessary until you achieve the desired thickness for piping your decorations.

Is cream cheese better than buttercream?

Whether cream cheese frosting is better than buttercream frosting depends on personal preference and the specific application. Cream cheese frosting has a tangy, creamy flavor that pairs well with many baked goods, offering a unique taste. Buttercream frosting, on the other hand, is versatile and can be flavored in various ways. Ultimately, the choice between them depends on the desired taste, texture, and suitability for the specific dessert you’re making.

4.23 from 22 ratings

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Easy Recipe for Cream Cheese Frosting

By: Beth
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 2 cups
Homemade cream cheese frosting is creamy, fluffy and perfectly tangy. It’s an easy frosting (only 4 ingredients) to make for cake and cupcakes. Made in one bowl in under 10 minutes.


  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened, 1/2 cup
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar
  • optional: 1/8 tsp salt and dash of milk or heavy cream


  • Place room temperature unsalted butter and cream cheese in a mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer on medium and beat together for 1-2 minutes, until whipped and fluffy.
  • Add in the vanilla extract and powdered sugar (and optional salt), beat again on low for 1-2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until everything is incorporated.
  • If the frosting is too thick, add a splash of milk or heavy cream, beat until creamy.
  • Use as frosting on cake and cupcakes. Store in a sealed container in the fridge.


Serving: 2tablespoons | Calories: 188kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Sodium: 47mg | Potassium: 22mg | Sugar: 23g | Vitamin A: 367IU | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 1mg
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About Beth

I believe that everyone should have a go-to dessert to bring to parties! With hundreds of recipes, I'll help you find yours!

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Recipe Rating


  1. 4 stars
    Hello. Want to make this frosting. Is it pipe-able? Bought a nice set from Amazon and am a beginner at it. Been baking since I was 9, my grandfather helped me.  Now I want to try “fancy” frosting with my new set and I LOVE cream cheese frosting. Thank you.

    1. This frosting is a bit softer, but if you keep it cold, or add more powdered sugar, it will be more pipe-able.

  2. 5 stars
    I love this buttercream recipe. It was fast and easy to put together turned out fantastic no hassles and it came out perfect. I saw a comment where a person was trying to say how do we add some lemon to that, I would say just add a half a teaspoon of lemon extract, if you want it stronger put a whole teaspoon in there and you should have a Taste of lemon in your cream cheese frosting. But overall it was fantastic. Thanks for the recipe.