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Classic Cream Cheese Frosting

cream cheese frosting recipe

Special occasions call for cake, and cake calls for cream cheese frosting. Am I right? No? If cream cheese frosting is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

The best cream cheese frosting is lusciously creamy, sweet and tangy. It’s the perfect counterpart to sweet, tender, fluffy cake. To make it, you’ll only need a few basic ingredients: cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla extract.

cream cheese frosting ingredients

Cream cheese frosting is undeniably fantastic on carrot cake, so I’m sharing this recipe just in time for tomorrow’s carrot cake recipe. It’s also wonderful on vanilla cake, lemon cake, banana cake, gingerbread cake and chocolate cake.

Yes, chocolate cake. My mom always orders me a chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting for our favorite local bakery. If you haven’t had chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting, you’ve been missing out!

how to make cream cheese frosting

How to Make the Best Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream cheese frosting is quite simple to make. Here are a few tips to ensure your frosting turns out perfectly every time.

Start with softened cream cheese and butter. Set them out on the counter to warm up for at least 30 minutes before you get started.

Always wait to ice your cake until your cake has completely cooled. Otherwise, your frosting might start to drip down the sides.

Check your powdered sugar for hard lumps before using. Hopefully, you don’t find any. If you do, to ensure that your frosting is completely smooth, measure out your sugar and then sift it into a bowl before using (I wish I had done that for the frosting on the cake shown below).

You can whip up your cream cheese frosting a few different ways. I usually make mine with my hand mixer, since I don’t like to drag out my heavy stand mixer. You can also make it in a food processor. If you don’t have any of those, you can whip up your frosting by hand. It just takes some muscle!

Stir the powdered sugar into the whipped cream cheese by hand. If you try to whip it in with a mixer, you’ll send a plume of powdered sugar into your kitchen.

Lastly, you can make cream cheese frosting in advance. Store it in the refrigerator for later. When it’s time to frost your cake, let the frosting rest on the counter for 15 minutes and briefly rewhip it before using.

I hope this frosting recipe takes your homemade cakes to the next level. Please let me know how it turns out in the comments!

cream cheese frosting on cake

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Author: Cookie and Kate
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 1 ⅔ cups 1x
  • Category: Frosting
  • Method: Whipped
  • Cuisine: American

Learn how to make lusciously creamy, sweet and tangy cream cheese frosting at home! It’s so easy. This recipe as written yields 1 ⅔ cups, or enough frosting for one 9″ round or square cake layer, or 12 cupcakes. Multiply as needed (times two for a double-layer cake or 9×13″ sheet cake, and so on).


  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ¼ cups powdered sugar*
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. You can make this frosting with a hand mixer or stand mixer, in a food processor, or by hand with a whisk in a mixing bowl (don’t skimp on the size).
  2. To start, combine the cream cheese and butter. Beat the cream cheese and butter together until they are fully blended.
  3. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla, then stir the mixture with a spoon until the powdered sugar is incorporated (or else powdered sugar will fly everywhere!). Finally, whip the frosting until it’s nice and fluffy.
  4. Use the frosting immediately, or store it in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 5 days. Before using, let it warm to room temperature for about 15 minutes and briefly rewhip before using.


*Powdered sugar note: If you’d like to be absolutely certain that your icing is lump-free, sift your powdered sugar before mixing. You can also make your own powdered sugar out of regular granulated sugar.

Chocolate version: For chocolate cream cheese frosting, blend in ⅓ cup cocoa powder with the powdered sugar. If desired, sweeten to taste with 1 to 2 tablespoons maple syrup.

Naturally sweetened version: Don’t miss my recipe for naturally sweetened cream cheese frosting here.

▸ Nutrition Information

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.


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