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 33 votes
Review Recipe

Best Ever Cream Cheese Frosting

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 2 cups
Author Holly N.
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.

Ingredients

  • 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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Instructions

  • 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
Course Dessert
Cuisine American

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About the author

Holly

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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!

More Posts by Holly

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Comments

  1. Love this recipy,It’s the Best and the easiest I’ve ever made.
    I’ve made this cake twice in a week. I,love it. The icing is so smooth and tasty. Freezes great.Thanks so much for this great cake recipy.
    Try it cooks you’ll love it.❤️

  2. exceedingly sweet. Wow – it gave me a sugar rush and I spent the next two hours like an energizer bunny.

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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

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

  9. 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