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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: 7

Best Cream Cheese Frosting

image of cream cheese frosting being piped onto a cupcake

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

This recipe makes about 7 cups of frosting, which is enough to frost an 8-inch layer cake or frost about 3 dozen cupcakes.

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

7

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 427Total Fat 47gSaturated Fat 29gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 15gCholesterol 126mgSodium 391mgCarbohydrates 1gFiber 0gSugar 1gProtein 2g

Amber Jackson

Monday 16th of August 2021

I love cream cheese frosting but recipes usually aren’t that great for piping or they don’t taste that good. This one was spot on in taste and perfect for piping. This is my new go to. I’m in Florida btw and once I frosted my mini cupcakes I just popped them in the fridge before transporting and they held up great. Also did a chocolate version and I’d use at least a cup of cocoa powder (I used a little more but it would have been better with just a cup.) Also delicious. Thank you for a great recipe!!!

Tamara Samuels

Wednesday 7th of July 2021

Hi Chelsea. I want to make the Black velvet cake with Black cream cheese icing. Do I just add the black cocoa and chocolate to this recipe.

Pati

Saturday 3rd of July 2021

Excellent. I find that a lot of kids don’t really like a very cream cheesy frosting, so this is perfect. You have a bit of that cream cheese tang but the base is really butter. It piped really nicely and the kids loved it.

Nic

Monday 26th of April 2021

How many hours can I leave my cake out if I use this frosting or even buttercream in terms of safety? If it’ll be served the day it’s frosted can I leave it out at room temp for more than 6 hours? Thanks so much!

Kathryn

Sunday 25th of April 2021

This recipe is far to sweet for a cream cheese frosting. I added half the amount of sugar, doubled the cream cheese and added extra cream to try and cut the sweetness and it was still so sweet.

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