Cream Cheese Frosting

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Old-fashioned cream cheese frosting is sweet with a subtle tang, ultra-creamy, and just plain luscious.

When it comes to cake frosting, I’ll take old-fashioned cream cheese frosting over plain vanilla buttercream any day of the week. While vanilla buttercream can be tooth-achingly sweet, cream cheese frosting is more balanced with a subtle, pleasant tang. The acidity in the cream cheese offsets the sweetness of the sugar, and the cheese’s dense texture makes the frosting ultra-rich and creamy.

The best cream cheese frosting is made with 5 simple ingredients ā€“ cream cheese, butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and salt ā€“ and it comes together in just a few minutes. It has a soft, luscious consistency, making it best swirled onto cakes and cupcakes with a butter knife or offset spatula. It is not suited to piping, unless you add extra confectioners’ sugar to make it thicker (in which case, you may find it too sweet). Pair the frosting with vanilla/yellow cake, red velvet cake, pumpkin cake, carrot cake, or coconut cake. The recipe makes about 3 cups, which is enough for 24 cupcakes, one 8 or 9-inch layer cake, or one 9×13 sheet cake.

What You’ll Need To Make Cream Cheese Frosting

cream cheese frosting ingredientsFor best results, use full-fat, brick-style cream cheese, preferably Philadelphia brand. Avoid the cream cheese that comes in a tub (it is made with more water to give it a thinner, softer texture, and air is mixed in to make it fluffier) as well as low-fat or non-fat cream cheese. Similarly, use real butter.

Be sure the cream cheese and butter are both at a soft room temperature before making the frosting ā€“ you should be able to easily press your finger into both and make an indentation. If your cream cheese and butter are too cold, you can warm them up by putting them in the microwave separately in 5-second intervals, but be careful not to melt them.

Feel free to play around with the balance of cream cheese and butter in the frosting. For more tang, reduce the amount of butter and increase the cream cheese; for less tang, increase the butter and reduce the cream cheese. You can also adjust the sweetness of the frosting by increasing or decreasing the confectioners’ sugar. However, keep in mind that the amount of sugar will affect the consistency of the frosting; the less sugar you use, the thinner the frosting will be.

Step-by-Step Instructions

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or large bowl if using a hand mixer), combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and salt.

butter, cream cheese and vanilla in mixer

Mix on low speed until combined, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until aerated and light, about 2 minutes.

beaten butter and cream cheese mixture

Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, mixing on low to combine.

adding remaining sugar

Once all of the sugar is mixed in, increase the speed to medium-high and beat until fluffy, about 1 minute.

cream cheese frosting in mixer

Use a butter knife or offset spatular to spread the frosting over cake or cupcakes.

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Cream Cheese Frosting

Old-fashioned cream cheese frosting is sweet with a subtle tang, ultra-creamy, and just plain luscious.

Servings: 3 cups
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Total Time: 10 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 8 oz full-fat, brick-style cream cheese, preferably Philadelphia brand, softened
  • 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 pound (4 cups) confectioners' sugar

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or large bowl if using a hand mixer), combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and salt. Mix on low speed until combined, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until aerated and light, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the confectioners' sugar, mixing on low to combine. Once all of the sugar is mixed in, increase the speed to medium-high and beat until fluffy, about 1 minute.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (24 servings)
  • Calories: 144
  • Fat: 7 g
  • Saturated fat: 4 g
  • Carbohydrates: 20 g
  • Sugar: 20 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 1 g
  • Sodium: 41 mg
  • Cholesterol: 21 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Comments

  • Frosting that reminds me of my childhood. I just made this today to top the OUAC vanilla sheet cake, both delicious!

    • — Steph on May 19, 2022
    • Reply

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