Large scoop of cream cheese frosting on a black rubber spatula with a metal handle over a black and white marble surface (with logo overlay)

How to Make Perfect Cream Cheese Frosting

4 simple ingredients come together to make a delicious, slightly tangy cream cheese frosting perfect for almost any type of dessert.

Have I mentioned before that Cream Cheese Frosting is my favorite? I think I may have. On a few occasions. Here and there. Every chance I get. Many of my recipes use this frosting. But I’ve never dedicated a post to the frosting.

I know cream cheese frosting isn’t for everyone. There are many options, such as buttercream frosting. You can view my recipe for buttercream frosting with the Sorting Hat Cupcakes.

There are so many varieties of icing or frosting. But the definition of frosting is a bit vague, at least according to Wikipedia:

Icing, or frosting, is a sweet, often creamy glaze made of sugar with a liquid, such as water or milk, that is often enriched with ingredients like butter, egg whites, cream cheese, or flavorings. It is used to cover or decorate baked goods, such as cakes or cookies. When it is used between layers of cake, it is called filling.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icing_(food)

Looking at the definition, this qualifies as a frosting. The powdered sugar is the sugar needed. Vanilla extract is the liquid. And butter and cream cheese are the flavorings. You can then use it on cookies, cookie cake, chocolate cake, carrot cake, and so many other delicious desserts.

Recipes in England as early as 1583 have used cream cheese. I can’t find the first use of cream cheese as a frosting ingredient, though. Recipes in the US started around the mid-18th century.

Cream cheese frosting is a bit thicker and creamier than buttercream frosting. I like that it goes on smoothly, but it isn’t perfect. I’ve noticed it’s not great if you want to use a piping tool to make decorative frosting bits on your desserts. If you want a perfectly smooth cake, you’ll probably have to work with fondant. Personally, I don’t like fondant and I’ve never worked with it before.

If I’m baking anything with frosting, it’s going to be cream cheese. I don’t think the cream cheese is overpowering, but I love cream cheese. I know a few people who don’t care for cream cheese so they don’t like the frosting as much. But, if you decide to make your own cream cheese frosting, it’s very simple to put together.

Most stores sell cream cheese in a tub or a block. The block is much easier for this recipe. I find the blocks in 8oz sizes which is perfect for this recipe.

The most important thing to do is to let the cream cheese and butter soften ahead of time. They mix better so you have fewer lumps in the end.

Step by Step

Let the cream cheese and butter soften before making your frosting for the best results.

Use an electric mixer or stand mixer to cream the butter and cream cheese together. Beat in the vanilla extract. Get as many of the lumps out as possible.

Large mixing bowl with creamed butter and cream cheese on a wooden surface

Slowly add the powdered sugar while mixing on low speed. Once the powdered sugar has been mixed in, set the speed to high. Mix until the frosting is smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. If the frosting is too thin, add more powdered sugar. If it’s too thick, add a tablespoon of milk. Continue to stir until the frosting is smooth. It should be thick enough to stick to a spatula when you pull it out of the bowl.

Large mixing bowl with cream cheese frosting on a wooden surface

Use immediately to frost your dessert. I like using an angled spatula for spreading on a cake. Keep the dessert in the refrigerator for the best results and to keep the longest.

Recipe

Originally Published On: March 6, 2020

Large scoop of cream cheese frosting on a black rubber spatula with a metal handle over a black and white marble surface

Cream Cheese Frosting

4 simple ingredients come together to make a delicious, slightly tangy cream cheese frosting perfect for almost any type of dessert.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course: Homemade Staple
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cream cheese, frosting
Servings: 3 cups
5 from 2 votes

Ingredients

  • 8 tbsp butter (softened)
  • 8 oz cream cheese (softened)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Instructions

  • Use an electric mixer or stand mixer to cream the softened butter and cream cheese together
  • Beat in the vanilla extract
  • Slowly add the powdered sugar while mixing on low speed
  • Once the powdered sugar has been mixed in, set the speed to high
  • Mix until the frosting is smooth
  • Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed
  • Use to frost your dessert
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Nutrition Facts
Cream Cheese Frosting
Amount Per Serving (0.25 cups)
Calories 269 Calories from Fat 126
% Daily Value*
Fat 14g22%
Saturated Fat 8g40%
Cholesterol 41mg14%
Sodium 128mg5%
Potassium 26mg1%
Carbohydrates 36g12%
Sugar 35g39%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 487IU10%
Calcium 21mg2%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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14 thoughts on “How to Make Perfect Cream Cheese Frosting”

  1. Cream cheese frosting is definitely my favorite. I am kind of obsessed with baking and trying out new recipes for cakes and frostings. Cant wait to give this one a whirl!

  2. I remember we did this before several times before and it taste good, frosting. However, this cream frost is new to the list and would love to try it, and it seems nice.

  3. Melanie williams

    Is there anything you can’t do in the kitchen…your skill set seems endless Steph. Always cooking up a fab feast xx

  4. I am currently without a kitchen do to extensive repairs that are being done. I miss baking SO MUCH! This yummy frosting will have to be one of the first things I bake when o get back into the kitchen!

    1. Oh no! We looked at having our kitchen cabinets professionally painted and they said it would be 1-2 weeks without use of my kitchen. We still haven’t done the project and that was 3 years ago that we got quotes. I can’t imagine going that long without being able to get in the kitchen!!

  5. Have tried a couple of recipes for cream cheese frosting but none of them have worked out. this looks delicious and also not many ingredients, which makes it easy to make it. thanks will try it out definitely.

    1. Hopefully this is the one for you, then! It’s easy to make and comes out delicious. I make this one all the time for just about every dessert I make!

  6. I love your dishes! Too bad I quite cheese, so unlike many others, this one doesn’t get bookmarked ha!

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