The BEST Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: 1 1/2 cups frosting

Prep Time: 10 minutes

The BEST Cream Cheese Frosting that’s not too sweet but full of vanilla flavor and can be made ahead of time! Tons of tips, video, and the reveal of the SECRET INGREDIENT below.

Can you guess the SECRET ingredient?! This truly is the best cream cheese frosting, creamy and stiff enough to pipe, without being too sweet!

Tessa's Recipe Rundown...

Taste: Sweet and tangy, with tons of vanilla flavor. Not as sickeningly sweet as some bakeries and grocery stores!
Texture: Ultra smooth, creamy, and luscious.
Ease: Super duper easy, and can be made ahead of time!
Pros: Instantly amplifies pretty much any cake, cupcake, or other dessert.
Cons: None!!
Would I make this again? This is a component of many of my favorite recipes on the site πŸ™‚

  • Can you guess the SECRET ingredient?! This truly is the best cream cheese frosting, creamy and stiff enough to pipe, without being too sweet!
  • Can you guess the SECRET ingredient?! This truly is the best cream cheese frosting, creamy and stiff enough to pipe, without being too sweet!
  • The BEST Cream Cheese Frosting is thick, creamy, with that mouthwatering tangy taste. Best of all, it
  • Can you guess the SECRET ingredient?! This truly is the best cream cheese frosting, creamy and stiff enough to pipe, without being too sweet!
  • Can you guess the SECRET ingredient?! This truly is the best cream cheese frosting, creamy and stiff enough to pipe, without being too sweet!
  • The BEST Cream Cheese Frosting is thick, creamy, with that mouthwatering tangy taste. Best of all, it's not too sweet but full of vanilla flavor and can be made ahead of time! Can you guess what the SECRET ingredient is?!

Photos by Constance Higley.

Frosting is the stuff dreams are made of.

Luscious, creamy, and such a delightful indulgence all on its own. But add it to a cake, cupcake, or just about any other baked treat? Now it’s on a whole new level of deliciousness.

I can see why my post on How to Make the Best Buttercream has been so popular. Everyone loves frosting, but it’s surprisingly easy to get wrong. That’s why I’m sharing with you everything I can think of to help you achieve the BEST cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting Tips & Tricks

If you’re curious as to why I believe this is the BEST cream cheese frosting recipe, or if you want extra help ensuring yours comes out perfectly, then read through my more details tips and explanations below. If you have any questions, they’re probably answered!

This is indeed a simple recipe, but I find sometimes it’s easiest to overlook things that are simple and to then be disappointed with lackluster results.

Cream Cheese

It should be regular full-fat brick cream cheese at a cool room temperature. NOT whipped or spreadable cream cheese made for bagels. I’ve found that some off-brand cream cheese bricks have an unappealing almost watery texture. Go with a quality brand when possible.

Butter

Unsalted butter at a cool room temperature helps to make the frosting light, fluffy, and sturdy enough to pipe. Unsalted really does work best here and if you’re curious why, check out my article on unsalted vs salted butter.

Secret ingredient?!

It may not be so secret once you take a closer look at these photos. The secret ingredient that elevates this frosting to a gourmet level…. it’s vanilla PASTE! Yes, it’s a little pricier and harder to find than regular vanilla extract, but it’s totally worth it.

When adding vanilla extract to anything that won’t be baked, like frosting, you can often taste and smell the alcohol of the extract. That’s why vanilla paste works so much better here. It adds a deeper vanilla flavor and appearance to your frosting. Since we truly do eat with our eyes this is more important than you might think! It’s also much easier than seeding a vanilla pod.

You can purchase it at gourmet food and kitchen stores like Williams Sonoma and Sur la Table, or make it easy on yourself and just add a bottle to your next Amazon order.

Lastly, if you find cream cheese frosting to be too sweet or rich for your taste, add a splash of lemon juice. It won’t add much pronounced lemon flavor, but the acidity will cut through and balance the richness.

Sugar

Powdered sugar is a must here. No other sugar will produce a smooth texture. It’s also completely necessary to sift the powdered sugar after measuring it, and before adding it into the mixing bowl. This will ensure no pesky lumps and clumps ruin the smoothness of your frosting. If you don’t have any on hand, check out my quick hack for making your own powdered sugar in 5 minutes.

Mixing

An electric mixer, either hand held or standing, makes quick and easy work of creating a light and fluffy frosting. Actually, because recipe doesn’t make a huge amount of frosting as written a hand mixer in a deep medium bowl does the trick perfectly.

Serving, Storing, and Make Ahead:

Cream cheese frosting, alone or on cake or cupcakes, can sit at a cool room temperature for up to 8 hours before it should be refrigerated.

The frosting can be made and transferred to an airtight container and stored in the fridge for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 1 month. Bring to room temperature and re-whip with an electric mixer before using.

Step by Step Video

Free Guide

If you want to up your buttercream game to a bakery-quality level, download my free Best Buttercream Guide below:

The BEST Cream Cheese Frosting

000
Yield 1 1/2 cups frosting     adjust servings
Prep Time 10 minutes Total Time 10 mins

The BEST Cream Cheese Frosting that’s not too sweet but full of vanilla flavor and can be made ahead of time! Tons of tips, video, and the reveal of the SECRET INGREDIENT below.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces (227 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 stick (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla paste (or extract)
  • 2 cups (250 grams) powdered sugar, sifted (don't skip sifting!)

Directions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla on medium-high speed until very light, creamy, and smooth. On low speed gradually add in the sugar and beat until fluffy. If you need a stiffer consistency for decorative piping, add more powdered sugar.

    Serving, Storing, and Make Ahead:

    Cream cheese frosting, alone or on cake or cupcakes, can sit at a cool room temperature for up to 8 hours before it should be refrigerated.

    The frosting can be made and transferred to an airtight container and stored in the fridge for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 1 month. Bring to room temperature and re-whip with an electric mixer before using.

by

Recipe Notes

This recipe makes enough frosting for 12 cupcakes. It can be easily doubled to frost an 8-inch two layer cake.

About Tessa...

Tessa is a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. She loves to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. She's on a mission to make the world a more unapologetically DELICIOUS place. Tessa lives in Phoenix, Arizona.

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9 Responses to “The BEST Cream Cheese Frosting”

  1. #
    JoAnn — March 25, 2017 at 10:35 am

    Great tips as always, Thanks- LOVE your recipes and of course you’re “helpful tips”

  2. #
    Izzy — March 25, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    wow – this looks delicious!
    Izzy | Pinch of delight

  3. #
    Run 2 — April 4, 2017 at 6:24 pm

    Uh oh! This looks dangerous

  4. #
    Brenda — May 8, 2017 at 5:39 pm

    I made the cream Cheese icing for my father-in-laws 90th birthday cake and used my Mom’s carrot cake recipe. It was amazing and everyone loved it. I iced the slab cake, firmed up the icing in a piping bag and decorated. Kept it refrigerated & it worked well. The icing was not runny or crispy as other recipes I’ve tried. Thank you Tessa, your website and recipes are always yummy & spot on !

    • #
      Tessa — May 9, 2017 at 4:38 pm

      I’m so glad to hear that! Happy birthday to your father in law!

  5. #
    Cassandra — May 14, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    Can I add cocoa powder to this?
    Would that work?
    I love this frosting, already used it twice now and would love to have a chocolatey stand-by.

    • #
      Tessa — May 16, 2017 at 7:10 pm

      Yes! Add 1/2 cup cocoa powder + 2 tablespoons milk or cream to turn this into chocolate cream cheese frosting. Make sure to sift the cocoa before adding to the bowl πŸ™‚

  6. #
    Kathy — July 22, 2017 at 4:02 pm

    Hi……

    Will this butter cream hold up in warm weather

  7. #
    the impossible game — September 12, 2017 at 7:12 pm

    Thank you so much for commenting, it is lovely and really makes my day!

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