Cream Cheese Frosting

Luscious, tangy Cream Cheese Frosting is the perfect topping for cakes and cupcakes… and any other baked goods you can imagine! This thick, whipped frosting recipe requires just 5 ingredients and is easy to make at home. Makes 12 servings.

a bowl of cream cheese frosting on a pink surface in front of cupcakes

One of the first recipes I published was a Cream Cheese Icing… which is amazing for cinnamon rolls and cookies, but it’s not thick enough to withstand cake or cupcakes.

So in the past months, I’ve taken the time to perfect my thick, creamy, pipeable Cream Cheese Frosting for y’all. And today is the day, so get excited!

This thicker frosting is utterly heavenly… and I want to slather it on all the things.

Why I love this recipe:

Homemade Cream Cheese Frosting is one of my favorite things about certain baked goods and desserts. (Looking at you, Carrot Cake Cupcakes, Red Velvet Cake and Red Velvet Cupcakes.)

This luscious, thick cream cheese frosting is the perfect complement to any cake you can imagine, assuming you like cream cheese. It calls for simple ingredients and in my opinion, is the BEST cream cheese frosting recipe.

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    One of the things I love about this recipe, other than the texture itself, is the taste. The cream cheese is wonderfully tangy, and the frosting, while sweet, isn’t saccharine.

    This easy frosting strikes the perfect balance. It also doesn’t hurt that there’s a nice pinch of salt and a glug of vanilla extract to help the flavors come together.

    This frosting is dense enough to where you can use it in a piping bag. You can also spread it with an offset spatula, if desired. Just depends on what you’re baking.

    Recipes to try this pipeable cream cheese frosting on: Sour Cream Funfetti Cupcakes | Pumpkin Blondies | Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes | Guinness Brownies

    Looking for more frosting recipes? Check out my Icing Recipe Index.

    ingredients to make cream cheese frosting in bowls and plates on a pink surface with a white linen

    What you need to make this recipe:

    The Speckled Palate participates in affiliate programs. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a commission from qualifying purchases. Please refer to my disclosure page for more information about these affiliate programs.

    Let’s talk ingredients!

    In addition to the tools above, you’re going to need some ingredients to make this recipe, too! Chances are, you might already have some of them in your fridge or pantry. Scroll down to the recipe card for the full measurements and instructions.

    Here are the basic ingredients that you’ll need:

    • Cream cheese — this is our star. The type of cream cheese matters. I do not recommend using a lower fat, nonfat cream cheese or a spreadable cream cheese spread situation in place of just a regular ‘ol block of cream cheese. We’re making real cream cheese frosting, after all, and there is no substitute for this.
    • Unsalted butter — this is going to be browned to make the brown butter component of our frosting. There is no substitute, other than salted butter. 
    • Powdered sugar — also known as confectioners’ sugar, this is the sweetener for our frosting.
    • Milk — you can use whatever type of milk you’ve got on hand. I’ve made this with skim milk, as well as whole milk.
    • Kosher salt — just a pinch! It will balance out the sweetness of the frosting. Trust me. If you use salted butter, do not add a pinch of salt since there will be salt in the recipe already.

    How to make Cream Cheese Frosting 

    Soften the ingredients. This is the key to getting the cream cheese and butter to really incorporate… them being room temperature. Cold cream cheese and butter simply will not incorporate and will get gloopy on you. Set them out 20-30 minutes before you plan on mixing the frosting. 

    Beat the cream cheese and butter together in a large bowl with a hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy.

    This will take a few minutes, so I prefer to use the stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.


    Next, pour in the vanilla extract and beat until fragrant and well combined. This will take about a minute.


    Measure in the powdered sugar and salt. If your powdered sugar has chunks in it, run it through a fine mesh strainer before you put it into the bowl so that your frosting will not be lumpy.

    Use the mixer to incorporate these dry ingredients into the cream cheese and butter mixture. Start on a low speed so that the powdered sugar doesn’t fly everywhere!

    When the icing is smooth, pipe or spread it on your baked good of choice and enjoy!

    How to store and freeze

    Store leftover frosting in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. The frosting will firm up as the cream cheese and butter solidify, so you will need to let it come to room temperature before using. 

    How to freeze: Transfer to a freezer-safe storage container. Freeze for 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator before using.

    Any baked good with cream cheese frosting on it should be kept in the refrigerator.

    a spoon lifts cream cheese frosting out of a bowl in front of frosted cupcakes

    Erin’s Easy Entertaining Tips

    While I’m not going to tell you to make and serve this Cream Cheese Frosting by itself for an event, I will tell you that it elevates SO MANY BAKED GOODS and is an easy recipe to have in your back pocket for any occasion.

    Here’s how I would make and serve this for any get-together:

    • Make the frosting in advance! Once made, cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to store until it’s time to use. Let it come to room temperature before spreading.
    • Double or triple the recipe. That way, you won’t run out!
    • Make sure the consistency is correct before slathering on your favorite baked goods. That means letting the frosting warm after it spends time in the fridge.
    a bowl of frosting next to a spoon with frosting on it with cupcakes around on a pink surface with white linens

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Can you freeze cream cheese frosting?

    Yes, you can freeze this in an airtight storage container.

    Why add butter to cream cheese icing?

    It helps with the texture! The butter makes the frosting that much more creamy and decadent without taking away from the signature cream cheese flavor.

    What type of cake goes with cream cheese frosting?

    I’m inclined to believe that most any cake would pair nicely with this frosting. That said, Red Velvet Cake and Carrot Cake are two popular cakes that normally feature a classic cream cheese frosting.

    Can cream cheese frosting be left out?

    No. Due to the dairy content of this frosting, it is recommended to store it, as well as anything it is on, in the refrigerator.

    Quick Tips and Tricks for the best Cream Cheese Frosting for cake or cupcakes

    • Double the recipe if you’re serving a crowd or like a lot of frosting! I would double this if I were making a layer cake. However, this is good for a 12-count batch of cupcakes.
    • Pair it with your favorite baked goods. We love this on Carrot Cupcakes, as well as Walnut Cinnamon Rolls and so many other dishes. Have fun with it!
    • How to store: Transfer the icing into an airtight food storage container. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week. It also freezes well in an airtight container.

    Here’s how you make it…

    a bowl of cream cheese frosting on a pink surface in front of cupcakes

    Cream Cheese Frosting for Cakes and Cupcakes

    Luscious, tangy Cream Cheese Frosting is the perfect topping for cakes and cupcakes… and any other baked goods you can imagine! This thick, whipped frosting recipe requires just 5 ingredients and is easy to make at home.
    5 from 1 vote
    Servings 12 servings
    Calories 219 kcal
    Prep Time 20 minutes

    Ingredients
      

    • 8 oz. cream cheese softened
    • ¼ cup unsalted butter softened
    • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 11g
    • ½ teaspoon kosher salt 2g
    • 3 cups powdered sugar 336g

    As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

    Instructions
     

    • Beat the cream cheese and butter together in a large bowl with a stand mixer or a hand mixer until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. It will turn a light yellow.
    • Beat in the vanilla extract, about 1-2 minutes.
    • Add the powdered sugar and salt. Use the electric mixer to incorporate them into the cream cheese and butter mixture. If your powdered sugar has lumps in it, run it through a fine mesh strainer so that the frosting is not lumpy.
    • When the icing is smooth, chill in the refrigerator until you’re ready to ice your cupcakes or cake. You can transfer the icing to a piping bag, or you can simply dollop it onto the cupcakes.
    • Frost your baked goods and enjoy!

    Notes

    This cream cheese frosting should only be left out at room temperature for two hours.
    How to store: Keep frosted baked goods in the fridge in a food-safe, airtight cupcake container. Remove them from the refrigerator about an hour before serving so they can come to temperature.

    Nutrition

    Serving: 1 servingCalories: 219kcalCarbohydrates: 31gProtein: 1gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.4gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 29mgSodium: 157mgPotassium: 28mgSugar: 30gVitamin A: 372IUCalcium: 20mgIron: 0.04mg
    Keyword Christmas dessert, dessert, dessert recipe, easter dessert, easter recipe, easy dessert recipe, easy desserts, easy frosting recipe, frosting, frosting recipe, holiday dessert, icing, icing recipe
    Course Desserts & Sweet Treats
    Cuisine American
    Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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    About the Author:

    Erin Parker is a Southern gal living in Texas with her husband and two daughters. She started The Speckled Palate to share what she was cooking as a newlywed… and over the years, it’s evolved to capture her love for hosting. Specifically, the EASIEST, lowest key entertaining because everyone deserves to see their people and connect over good food. Learn more about her

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