The Best Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe (2024)

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This is my family favorite BEST cream cheese frosting recipe! It goes great on Carrot Cake, Red Velvet Cake, and just about any other flavor cake or cupcake you can imagine. I’ve been making this cream cheese icing for years!

The Best Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe (1)

If I had things my way, every cake and every cupcake would be be buried beneath a mountain of cream cheese frosting.

Not buttercream —Never rarely buttercream — always and only cream cheese. For someone with such a rampant sweet tooth, it’s alarming the number of times I’ve turned down a slice of cake or a sky-high frosted cupcake because the buttercream just makes my teeth hurt (OK full disclosure I have a buttercream recipe coming up on the blog next month, and it’s delicious, but cream cheese frosting will always win over my heart, even over my favorite chocolate frosting).

While buttercream frostings are usually too sweet, cream cheese frosting I could eat with a spoon, and this recipe is every bit as versatile as buttercream — it’s sturdy, pipe-able, can be dyed, and, most importantly, it’s delicious.

The Best Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe (2)

Tips for Making Cream Cheese Icing:

  • Make sure that you are using full-fat brick cream cheese, not low fat or spreadable cream cheese (which is usually sold in a tub rather than in brick form).
  • I always like to use unsalted butter and add a dash of salt so that I have complete control over the flavor of the frosting. However, if you only have salted butter on hand then just omit the salt called for in the recipe.
  • Make sure you allow your cream cheese and your butter to soften before making your frosting! Softening the butter and cream cheese ensure that your ingredients will combine well and be lump free.
  • If you intend to pipe your frosting, I recommend sifting your powdered sugar before mixing it into your butter/cream cheese mixture, as small lumps of sugar can clog up your piping tips, especially if you’re using a smaller tip.

The Best Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe (3)

Can cream cheese frosting be used for piping?

  • Yes! Especially with this recipe because it is nice and thick. Now, this frosting (as with most) is prone to melting in hot weather, but it pipes nicely and as you can see in the photos it holds its shape neatly as well.

How do I make my cream cheese frosting thicker?

  • What I love about this recipe is that it already makes a nice thick frosting, but if needed you can add more powdered sugar to make your cream cheese frosting even thicker. I recommend adding about 2 Tablespoons at a time until the desired thickness is reached. Alternatively you can add cornstarch… see more on that below.

Can I add cornstarch to my cream cheese frosting?

  • Yup! While this recipe does not call for it, if you need a particularly stiff frosting or are looking to make your frosting thicker without making it sweeter, you can add cornstarch (in fact, I use this technique for my carrot cake cookies). I don’t recommend adding more than a few Tablespoons, so start with just one Tablespoon at a time until desired thickness is reached.

The Best Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe (4)

The Best Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe (5)

Alright, while (in my humble opinion) cream cheese frosting goes great with everything, there are certain cakes and cupcakes that complement it particularly well.Wednesday I’ll be sharing one of my favorite cupcakes with you — the exact cupcakes seen in the photos above.

Can you guess what flavor they are???

How to Make Cream Cheese Frosting

The Best Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe (6)

Cream Cheese Frosting

This is my all time FAVORITE Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe! Just 5 ingredients!

This recipe will cover either one 2-layer 8" or 9" cake, 24 cupcakes, or generously frost (as much frosting as in the photos) 12 cupcakes.

Please see note regarding thickness

4.97 from 1715 votes

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Course: Dessert, Cupcakes

Cuisine: American

Prep Time: 10 minutes minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes minutes

Servings: 24 cupcakes or 1 8" or 9" 2-layer cake

Calories: 146kcal

Author: Sam Merritt


  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter softened (113g)
  • 8 oz cream cheese softened (brick-style, not spreadable) (226g)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups powdered sugar* (500g)


  • Combine butter and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer (or you may use an electric mixer) and beat until creamy, well-combined, and lump-free.

  • Add vanilla extract and salt and stir well to combine.

  • With mixer on low, gradually add powdered sugar until completely combined.

  • Use to frost completely cooled cake or cupcakes.


As mentioned in the post, this is a sturdy and pipe-able frosting that will hold its shape and is comparable to buttercream in texture. It's wonderful for decorating! Many cream cheese recipes use less sugar and are far looser because of it; this icing as-written is less sweet than buttercream, but if you want an even less sweet frosting you can use less sugar and just add to taste (you'll need at least two cups).

Frosting that is too thick and too sweet is often caused by accidentally over-measuring the powdered sugar, it should be weighed or measured the same way that flour is measured. If you accidentally make your frosting too thick, you can thin it by adding a splash of heavy cream or milk at a time until the desired consistency is reached.

*If you plan to pipe the frosting with a small tip, I recommend sifting the powdered sugar (after measuring).

The cupcakes in these photos were frosted using an Ateco 848 tip.


Serving: 1/24 batch | Calories: 146kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 21mg | Sodium: 56mg | Potassium: 15mg | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 250IU | Calcium: 11mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.

Tried this recipe? Show me on Instagram!Mention @SugarSpun_Sam or tag #sugarspunrun!

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Reader Interactions


  1. Ella

    Does this frosting need to be refrigerated? In other words, do I need to refrigerate cupcakes after frosting them?


    • Sam

      Hi Ella! You will want to refrigerate the cream cheese frosting. 🙂


  2. Carol J

    The Best Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe (7)
    Tried this recipe today .. my first time ever making Cream Cheese frosting. It turned out fabulous! Frosted a made from scratch carrot cake for Easter. I added grated lemon rind .. I think it added a bit of delciousness to an already delicious frosting. My family is going to absolutely love it. I definately will make this again and again.


  3. Tami

    The Best Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe (8)
    Making this today (I know it will be amazing because it’s cream cheese duh!) But I have a question. If I make it in advance, does it harden too much in the fridge to work as icing? Thank you in advance ☺️


    • Sam

      Hi Tami! It will definitely firm up in the fridge, but you can just leave it sit at room temperature for a few minutes and it will be workable again. 🙂


      • Storm

        The Best Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe (9)
        My family and I loved this frosting! I too also made a carrot cake for Easter and wanted a yummy cream cheese frosting, this did not disappoint! I did have a question as to how long the frosting would last? I ended up not using it all and put the rest in a small glass mason jar in the fridge.

      • Sam

        Hi Storm! If it’s in a sealed container it could keep up to 5 days in the refrigerator. 🙂

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The Best Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe (2024)


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