Imagine a frosting so beyond delicious and so perfect in its flavors that it goes well with almost anything: that’s our homemade cream cheese frosting recipe!
Cream cheese frosting is truly the icing that’s there for you. Need it for pumpkin cupcakes, ultra-chocolatey brownies, banana bread, red velvet cakes or cupcakes or a spice carrot cake? This is it! Need something that isn’t as sweet as buttercream (which is wonderful, but can totally be too sweet)? This is your recipe! Need one you can pipe that still has a gloriously thick consistency? Here it is!
And – get this – the recipe is very, very easy. We know it sounds too good to be true, but check it out below! You need just four ingredients and a few minutes. It’s a simple enough recipe that, in our opinion, it’s a great place for the little ones in your life to start helping out substantially in the kitchen.
If you can keep them away from the bowl that is. Or yourself! Yum!
Ready to try out this heavenly homemade cream cheese frosting recipe? Read on.
Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients & Utensils
- 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- 4 cups powdered sugar (confectioner’s sugar), sifted
- 1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Utensils & Other Items
- 1 large bowl
- 1 whisk
How To Make Cream Cheese Frosting
- Sift powdered sugar to remove any large pieces. (Note: you do not have to do this, but we think it makes a creamer icing!)
- Place softened cream cheese in a large bowl and beat until smooth. It’s much easier in a stand electric mixer but a good hand mixer will do.
- Add butter and vanilla and beat until smooth.
- Gradually add powdered sugar and – yes! – beat until smooth.
- Frost cupcakes or whatever other delicious sweets you’ve made (we recommend our Pumpkin Cupcake recipe with this icing)! Top with sprinkles.
- Store leftover cupcakes (or other sweets) in the refrigerator.
Tips About Our Homemade Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe
Got questions about this cream cheese icing recipe? Want to know how to take it from good to better? Read on!
Using This Frosting
We totally recommend our Pumpkin Cupcake recipe with this frosting, but get creative! It’s delicious on cakes, brownies, banana bread – really, use it anywhere you need some tangy-sweet flavor.
What Kind Of Cream Cheese To Use
The kind of cream cheese you use is very important! Use full-fat cream cheese, not low fat cream cheese, and get a block of it – not the spread. If you use the spread, you’ll get runny icing. Not fun! You want the thickness. However, remember the butter – this frosting will be way TOO thick without it! Smooth and creamy is the name of this game!
What To Do If The Frosting Is Too Runny
If you make a batch of this cream cheese frosting and find it too runny, add more powdered sugar to your next batch – it will thicken it right up. (We’re saying ‘thick’ a lot in this post…but the consistency of this frosting is so important, and one of its best features!) It needs to be perfectly thick to pipe on cupcakes but able to be spread easily.
You can store in the fridge for up to 5 days, and it freezes well, too.
About Food Coloring
If you want to get festive or creative, food coloring works well in this recipe!
A Piping Secret
I know it seems like you can’t pipe this because of its consistency. Here’s a secret though-you can! If you want to use this frosting to make pretty little cupcakes: put in the piping bag – tip included – then refrigerate it for a half hour before you pipe it. It should be good to go after that, although buttercream frosting is generally better for really detailed work.
How To Flavor This Icing
If you want to add more flavors to this frosting, go for it! We haven’t tried anything personally, but we’ve seen people use pumpkin spice, lemon extract, cinnamon, coconut extract, and more to jazz up this cream cheese frosting. Of course, if you like it the way it is…that’s fine, too!
Let’s get baking!
We’d love to hear what you used this cream cheese frosting for – it’s perfect in so many ways, and perfect on so many sweets! Definitely leave us a comment about it below. We know you are going to love this recipe!
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The icing looks wonderful. Will try it out over Holidays
Hope you enjoy it! It’s our go-to for sure. Not too sweet, perfect! Happy Holidays!
Just made this and it is delicious. So light and fluffy. Melt in your mouth good. I measured powdered sugar after I sifted it. Sifting makes a big difference. I remember my Mother always sifting her flour and her rolls were light and never had a heavy taste. Thanks ever so much for recipe. Years ago we used milk. Not anymore, this icing is perfect made exactly the way recipe reads. Thanks again!!
Awesome! I’m so happy you liked it Shirley! Thanks for letting us know!
It turned out wonderful and tastes great! I love the consistency works well with my treats. Thank you, this is my new go to cream cheese frosting!
We are thrilled you like it Layna! Thanks for letting us know!
About how many cupcakes can be frosted?
Hi Maria, depending on how much frosting you use, you should be able to frost 24 cupcakes with 1 batch of frosting.
Layed between 2 layers of cake top it with strawberry pie filling used this for a wedding heart cake
Awesome Suzan! So glad you liked the cream cheese frosting!
When you say sift the confectionary sugar. Measure your four cups after it’s sifted or before with the lumps?
Hi Ron, to be sure that the confectionary sugar doesn’t have any lumps in it, it’s best to sift it before you measure.
I use a couple large bowls, sift into one, then measure and add to the other bowl after it’s measured.
What can I add to the frosting to make it drizzle?
Hi Barbara, you can add a little milk or heavy cream until you get the consistency you want.
A VERY basic and simple recipe! Perfect in a pinch if you have no whipping cream. Complements my homemade carrot cake perfectly . Thanks:)
So glad you liked it Lee! Thanks for stopping by and letting us know!
A question: is this enough to ice a 9X13 cake pan? Thanks!
Hi Penny, yes this amount of frosting will frost a 9×13 cake.
Can I make icing a day before. And decorate the next day??
Yes that is fine Kim. You will need to let it come to room temperature to easily use it for decorating.
Do you have to refrigerate the cake once you’ve frosted it with this cream cheese icing?
Hi Donna, yes we recommend refrigerating because of the cream cheese in the frosting.
However, it also depends on the amount of time you will be leaving it out.
Love this super easy frosting! The piping bag is filled with icing and in the refrigerator now. Taking it to a birthday party tomorrow in a cooler bag. What a great surprise. I added yellow food coloring for special summer effect and we’ll top it off with sprinkles.
So fun! Glad you like it Susan!
Thanks for stopping by!
Can you use salted butter if you have no unsalted?
Hi Copper, yes salted is okay to use, the flavor of the cream cheese frosting may be different though.
Hi! I only needed to frost 12 apple cinnamon muffins, so I did half the recipe. The best! Even good not chilled. Thx for the recipe Liz! Soooo yumm
So excited you liked the Cream Cheese Frosting! Thanks for letting us know!
Added almond extract and came out yummy.
Great idea Susan! Thanks for stopping by!
I used this recipe as it is an easy and effective recipe. This helped me make my carrot cake cupcakes even better. With a sprinkle of premixed pumpkin spice, these helped my buddy’s fall kickoff party become something so much more.
We are happy you liked the recipe. Thanks Nathan!
I paired this with an apple cake and it was amazing!! I didn’t sift the powdered sugar but made sure to take my time mixing and it turned out very smooth and creamy. Will be using this recipe again! Thank you for posting it!!
That sounds delicious Brittani, thanks for letting us know!
I used this for some Halloween cupcakes for a school project and it turned out amazing, great recipe
Amazing! So glad you liked it!