PERFECT Cream Cheese Frosting (Quick, Easy, Versatile)

Cream Cheese Frosting is quick and easy to make in a matter of minutes with just FOUR simple ingredients. Versatile enough to use on a variety of cakes, cupcakes, and desserts, this cream cheese frosting recipe is truly the BEST!

Cream Cheese Frosting with text overlay.


 

Cream Cheese Frosting is a simple, classic dessert staple that everyone should have in their recipe collection. And this particular Cream Cheese Frosting recipe just so happens to be quick, easy, and the very BEST!

I realize this isn't rocket science, folks. It's a really basic recipe with minimal ingredients. It's done in a matter of minutes. But as a homemade Cream Cheese Frosting connoisseur, I have determined that these proportions render the yummiest results!

Ingredients

There are just FOUR simple ingredients required to make this amazing Cream Cheese Frosting:

Labeled ingredients to make Cream Cheese Frosting recipe.
  • Butter. Salted and at room temperature. It's important that your butter is completely softened or your frosting will by lumpy. If you don't have salted butter on hand, I recommend adding a tiny pinch of salt to your Cream Cheese Frosting to make the flavors pop!
  • Cream cheese. Again, make sure it's at room temperature. And be sure to use a block of regular, full-fat cream cheese...no exceptions. Cream cheese from a tub may have extra water/air/ingredients whipped into it for easier spreading, and this can affect the ultimate texture of your frosting. Similarly, light or reduced-fat cream cheese will have a different flavor and texture than regular cream cheese and may yield frosting that's less rich and decadent.
  • Powdered sugar. The amount is negotiable. However, keep in mind that how much you use will affect not only the sweetness but also the consistency of your frosting. And if your powdered sugar is particularly lumpy, you'll want to sift it first.
  • Pure vanilla extract. Trust me on this one. Use good quality pure vanilla extract! No imitation stuff, please...because you will taste it. In fact, it is my humble opinion that the key to taking this frosting from good to great comes down to the vanilla you use!
Cream Cheese Frosting in glass bowl.

How to Make Cream Cheese Frosting

(The below photos are intended to be helpful, but please refer to the recipe card at the bottom of this post for FULL DIRECTIONS.)

Did you know that making the best Cream Cheese Frosting is super-duper easy?

  1. Plop your softened butter and cream cheese into a big bowl.
  2. Use an electric hand mixer (or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment) to beat until smooth.
Ingredients in bowl of stand mixer.
Ingredients beaten together in bowl.
  1. Slowly and gradually blend in the powdered sugar and vanilla, scraping the bowl several times.
  2. Beat on high until well-combined, smooth, and creamy.
Adding powdered sugar and vanilla to easy cream cheese frosting.
Recipe for cream cheese frosting on beater.

The longer you whip this frosting, the lighter and fluffier it will become.

However, as soon as it starts to stiffen, stop beating! Otherwise, it can start to break down and turn runny.

Measuring Spoons icon in teal.

Adjusting the Sweetness + Consistency

Feel free to tweak the sweetness of this recipe by increasing or decreasing the powdered sugar.

I actually prefer that my Cream Cheese Frosting is not overly sweet, because I like the slight tang from the cream cheese to come through. In fact, I think that's why I adore this frosting so much. I'm not a fan of cloyingly sweet frostings, and this isn't one of 'em.

Just keep in mind that the amount of powdered sugar you add to this frosting will also dictate how loose or thick it turns out.

The best Cream Cheese Frosting swirled on a cupcake.

How to Make Cream Cheese Frosting White

I'm sometimes asked how to get this frosting white. Well, Cream Cheese Frosting isn't likely to ever be truly white, but there are some tricks that you can try if white frosting is important to you.

  • Butter can range from pale to dark yellow, so obviously, use the lightest shade of butter that you can find.
  • While I don't really recommend using anything but pure vanilla extract, you can use a clear imitation vanilla extract for an even lighter shade of frosting if color is more important to you than flavor.
  • Also, the longer you whip your frosting, the lighter and fluffier it will become and the lighter its color will appear.
  • Adding a teeeensy drop of violet food coloring can also help yellow-ish frosting appear more white. Fully incorporate a very small dot or drop before determining if you need to add more. Be careful not to add too much or your frosting will turn gray or purple!
Cream Cheese Frosting recipe on cupcake.

Ideas for Using Cream Cheese Frosting

This Cream Cheese Frosting recipe is, hands down, my favorite frosting ever. It's creamy and silky. It's sweet yet tangy. But best of all, it's versatile! Boy is it versatile.

A few ideas for enjoying it...

No matter how you use or where you apply this frosting, it's just flat-out fabulous.

Cupcake Frosting Trick

Back when I made a batch of this easy Cream Cheese Frosting to put on cupcakes for one of my kiddo's school Valentine's Day party (you know, back when schools still let us bring homemade treats to parties -- ha), I shared my quick and easy cupcake frosting method with my Instagram followers.

Rather than slopping on your frosting with a knife, you just need a gallon-sized freezer bag and about five minutes.

Hop over to read the details if you don't already know this little trick!

How to make Cream Cheese Frosting with electric mixer.
Cake icon in teal.

Yield

Speaking of cupcakes, one batch of this recipe should make enough frosting to ice 24 cupcakes with a knife. This means spreading each cupcake with a reasonable amount of frosting. 😉

But if you really want to pile on the frosting (by piping it on) for cupcakes with sky-high frosting (like those pictured in this post), you will probably need to make 1.5 or even 2 times this recipe to generously cover 24 cupcakes.

The same applies for cake. As written, this recipe is enough to spread over a 9- by- 13-inch rectangular cake. However, to frost and fill a double-layer cake, you'll want to double the frosting recipe.

Helpful Tips, Tricks, & Equipment

  • Vanilla prices have skyrocketed over the past couple of years because of a worldwide vanilla bean shortage. I used to buy my all-time favorite vanilla in 32-ounce jugs on Amazon...but the current price for a mass quantity like that is rather heart stopping. So these days, I tend to buy a smaller bottle of "the good stuff" and only use it in my favorite recipes (like this one!) where the vanilla flavor truly shines through.
  • This Cream Cheese Frosting recipe should be stored in the refrigerator. It does become pretty soft at room temperature, meaning it's not the best choice for frosting an elaborate cake that needs strength and structure.
  • I usually frost my cake or cupcakes ahead of time, refrigerate, and then let them come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving.
Cream Cheese Frosting on cupcake and in bowl.

Any questions about the yummiest frosting that ever was? Actually, I have one for you...how are you planning to use this Cream Cheese Frosting???

I might have to bake something this weekend just to have an excuse to whip up another batch, and I'm lookin' for ideas!

P.S. If you have any frosting left over and you decide to take a spoon to it, it's particularly tasty if you sprinkle some chocolate chips on top. (Or so I've heard...) 😉

More Cream Cheese Frosting Flavors

Cream Cheese Frosting on vanilla cupcake and in glass bowl.

PERFECT Cream Cheese Frosting (Quick, Easy, Versatile)

Cream Cheese Frosting is quick and easy to make in a matter of minutes with just FOUR simple ingredients. Versatile enough to use on a variety of cakes, cupcakes, and desserts, this cream cheese frosting recipe is truly the BEST!
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 24 servings (recipe yields about 3 cups of frosting total)
Calories: 126kcal
Print Pin Rate

Ingredients

  • ½ cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3 to 4 cups powdered sugar, depending on your desired consistency and sweetness of frosting
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Using an electric hand mixer (or stand mixer with paddle attachment), beat together the butter and the cream cheese. Slowly and gradually blend in the powdered sugar and vanilla, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Then beat on high until well-combined, smooth, and creamy.
  • Cream Cheese Frosting should be stored in the refrigerator. You can either apply the frosting as soon as you make it and then refrigerate your cake/cupcakes/etc., or transfer the frosting to a sealed container, refrigerate, and then bring to room temperature and stir until smooth before using.

Video

Notes

  • The saltiness of salted butter balances the sweetness of the Cream Cheese Frosting and helps the flavors pop. If you only have unsalted butter, you can add a tiny pinch of salt for the same effect.
  • Use only regular, full-fat cream cheese that comes in a block or brick. Using cream cheese from a tub or reduced-fat cream cheese will won't yield the same results.
  • Make sure your butter and cream cheese are completely soft and at room temperature or your frosting will have small lumps.
  • If your powdered sugar is particularly lumpy, you will want to sift it first.
  • The longer you whip this frosting, the lighter and fluffier it will become. However, as soon as it starts to stiffen, stop beating! Otherwise, it can start to break down and turn runny.
  • This frosting recipe holds up best when chilled. It is pretty soft at room temperature, meaning it's not the best choice for frosting an elaborate cake that needs strength and structure.
  • Use good-quality, pure vanilla extract, as the vanilla flavor really shines through in this recipe.
  • A batch of this frosting is enough to frost a 9x13" cake or 24 cupcakes (spread with a knife). For a layer cake -- or to generously pipe frosting onto 24 cupcakes -- you'll want to double the recipe.
  • I usually frost my cake or cupcakes ahead of time, refrigerate, and then let them come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 126kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 21mg | Sodium: 64mg | Potassium: 13mg | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 245IU | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 1mg
Made this recipe? I'd love to see on IG!Mention @FiveHeartHome or tag #FiveHeartHome!

Post originally published on February 19, 2015, and updated on February 5, 2019, May 2, 2020, February 4, 2021, and March 25, 2024.

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Recipe Rating




130 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Cream cheese frosting is my absolute favorite and this recipe turns out so creamy and delicious!! So good on so many different desserts.