Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

This homemade Cream Cheese Frosting is fluffy and pipes beautifully. We’re sharing our tips for a perfectly thick and whipped frosting. Watch the video tutorial and see how easy it is.

We love this frosting on cakes, cupcakes, and cookies. It’s especially good on Red Velvet Cake, Carrot Cake Cupcakes, and Pumpkin Cake. If you’ve been looking for that perfect and versatile frosting recipe, this is a must-try!

Cream Cheese Frosting on serving spoon

The Best Cream Cheese Frosting

Hands down, this is our favorite cream cheese icing. Here’s why this will become your go-to recipe:

  • Texture – it’s thick enough to pipe onto a cake or cupcakes and isn’t runny like many cream cheese-based frostings tend to be.
  • Sweetness – this has just the right amount of sugar and isn’t overly sweet.
  • Flavor – the proportion of butter and cream cheese is balanced and it doesn’t taste too much like cream cheese. The vanilla and salt also add great flavor.
  • Freezer-friendly – you can make it ahead and freeze or even pipe it onto cakes and cupcakes and freeze an entire dessert (see make-ahead instructions below)


The key to making great cream cheese frosting is in making sure your butter and cream cheese aren’t overly softened.

  • Unsalted butter – use an inexpensive, light-colored butter for a lighter-colored frosting.
  • Cream cheese – 8oz adds just enough cream cheese flavor and lightens up the frosting.
  • Powdered sugar – sweetens up the frosting without being too sweet like many store bought frostings, but you can add more if you prefer.
  • Vanilla extract – use a real extract or homemade vanilla for the best taste.
  • Fine Sea Salt – a little goes a long way to balance the flavor.
Ingredients for frosting with cream cheese, butter, vanilla, salt and powdered sugar

The Best Cream Cheese for Frosting

Make sure to use full-fat, block-style cream cheese. Avoid cream cheese sold in a tub as those can make frosting runny and are intended to be used for spreads rather than frosting.

Block style cream cheese for making frosting

How to Make Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. Beat butter with an electric hand mixer until smooth and creamy then beat on high speed for 1 minute until lightened in color.
  2. Beat in cream cheese pieces just until combined, scraping down the bowl.
  3. Add vanilla and salt and beat to combine.
  4. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time and mix at low speed until incorporated. Increase to high speed and beat another 2-3 minutes until whipped, thick and spreadable, scraping down the bowl a couple of times to ensure everything is really well blended.
Step by step ingredients for cream cheese frosting

Common Questions

Does Cream Cheese Frosting have to be refrigerated?

Yes, since it has cream cheese and is dairy-based, it should be refrigerated. See instructions for refrigerating and freezing in the “Make-ahead” section below.

How to thicken cream cheese frosting?

Add more powdered sugar if an even thicker frosting is desired.

Can I use this on cookies?

Yes, it is a sturdy frosting and perfect for cookies. You can even use gel food coloring at the end to tint the frosting.

How long can Cream Cheese Frosting sit out?

It can sit out at room temperature for 6 hours. In a warmer or more humid climate, refrigerate until ready to serve.

Can I add food coloring?

Yes, use a spatula to fold in a gel food coloring to the finished frosting to reach the desired color. Gel colors are less likely to thin your frosting.

Is cream cheese frosting best with butter or cream?

We love it with butter because it is thicker and easier to pipe and decorate with. It also keeps really well in the refrigerator when using butter.

Use Cream Cheese Frosting for

We love to serve this recipe for cream cheese frosting on all kinds of desserts. These pair really well with the balanced sweetness of this frosting.

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