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Cream Cheese Frosting: the flawless homemade frosting recipe you’ll use for everything

Total time: 5 Min
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 12 people
By Cookist

From cakes to cupcakes, dessert bars, and more, cream cheese frosting is a staple ingredient in many baking recipes. If you really want to take your baking to the next level, try making it at home the next time you're in the mood to bake.

Sweet but also tangy, cream cheese frosting is so creamy, smooth and thick that doesn't lose its shape once piped. You only need 4 ingredients to make it perfect, so make sure to have butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract in your pantry.

Cream cheese frosting is always the perfect solution to decorate and give a new twist to your favorite desserts. It goes well with cupcakes and just about any type of cake. Red velvet cakes and carrot cakes are traditionally paired with cream cheese frosting, but this recipe is also fantastic with other kind of desserts.

Homemade cream cheese frosting is super quick and easy to make and tastes way better than anything you'll pick up at a supermarket. The best part is you can customize it so the frosting is the exact level of sweetness you like. You can even change up the flavors and colors of your cream cheese frosting to go with your favorite recipes.


Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients

You only need four ingredients to make cream cheese frosting at home. Make sure they are at room temperature before you get started.

Butter and cream cheese serve as the base of the frosting. Use regular whole-fat cream cheese rather than a reduced-fat option. Philadelphia is a good option.

Sugar binds the frosting together and adds sweetness. A dash of vanilla extract brings a touch of flavor.

How to Make Cream Cheese Frosting

Making homemade cream cheese frosting is a breeze – once you try it, you'll never go back to store-bought frosting again. Simply beat the cream cheese and butter in a bowl until smooth.

Add in the vanilla extract, then mix in the powdered sugar one cup at a time until you're happy with the consistency of the frosting. Now it's ready to use!


How to thicken Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream cheese frosting should be thick enough not to lose its shape. To prevent it from being runny you have to use full fat brick cream cheese, so avoid low fat or spreadable ones.

If your frosting is still runny, add a tablespoons of powdered sugar or cornstarch to thicken it, but make sure to add one at a time.

Can Cream Cheese Frosting be piped?

Yes, of course! Before piping, it's better to allow cream cheese frosting to chill in the refrigerator once you have filled the piping bag. Use it after 30 minutes and your decorations will be perfect not only in flavor, but also in shape.

Tips for Making the Best Cream Cheese Frosting

Instead of vanilla extract, use other flavored extracts to jazz up your cream cheese frosting. Lemon, orange, mint, chocolate, strawberry, cherry, and almond are a few flavors to try.

You can also use unsalted butter if you prefer to reduce the tangy flavor.

Make vegan cream cheese frosting by swapping out the cream cheese for your preferred vegan cream cheese substitute and using a plant-based spread instead of butter.


How to Use Cream Cheese Frosting

Homemade cream cheese frosting goes great with virtually every baking recipe you can imagine.

It's phenomenal for decorating cakes and cupcakes, can be used to stuff cookies to make sandwich cookies and whoopie pies, or can be mixed with crumbled cake to make cake pops.

Of course, cream cheese frosting is so delicious, you may just want to eat it straight out of the tub!

Cream Cheese Frosting Flavors

Add ganache or jam to flavor this frosting. Strawberry jam mixed in makes a tasty strawberry cream cheese frosting, while about 1/4 cup of ganache turns this into decadent chocolate cream cheese frosting.

You could also try to add a teaspoon of pumpkin or chai spices, lemon, or coconut to give a new twist to this frosting, but the possibilities are endless.

How to Store Cream Cheese Frosting

Keep homemade cream cheese frosting in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

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butter at room temperature
1/2 cup
Cream Cheese at room temperature
8 ounces
pure vanilla extract
1 tsp
Powdered sugar, sifted
2 to 3 cups


In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until totally combined and smooth.

Mix in the vanilla.

Mix until combined.

Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time until the frosting reaches your desired consistency. For best results, sift the powdered sugar into the cream cheese and butter mixture. This will help prevent lumps in your frosting.

The cream cheese should be smooth and fluffy. If your frosting is too thin, add more sugar. If it's too thick, add a tablespoon or so of milk.

Use it for decorating your favorite baking goods. Enjoy!

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