Cream Cheese Frosting

How to make the best cream cheese frosting that is smooth, tangy and perfect for piping!
↓ Recipe ↓ Video Never Miss A Cake
Total Time: 10 mins
Serves: 30 oz

How to make super smooth classic cream cheese frosting with the perfect amount of sweetness and tanginess. Perfect for frosting cakes and cupcakes!

Are you hyped up yet? GOOD!

This cream cheese frosting is a little sweeter than the traditional frosting and perfect for piping on to pretty little cupcakes or for frosting and filling your cakes. It goes amazing with red velvet cake, white velvet cake, lemon blueberry cake, you name it! 

how to make cream cheese frosting that is perfect for piping

I admit, for an embarrassingly long time, I did not know how to make cream cheese frosting. Every time I made it, it would get grainy and separate. I just wanted to know how to make that super smooth and tangy cream cheese frosting I enjoyed at my favorite cupcake shop here in Portland, Cupcake Jones

Preparing to make the best cream cheese frosting ever!

Ok before you even think about busting out that mixer, make sure you prep your ingredients. If you’re familiar with my recipes, you hear me say again and again the temperature of your ingredients is SO important!

cream cheese frosting ingredients. Cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, extract

  • Cold does not like to mix with warm. So if you’ve got room temp butter and cold cream cheese, you’ll end up with a lumpy separated mess. Don’t worry, it’s easy to soften cream cheese pretty quickly. Cut your cream cheese into four cubes and place onto a heat-safe plate. Microwave for 10 seconds and voila, softened cream cheese. You can soften the butter the same way but only nuke for 10 seconds. Softened butter should be soft enough that you can leave an imprint in the surface of the butter but not melted. 
  • Use high-quality cream cheese (full-fat) and the best butter. The better the cream cheese and the butter you use, the better tasting the cream cheese frosting will taste!
  • Sift your sugar for super smooth cream cheese frosting. I know, I hate sifting sugar too. But if you don’t sift your sugar and you end up with lumps, there really isn’t a way to get those lumps out. 
  • *SECRET TO HOW TO MAKE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING PERFECTLY* – Use a hand mixer or the whip attachment on your stand mixer. The whip creams together with the frosting MUCH better than the paddle attachment and you get the perfect fluffy cream cheese frosting. 

How to make cream cheese frosting

  1. Add your softened butter to the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Cream on low until smooth and lump free. 

cream softened butter until smooth

  1. Add in your softened butter and combine with the cream cheese on low until smooth and completely homogenous. 

combine together cream cheese and butter until smooth

  1. Add in your powdered sugar one cup at a time. If you want to make your frosting thicker, add in an extra cup of powdered sugar. 

cream cheese frosting

  1. Lastly, add in your extract and salt. I love using orange extract in my cream cheese frosting but you can use lemon or vanilla.

How can I make my cream cheese frosting thicker?

Traditional cream cheese frosting tends to be pretty soft because of the water content in the cream cheese. 

If you’re looking for a more stable frosting suitable for piping flowers or for using in stacked cakes, try my crusting cream cheese frosting recipe.

This is a VERY stable frosting but it is still cream cheese frosting so it cannot be used in direct contact with fondant and cannot be left at room temperature for more than 4 hours. 

banana cake with cream cheese frosting

Can I make cream cheese frosting without powdered sugar?

Actually, yes! To make cream cheese frosting without powdered sugar, cream 8 oz of softened cream cheese in the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment until smooth. Add in two cups of prepared swiss meringue buttercream and mix on low until smooth. 

Can you pipe with cream cheese frosting?

While cream cheese frosting is very soft, you can definitely pipe simple rosettes onto your cakes or cupcakes and they will hold just fine. Just remember to keep your cakes chilled as much as possible to keep the frosting from melting and becoming too soft. 

piped cream cheese frosting

How do you store cream cheese frosting?

Cakes with must be refrigerated but can be left at room temperature for 4 hours without any risk. 

Fresh cream cheese frosting can be kept in a covered container in the fridge for up to three days or frozen for a month or more. Bring frozen cream cheese frosting to room temperature and then re-whip before using it to bring it back to a smooth consistency. 

I love cream cheese frosting paired with red velvet cake, banana cake and of course carrot cake! But really, it goes with er-y-thing πŸ˜€ 

Cake Batter and Frosting Calculator

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Cups of Batter Needed

8 cups

Cups of Frosting Needed

5 cups

Note: measurements are estimated based off the vanilla cake recipe using standard US cake pans and sizes. Measurements used are for 2" tall cake pans only. Your results may vary. Do not overfill cake pans above manufacturer's recommended guidelines.

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Cream Cheese Frosting

How to make the best cream cheese frosting that is smooth, tangy and perfect for piping!
5 from 11 votes
Print Rate Never Miss A Cake
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 5 mins
Total Time: 10 mins
Serves: 30 oz
Calories: 92kcal


Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients

  • 16 oz softened cream cheese
  • 8 oz softened butter unsalted
  • 1 tsp orange extract or vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 36 oz sifted powdered sugar 8 cups


Cream Cheese Frosting Instructions

  • Place softened butter in the bowl of your stand mixer with whisk attachment and cream on low until smooth. Or you can use a hand mixer!
  • Place softened cream cheese in the bowl with butter in small chunks and blend on low until smooth and combined
  • Add in sifted powdered sugar one cup at a time until combined
  • Add your orange extract and salt


Serving: 2oz | Calories: 92kcal (5%) | Carbohydrates: 17g (6%) | Fat: 2g (3%) | Saturated Fat: 1g (5%) | Cholesterol: 8mg (3%) | Sodium: 43mg (2%) | Potassium: 10mg | Sugar: 16g (18%) | Vitamin A: 100IU (2%) | Calcium: 7mg (1%)
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the best cream cheese frosting recipe! Super creamy, tangy and soooo good on cakes and cupcakes! You are going to love this cream cheese frosting recipe!

34 comments on “Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. Can you add color to cream cheese frosting as well? I want to make the banana cake but with different color frosting. Thank you

  2. Could I use this recipe and stick chocolate bark onto it? (Like a tree stump cake) Will the chocolate stay put or slide off?

  3. You mentioned above making cream cheese frosting with swiss meringue buttercream, is there any reason you couldn’t use the easy buttercream for the same effect?

  4. In my country (Greece), we have no cream cheese in blocks, but only the spread version, which is lower in fat. Can I put more butter or sugar to strengthen it?
    Can I do something between the buttercream alternative and this recipe (to put sugar, but not that much)? Maybe a cup of sugar to a mix of 16oz cream cheese – 4 cups buttercream?!

    1. I really don’t know, I’m not familiar with those ingredients. Best option is to just give it a try and see if it works with the ingredients that are available to you

  5. Is the salt used to cut the sweetness? Also, can cupcakes iced with this be frozen?

  6. 5 stars
    This was so tangy and delicious! It went perfect with my spice cake!

  7. Can this recipe be used for a 3-tier wedding cake or would you recommend the crusting cream cheese?

    1. Cream cheese frosting is not great for using under fondant and it’s very soft. The stable cream cheese would be much safer as a filling and then regular buttercream on the outside

  8. Could you please convert this recipe to metric? thanks!

  9. 5 stars
    Hey quick question…its about the cream cheese frosting…in the video you specify to use the paddle attachment but int the written recipe it says whisk. Do this make a big difference? Which is preferred? Thanks for your time! Love your site!!!

  10. How can you make this a chocolate cream cheese frosting?

  11. 5 stars
    This cake is amazing! I made it and it was love at first bite. I copied it by hand into my blue recipe ledger.
    I plan to make it again and again.
    Thank you for this delicious recipe.

  12. Every time I make cream cheese frosting it is really thin and not stiff enough. How do I stop it from being runny

  13. Can I put ganache on top of this cream cheese frosting? I want to make a chocolate cake, frost it with cream cheese frosting and cover the top with chocolate ganache and a drip. I love your videos and recipes! Thanks in advance!

    1. Absolutely, cream cheese frosting makes a great filling for cakes. Make sure you chill the cake well before covering in ganache

  14. 5 stars
    Hi Liz!! I tried your red velvet cake recipe and it is out of this world!πŸ˜πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹

    I want to make the cream cheese buttercream too. Could you please help me out ? In your recipe you have mentioned the serving is 30oz. Would that be enough to fill, frost and do a little piping for 3 layers of a 9 inch cake ? Thank you ☺️

    1. Thank you! Yes if you follow my cream cheese frosting recipe, it should be plenty to frost a cake that size

  15. I’m making “slice of cake” cake jars. Which cream cheese recipe should I use? This one or the crusting one?

  16. 5 stars
    I made this cake for a family birthday dessert – hands down, the best lemon cake I’ve ever made. I baked the cake earlier in the week and froze it – to make things easier on the day of the get together – it was the perfect texture and delicious. I made the cream cheese frosting but added 1 TBSP of lemon juice – also delicious!

  17. 5 stars
    I made it for the first time and it was great on my Banana Bread. Cant wait to make it again, everyone loved it, loved it !!!!!

  18. 5 stars
    This is my go to recipe, love the taste and consistency. Just before I add the frosting to the piping bag, I like to give it a gentle stir to get any last minute air bubbles out. Easy to pipe onto cupcakes. Thanks for sharing!

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