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 27 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.


  • 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
Course Dessert
Cuisine American

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About the author


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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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