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This really is the BEST Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe – it’s easy, fast and so so good. Just a few simple ingredients allows the cream cheese to be the star.

Normally, you see fluffy cream cheese frosting for carrot cake or red velvet cake recipes, but it’s good with so many other things too! It’s amazing with all flavors of cupcakes, cakes and cookies. This recipe is the one you’ll want to save to use over and over.

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Red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting on top

Best Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

If you’re looking for an easy cream cheese icing recipe, this is the one you need. This is my favorite frosting recipe – it’s a great frosting for so many recipes!

Growing up, we always used Betty Crocker cream cheese frosting. When I first started making homemade frosting I didn’t realize how simple it was. I mean, making frosting is always easy, but it’s not just buttercream with cream cheese in it, if that makes sense. This frosting has cream cheese flavor as the star and for that reason you can’t just make buttercream.


Ingredients in cream cheese icing

There are only four ingredients:

Butter: Make sure you use unsalted butter that is softened. Room temperature butter will help prevent lumps.

Cream Cheese: Also, make sure that your cream cheese is room temperature, also to prevent lumps. Use full-fat cream cheese. Use block cream cheese too – not the spreadable tub kind.

Powdered Sugar: Be sure not to pack your powdered sugar when you’re measuring it. Do you need to sift your powdered sugar? You probably should but I’m lazy, so I don’t.

Vanilla extract: Adds a nice flavor. You could also add almond extract or coconut extract to this frosting.

Overhead view of four photos showing the process of making cream cheese frosting

How do you make cream cheese frosting?

Like any other frosting recipe, it’s easier if you use an electric mixer. This frosting has butter and cream cheese but it doesn’t have as much powdered sugar as a traditional buttercream. This allows the tang of the cream cheese to come through as the star of the recipe. Different recipes, like the cream cheese recipe from Martha Stewart, have different amounts of powdered sugar depending on preference.

  1. Cream butter and cream cheese in a large bowl until smooth.
  2. Add some of the powdered sugar and mix on low speed until combined.
  3. Add rest of the icing sugar and mix until smooth.
  4. Mixture will be soft and perfectly spreadable and pip-able.
Overhead shot of cream cheese frosting in glass mixing bowl

Why is my cream cheese frosting runny?

First, cream cheese frosting is not meant to be the same consistency as the regular buttercream you’re familiar with. It’s a bit…gummier? is the only word I can think of. The cream cheese changes the texture vs. regular butter and powdered sugar frosting.

It doesn’t need heavy whipping cream or milk usually, because there isn’t enough powdered sugar to make it stiff. That’s by design so that the cream cheese shines through. 

If you still think your frosting is runny try the following:

  • Chill it for a bit in case the butter was too melty. See if that firms it up.
  • If not, add a bit more powdered sugar. If it gets too sweet, add some salt (about 1/4 teaspoon) to cut the sweetness.

How do I fix lumpy cream cheese frosting?

It’s best to avoid lumps before even starting by making sure that your ingredients are room temperature. Let the butter and cream cheese sit out for at least an hour before making your frosting.

Once the lumps are there it is hard to get rid of them, but you can. Let the frosting sit for an hour or so at room temperature so the ingredients soften, then mix again.

Also you can make sure that your powdered sugar isn’t clumpy. You can also sift the powdered sugar to make sure there are no lumps.

Does cream cheese frosting need to be refrigerated?

Yes. I always refrigerate my this frosting and the cakes, cookies, etc that use it. In fact, I refrigerate all of my frostings, just so they don’t get mushy, runny, or oily.

This frosting should last about 4 days in the refrigerator. You can also freeze it for use in the future!

Overhead shot of two cupcakes frosted with cream cheese frosting next to a piping bag full of frosting

What kind of cake goes well with cream cheese frosting?

Not only is great for frosting cakes, but it’s good on so many things. Here are some recipes that pair with this fluffy frosting recipe:

Red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting on top


Can cream cheese frosting be used for piping?

Yes you can use this frosting recipe for piping. It is softer than buttercream but can be used to decorate cakes.

How do I make my cream cheese frosting thicker?

If you find your frosting is too thin add more powdered sugar to thicken. I don’t recommend adding cornstarch to this frosting. You can also add powdered sugar for a stiffer consistency but it will change the flavor.

What brand of cream cheese is best for frosting?

Use your favorite brand but be sure to use whole fat block cream cheese (not reduced or 1/3 less fat) and not whipped or spreadable cream cheese.

How to store and make ahead frosting?

Store this frosting in the refrigerator, and store any cakes or cupcakes frosted with it in the fridge too. You can freeze frosting in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

Favorite Frosting Recipes

cupcake being frosted with cream cheese frosting

The BEST Cream Cheese Frosting

4.70 from 10 votes
This Frosting is a simple frosting recipe perfect for cakes, for cookies, or for cupcakes! It goes great on red velvet, carrot cake cupcakes or any flavor you love!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Yield 12 cupcakes
Serving Size 1 cupcake


  • 8 ounces (226g) cream cheese softened
  • ½ cup (113g) unsalted butter softened
  • 3 cups (339g) powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, cream butter and cream cheese until fluffy.
  • Slowly add in powdered sugar and vanilla. Mix until smooth.
  • Frosting option: use a 1M tip for a beautiful cupcake. Will frost about 12 cupcakes (more if you use a knife with a light amount of frosting).
  • Store in refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.

Recipe Video

Recipe Nutrition

Serving: 1cupcake | Calories: 250kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 41mg | Sodium: 62mg | Potassium: 26mg | Sugar: 30g | Vitamin A: 490IU | Calcium: 21mg | Iron: 0.1mg
Nutritional information not guaranteed to be accurate
Course Dessert
Cuisine American

**Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!**

Red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and recipe title on top of image

This is the BEST Cream Cheese Frosting you’ll ever make – it’s an easy recipe! Cream Cheese Icing is great on red velvet, carrot cake or any cake cupcake or cookie recipe!

Last Updated on June 20, 2022

Dorothy Kern

Welcome to Crazy for Crust, where I share recipes that are sometimes crazy, often with a crust, and always served with a slice of life.

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Recipe Rating


  1. I loved this recipe! I used it as a guide for cream cheese frosting,I didn’t use the full amount of confectioner sugar….more so added to taste and also added a few drops of almond extract in addition to the vanilla extract. Squeezed in quite a few drops of fresh lemon juice to cut the sweetness and….voila!! The perfect sweet crem cheese frosting dip for my homemade cinnamon sugar soft pretzels!!Dorothy let’s chat! Avid baker here and I would love to contribute to your site!! Thank you for being so awesome!!

  2. I made cupcakes instead of cake. Very moist and dense and I add more of the lemon juice in the cake than what it called for. I was skeptic about all the lemon rinds in batter. I loved it. For the frosting, just cream cheese frosting. I thought add more lemon to the frosting would of put It over the top. This will be one of my go to cakes to make.

  3. I would put 3 cups of sugar rather than 4. It didn’t taste much like cream cheese but it wasn’t bad.

  4. I love this recipe! Cream cheese frosting is my go to for all cakes since I first found out about it, and this recipe is the best one I’ve found! I like to use it on my fresh apple cake. it works really well with the taste of all the honeycrisp apples in my favorite cake.
    I also like to use this frosting on graham crackers (yes, I’m still a kid when it comes to treats) and, believe it or not, on tortilla chips, just a little bit on a chip balances the salty crisp with the tangy sweetness like salted caramel! Perfection!
    I have one question. Do you have a good recipe for chocolate cream cheese frosting?
    thanks, Renae Hale