Spreadable and pipeable, this Cream Cheese Frosting recipe is SO versatile. Not to mention the tangy, creamy, sweet taste can be customized for your needs!
Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients
You are only going to need 4 ingredients to make this homemade cream cheese frosting! Here is everything you’ll need:
- Salted Butter – softened! You can also use unsalted butter, just add a pinch of salt into the mixture.
- Cream Cheese – softened! It is so important that you use a full fat block of cream cheese and not the spreadable, whipped or light kind. I talk more about this in the section titled How to Prevent Runny Cream Cheese Frosting.
- Powdered Sugar – to sweeten and to thicken.
- Vanilla Extract – this adds subtle vanilla flavor which is perfect for this basic recipe.
One of the best things about this cream cheese frosting recipe is that you can customize it so it pairs well with whatever you are frosting. Here are a couple of ideas:
- Lemon Extract: Instead of using vanilla extract replace it with the same amount of lemon extract. Perfect for lemon cakes or to slather onto blueberry cupcakes.
- Coconut Extract: Instead of using vanilla extract replace it with the same amount of coconut extract. Perfect for coconut cake or banana cake.
- Almond Extract: Instead of using vanilla extract replace it with the same amount of almond extract. Perfect for decorating sugar cookies.
- Pumpkin Spice: Add a dash of pumpkin spice to pair with Fall flavors (pumpkin cake, spice cake).
- Chai Spice: Add a dash of chai spice to pair with Holiday flavors (spice cake, vanilla cake).
- Brown Butter: Brown 1/2 cup of salted butter, cool then allow to solidify in the fridge. Once solid beat on high speed until browned butter is creamed. Then proceed to add the rest of the ingredients and mix.
- Freeze Dried Berry Dust: This is an interesting idea that pairs well with any type of berry cake. Find the coordinating berry but freezer dried! Add a dash of this dust into the cream cheese frosting and watch the magic work.
Tips and Tricks
I have two secrets to share that have to do with this easy cream cheese frosting recipe…
- Soften your Butter and Cream Cheese: This will require you to think ahead and set out these two ingredients 6+ hours before using them. Doing this will ensure that they are easily combined when mixing.
- Do NOT add in Milk: This might be hard for you to resist but please RESIST! Most frostings call for milk to help loosen things up, but this is a thick frosting that is both spreadable and pipeable. If you are having issues with all of the ingredients coming together, just keep mixing, it will get there in time.
How to make Cream Cheese Frosting
The secret to this recipe is not adding any extra liquid and using room temperature butter and cream cheese. If you do those two things, you will be on your way to cream cheese frosting heaven! Here’s how to make it:
- Add butter and cream cheese into the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Next, add powdered sugar and vanilla extract. This is the fun part, mix! It might look like things won’t come together, but just keep mixing.
- Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix again until you can no longer see any lumps. Use as desired!
How to Prevent Runny Cream Cheese Frosting
I developed this cream cheese frosting recipe so that it wouldn’t be runny at all! But if you find that it is, let’s talk about it.
- Don’t Add Milk. The recipe does not call for milk so don’t add it! I know this can be tempting because the ingredients can take some time to come together. Just keep mixing friends, it will eventually become a smooth, thick frosting.
- Cream Cheese. Buy the full-fat block of cream cheese. Not the spreadable, whipped, or light kind. Frosting relies on its fat content for structure.
- To Thicken. If you still find your frosting to be too thin, slowly incorporate powdered sugar until your desired consistency is reached.
- Thicken Without Sweetening. If you’d like to thicken without sweetening the frosting any more, add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch as a time until the desired consistency is reached. I wouldn’t recommend adding more than 3 tablespoons though.
Cream cheese frosting can be made ahead of time! Simply make the frosting according to the directions then cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months! Thaw in the refrigerator then give it a good mix before using.
Uses for Cream Cheese Frosting
There are a plethora of recipes you can use with cream cheese frosting. Here are just a few:
- Pumpkin Cake
- Gingerbread Bars
- Banana Cake
- Homemade Brownies
- Carrot Cake
- Sugar Cookies
- Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
More Frosting Recipes to Try!
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1/2 cup salted butter at room temperature
- 8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
- 1 pound powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- With a hand mixer or a stand mixer, combine softened butter, softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract until thick and smooth.
- Scape the sides of the bowl and stir again to ensure a smooth frosting. Repeat this process until you don't see any lumps.
- Use as desired!