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.