Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting
This is the lightest and creamiest (aka the BEST) cream cheese frosting! It’s perfect for frosting cakes, cupcakes, and more.
I’m usually a classic vanilla buttercream gal, but I’m finding more and more that cream cheese frosting is what I’m craving on my cakes and cupcakes. It’s like traditional buttercream, but with a delicious sweet and tangy flavor, and a lot more elegance.
The best cream cheese frosting recipe
This easy 5-ingredient cream cheese frosting is creamy, super light, silky smooth and ultra rich. I promise you won’t find a better recipe. Plus, I’m sharing my best tips to ensure your frosting comes out perfect every single time.
Use this cream cheese frosting to dress up a cake, a batch of cupcakes, your favorite sugar cookies, and more!
Ingredients you’ll need
Let’s get started! Here’s everything you’ll need to make this cream cheese frosting (full recipe below):
- Cream cheese— use only full-fat brick cream cheese for the best flavor, not reduced fat cream cheese or cream cheese spread
- Powdered sugar— sift it after measuring for the smoothest and silkiest texture
- Vanilla extract
How to make cream cheese buttercream frosting
This recipe couldn’t be easier! Just combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat it for 4-5 minutes until smooth, light and creamy (scrape the bowl down once or twice). You can also make this frosting with a hand-held mixer and a large bowl.
Cream cheese frosting FAQs answered!
Here’s a few tips to help you have the most success with this recipe:
How to quickly soften cream cheese
No one likes cream cheese lumps! And you get lumps when your cream cheese is still cold. Ideally, you should remove the cream cheese from the fridge and let it come to room temperature on the counter for a few hours, but sometimes you forget or don’t have the time. It happens. Here are a few ways to warm it up quickly:
- Remove cream cheese from packaging and cut into cubes. Microwave for 10-15 seconds.
- Leave cream cheese sealed in foil packaging and place in a bowl. Cover with warm water and let sit for 10-15 minutes.
Why is my cream cheese frosting runny?
If your cream cheese frosting is too soft or runny it could be for a few reasons:
- The cream cheese used has a high water content because it’s low-fat or a cream cheese “spread”. Use only full-fat brick cream cheese.
- The cream cheese and butter were too soft when used. Both should be at room temperature and a finger will leave a gentle imprint, but won’t be able to press all the way through.
- The frosting has sat out for too long in a warm kitchen.
If your frosting is too soft or runny, put it in the fridge for 10-15 minutes, then beat it again briefly and see if that fixes the problem.
Does cream cheese frosting need to be refrigerated?
Here’s what I recommend— if the frosting will be consumed within the day, you’re fine to leave it at room temperature. The high amount of sugar should keep bacteria growth at bay for at least that long. However, if you’re making it ahead, or using the frosting on a dessert that will be enjoyed over several days, it’s best to keep it in the fridge.
Cream cheese buttercream is also softer than a lot of other frosting, so it’s smart to keep it in the fridge to keep it firm and prevent it from melting. This is especially helpful during the summer or if you have a warm kitchen.
Can I freeze cream cheese frosting?
Cream cheese frosting can be stored in the fridge for a few days and in the freezer for up to a month. Bring to room temperature and beat with an electric mixer until smooth before using.
Uses for cream cheese buttercream frosting
This frosting is so versatile! It’s delicious on pretty much everything, but here are a few of my faves:
- Sweet Potato Spice Cake
- Fresh Strawberry Layer Cake
- Red Velvet Cupcakes
- Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
- Gingerbread Layer Cake
- Blueberry Muffin Cupcakes
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Note: This recipe was originally published May 2018.
Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting
- 8 ounces cream cheese (1 brick, 226 grams), softened to room temperature
- ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick, 113 grams), softened to room temperature
- 4 cups powdered sugar (455 grams), sifted
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Beat the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt with an electric mixer on low until combined.
- Turn speed up to high and beat for 4-5 minutes until smooth, light, and creamy. Stop and scrape down the bowl 1-2 times to make sure it mixing well.
76 Comments on “Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting”
I have already made buttercream frosting, can I add cream cheese and vanilla extract to make icing??
It’s best to beat the butter and cream cheese together, not sure if the texture would come out the same.
Did this work? I am just thinking of trying it!
i added cream cheese at the end and the icing is still super smooth. i used a han mixer
Made tonight for a chocolate cake. Worked out well and not too sweet.
I love this recipe so much! It is easily spreadable and doesn’t harden as quickly as normal Buttercream frosting does. My mom found it to be a bit sweet so all I did was double the Cream Cheese and keep the rest of the ingredients the same and It worked out so well! What I found to work best when adding more Cream Cheese is to beat the butter until smooth before adding the Cream Cheese and the Icing Sugar otherwise you will have little chunks of butter in the frosting. This recipe is something that I highly recommend to others looking for a easy, quick Cream Cheese Frosting.
Thanks for the tip! I dont like it to sweet either. Regards Annicka
I used half the sugar it called for. It was a good consistency for what I was using it for. I was not doing any decorating techniques … just an icing on a carrot cake. It was great. Any more sugar and it would have been too sweet.
I will try this recipe tomorrow for my family
Thanks so much for converting everything to grams. 😉 Is it possibly to add flavours to it, like a bit of coffee or something fruity?
Best wishes from Germany!
Of course! Different extracts or liquors can be used almost interchangeably. I would try to keep flavorings to 1 tablespoon or less.
I don’t like cream cheese frosting. I think it’s too heavy. I made a carrot cake and was looking for an alternative and found this recipe. Buttercream happens to be my favorite. (This is the perfect wedding!) It work great for my carrot cake and I just used it on my hummingbird cake.
Folks at church loved the icing on the carrot cake, so I sure they’ll love it again.
What if you only have salters butter? Will that still work?
Sure! I’d just reduce the amount of salt in the frosting slightly.
Hello, I was wondering if I added color to this if it would work? I’m looking for a frosting that isn’t too sweet, that I can decorate a sheet cake with?
You can definitely color this frosting however you like. And it would work great on a sheet cake! 🙂
Thanks for the tip! I dont like it to sweet either. Regards Annicka
How many times do I have to make this recipe to get enough icing for a three tier wedding cake like the one you have that has three layers in each tier?
Hi Liz! I’m not sure I have all of the info needed to answer this question. To frost an 8-inch 3-layer cake I would maybe 1.5x the recipe to be sure I had enough since it’s for a wedding cake. You could even double it to be sure, especially if you like frosting. Now, if you want to frost a 3-tiered cake, which means 3 cakes stacked on top of each other, it would completely depend upon the sizes of the 3 cakes. But hopefully you can use the amount for the 8-inch as a guide. I hope this helps! Good luck and happy baking! 🙂
This is a great recipe, even for a homemade icing novice like me. Turned out great.
I followed your recipe and I was shocked at the results. Delicious!
I used salted butter, so I just omitted the salt called for in the recipe. I also added a little bit of lemon juice, which made it even lighter and helped balance the sweetness a tad. No lemon taste what so ever. Just light, creamy, and delicious.
Please note that I do not have alot of experience when it comes to making homemade icing. But, this turned out great!
This was quick and easy to make too. It made more than enough to thickly cover a 13 x 9″ pan of brownies (with some left over). I also appreciated your inclusion of directions for using this icing after its been refrigerated.
Thank-you so much!
I love this recipe – perfect every time!! I’d like to make a lemony version – how would I add great lemon flavour without wrecking it?
You could definitely add lemon extract no problem. Another option would be lemon zest, or lemon juice. Add lemon juice 1 teaspoon at a time, I’m not sure how much you can add without it changing the consistency of the frosting.
If I wanted to make a chocolate version, when would I add the chocolate?
I haven’t made a chocolate version before, but I’d imagine you can add cooled melted chocolate along with the other ingredients.
You could also add coco powder in place of some of the sugar.
So easy and so good! I’ve made classic vanilla buttercream a ton, and my sisters requested a cream cheese buttercream and it turned out perfectly! Making sure the butter and cream cheese are room temp is key. Also sifting the confectioners sugar really helps the texture.
Planning on piping this on cupcakes so I’m hoping chilling it in the refrigerator for a while will help it hold.
So just wondering how did it pipe? Did it hold?
Tastes absolutely disgusting! Iv had better store bought icing.. I only gave 1 star because it did hold up for decorating/ piping details but the flavor is absolutely repulsive adding the Crisco. Super disappointed at trying this new recipe
I’m sorry to hear this recipe wasn’t what you hoped for! But I’m curious because the recipe doesn’t actually contain Crisco shortening?
You added Crisco instead of unsalted butter?! Of course it’s going to be disgusting!
Leave it to Karen to rate a perfectly good recipe 1 star because she can’t follow instructions.
You’re probably the same person who gives 1 star on Google to Discount Tire Co. for not changing your oil or washing your vehicle. Good job.
There is no crisco in this recipe.
That was funny.. but yea the directions were easy to READ and FOLLOW..
Hi! Is this Cream Cheese Buttercream Icing a bit stiffer than a Swiss Meringue Buttercream? Not for piping… I am making a naked cake and will also frost between the layers but want to add strawberry filling to one layer and orange marmalade to another layer. How would you do it? So the filling doesn’t gush out of the sides of the cake? And it will have the layers edged in this icing? One of the layers is Red Velvet so I am considering a Cream Cheese Frosting incorporated through the Orange and Strawberry layers, too… I know this is a dumb question but have a cake vision (even though I am completely new to baking)!!! Lol!!!
Hi Regina! If you’re filling cake layers with a soft filling you’ll need to create a “frosting dam” first. Read about it on my How to Frost a Layer Cake Post, under the heading “Stack and Fill” Step 2. Cream cheese buttercream is perhaps a little softer than swiss meringue buttercream because of the cream cheese, but it’s plenty stiff enough to frost a cake and even pipe decorations. If you want to mix the cream cheese buttercream with strawberry filling or orange marmalade for a flavored filling, that might work you. Or you could put a layer of frosting AND a layer of fruit filling in between cake layers. I hope this answers your questions, sounds like a fun cake! 🙂
Wonderful frosting! Sweet, without being teeth screaming sweet. Just enough for a generous spread on a 13×9 cake. Works nicely in decorating too. This is going to be a go-to frosting.
Turned out so creamy and yummy! Was pleasantly surprised!
Hello i need your help. Can you cover a cream cheese frosted cake with fondant? I am planning to bake a 3tiered fondant cake for my daughter where the bottom tier will be the redvelvet cake frost with creamcheese. Is it possible?
Maybe? I’ve actually never worked with fondant so I would consult another source.
Im curious if this worked out for u? Im also wanting to cover in fondant …
Really I appreciate the effort you made to share the knowledge. The topic here I found was really effective to the topic which I was researching for a long time.
t rex game
This is a no fail recipe! Delicious every time I make it. Thank you!
I made a carrot cake and used this frosting recipe and it was so delicious. I have shared it with everyone who tasted it and wanted the recipe.
So so perfect
Winner winner! I already have a buttercream frosting recipe, and I have cream cheese frosting recipe, but I wanted something in between and this one is fantastic! And I think the little bit of salt took it up a notch and made this frosting recipe my new favorite!! I made it exactly as instructed and it is great. I ended up adding a little milk just to stretch it and make it the consistency I wanted for cinnamon rolls. But that is definitely not necessary. Great recipe! A keeper 🙂
Is it possible to make this into chocolate? If so, how?
Super easy to put together. Sifting the sugar helped making it SUPER creamy. I also used whipped cream cheese which made it extra fluffy and I added about 8 drops of high quality lime juice to cut the cloying sweetness just a bit
Can this cream cheese butter cream frosting be used for piping?
Jennifer, I have to say that this is one of the creamiest and not over sugary recipe I’ve tried thank you for your recipe I’m definitely going to enjoy it and so will my family.
4 c. powdered sugar (which is actually 908g) is clearly a typo, and I wish I would have listened to the little voice that told me to only use 2c., because the recipe was stodgy and tastes of pure sugar, not the fluffy, buttery recipe that I was expecting. Too bad for the people I made this for, because I didn’t have time or ingredients to start again. 🙁
Hi! I stand by my measurement of 4 cups of powdered sugar equaling 455 grams. I always test those numbers myself, and align them to the conversion chart from King Arthur Baking. I also just weighed a cup of powdered sugar several different times to double check, and got anywhere from 105 grams to 115 grams each time. 908 grams for 4 cups of powdered sugar (which is 227 grams per cup) is WAY too much, and maybe that’s why your frosting didn’t turn out the way it should. I hope this helps! 🙂
Excellent recipe – easy to work with and holds it’s shape beautifully and tastes great. Thanks for sharing
Hey Annalise! Thank you for posting this recipe, I will try to cook it today and will write my feedback here!
Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful recipe. It was absolutely delicious on my red velvet cake ! I actually mistakenly used salted butter the first time I made ( husband picked up the wrong butter from the market) I didn’t double check the package before using . Anyhow I wasn’t mad at the added salt . My family enjoyed it as well.
I made it again with the correct butter it was still fantastic.
Hi! Are these ingredients portion enough to make a 4 inches cake with 3 layers ?
I haven’t tried this yet but was thinking of substituting it for the buttercream frosting for a funfetti cake to make it less sweet. I’m wondering if
any leftover cake needs to be refrigerated since the frosting has cream cheese in it?
Yes, for best results cakes with cream cheese frosting should be stored in the fridge.
Would do it again it tastes sweet but I kind of like it a little sweet but my family loves it a lot sweeter
Wouldn’t make again. Personally it just tasted like not very good cream cheese icing. We ate it, it was okay, definitely wish I chose something else instead.
Can I just use 3 cups powdered sugar instead of 4..I dont like a vey swett frosting
Sure you can give that a try, just know that the frosting will be a thinner consistency.
Love it but needs less sugar
This cream cheese icing turned out great! I’ve been making cream cheese icing for years now with hit-or-mix success (sometimes it turns out beautifully, but other times it’s either too runny or grainy looking or has small lumps). My old recipe had milk, no salt, and was not to be mixed more than needed to incorporate the ingredients, but everyone raved about the taste, therefore, I was hesitant to try something new. However, I finally reached the point where I was tired of the inconsistency and decided to give a different recipe a chance. I’m so glad I did. This recipe turned out with a smooth delicious frosting that went beautifully on my always requested red velvet cake and no one was the wiser. My only suggestion is that you double the time you have listed for this recipe. In order to properly sift, then add the powdered sugar slowly, and finally mix on high for 4-5 minutes, it cannot be completed in the time you have listed. Overall a success and will continue to use this recipe.
This is absolutely delicious and the consistency is perfect, smooth and easy to decorate cupcakes.
Loved this butter cream. Wasn’t to sweet was just right. Will be using this from now on
This is delicious! I would recommend beating the cream cheese first, then adding the butter, then slowly adding the powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla instead of mixing it all together at once.
Simple and delicious!
OMG I have been making cream cheese frosting for a long time. I made this recipe and followed the instructions about beating it and voila the softest, creamiest icing I’ve ever tasted. This recipe is a keeper. Thank you.
Love this recipe!!! I make it all the time 😝
Is this a crusting buttercream?
It will form a sort of crust, yet. The cream cheese will keep it softer than traditional buttercream, but will crust a little.
If I could give 10 stars I would..absolutely the best vanilla cream cheese frosting I’ve ever made. Thank you for sharing such an amazing recipe ❤️
Used 1 stick butter, 1 brick of cream cheese and 1/2 the sugar and added chopped cherries . Put it on a yellow cake mix with 3 eggs and 1 can of cherry pie filling. Came out just right.
I’m hoping to hear back real soon not sure if I read in other comments but frosting is not really stiff and I need it for tomorrow after church.. so if you could please respond asap??? But I’ve never tasted cream cheese frosting and it’s actually not bad 😊