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 and my red velvet cake recipe, 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 no!! I made a massive olive oil wedding cake, 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 it’s shape perfectly!! The picture before 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 πŸ™‚

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

Let Me Know What You Think!

Nothing makes me happier than when I get emails or DMs with photos of your amazing creations. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with your triumphs, or questions <3

If you try this 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

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature (452 grams) - 4 sticks
  • 1 cup full-fat cream cheese, room temperature (225 grams or 8 oz.)
  • 11 cups powdered sugar (1375 grams)
  • 1 tsp salt (6 grams)
  • 2 Tbsp heavy cream (or whipping cream) (29 grams)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract (12 grams)

Instructions

    Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting:

    1. Beat the butter and cream cheese on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth.
    2. Add in the vanilla 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.Β 
    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

If you have extra buttercream you don't use, it can be stored in the fridge.

Nutrition Information

Yield

24

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 389 Total Fat 19g Saturated Fat 12g Trans Fat 0g Unsaturated Fat 6g Cholesterol 52mg Sodium 131mg Carbohydrates 56g Net Carbohydrates 0g Fiber 0g Sugar 54g Sugar Alcohols 0g Protein 1g

100 thoughts on “Best Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. Can the butter cream frosting be made 2 weeks in advance, placed in frig with air tight container; then remove letting come to room temp, and adding the cream cheese- blending well; before decorating?

  2. Can this frosting be left unrefrigerated for 1 or 2 days? Would you recommend this frosting to stacked, tiered or sculpted cakes?

    1. While buttercream can sit out for a couple days, I’m always hesitant to let cream cheese frosting sit out! I’d put it in the fridge until a few hours before you need it. This frosting slightly more elastic than my regular buttercream recipe, which makes it slightly less stiff! It can still be used for stacked and tiered cakes, but a bit more difficult to get perfectly smooth sides with.

    1. it will hold a rosette design, and can be made up to a month in advance! You can store it in an airtight container in the freezer or fridge. I usually made it the day before, and leave it out on the counter overnight. If you do make it in advance, be sure to give it a good stir to ensure it’s nice and smooth for piping!

  3. Hi Chelsea,
    If I wanted to add a whole pack of cream cheese instead of half (I like a more intense cream cheese flavor) how much butter should I omit from the recipe?

    Thanks!

  4. Hi Chelsea!

    Can I use this for a classic vanilla cupcake? Is the recipe enough to frost 24 cupcakes?

    Thanks!

    1. yup! It will probably be enough to frost like 48 cupcakes! you prob only need a 1/2 batch for 24 cupcakes (depending on how you’re frosting them)

  5. This recipe is fabulous!! Just tried it and now I’m trying to save it for my cake I’m decorating tomorrow! If you make sure you have the correct weight of powdered sugar (scooping by cups almost always gives you too much) then it is perfect- not overly sweet but it definitely still has yummy cream cheese flavor!

  6. can you add gel colouring to this frosting and if so at what stage. making a monster cake for my little mans first birthday and wanted something a little different the regular vanilla buttercream

  7. my frosting feels heavy and is not firm. it was great when I turned the machine off, but lost its shape within 5 mins!!!! HELP

    1. It will throw off the consistency if you add less sugar! it will be much thinner. if you are ok with that, then you can reduce the amount of sugar! but if you need to pipe with this recipe, I wouldn’t recommend it <3

  8. THANK YOU for including metric amounts in your recipes! It makes life SO much easier when trying to convert US cups/spoons to AU (Australian) cups/spoons. Thank you!!!!

    1. Haha I try!! I’m working on adding them to more recipes πŸ™‚ just takes a bit more work! but I’m happy to hear it’s worth it!!! <3

    1. In the recipe and video I say three sticks πŸ™‚ it just looks like two sticks bc of the way I edited the video <3 I was just trying to make the video shorter/ quicker to watch!

  9. I LOVE this recipe!
    One question: Can you add other flavorings? Eg. lemon, almond, chocolate?
    I wanted to do a lemon cream cheese frosting but when I added the juice from a couple lemons it ended up too overpowering for the cake!

    1. Definitely! I’d suggest adding them in slowly though, and tasting as you go! Because you can always add in more, but you can’t take it away you add too much! It’s definitely more annoying to make it that way, but I promise it’s worth it πŸ™‚

  10. I love the taste of this icing. But, it won’t hold any shape for me! I made it ahead and put it in the fridge for 24 hours before trying to use it. I pulled my cakes out of the freezer (followed your advice for making the cakes a few days ahead) and let them sit while I got everything else ready so the cakes were still slightly cold when I went to ice them. I spread the icing on the cake and all it did was goop down the sides and would not hold form. What did I do wrong??

    1. Is your kitchen warm, or do you live in a warm climate?? That’s my only guess if you followed the recipe to a T!

  11. Hi Chelsey πŸ™‚
    Do you taste the cream cheese, or is it very subtle? If I were to add 8 oz of cream cheese and only 1 cup of butter, would it have a strong enough consistency to hold a rosette? I am making red velvet cupcakes (with your red velvet recipe of course) and want to make sure it is a true cream cheese frosting over an american buttercream.
    Thanks so much!
    -Carrie

    1. You can definitely taste it! if you used 1 cup of cream cheese, it will definitely be a softer consistency, and I’m not sure if the rosettes would hold up ?

    2. you can definitely still taste it, but it’s less strong than a straight up cream cheese icing! If you do half cream cheese half butter, it will change the stability of the frosting and I don’t think it’d hold up well enough for rosettes on cake. however, if you’re piping individual rosettes on cupcakes, I think that’d be just fine!!

  12. Can you add honey to this to make a honey cream cheese frosting? If so, how much honey would I add to keep the consistency right? Thanks!

    1. Definitely, that would be delicious! You can really add to taste, and just an in additional heavy cream to get it back to the right consistency. I’d start with 1/3 cup, and add more if you want a stronger flavor πŸ™‚ Add an extra Tbsp of heavy cream to keep the buttercream smooth and workable <3

  13. Beat for only 30 seconds? This is so different than regular buttercream, how come only 30 seconds? Do I not want the butter to get whipped like regular? Can’t wait to try this!

    1. exactly! i don’t like to whip a ton of air into my frosting, because that makes it harder to smooth on cakes! by minimizing the amount of air beaten into the frosting, it’s so much easier to get smooth sides on cakes πŸ™‚ It’s definitely denser than a fluffy buttercream, but it’s a dream to decorate with!

  14. Does it taste like buttercream because the person im making the cake does not like buttercream

    1. When someone says they don’t like buttercream, what are they referring to? There are tons of types (American, Swiss, Italian…), so that’s a pretty blanket statement. Cream cheese is definitely the strongest taste in this frosting recipe, so I think they should like it. But it does include butter and powdered sugar since it’s an American buttercream.

  15. Hi Chelsea!
    I came for some advice because my cream cheese frosting came out way too loose. I read where you are asking people if it is warm where they live. Yes for me and it’s about 90 degrees F now during afternoons.. I live in Orlando,Fl and if the kitchen is too warm many fostings will need help. I have added A LOT more powdered sugar than recipe calls for, but it is still way too loose.

    Sooooo…do you, or anyone know of tricks for getting firm frosting where it is warm and humid? I heard that egg white meringue powder will help stabilize buttercream, so off I ran and bought a small can of Wilton meringue powder. I thought I had better search for some advice on adding this first before it becomes the Guinea pig! (which it may anyways)
    Help????

  16. Hi Chelsea,
    How many batches will I need to decorate a 3 tier Semi Naked Wedding cake? The cake will be 12′ , 9′, 6′.
    Should I make each batch separately or can I double the quantity when make it.?

    1. You can definitely make double batches to speed up the process! I’m not 100% sure, because it can vary based on how much frosting you add between the layers. I’d say you’ll need at least 4 batches though!

  17. Hi I was just reading your post on red buttercream. How many drops of red coding would add to this? Or would you definitely add pink first? I’m doing this for cupcakes for an order on Friday. Thank you!

    1. I usually go by squirts, but to be more precise, you’ll need at least 1-2 tsp of gel food coloring. You can start with some pink, then build on that with the red! I’d recommend making it ASAP, so that the color can deepen over time. Hope that helps!! <3

  18. Really need a reliable cream cheese frosting that will hold up in hot August weather. Wedding in 3 days and need to finish tonight. Does gum past work, what quantity and what about cream of tartar… please help. I’ve had no replies on the fb page.

    1. I’ve never added gum paste to frosting, usually that’s used for decorations! I’ve only added cream of tartar to meringue before. I don’t think cream cheese frosting and really hot humid weather mix super well :/ Cream cheese frosting is already less stiff than regular buttercream, and i think your best bet is to just keep the cake as cool as possible while transporting it, and def keep it inside at the venue. wedding cakes should never sit outside in the summer heat!! I’m sorry I don’t have any better advice Julie <3 Heat + buttercream is just a tough combo.

    1. I like to use gel food coloring, and make it in advance! Letting the frosting sit in the fridge for a few days helps intensify the colors!

      I’ve found americolor works best, here’s a link to the kind I order on amazon: https://amzn.to/2HMzJ52

      Hope that helps, happy baking Jennie!

  19. I would also like to make it a little more intense with cream cheese flavor, but the receipe already calls for an 8 oz box of cream cheese with the 4 sticks of butter. So if we are using a whole block of cream cheese, are you saying we should use 2 or 4 sticks of butter? Thanks so much!

  20. Dear Chelseach, I want to use your cream cheese buttercream to frost, and your chocolate cake recipe as my cake to make a two tier wedding cake for 70 people. You think I could add some form of cherries or cherry jam in between the layers(like a black forest), or that would make me lose stability? Thank you for everything going you share!

  21. Hello dear Chelsea! I was wondering if I could use you go to chocolate layer cake, frost it with the cream cheese frosting to make a black forest two tier wedding cake. Which means adding in between the layers some cherry jam or preserve . How do you think that could work?
    Thank you so much for all the amazing things you share!

    1. Hi Tatanka! Omg, a black forest cake with cream cheese frosting sounds AMAZING! Jam or preserves between cake layers can definitely make them slide more, and make frosting a cake more difficult. However, if you make a frosting dam (or ring) around the perimeter of the cake layers to keep the jam between the layers, and insert a dowel to keep the layers in place as you frost the outside, I think it should be fine! Just be very careful as you frost it.

      Sometimes when my layers are sliding a bit, I’ll chill the cake in the freezer for a few minutes once all the layers are stacked. That can make it easier to crumb coat the cake. Once the crumb coat is chilled, you should be able to add the second layer of frosting and stack the tiers just fine. Hope that helps, and best of luck with this wedding cake!! <3 Let me know how it goes!

  22. I just tried the recipe for the cream cheese frosting and it’s amazing!!! So smooth, sweet and very good to pipe. Thanks so much all the way from Australia!

  23. Hey Chelsea, i was wondering… in your ABC recipe u use 2 cups of unsalted butter and here the same amount ut you listed different amount in grams… how come ? I live in Europe so we re more likely to use metric… we cant find butter in stick but we buy them in block…
    So ABC recipe 2 cups = 434 grams and here 2 cups = 678 grams… I m confused……

    Can u help me clarify please ?
    Thanks in advance

    Farah

    1. Hi Farah,

      I am so sorry about that! I converted my recipe cards from one plugin to another, and I’ve had a lot of issues like this :/ I just updated the recipe to correct the grams in this recipe. Thank you so much for letting me know!! <3

  24. Hi dear Chelsea, I have 2 queries:
    1. Is it easy to apply edible image on a cream cheese frosting?
    2. After decorating the cake with fondant flowers, does the cake need to be refrigerated (cuz it has cream cheese) till you cut the cake ? If not can stand at room temperature for how long?

    1. Hi Cynthia,

      Adding a printed, edible image should be fine to add on top of this cream cheese frosting! It can sit out at room temperature for a few hours, but I’d put it in the fridge if you make it further in advance than that. Hope that helps, happy baking!

  25. The recipe shows 4 sticks , if I cut recipe in half , can I do 2 sticks of butter and still do the 8 oz of cream cheese since I live the cream cheese flavor , will it still pipe okay?

    1. Hi Jackie,

      It will pipe less well/be less stiff with that ratio! I’ve found the deal ratio is really 3/4 butter, 1/4 cream cheese. You can make it however you want though, it just depends on what you plan to do with it <3

  26. Hello, What is the main differences between “Best Cream Cheese Frosting” and the cream cheese frosting you provided in “Red Velvet Birthday Cake”??

  27. Hi, I’m looking to try the black velvet cake. but stay to the cream cheese frosting. I ordered the black coaco. Can I use that to make the chocolate cream cheese frosting and will it turn the frosting black? Also do you think if I do this it will still be staying to the true cream cheese frosting that is on velvet cake, just in chocolate form?

    1. Hi Deborah,

      That’s awesome! Black cocoa will make the cream cheese frosting kind of a dark grey, so I’d recommend adding in some black gel food coloring as well to make it really black! You can also add in 1 cup of melted dark chocolate chips if you want, to make it super chocolaty.

      I don’t really think it’s classic velvet and cream cheese frosting combo if you add in chocolate or cocoa powder, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that! A black velvet cake with chocolate cream cheese frosting sounds divine, even better than the classic combo πŸ˜›

      hope that helps!

    1. Hi Rachel,

      This buttercream does crust a bit, but it would be fine for a smash cake! It’s nothing that would get in the way of a baby enjoying a cake πŸ˜›

  28. I am going to use this frosting with your marble cake Recipe and half it like you talked about in the blog post.
    How many batches of frosting should I make? I’m thinking 2 but I may be way off!

    I’m attempting to make my own small wedding cake, this is my trial cake LOL.

    1. Hi Mckenzie! If you plan to half that recipe, will you be making 3, 6-inch cake layers? In that case, you probably won’t even use a full batch of frosting!! 1 batch should be plenty for the little test cake if it’s that size πŸ™‚ Hope that helps!

  29. Ok. Thank you. I ordered a 6 pack of the small ameri gel you use. Would I just do 1 drop of the black? Also how much black cocoa do I use and at what point do I add the black cocoa?. I’m going the small cake recipe using 3 7 inch pans. I would like to do green in the middle. Is there a way I can pull some frosting out and put green? And how much frosting do I take out for the 2 middles. And lastly. I work late Monday night and need the cake ready for Tues night to take as soon as I get off work. Will the cake and frosting be ok if I put it together Sunday and just leave it in the fridge until about 1 hr before I have to leave. I’ll have about 30-45 min drive. I was going to also try the drip in green. But the green gel color is leaf green so hopefully it’s not to dark. I’ve never done this b4 I hope it turns out. Really nervous

  30. in addition to above. I noticed that the recipe says 2 cups of butter and 2 tblspn of heavy cream, In the video you said 3 cups butter and 1 tblspn of heavy cream and 4 oz of cream cheese, but the recipe says 8 oz. It looks like the recipe measurements are incorrect based on the video. I planned on using this for the cake as previous listed. Is the recipe based on doubling vs what the video says?

  31. I’m going to double the recipe so I don’t run out trying to frost.
    At what point do I add the black Cisco and melted choclate? And how much coca if doubling. I want to pull some of it out so I can color it green for the middle also. On the powder sugar I would use 22 cups since the recipe says 11?

  32. Even when I leave my brick of cream cheese out overnight, I still get really small lumps (tiny rock size pieces of cream cheese that won’t whip down). What should I do to prevent that?

    1. Hi Kat,

      Is your kitchen cold? Are you using a metal bowl? Maybe try using a different bowl (glass or plastic), or heat up your metal bowl with a kitchen blow torch! Those are my best suggestions, I hope that helps!

  33. Hi Chelsea, yesterday I have baked my first cake ever, and it used your recipes! I have to say the cake was soo spongy and moist, we loved it.

    However, I had an issue with the chocolate buttercream filling, we felt it was too sweet and it was smooth in a way where I couldn’t decorate the sides of the cake.. How can make it a bit harder and less sweet? (The recipe said to add 5 cups of powdered sugar with a splash of heavy cream.. and that is exactly what I added)

    When I was cutting the cake it crumbled down, both the sponge and the frosting.. do you know why that has happened?

    Regarding the cheese cream frosting, can I add chocolate to this recipe? like cocoa or melted dark chocolate? I need it only for the filling, I am intending to use it instead of the regular chocolate butter cream filling, does it work in chocolate cakes?

    Do you leave the cake in the regular fridge? as I felt that the frosting (As it is butter based) became too hard in the fridge.

    Regarding classes, can you do a skype call instead of an actual class? as I am not in the states and would like to ask you few things? I will leave my details in the boxes below, please contact me to discuss furthermore the arrangements of this class if you are okay with it

    Thank you :*

    1. Hi Elham,

      I’m so happy to hear that you loved my cake recipe! Is this the chocolate buttercream recipe you used: https://chelsweets.com/2019/03/28/chocolate-buttercream-frosting/ ?

      If you want to make it a bit firmer, I’d recommend adding less heavy cream! That should help thicken it up. It’s also super important that the melted chocolate has had a chance to cool, so that it’s not very warm when it’s added into the frosting. If it’s warm, it can make the frosting a lot softer than it should be.

      This is an american buttercream recipe, so it’s super sweet! If you want to make a less sweet frosting, you may want to try a swiss meringue buttercream next time! It’s a lot less sweet πŸ™‚

      You can add chocolate to this cream cheese frosting recipe! it should work great to fill a chocolate cake. I keep my frosting at room temperature when I make it and decorate cakes with it.

      Sadly I only do classes in person :/ But I’m happy to help troubleshoot on here or via email <3 Hope that helps, happy baking!!

Let me know what you think!