If you love cream cheese frosting, but you love it LESS dense and more CREAMY and easy to spread, this is the cream cheese frosting recipe for you!
This frosting makes a light, loose frosting that coats and spreads easily but stays put on layer cakes, sheet cakes, banana cake, cinnamon cupcakes, red velvet cookies, pumpkin spice cookies, brownies, and other desserts.
My not-too-tangy, not-too-sweet cream cheese frosting recipe is a delicious and versatile frosting made with cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract.
The secret ingredient is heavy cream—added to make this frosting even more creamy, less dense, super spreadable, and great in a piping bag.
I remember the first time I tried a cream cheese frosting recipe; it was on my grandmother’s banana cake and boy, that was a treat.
Over the years, I associated cream cheese with sweet foods more than savory ones, and I think frosting may have been where it all started.
In this recipe, we wanted to add it to a simple boxed spice cake, and it was the perfect touch.
- Leave out the cream cheese for about 30 minutes to bring it to room temperature. (Or here’s our method for softening cream cheese fast without a microwave.)
- Gather your ingredients and tools (see list below).
- Find your beaters for the hand mixer.
- Cream the cream cheese until fluffy, then add the butter and continue beating.
- Add the remaining ingredients as you scrape the sides of the bowl.
- Be sure to cool your baked goods completely before frosting them.
- Store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to five days in the fridge. Bring to room temp for 30 minutes before applying to desserts.
Supplies to gather
When starting off with a recipe that you’ve never made before, I encourage home cooks to get out all of the supplies and ingredients you’ll need so they are close by and ready to go.
- Hand mixer
- Bowl scraper
- Measuring spoon
- Measuring cup
- Offset spatula
- Cream cheese, softened but not melted
- Butter, softened but not melted
- Powdered sugar
- Heavy cream or half-and-half
Here are some additional tips for making this cream cheese frosting recipe:
- Use softened (NOT melted!) cream cheese and butter for the best texture.
- Beat the ingredients together on low speed at first to keep the powdered sugar from flying everywhere.
- Add more cream if the frosting is too thick.
- Flavor the frosting with your favorite extracts, such as almond extract, lemon extract, or orange extract.
- If you want a more flavorful frosting, you can add other ingredients such as cocoa powder, cinnamon, or nutmeg.
- Add food coloring by hand. Don’t add color gel until you have finished mixing on high speed.
How to store cream cheese frosting
- Cream cheese frosting can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
- When you are ready to use it, simply let it come to room temperature for a few minutes before frosting your dessert.
- Stir and apply to your desserts with an offset spatula.
The bottom line
Cream cheese frosting is known for its smooth, creamy texture and its rich, sweet flavor, with just a touch of that tangy, salty bite.
To make cream cheese frosting, simply combine cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract in a bowl.
Beat the ingredients together until they are smooth and creamy. You can adjust the amount of powdered sugar to get the desired sweetness level.
Cream cheese frosting is a delicious and easy-to-make frosting that is perfect for any occasion.
So next time you are baking a cake or cupcakes, be sure to make some cream cheese frosting to top them off!
- ½ package room temperature cream cheese
- ½ stick softened butter
- 2 c powdered sugar
- 1 T heavy cream
- 1 T vanilla
- Pinch, or ⅛ t salt
- Start with clean beaters on the hand mixer.
- Ensure the butter and cream cheese are at room temperature, so for best results remove from the refrigerator at least two hours before ready to use.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the room temp cream cheese for about a minute.
- Then add the soft butter (but not melted butter) and cream cheese together until combined and creamy, about two minutes.
- Add the salt, vanilla, heavy cream and ½ c of the powdered sugar at a time beating on low, until all the powdered sugar has been used, about five minutes. If needed to get desired consistency, add a bit more powdered sugar (if too loose) or cream (if too thick).
- Using an offset spatula or butter knife, smooth the icing over the completely cooled cake.
- Refrigerate iced desserts and any leftovers. Frosting can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. Do not freeze.
If you want to color the icing, add the coloring gel AFTER you’ve reached your desired consistency.