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The BEST Cream Cheese Frosting

5 from 14 votes
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posted: 04/24/19

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This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy

The BEST Cream cheese frosting that is smooth, creamy, and not overly sweet. This simple cream cheese frosting is so quick to make! Throw out all your other cream cheese frosting recipes because now you have the BEST Cream Cheese Frosting recipe!

My favorite recipe to use this on is my Naked Apple Spice Cake!

red spatula dipping into a bowl of cream cheese frosting

If you have been following me for any length of time, you know that my weakness is frosting. I can’t be left alone with it, I can’t be trusted with it. It is my Achilles heal. This is true of my Vanilla Buttercream Frosting and my Chocolate Frosting and it is most definitely true of this cream cheese frosting. If you just look at the reviews on this recipe you’ll be able to see how loved it is.

Why this Cream Cheese Frosting is the Best

I’m sure you realize there are about a million cream cheese frosting recipes out there. But I promise you this one is the best for a couple reasons.

  • It’s not too sweet.
  • The cream cheese flavor isn’t lost in the mix with the other ingredients.
  • It is perfectly smooth and never lumpy.

How to Make Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. Once your butter and cream cheese are at room temperature, cream them together. Pause, scrape down the sides of your  mixing bowl, and cream some more. While I love using a stand mixer, you can certainly use a hand held mixer.
  2. Add in your powdered sugar. Some swear by sifting their powdered sugar to make sure it is perfectly smooth. I find it is plenty smooth without doing that.
  3. Finally, you add your vanilla extract. If you are looking to keep your frosting perfectly white, there is clear artificial vanilla flavor that you can use. I stick with pure vanilla extract.
overhead view of black kitchen aid mixer with the whisk attachment making cream cheese frosting

Tips and Tricks

  • Make sure the cream cheese is at room temperature. This means letting it sit out at least two hours. You can speed up the process a little by cutting it up in pieces on a plate, but you really want it to be nice and soft, otherwise you will get chunks of cream cheese in the frosting. Do not soften it in the microwave.
  • Make sure that the butter is also at room temperature. You can speed it up by cutting it into one inch pieces and setting it out on a plate on the counter. Do not soften it in the microwave.
  • For this cream cheese frosting recipe, you want to gently pour the powdered sugar into the measuring cups. Or spoon it in and level it off. If you scoop it up with the measuring cup and pack it in, you will have significantly more powdered sugar than the recipe calls for. That might not be a bad thing, but it won’t be this recipe.
  • The recipe says 1 to 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. Most of the time I have used this recipe I have used 1 1/2 tsps, but I really like it at 2 teaspoons. As you are making it, add one teaspoon first, taste it and then decide if you want more.
the whisk attachment of a kitchen aid mixer sitting on a gray surface with cream cheese frosting on it

Can you Pipe this Cream Cheese Frosting?

You can pipe it loosely as seen on the cupcakes below. If you are looking for intricate detail you will want to add more powdered sugar which will change the sweetness and taste of this recipe.

Can it be Colored?

Yes! It would be easy to add coloring to this recipe. Just beat it in after you beat in the vanilla extract.

You could even beat in some other flavors or extracts and experiment with it.

Will this Frosting Harden?

It won’t set up the same way my vanilla frosting does. If you put it in the refrigerator after making it, it will become thicker and harder, but still not thick enough to frost and stack cookies.

close up view of the fluffy cream cheese frosting

How Many Cupcakes does this Recipe Frost?

If you are going to use two tablespoons of frosting on your cupcakes, which is a solid amount, you can frost 16 cupcakes with this recipe. If you only use a tablespoon and a half (still a great amount) you can frost 24 cupcakes. I don’t expect you to measure out frosting as you frost cupcakes. ???? Basically, if you go easy, you can frost a full two dozen.

This is a great recipe to double for large cakes.

An overhead photo of the cupcakes that is swirled with the Cream Cheese Frosting

Does this Need to be Refrigerated?

Yes! Definitely refrigerate it since you are working with both cream cheese and butter.

I don’t personally love refrigerated cupcakes, so I would make this frosting ahead, store it in the refrigerator, and then frost the cupcakes prior to serving them.

A large bite out of the Zucchini Cupcake showing the golden brown interior with a fluffy cream cheese frosting on top.

What is it Good On?

Ummm, everything? A spoon? Or, if you are going to be picky here are some great recipes to use it on:

The Zucchini Cupcake is frosted with a fluffy and creamy Cream Cheese Frosting.
5 from 14 votes

The BEST Cream Cheese Frosting

Serves: 24 servings
(tap # to scale)
Prep: 10 minutes
Total: 10 minutes
The BEST cream cheese frosting is smooth, creamy, and not overly sweetened. This simple cream cheese frosting is so quick to make

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces cream cheese I always use Philadelphia, room temperature
  • 4 TBSPs unsalted butter room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar not packed
  • 1 to 2 tsps pure vanilla extract see note

Instructions

  • Cream together the cream cheese and the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time. Then add in the vanilla extract.
  • This recipe is enough to spread on two dozen cupcakes or cookies. If you would like to pipe it as seen in the pictures, I suggest you double it.

Notes

Most of the times I have used this recipe, I used 1 1/2 tsps vanilla, but I really like it with two. When making this, add the vanilla last, add 1 tsp, taste it and then decide if you want to add more.
This recipe makes two cups of frosting. If you use two tablespoons on each cupcake, you can frost 16 cupcakes with this recipe. However, if you use 1 1/2 tablespoons on each cupcake you can frost a solid two dozen.
Nutritional information is per 1 1/2 tablespoons.
Calories: 83kcal (4%) Carbohydrates: 9g (3%) Protein: 1g (2%) Fat: 5g (8%) Saturated Fat: 3g (19%) Monounsaturated Fat: 1g Cholesterol: 16mg (5%) Sodium: 36mg (2%) Potassium: 14mg Sugar: 8g (9%) Vitamin A: 200IU (4%) Calcium: 10mg (1%)
Author: Lisa Longley
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American

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The BEST Cream Cheese Frosting

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Hi! I'm Lisa Longley, and I am committed to giving you simple dinner ideas and recipes that are easy to make; recipes that will fill your home with joy. I am the owner and author of SimpleJoy.com and I'm so glad that you are here.

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  1. Merrie says

    I only have salted butter, store an hour away and I’m making frosting now, is it just the salt factor.
    .

    • Lisa Longley says

      It is. The recipe was made with unsalted butter, so salted butter might just make it taste not as good and more salty.

  2. Scarlett Hedden says

    OMG–this is definitely a keeper!! DELICIOUS is an understatement…thank you for posting!!! Always love your recipes. I’m sure it will live on forever!

    • Lisa Longley says

      So happy you guys liked it Scarlett!

  3. laura says

    Hi Lisa,

    My cup measurement is 240 gms, is it the same weight as you use? Please advise

    thanks

  4. Lauren says

    5 stars
    Yum, yum, yum! My first homemade cream cheese icing ever! I only had light cream cheese and salted butter. Still tastes delicious! Thank you!

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m glad you liked it Lauren!

      • Sheena says

        Could I add cocoa powder to this to make chocolate cream cheese frosting? I want to use it to decorate a red velvet football cake!

        • Lisa Longley says

          Ooooo, good question Sheena! I would try cutting down a little of the powdered sugar when you add the cocoa powder and then you can just add in more as necessary.

  5. Chris Garrett says

    Will this firm up on cookies enough that the cookies can be stacked and shipped?

  6. Diana says

    I’m making a red velvet cake. I got one of those edible icing sheets for the top. Will this frosting work ok for those? The instructions say to put the image on before the frosting gardens but I’m not sure if it will run or bleed. Thoughts?

    • Lisa Longley says

      Diana, I’m really sorry, I don’t have any experience with those. I can say that this frosting doesn’t really harden, so this might not be your best bet. This vanilla frosting is delicious and does harden, but quickly so you will want to work a little fast.

  7. Gramma Di says

    5 stars
    I didn’t have unsalted butter……still delicious
    I misread the vanilla amount and saw tablespoon so I put in one and…….still delicious.
    Thanks so much for sharing.

    • Lisa Longley says

      I always think more vanilla is better ???? I’m so glad you liked this!

  8. Sandy says

    I am making a 3 layer cake one of them is 22cm cake and one is a 30cm cake both cakes need to fill each layer and then crumb coat I am covering with fondant how much do I need .

    • Lisa Longley says

      Hi Sandy! It’s hard for me to know since I haven’t made that size cake with a crumb coat using this recipe. I would start by doubling it. Or double and a half.

  9. Paula says

    I’ve never made my own icing, but this is so tempting!!!! I always use salted butter. What would the difference be or taste like if using the salted compare to unsalted? Thanks!

    • Lisa Longley says

      I like using unsalted butter because then you are in control of how much salt is added. That said, I think you could use salted butter in this and it would still taste good. Plenty of great bakers add salt to their frostings.

      • Chris says

        5 stars
        I used salted butter.and couldn’t taste the salt…Turned out Yummy…

  10. HB Groover says

    5 stars
    This is a perfect cream cheese frosting. The butter gives it a buttery taste and stability so I could pipe it onto a cake! I had plenty left over and decided to experiment.

    I took 1 cup of leftover frosting and mixed it with softened Cool Whip, about 4 ozs (roughly half of the container). I happened to have one vanilla bean and scrapped that in as well. I blended the frosting and Cool Whip on low with a hand held mixer. I had on hand from ALDI, the Pizzelle cookies (thin vanilla or anise flavored wafers shaped like a stained-glass window). I spread spread the frosting/Cool Whip mixture onto one wafer and topped it with another – like an ice cream sandwich. I made 10 (a couple cracked, but who cares?) and wrapped them in the wax paper and bagged them in a freezer ziplock bag. Well, what a hit. Cold, vanilla icing frozen between those yummy crunchy wafers. Friends beg me to make them all the time. Think of the variations – you could add almond flavor or a little anise or orange zest,

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