The best carrot cakes are topped with cream cheese frosting. Carrot cake wouldn’t be the same without it! This cream cheese frosting recipe is easy to make and perfect on my carrot cake with pineapple or carrot cake cupcakes (or really any carrot cake recipe you like)!
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.
How to Make Cream Cheese Frosting for 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!
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.
Cream cheese frosting for carrot cake 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.
Can You Leave Cream Cheese Frosting Out at Room Temperature?
- 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.
Carrot Cake Cream Cheese Frosting Variations
You can’t go wrote with a simple vanilla-flavored cream cheese frosting. But, if you want to try something different, consider adding some spices to your frosting.
Try any of theses spice ideas on their own or combine them to create a flavor profile that you like:
- 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground clove
If you you want to try something really non-traditional, throw some chocolate chips into your carrot cake and top it with chocolate cream cheese frosting!
Carrot Cake Recipes to Use This Frosting On
- Carrot cake with pineapple
- Carrot cake cupcakes
- Healthy carrot cake muffins from The Dinner Mom
- Carrot cake baked donuts from Homemade in the Kitchen
Cream Cheese Frosting for Carrot Cake
- 16 ounces cream cheese room temperature
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 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 carrot cake or carrot cake cupcakes.
- 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.