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
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Best Ever Cream Cheese Frosting

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.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 2 cups


  • 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)


  • 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.



*Nutrition calculated using a serving size of 1 Tablespoon. Recipe will make about 2 ½ cups of frosting.
4.99 from 50 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

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.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American

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About the author

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

  1. 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.

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

  3. 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.

      2. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

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