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.Β 

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


Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature (678 grams) - 4 sticks
  • 1 cup full-fat cream cheese, room temperature (225 grams or 8 oz.)
  • 12 cups powdered sugar (1500 grams)
  • 1 tsp salt (6 grams)
  • 2 Tbsp heavy cream (or whipping cream) (29 grams)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract (12 grams)


    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.


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

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


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

79 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?


  4. Hi Chelsea!

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


    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!

    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)

  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:

      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!

Let me know what you think!