The Best Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

4.41 from 5 votes

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.


cupcake being frosted with cream cheese frosting

Have you ever thought that people come into your life at precisely the right time? I’ve had two wonderful new people come into my life in the last few months and I can’t help but wonder if the universe is trying to tell me something. Since January I’ve struggled with friendships and confidence and myself but over the last couple of months, since these two women have come into my circle, I’m feeling more settled, happy and confident than I have in years.

Both of my new friends are from my gym: one is the owner and one is a trainer. I have lots of feels about both of them; they fill my cup with different things and for different reasons. I’ve talked before about how making friends, especially as an adult, has not been easy for me. Case in point: I’ve gone to this gym and worked out and talked with the owner for almost three years now and it took me until January to be able to put myself out there enough to let her know I was looking for friendship.

I fell into my relationship with the trainer; I never actually met her at the gym, but she was at an event and we clicked. You know how sometimes you meet someone and realize you just work? That’s how it was for she and I. Six months ago I would have said I’m done making friends, I don’t need any more, and that outside of the two or three ride-or-die gals, friendship was too complicated and not worth it.

Seriously: I said those things to myself. Making new friends aren’t worth it: it’s too hard and too emotional and too risky.

But I was proven wrong. The universe heard me and showed me I was wrong. And I am so glad for that! We’re meant to have friends to get us through the day-to-day. Just like cupcakes are meant to have cream cheese frosting.

See what I did there? Segway. LOL

If you’re looking for an easy cream cheese frosting recipe, this is the one you need. The cream cheese is the superstar flavor!

overhead shot of frosting in bowl

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

How to make frosting

Like any other frosting recipe, it’s easier if you use a hand or a stand mixer. Cream cheese 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 Steward, have different amounts of powdered sugar depending on preference.

Ingredients in cream cheese frosting

There are only four ingredients:

  • Butter
  • Cream Cheese
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Vanilla extract

Make sure you use unsalted butter that is room temperature. This will help prevent lumps.

Also, make sure that your cream cheese is room temperature, also to prevent lumps.

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.

As long as your ingredients are room temperature you should be able to mix up the cream cheese frosting easily and fast. Just mix until soft and combined!

cream cheese on cupcakes with piping bag

Some of the questions I get from readers about cream cheese frosting:

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 ¼ 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. Sometimes, as it ages, it gets lumpy as well. In that case you should sift it.

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!

cream cheese frosting overhead shot

What kind of cake goes well with cream cheese frosting?

Not only is this cream cheese frosting for carrot cake, but it’s good on so many things. If you’re looking for cream cheese frosting for cinnamon rolls or for red velvet cake or cookies, this is the one you need to use. Here are some recipes that pair with this fluffy frosting recipe:

And so many more! What will you use it on?

Tools for success:

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The BEST Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream Cheese 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!
4.41 from 5 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Yield 12 cupcakes
Serving Size 1 cupcake


  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 3 cups 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

Nutrition Information

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
Keyword cream cheese, frosting

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

collage of cream cheese frosting photos

Last Updated on May 23, 2019

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Recipe Rating

5 CommentsLeave a comment or review

  1. 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.

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

  3. 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