This is the lightest and creamiest cream cheese frosting! 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 more depth of flavor, and a lot more elegance.
This simple 5-ingredient cream cheese frosting has been the literal icing on so many cakes— this sweet potato spice cake I made last fall, my ever-popular southern coconut cake, and most recently, this elegant strawberry cake. It’s creamy, super light, and ultra rich. And it’s the perfect way to dress up a cake, a batch of cupcakes, your favorite sugar cookies, and more!
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 over the course of several 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.
Does cream cheese frosting need to be refrigerated?
I’ve heard this question so many times and there seems to be some conflicting info out there. 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 and low moisture 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 just to be safe.
How to frost like a pro
You don’t have to be a professional baker to make beautiful cakes, cupcakes, etc. A few simple tricks are all you need to know!
- I always sift my powdered sugar before making the frosting, ensuring it’s smooth and lump-free.
- I use gel food coloring instead of liquid, resulting in much more vivid colors. You should be able to find them in your grocery store, or you can buy online.
- I use a piping bag with plain and star tips, which go a long way to make my decorations looks professional.
And if you’re looking for more help, see my full photo tutorial on how to frost a layer cake.
Tools for this recipe
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Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting
- 8 ounces (1 brick, 226 grams) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup (1 stick, 113 grams) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 4 cups (455 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
- 1/2 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.