Best Ever Cream Cheese Frosting

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Cream Cheese Frosting is my favorite way to top a cake or cupcakes and this recipe is the best I’ve ever had! It’s rich and creamy with just the right amount of sweetness and a hint of lemon.

This homemade cream cheese frosting is the perfect topper for banana cake, red velvet, carrot cake and so much more!

Cream Cheese Frosting Whipped in Glass Bowl

The Perfect Balance

I absolutely love Cream Cheese frosting. It’s completely perfect on carrot cake or banana bread (or a spoon, are ya’ with me?)… oh and red velvet of course! While I do love any cream cheese frosting; I mean really love it like—arm wrestle you for that corner piece with the globs of frosting, love it.

The truth is, not just any frosting will do, it has to have flavor and not taste like lard and sugar. If you’ve ever wondered how to make cream cheese frosting, THIS is the recipe you’ve been looking for.  It’s truly the Best Ever Cream Cheese Frosting.

It has the perfect balance between rich and light, it’s creamy and fluffy and it’s not sickly sweet.

Once you try this cream cheese frosting recipe, you’ll never need another!

Tips to Make Perfect Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Use full fat cream cheese  and real butter.
  • 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.

Homemade Cream Cheese Frosting on end of Whisk

Why Is My Cream Cheese Frosting Runny?

This recipe produces a soft spreadable frosting which is NOT runny, it’s perfect for my Best Ever Banana Cake or any 9×13 cake. It works perfectly on cupcakes (red velvet anyone?) but this cream cheese frosting won’t hold its shape well for piping flowers (as it’s really soft). If storing for long periods of time, I store this frosting in the refrigerator.

  • Liquid: Combining powdered sugar and cream cheese makes a soft cream cheese frosting. Additionally 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.
  • Don’t Use Low Fat: Be sure you’re using full fat cream cheese for this recipe and don’t substitute the butter. When cream cheese mixes with powdered sugar it somewhat melts the sugar. Make sure your cream cheese is just room temp, not ‘softened’ in the microwave.
  • Overmixing: Once the powdered sugar is added in, mix just until combined and fluffy. Overmixing will cause the frosting to be runny.
  • Powdered Sugar: I do not suggest adding extra powdered sugar as it will cause the frosting to be too sweet and will not thicken the mixture.

Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe Made With a Hint of Lemon

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.

What Kind of Cake Goes with Cream Cheese Frosting?

Adding of just a hint of lemon juice and a little bit of lemon zest really puts this cream cheese frosting over the top. Lemon-kissed cream cheese frosting pairs perfectly with banana cake, carrot cake, spice cake, gingerbread and cinnamon rolls to name a few.

If you don’t have lemon (or you prefer a more classic flavor) vanilla in place of the lemon juice is equally wonderful. (Or if you’re looking for a great vanilla buttercream frosting, you’ll want to check out this one)!

Either way, get a spoon ready because you’re going to want to dig into this!

More Frosting & Fillings You’ll Love

Cream Cheese Icing
4.84 from 6 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 homemadeCream Cheese Frosting. It’s rich and creamy with just the right amount of sweetness and a hint of lemon. This is the perfect topper for banana cake, red velvet, carrot cake and so much more!


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  • 8 oz cream cheese , room temperature
  • 1/3 cup butter , softened
  • 3 to 3.5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice (or vanilla)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest (optional)

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  1. Combine cream cheese and butter with a mixer on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Mix in lemon juice (and lemon zest if using).
  2. Add in powdered sugar a bit at a time until fluffy.
  3. Do not overmix.

  4. Store up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Recipe Notes

*Nutrition calculated using a serving size of 1 Tablespoon. Recipe will make about 2.5 cups of frosting.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 33, Fat: 3g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 10mg, Sodium: 31mg, Potassium: 7mg, Vitamin A: 125%, Vitamin C: 0.1%, Calcium: 6%

(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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This is the best ever Cream Cheese Frosting. It's rich and creamy with just the right amount of sweetness and a hint of lemon. This is the perfect topper for banana cake, red velvet, carrot cake and so much more! #spendwithpennies #creamcheesefrosting #frosting #bestfrosting #easyfrosting #creamcheese #dessert #topping #icing

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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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  1. 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.

  2. 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

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

  4. 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)!!

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

    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.

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

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

  10. 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!

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

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

  13. 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! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  14. 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

  15. 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.

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

  17. 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 :)

  18. 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! :)

  19. 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!

  20. 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.

  21. 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.