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Cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and bars disappear in minutes when slathered with a thick layer of homemade Cream Cheese Frosting. This fluffy favorite only needs 4 ingredients and a few minutes to make, so what are you waiting for?
It’s super simple. No fussy techniques, no melting, no cooking. All that’s required is the patience to let the cream cheese and butter soften up on the counter before you begin. And speaking from experience, sometimes that seems like an eternity.
Table of Contents
- Recipe ingredients
- How to make powdered sugar from granulated sugar at home:
- How to make Cream Cheese Frosting:
- Tips for making the most luscious cream cheese frosting in the world:
- Adding flavor to Cream Cheese Frosting:
- Do you have to refrigerate cream cheese frosting?
- Cream Cheese Frosting is perfect on
- Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe
At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.
How to make powdered sugar from granulated sugar at home:
If you have a high-powered blender like a Blendtec or Vitamix, you can whizz up your own powdered sugar for baking; all you need is plain white granulated sugar. Just measure out what you need after you process it.
Working in batches if needed, process 1 to 2 cups of granulated sugar on high speed until fine and powdery. Then transfer to a container and measure out the amount you need.
How to make Cream Cheese Frosting:
- To make super smooth, fluffy cream cheese frosting, you will need a standing mixer or a handheld mixer as well as a paddle attachment.
- To start, beat the softened butter and cream cheese together until smooth.
- Next, add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract (or other flavoring you choose) and beat until smooth. If you like, you can add half the sugar, then the vanilla, then the remaining sugar in small batches until you get the consistency you need. Once the frosting is smooth and spreadable, you’re ready to go.
Tips for making the most luscious cream cheese frosting in the world:
- Room temperature ingredients. Take out the butter and cream cheese and let it soften to room temperature, about 70-72 degrees. If your frosting is lumpy, chances are it’s from the butter being too cold. If your kitchen is very hot and the ingredients are too warm, let them firm up in the refrigerator before starting.
- Don’t skimp. Please don’t try this with low-fat cream cheese. It won’t come out the way you had hoped. Low fat Philly and other brands use stabilizers that turn runny, ruining your project.
- Bricks are better. When at all possible, opt for the cream cheese in the brick-style packaging, instead of the tubs. It’s denser, and will give you better results.
- Sift, or don’t sift. While it’s not absolutely mandatory to sift the confectioner’s sugar before using, if the sugar you have looks lumpy, it couldn’t hurt.
- Don’t overmix. Mix the ingredients until they’re just well-combined.
- Cakes vs. cupcakes/cookies. You may want to add a little extra (½ to 1 cup) powdered sugar if you’re making frosting for a layer cake. A thicker frosting works better for cakes with vertical surfaces and several layers.
- Tinted cream cheese frosting. Absolutely possible! Be sure to use gel food coloring, so the frosting doesn’t get too thin.
- Freeze or refrigerate the leftovers. Store unused cream cheese frosting in the fridge for 4-5 days or freeze in an airtight container for 2-3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before using on your next baking project.
Adding flavor to Cream Cheese Frosting:
As long as you don’t add too much liquid to the frosting, you can flavor it up any way you see fit with cocoa, extracts, or citrus juice.
- Chocolate cream cheese frosting. For every 8 ounces of cream cheese, replace ½ cup powdered sugar with ½ cup sifted (unsweetened) dark cocoa powder to maintain the consistency of the frosting.
- Lemon cream cheese frosting. For every 8 ounces of cream cheese, use 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice and 2 teaspoons lemon zest.
- Peppermint frosting. Add a few drops of peppermint extract or flavoring to the frosting, taste, and repeat as needed until it’s chilly enough for you.
- Almond frosting. Almond extract in cream cheese frosting might be fabulous over Chocolate Cupcakes, topped with toasted almonds!
Do you have to refrigerate cream cheese frosting?
Technically, you should refrigerate anything with cream cheese frosting, because of the dairy component in the recipe. Although I wouldn’t say no to a sliver of cake that’s been out for a day or so, either.
Therefore, there may be a little wiggle room for you, depending on how much room you have in the icebox, as well as the temperature of your kitchen.
Cream Cheese Frosting is perfect on
Cream Cheese Frosting
- In a standing mixer fit with the paddle attachment, or in a bowl by hand, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth.
- Gradually add powdered sugar and vanilla and beat well. Spread evenly over cooled desserts such as cookies, cakes, bars, and cinnamon rolls.
Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.