Best Cream Cheese Frosting

I get asked a lot about my cream cheese frosting recipe, and I’m finally sharing it!

People call cream cheese frosting all different kinds of things. Sometimes it’s called cream cheese icing, other times cream cheese buttercream.

In my mind, there’s a huge difference between the two.

Cream cheese icing is much thinner, and works great when glazing muffins, or topping a sheet cake. However, it does not pipe well!

cream cheese buttercream

Cream Cheese Frosting That’s Sturdy Enough To Pipe

On the other hand, cream cheese frosting does!! It’s thick, has structure, and pipes like a dream. Bring on the cupcakes, layer cakes, and even tiered cakes!!

This is what makes this frosting recipe so great.

It has the tang of a cream cheese, but is sturdy like my classic American buttercream. This means you can easily pipe big swirls on you cupcakes.

cream cheese buttercream frosted onto a pumpkin cupcake

Thick Enough For Layer Cakes and Tiered Cakes

It also means you make a tall layer cake, and feel confident that the frosting will be sturdy enough to keep everything in place. 

I’ve paired this frosting recipe with my chocolate layer cake, red velvet cake recipe and with my red velvet cupcakes, and loved it! This frosting recipe is also used on my bagel and lox inspired cake.

bagel and lox cake

Like I mentioned above, this frosting has a consistency similar to normal buttercream. This means it’s strong enough to be used on a tiered cake.

I get loads of questions and comments asking about cream cheese frosting and wedding cakes! A lot of people worry about using cream cheese frosting on that big/heavy of a cake.

But fear not!! I made a massive wedding cake with my olive oil cake recipe, and used this frosting recipe (plus some lemon zest) to frost it.

The cake sat in the reception room for 6 hours before it was cut into, and it kept its shape perfectly!! The picture below shows the cake before I transported it to the venue.

I added some fresh flowers from the bride’s florist to the cake once I got there 🙂

Photo of a three tiered semi naked wedding cake frosted with cream cheese frosting

Tips For Making Best Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • Use full fat cream cheese! It gives the frosting a better texture and taste
  • Be sure your cream cheese and butter are both properly at room temperature! If they’re not, they won’t properly mix together and you can end up with chunks of cream cheese in your frosting
  • If you are making frosting for a cake, mix the buttercream on the lowest speed at the end of the process for a couple minutes, to get out any extra air that might have be incorporated during the mixing process.
  • I usually make 1 1/2 batches of frosting to stack and frost a seven or eight inch cake.

Making This Cream Cheese Frosting in Advance and Storage Tips:

  • Make your frosting ahead of time, or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
  • Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.
  • A frosted cake can last in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month. The buttercream locks in all the moisture, keeping the cake fresh and delicious!
  • If you cut into the cake and have leftovers, use any remaining frosting to cover the cut section to keep it moist and store in the fridge for up to a week.
image of moist red velvet cake, decorated with reserved red velvet crumbs

Let Me Know What You Think!

If you try this cream cheese frosting recipe, please tag me @chelsweets. Also use the #chelsweets so that I can see what your baking!

Yield: 6 cups

Best Cream Cheese Frosting

Best Cream Cheese Frosting

This cream cheese frosting has that delicious cream cheese tang, but the structure of a classic buttercream! It pipes like a dream, and is great for frosting layer cakes!!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes

Ingredients

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature (339 grams) - 3 sticks
  • 1/2 cup full-fat cream cheese, room temperature (113 grams or 4 oz.)
  • 7 cups powdered sugar (904 grams) or a 2lb bag
  • 1 tsp salt (6 grams)
  • 2 Tbsp heavy cream (or whipping cream) (29 grams)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste (12 grams)

Instructions

    Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting:

    1. Beat the butter and cream cheese on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a stand mixer and paddle attachment or hand mixer, until smooth.
    2. Add in the vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste and salt, and beat on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated.
    3. Slowly mix in the powdered sugar on a very low speed, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream. 
    4. If the frosting is too thick, add in additional cream (1 tablespoon at a time).
    5. If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (1/4 cup at a time).
    6. Cover the cream cheese frosting with a piece of plastic wrap, to prevent a crust from forming until you're ready to use it.

Notes

Make your frosting ahead of time, or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.

Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.

A frosted cake can last in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month. The buttercream locks in all the moisture, keeping the cake fresh and delicious!

If you cut into the cake and have leftovers, use any remaining frosting to cover the cut section to keep it moist and store in the fridge for up to a week.

Nutrition Information

Yield

24

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 389Total Fat 19gSaturated Fat 12gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 6gCholesterol 52mgSodium 131mgCarbohydrates 56gFiber 0gSugar 54gProtein 1g

131 thoughts on “Best Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. HI Hi

    Tried your Funfetti Cupcake recipe and would like to use this frosting with it, Two questions: Can I make a half batch of this by just cutting all the ingredients in half and Can I use gel food coloring in this frosting?

    1. Hi Anju,

      I think that would be an awesome combination! You can totally make a half batch by using half the ingredients, and gel food coloring works great to color it. Happy baking 🙂

  2. How long does it take to dry on cookies? If you cover the cookie with this frosting, then how long do you wait before you can “write” on it? How long before you might be able to stack them in a container?

    1. Hi Susan,

      This recipe doesn’t really dry the same way royal icing does! The frosting will crust after about 30 minutes, but it won’t be firm to the touch! Just the top layer of frosting will have a crust. You could pipe frosting on top of it, but I wouldn’t recommend stacking them on top of each other. So sorry!

  3. Hello, do we have to halve everything or can we reduce some values ??without changing other things like the amount of sugar, for example, can we just halve and not touch the rest?

    1. Hi Leila,

      If you reduce the amount of powdered sugar but nothing else, it will drastically change the consistency of the frosting! If you don’t too pipe with the frosting or make a layer cake, that should be ok (that would be fine to frost a sheet cake). But if you plan to pipe (like cupcakes, or swirls on a cake) or if you’re making a cake with more than one layer, it won’t keep its shape well enough to do so. Hope that helps, happy baking!

  4. Hi! I made this buttercream before and loved it ! I wanted to make it again for my daughters 1st bday but wanted to pip roses and flowers on it. Will this hold up ? Or should I make ABC to make the flowers ?!!

    Thanks !!

    1. Hi Jodi,

      So happy to hear you’ve enjoyed this recipe! It is stiff enough to pipe flowers with, but I find that sometimes it gets too soft while piping (the heat from your hand transfers through the bag and into the frosting!). I think it would work if your kitchen is cool or your hands don’t run too warm, but you’d probably be safest using American buttercream! Hope that helps, and that your daughter’s bday cake turns out great!! <3

  5. Hi, I am intrigued with your talent. I tried your mirror glaze as a trial run for my own 60’s hippie cake and it worked great. Thank you for increasing my confidence. I can bake, but not decorate lol. I have 2 questions, if I use this cream cheese frosting Recipe then do the mirror glaze on top, will it be a little less sweet than your buttercream recipe. I felt that was a little too sweet for me. Also I am making 2 – 2 tier cakes 8” and 6” each because it’s my daughters birthday too. I am adding a raspberry filling to hers but just frosting to mine. Can you give me an approximate how much cream cheese frosting I should make. Aha if, thank you for sharing your talent and encouraging others. Toni

    1. Hi Toni,

      Thank you 🙂 and I am so happy to hear that!!

      I do think my cream cheese frosting tastes less sweet than my american buttercream recipe, so that’s a great idea if you think american buttercream is a little too sweet.

      That’s awesome that you are celebrating both of your birthdays together!! The amount of frosting you need can vary a lot based on the amount you add between your cake layers how many cake layers there are, and how much you like to add on the sides.

      Do you mean you’re making 2 tiered cakes each with an 8 inch and 6 inch tier? Or a 2 tiered cake with 2 cake layers in each tier?

      If you’re making 2 tiered cakes (each with an 8 inch and 6 inch tier) I’d recommend making at least 3 batches! If you have leftover frosting you can always refrigerate it and use it on another baking project down the road. I hope that helps, happy baking!

  6. Hi! Thank you very much for sharing this recipe. But fortunately I haven’t mastered this cream cheese butter cream. The texture is runny and grainy. Seems the icing sugar has not incorporated well in the mix. After a while, if forms a layer of thick sugar on top. What did I do wrong?

    1. Hi Paulina,

      Are the butter and cream cheese at room temp when you make it? are you using full fat cream cheese? What brand of cream cheese are you using?? Hopefully we’ll be able to figure this out together!

  7. Hi, I love the taste of your cream cheese frosting! But I am a bit worried about the colour. Mine looks quite yellowish, makes me doubt to frost my wedding cake with it. Do you have advice for me? Thanks and thanks for your great videos!

    1. Hi Katrin,

      You can try whipping it with a whisk attachment to make it lighter in color, or add a TINY drop of purple gel food coloring to offset the yellow. It sounds crazy, but yellow and purple are opposites on the color wheel so they cancel each other out. Hope that helps, happy baking!

  8. Hi, I love the taste of your cream cheese frosting! However mine turns out yellowish, that makes me doubt if I should cover my wedding cake with it. Do you have any advice to make it whiter?
    Greetings from austria

    1. Hi Ashley,

      Once batch of this frosting should be great for a 6inch layer cake! You will probably have a little bit left over, but you can always save it for a future baking project. Hope that helps, happy baking!

  9. Hi, I am making a red velvet cake which I would love to fill with this cream cheese frosting but this cake will be covered in fondant. How long can this recipe last out of the fridge? Or should I be using abc with cream cheese flavouring underneath fondant?
    Love watching your videos!

    1. Hi Heidi,

      I’m so sorry for the delayed response! My cream cheese frosting is stiff enough to go under fondant, and it can sit out for several hours. I don’t recommend letting it sit out overnight though. Hope that helps, happy baking!

  10. I am doing a three tiered spice cake for a wedding. They want cream cheese frosting. Will this work for a semi-naked design? Does it keep the cakes from getting too dried out?

    1. Hi Abigail,

      I think this would work great for a tiered wedding cake that will be decorate in that style! In general, semi naked cakes are more prone to drying out so be sure to soak your cake layers with simple syrup and try to decorate the cake layers as close to the day of as possible. Hope that helps, happy baking!

  11. So in the video you say 3 sticks of butter, 4 ounces of cream cheese, & 16 oz powdered sugar. However, in the recipe card here, if I cut it in half, that’s not the same amount of ingredients at all… so which is better?

    1. Hi Chelsea,

      This recipe was for 1.5 batches, which is the normal amount of frosting I make for a 7 or 8 inch layer cake. I’ve updated the recipe card to share the ingredients as 1 batch to align better with the video. So sorry for any confusion!! Happy baking <3

Let me know what you think!