Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

Today, I’d like to share a recipe with you.  Not just any recipe… a cream cheese frosting recipe I have used dozens (maybe even hundreds) of times, and I love it each time!

There are two reasons I love this recipe… one is that it’s really, really easy, and the second is that it’s really delicious!

While I do also enjoy other styles of frosting, like Swiss Meringue Buttercream, Fluffy 7 Minute Frosting, or Whipped Ganache, this cream cheese frosting recipe is easier than any other.  This is basically American style buttercream (which is butter, powdered sugar, milk), but with the addition of cream cheese.

The cream cheese is really the key ingredient, since it helps off-set the sweetness of the powdered sugar, and adds to the creaminess of the butter while also removing the greasy, pure butter flavor.

Another thing I really like about this recipe is that if you use these proportions, the frosting is not over powered by the cream cheese, it takes on the flavor of whatever extract or additional flavorings are added.

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
½ cup (1 stick/8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter (set at room temp about 10 minutes, but should still be cool)
8 oz. Challenge cream cheese (directly from fridge)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (always use pure vanilla extract if possible)
4 cups powdered confectioners sugar
1 to 4 Tablespoons heavy cream, heavy whipping cream (or milk- although I do like the richness that cream adds)

*Place butter in a large mixing bowl and beat until smooth. Add cream cheese and blend until fully combined and smooth, about 30 seconds.
*Add vanilla extract and powdered sugar and blend on low speed until combined. Increase to medium speed and beat until it begins to get fluffy.
*Slowly add the heavy cream, a little bit at a time until desired consistency is met. (Don’t add too much if you want the frosting to stay in place when piped on cupcakes.)
*Beat until fluffy, about 1 minute.
*Use at once or keep refrigerated. (This frosting will keep well in the refrigerator for several days, but you may need to re-beat it for the best texture.)

The recipe above will produce a delicious VANILLA flavored frosting, here are a couple of other options to try…

For a Stronger Cream Cheese Flavor: Use an additional 4 oz. (½ block) of cream cheese. This is good for any cake/cupcake recipe that is traditionally topped with Cream Cheese Frosting, like Carrot Cake, or Red Velvet Cake.

For Chocolate Frosting: (my favorite!) add ½ cup unsweetened cocoa (I use Ghirardelli brand, it’s really good). Add the cocoa powder before adding the powdered sugar, so it gets fully incorporated into the butter and cream cheese.

Strawberry, Blackberry, etc: Add 2-4 tablespoons of preserves. Depending on how chunky or seedy the preserves are, you may want to blend it in the food processor, and/or strain it through a fine strainer before adding it to the frosting. Add the preserves to the frosting mixture before adding the heavy cream. Depending on the amount of preserves you add you may need very little or no cream, especially if you want the frosting thick enough to pipe. A final option would be to add a drop of food coloring to add to the color of the preserves (for example, pink coloring for the Strawberry flavor).

* This recipe will frost about 22-24 cupcakes if you are piping a nice swirl, or even more if you just spread it on. If you’re making a cake, this will frost and fill a two layer 9″ cake.

Simply the BEST cream cheese frosting recipe!!



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  2. By the way, I read some of the issues that some of the other fans had run into and thought I’d mention a few things about my experience: … I did not have to add ANY cream to mine. Also, if you have chunks of butter, you did not mix it long enough. It should be smooth like frosting itself before you move on to the next step. If it starts to separate, put it in the fridge, when you remix it, make sure you keep at it until it stiffens up again. I add a teaspoon of cake flour and mix mix mix. Unlike cake mix, frosting is ok to keep on mixing. I steamed some blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries, blended them, put them in the freezer to cool and then added a couple of tablespoons of it to my frosting and … I have a light lavender colored berry flavored LIGHT frosting that I piped onto my fluffy cupcakes!

  3. hi, what do you mean by heavy cream? do you mean extra thick double cream?
    here in the uk we have single cream, double cream, soured cream, extra thick double cream and whipping cream….
    single and double cream both have the consistency of water so i dont think its either of those you mean.
    think when you say heavy cream you mean extra thick double cream???

    please help!

    • Hi Lulu, Because I live in the U.S., I am only familiar with the terms we use here. For this recipe anything from whole milk to cream will work fine, as you are only using a small amount. The purpose of the cream in this recipe is only to add a bit of richness and also to thin the frosting enough to make it creamy and easy to work with.
      Heavy Whipping Cream (as it is called here) has a fat content of 35-38%, and has an slightly thicker consistency than milk, but is still very liquid.

  4. hi sorry people online are saying that heavy cream is double cream not extra thick double cream like i thought…. is this right? does the cream you use have a consistency like water? is it double cream?

  5. lol think i ll just try it with double cream and see what happens!

    also did you use liquid food colours for this frosting? or gel food colours? does it matter?


  6. This icing recipe is my go to icing recipe of all time… Have been using since you first posted it. Today I added fresh blueberries that I cooked down and pureed for a blueberry cream cheese and filled macarons with it… YUM! Just wanted you to know how much I love this icing… Thanks for always sharing everything that you do. I look forward to your book coming out.. Kris

  7. Hello, can you please give me a recipe for vanilla cupcakes also cinnamon rolls. Thxs

  8. hiya, I am very interested in preparing this frosting on your recipe of the vanilla cupcakes (made simple buttercream before) but am a bit hesitant due to the comments about the consistency of the icing. may I ask what brand of cream cheese you used, full fat? etc. i am from the uk and we do have philadelphia or mascarpone for cream cheese brands. thanks in advance……….

  9. Thank you so much for the recipe! I tried it a couple of times, and both times the frosting looked grainy. What am I doing wrong? Please advice.

  10. I had a problem with the frosting being too runny. I added only 1 tsp of cream. Not sure what happened.

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  12. Thank you so much for posting this recipe! I made both the vanilla and the chocolate variations but I must say the chocolate frosting is to die for!

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  14. Wow. Just wow. This icing is divine! So easy to make and soooo delicious. Thank you so much for sharing!

  15. I forgot to add – I made the chocolate cupcakes and paired it with the chocolate cream cheese icing and it is literally the best cupcake I’ve ever eaten!

  16. Hi… Love your cupcakes! Can I ask if the Cream Cheese Frosting be colored and used to decorate a cake with the petal design. Will it hold up?

    • Yes, I color this frosting quite often. I use Americolor gel colors. This icing will hold up to being piped into a loose petal design, but would not likely work well for a large structured rose. As you work with the icing it will become softer, due to the heat from your hand, so you may need to put the icing (in the piping bag, with the tip covered with a moist towel) in the fridge for 15-20 minutes, or as needed.

  17. The recipe says to “use immediately” and I’m just wondering what that means exactly? If I frost the cupcakes today then store the cupcakes in the fridge overnight is that ok?
    or am I supposed to frost them right before serving?

  18. Hello,

    I would like to know if you think the recipe will hold up in the heat and if it’s safe to stay out during a birthday party? I am having problems find a cheese recipe that doesn’t melt right away. I am baking a cake for my nephew and the room inside will get hot from all the people in the small room.

    Pleas adivse ASAP if possibly.

    Thank you!

  19. Should the powdered sugar be sifted before adding to the frosting? Thanks! I am looking forward to making this for baby shower cupcakes!

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  21. Hi what if I do the cream cheese frosting and I frost the cupcakes overnight..well it be ok to leave out till the party?.

  22. This is the best chocolate frosting I have ever made and it’s absolutely beautiful piped. I made 50 cupcakes for a party and everyone loved them and asked about the frosting. Thanks for a fantastic recipe!

  23. Just made the chocolate cupcakes with the strawberry buttercream frosting for my friend’s baby shower! They turned out amazing (I had to taste-test of course). Thanks for the recipe!!!
    Oh, and FYI for others, I did not use any heavy cream at all. The consistency is just right for piping the frosting, definitely not runny. Just keep it cold and don’t over-mix!!

  24. Hi Glory, just wondering with the cream cheese vanilla frosting can I add food colouring to the mixture after I have beat all the ingredients? I know sometimes I have added liquid food colouring after and has made the mixture curdle?


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  26. hi gloria.. what cream can i use aside from heavy cream? can i use a regular cream? thanks

  27. Hi, was wondering is the butter used salted or unsalted.

  28. Hi glory, don’t know why my question keeps disappearing. Would desperately like to know if the butter used in this frosting is salted or unsalted. Thank u.

    • Charlotte, I almost always use unsalted butter for any baking project. For this frosting I bet you could use salted since there is a lot of sugar to off-set it, but I have never used salted in this recipe so I can’t say what the results would be for sure.

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  30. I have tried this frosting twice and my biggest challenge is that it quickly softens. Any thoughts ? The last time I did not add any cream or milk just vanilla extract.

    • I would suggest that your butter and/or cream cheese should be cold or cool at all times. This can only be accomplished with a large stand mixer. If you only have a hand beater, and therefore have to use slightly warmer ingredients for them to become smooth, then you’ll need to refrigerate the frosting for a bit before piping onto cupcakes.

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  32. I have a 3 tiered graduation cake, and also a 3 tiered wedding cake to make. Both will be outside, elements and all. I was wondering how well this frosting stood up to heat and added decorations, and if it was just as successful on a tiered cake as it was on cupcakes? Thanks

    • Hi Charity, Yes, this frosting can be used on a cake as well as cupcakes. In general I would not put a cake or cupcakes with any frosting (including this one) in an overly hot area, as the butter and/or cream cheese will cause the frosting to soften. If you have to keep the cake in a warm room, you can replace some of the butter with shortening, but I usually find a way to avoid this as I prefer not to eat or serve shortening.

  33. Great frosting!! Forgive me if you’ve already covered this, do you have to refrigerate the cupcakes once you ice them since you’re using cream cheese?

    • Hi Jennifer,
      You do not need to refrigerate the frosted cupcakes if you keep them at room temperature. The sugar in the frosting acts as a preservative. On the other hand, if your house is super warm, then you can keep them in the fridge if you prefer, but that can tend to dry out the cake.

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  37. Hi Glory –

    You are such a creative lady. I love your blog. I really want to try the American Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting. I can’t imagine what the calorie count is, but will try anyway. Thank you so much for making it available to us.

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  40. What can I use if Challenge butter is not sold in my country ?

  41. Do you have any suggestions for how to teach two school-age (6 and 8) boys how to decorate cupcakes with the swirl on top. I can show them how, but I was hoping to turn this task over to them at a party and I am concerned about frosting oozing out of the top of a bag. Do yo think an 8-oz icing bottle with a Wilton 1A tip work?

  42. I am curious if I used 1/4 cup butter shortening and 1/4 cup butter and continue with the remainder recipe would this help with the frosting softening ? My biggest issue is the Texas heat and the frosting softening.

    If anyone has any suggestions or has attempted to use butter and shortening in this recipe I would love to hear from you!

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  44. Hi! I must say I really love your site and everything looks gorgeous! ♥
    I just need a professional advice though. There’s a party tomorrow’s evening and I want the cupcakes to be fresh and yummy.. I might be a little short on time tomorrow, so I wondred if making the frosting today and refrigerating it until tomorrow would destory the frosting’s / cupcakes’ taste or anything?
    I saw that you wrote in most comments that you bake the cupcakes the night before… If I do so, the cupcakes, without frosting, would be alright not being refrigerated?
    Also, one last question- how long does it usually take for the cupcakes to cool completely, so I could frost them safely? XD
    Sorry for writing too much and thanks in advance! ♥

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  46. Hi Glory, will this cream cheese frosting crust at all? Thanks!!

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  50. pls can you tell me if this frosting will hold in really warm weather ?????? i need urgent help

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