Best Ever Cream Cheese Frosting

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Cream Cheese Frosting is my favorite way to top a cake or cupcakes!  A simple mixture of cream cheese (of course), butter for richness and some powdered sugar & extract for a deliciously tangy-sweet flavor!

It’s rich and creamy and totally dreamy.

Cream Cheese Frosting in a clear bowl

The Perfect Balance

I absolutely love Cream Cheese frosting. It’s the perfect topper for carrot cake or banana bread (or a spoon, are ya’ with me?)!

If you’ve ever wondered how to make cream cheese frosting with the perfect balance of sweet and flavor, THIS is the recipe you’ve been looking for.  It’s truly the Best Ever Cream Cheese Frosting.

Tips to Make Perfect Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream cheese is just a soft frosting and can’t be piped like a Buttercream Frosting as it won’t hold its shape.

  • DO NOT overbeat the cream cheese. Overbeating is most often the culprit for a runny cream cheese frosting.
  • Add lemon juice or vanilla for flavoring.
  • If your butter is too warm, your frosting will have a thinner consistency. It should be softened but not on the verge of melting

Cream Cheese Icing on a beater

Trouble Shooting for Runny Cream Cheese Frosting

This recipe produces a soft spreadable frosting which is thick and smooth. It’s perfect for my Best Ever Banana Cake or any 9×13 cake. It works perfectly on cupcakes but this cream cheese frosting won’t hold its shape well for piping flowers (as it’s really soft).

  • Cream Cheese Low fat cream cheese doesn’t work well; use full fat only!  Make sure it is just room temp, not ‘softened’ in the microwave. Use a block cream cheese, not spreadable.
  • Overmixing Once the powdered sugar is added in, mix just until combined and fluffy. Overmixing will cause the frosting to be runny.
  • Powdered Sugar Adding extra powdered sugar will cause the frosting to be too sweet and will not thicken the mixture.
  • Chill Chilling it can help thicken it. A warm cake (or a very warm room) can make it more runny.
  • Liquid It takes a very tiny amount of liquid to mix with powdered sugar so adding any extra vanilla/lemon juice can change the consistency of the frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting swirled in a bowl

Do Cakes With Cream Cheese Frosting Need to Be Refrigerated?

Generally speaking, if it’s a normal cooler day (depending on where you live) your cake or cupcakes are fine to sit on the counter for a couple of days.

If you live in a hot humid area (or say… Phoenix in the middle of summer), I’d suggest refrigerating your cream cheese frosting. If you plan to keep your recipe longer than 3 days (at any temperature), I would suggest refrigerating it. I like to set it out on the counter about 20 minutes before serving to allow it to soften up again.

Cream Cheese Icing on a beater
4.97 from 26 votes
Review Recipe

Best Ever Cream Cheese Frosting

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 2 cups
Author Holly N.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
This is the best homemade cream cheese frosting. It’s rich and creamy with just the right amount of sweetness and a hint of lemon.


  • 8 ounces cream cheese room temperature
  • cup butter softened
  • 3 to 3.5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or lemon juice
  • 1 ½ teaspoons lemon zest (optional)

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  • Combine cream cheese and butter with a mixer on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Mix in vanilla (or lemon juice and lemon zest if using).
  • Add in powdered sugar a bit at a time until fluffy.
  • Do not overmix.
  • Store up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Recipe Notes

*Nutrition calculated using a serving size of 1 Tablespoon. Recipe will make about 2 ½ cups of frosting.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 68, Carbohydrates: 9g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 3g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 10mg, Sodium: 32mg, Potassium: 8mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 9g, Vitamin A: 123IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 6mg, Iron: 1mg

(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)

Keyword cream cheese frosting

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Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!

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Recipe Rating


  1. This is the easiest cream cheese frosting ever!!! It’s exactly what I was looking for to top my key lime cheese cake (replaced the lemons with limes). Thank you.5 stars

  2. Hi, what calorie calculator did you use? I entered 16 Tbs/8 oz. cream cheese, 5.3 Tbs/.33 cup butter and 3 cups powdered sugar into Spark Nutrition and came out with a way different calorie number per serving, more than double actually, and that was using the low end of the sugar amount. I want to make this because the reviews are so good but I count calories so wanted to verify first. Thanks.

    1. You are definitely correct, thank you so much for bringing this to our attention! There was an error in the calculation (it wasn’t calculating the powdered sugar properly) and we have updated it. Sorry for any confusion.

      1. Hi Holly, going to make your icing tomorrow on a red velvet cake for my grandson’s 12 birthday, is the butter unsalted or salter? Thank you Linda

  3. Best frosting ever, did I say ever. I used this frosting on a coconut cake for a Church bake sale. It was sold in slices and the first to sale out within 5 minutes. Thank you so much for sharing I have another secret weapon thanks to you Holly.5 stars

    1. You can try it with less powdered sugar but it may change the consistency to be a bit more runny.

  4. I never thought of using lemon juice! I made mine with lemon juice & it really smooths out the flavor. I don’t use powdered sugar, but honey instead for decades, you get a smooth sweetness without the bite from sugar.4 stars

  5. Thanx holly I am going to try this recipe only using1/2 to a cup less sugar and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract pure and1/2 tsp pure almond extract paired with spice cake hoping it turns out great 5 stars

  6. Very nice recipe. As advertised :) I skip the lemon and add cinnamon to mine for those beautiful, fragrant flecks in the frosting.5 stars

  7. This icing is NO JOKE! It is the best cream cheese icing I have ever eaten (title is on point). It’s not sickening sweet and the lemon gives it a hint of, “What is that?!” I didn’t even add the zest and it was still delicious.
    I made slightly more to heavily ice a 3 layer carrot cake.
    I did put each layer in the refrigerator to set up a bit after icing.
    The next time I make it I will add zest. Be aware….you will want to eat it straight out of the bowl (I did)!!5 stars

    1. I have only made it as written, but if you do try it please let me know how it works out for you.

  8. Is it possible to add extra powdered sugar to stiffen this frosting enough to be able to pipe?

    1. I make this recipe as written but let me know if you do try adding the extra powdered sugar and what your results are for piping.

  9. Can’t wait to try these…they look delicious !! I’ve been looking for a good cream cheese recipe…it’s my FAVORITE !

  10. I made this icing but rather than add lemon, I added peanut butter for atop the banana
    cake. It was delicious.

      1. You can’t freeze cream cheese, so I don’t think it would hold up well at all. I would think it would break, like cream cheese does.

        1. Cream cheese freezes just fine! When I buy it on sale I stock the freezer regularly. I just made this recipe for the first time with a block of Philly out of the freezer. It turned out beautifully!

  11. I’ve found the best thing to make cream cheese frosting fluffy is to beat it about twice as long as you think you need to.

  12. I make carrot cake for my son and daughter-in-laws birthdays. Always make cream cheese frosting and I do find it too sweet..So I will be trying this on the next one I make. Thinking I’ll use the lemon one first…then the vanilla on the second. It looks delicious.

  13. We found an amazing cream cheese frosting variety in the America’s Test Kitchen book – you add some powdered buttermilk to the frosting. SO good on Carrot Cake.

  14. hi
    I love your recipes and i live in Australia in some of your recipes you say a stick of butter can you please tell me what is the stick of butter so i know how much

    thank you

      1. That is because the butter sold in the US is ususlly in form of four sticks in a packet, and each stick is half cup or eight table spoons or a quarter pound.

  15. One of my favorite frosting Ever!! I love cream cheese in anything.. and frosting is always my favorite. Cant’ wait to try this. Thanks

  16. Absolutely love cream cheese frosting. I have a good recipe that I swear by but I am intrigued giving yours try since you say its the best ever!

  17. Wow that frosting looks so good!!! I don’t usually think to make frosting from scratch but now I think I have to! :)

  18. Cream cheese frosting is the icing on the cake, so to speak! Totally delicious and can transform a cake

  19. This was the first time I’ve ever made homemade frosting I will never go back so delicious thank you for this recipe

  20. This is the best cream cheese frosting ever! I added both the lemon juice and vanilla extract and it turned out perfect! I will make this recipe from now on! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  21. Wanted to make a banana cake but the recipe for their cream cheese frosting sounded too sweet. I read yours and liked the fact it had less sugar and the lemon juice gave it a kick. I baking the cake now so we’ll know tomorrow what everyone thinks .Thanks

  22. It taste great! But for some reason, mine isn’t getting light and fluffy. Could it be because I used country crock rather than butter? Ended up using the last stick I had making the cupcakes.

    1. I usually store it in the fridge because of the cream cheese and take it out about 30 minutes before serving.

  23. This looks like great Frosting! Happy St. Patrick’s Day and thanks so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday!
    Miz Helen

  24. I’ve had this recipe for years, minus the butter, but I use the lemon juice as well as the vanilla essence & I always make it a day in advance :)

  25. I adore cream cheese, and this frosting sounds lovely! I’m stopping by from Two Uses Tuesday! I’d love it if you’d come share it at Totally Terrific Tuesday…the party is going on now! :)

  26. I love my regular homemade icing…best ever…from my mom…but I also like the cream cheese style so I am copying your recipe!

  27. Thank you for sharing your recipe! I have a friend staying with us. She said she was going to bake a cake but we had no frosting. Well we do now!!! And so much better.

  28. Thanks for the recipe for the cream cheese frosting !like to make carrot cake and red velvet ,but I ‘m not fond of the store bought kind.