Cream Cheese Frosting - EASY and Perfect for Cakes or Cupcakes
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Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream cheese frosting is a great alternative to buttercream. It’s EASY to make, smooth, creamy, and delicious. In fact, I almost always prefer it to traditional buttercream.

Cream cheese frosting

Cream cheese frosting is best known for being a topping on carrot cake or (carrot cake cupcakes) and red velvet cupcakes. But, as you’ll see, there are so many more possibilities for it!

What Do You Need to Make Cream Cheese Frosting?

The key ingredients in cream cheese frosting are cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar.

The trick to perfect cream cheese frosting is having all of your ingredients at room temperature. If the butter and cream cheese are too cold, the frosting will end up lumpy instead of smooth and creamy. (This applies to any desserts with cream cheese such as cheesecake or cream cheese cookies.)

How to Make Cream Cheese Frosting

Spreading cream cheese frosting on a carrot cake

To make the best cream cheese frosting, you’ll need an electric mixer. It doesn’t matter if it’s a stand mixer or a hand mixer.

Mix the room temperature cream cheese and room temperature butter until light and fluffy. This takes about three minutes at high speed.

Tip: For making cream cheese frosting, buy the blocks of cream cheese, not the whipped tubs. Also, always buy full-fat cream cheese – the frosting will be much better!

Butter and cream cheese ready to mix

Add in powdered sugar a little bit at a time. If you add powdered sugar all at once, it will end up flying out of the bowl and making a giant mess!

If the powdered sugar is clumpy at all (some brands are more clumpy than others), sift it before adding it.

Also, you can add more powdered sugar as needed to make a stiffer frosting. Cream cheese frosting for carrot cake is usually not as stiff as other cream cheese frostings as it’s usually just spread onto the cake and doesn’t need to hold a shape. I make mine stiff enough to form loose rosettes, but if you want a crisp design for the top of a cupcake, you will definitely want to add more powdered sugar than my recipe calls for.

Adding powdered sugar to cream cheese frosting

Cream cheese frosting is typically flavored with vanilla extract. It really doesn’t matter when you add the vanilla, but I usually add it last and give one final mix.

Adding vanilla extract to cream cheese frosting

Can You Leave Cream Cheese Frosting Out at Room Temperature?

carrot cake topped with cream cheese frosting

 

  • I leave my cakes and cupcakes with cream cheese frosting out of the fridge. I have never had problems with the frosting souring, and I have certainly never had any negative health effects.
  • Cream cheese frosting can be frozen! Foods with a high fat content tend to survive freezing well. You can put a plastic bag of chocolate cream cheese frosting in the freezer for weeks or maybe even months. You will need to let it thaw and re-whip it a bit when it comes out, though, before you start piping.

Cream Cheese Frosting Variations

Chocolate cream cheese frosting being piped onto a chocolate cupcake

While classic cream cheese frosting is flavored with vanilla, there are so many other possibilities!

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Cream cheese frosting
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4.5 from 4 votes

Cheese Frosting

Creamy, tart, and sweet cream cheese frosting for cakes and cupcakes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword carrot cake, cream cheese frosting
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 16
Calories 265kcal
Author Stef

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces cream cheese room temperature
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Use an electric mixer to mix cream cheese and butter until creamy and light, about three minutes on high speed.
  • Mix in powdered sugar one cup at a time. You can add more or less to get your desired consistency.
  • Mix in vanilla until fully integrated.
  • Spread or pipe onto cooled cake or cupcakes.

Notes

  • This recipe frosts a two layer 8" cake or 24 cupcakes.
  • Always make sure that all ingredients are at room temperature before starting.
  • Mix for several minutes to incorporate lots of air into the frosting and make it fluffy.
  • You can add more or less powdered sugar to the recipe to give it a lighter or stiffer texture.
  • The USDA considers frostings made with cream cheese to be unsafe if left unrefrigerated for more than a couple of hours, and there are a lot of food websites that echo this fear. If you have a weakened immune system, or just like to err on the side of caution, then by all means refrigerate your frosting until you are ready to serve. If you want to know what I do, though, I leave my cakes and cupcakes with cream cheese frosting out of the fridge. I have never had problems with the frosting souring, and I have certainly never had any negative health effects. 
  • Cream cheese frosting can be frozen! Foods with a high fat content tend to survive freezing well. You can put a plastic bag of cream cheese frosting in the freezer for weeks or maybe even months. You will need to let it thaw and re-whip it a bit when it comes out, though, before you start piping.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Cheese Frosting
Amount Per Serving
Calories 265 Calories from Fat 135
% Daily Value*
Fat 15g23%
Saturated Fat 9g45%
Cholesterol 46mg15%
Sodium 92mg4%
Potassium 39mg1%
Carbohydrates 31g10%
Sugar 30g33%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 560IU11%
Calcium 29mg3%
Iron 0.1mg1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Carrot cake wouldn’t be the same without cream cheese frosting! This cream cheese frosting recipe is easy to make and perfect for carrot cakes, cupcakes, muffins and more.
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