Best-Ever Cream Cheese Frosting

published Dec 21, 2021
Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

For the best-ever red velvet cupcakes, whip up this cream cheese frosting.

Makesabout 3 cups

Prep30 minutes

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Cream cheese frosting in a blue bowl, seen from the top down.
Credit: Laura Rege

Some of our favorite classic cakes wouldn’t be as delicious without decadent, tangy cream cheese frosting (think: carrot, red velvet, and hummingbird, to name a few). But the truth is that cream cheese frosting is fantastic on pretty much any dessert. Swirl, swoop, pipe, or spread it over any and all of your favorite baked goods — not just cakes and cupcakes. Try it sandwiched between two cookies or whoopie pies, spread on brownies, or dolloped over banana bread

Tips for the Best Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Make sure to soften the butter and cream cheese first. Softening smooths out the frosting and makes beating faster and easier, so you don’t end up with lumps!
  • Beat it well. Another way to prevent lumps is to beat the mixture until really well combined and smooth.
  • Don’t skimp on powdered sugar. Not only does powdered sugar sweeten the frosting, but it also creates the smooth, creamy texture that makes cream cheese frosting so irresistible. 
  • Sifting is optional. Unless the powdered sugar is super chunky, there shouldn’t be a need to sift it before adding to the other ingredients. By the time everything is beaten together, the sugar should be smooth and incorporated. 

Which Is Better: Cream Cheese Frosting or Buttercream? 

The main difference between cream cheese frosting and buttercream is that cream cheese frosting replaces some of the butter with cream cheese. Here we like to use half butter and half cream cheese for the ultimate texture. Because cream cheese has more moisture and a smoother texture than butter, there is no need to add milk, which can be a common ingredient in buttercreams to keep them from being dry and stiff.

Which is better depends on taste. Standard buttercream made with butter and powdered sugar can get pretty sweet. The tang from cream cheese frosting will help cut through some of the sweetness.

Credit: Laura Rege

How to Store Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream cheese frosting is best stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container or frosted onto your favorite baked goods.

Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

For the best-ever red velvet cupcakes, whip up this cream cheese frosting.

Prep time 30 minutes

Makes about 3 cups

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces

    cream cheese

  • 8 tablespoons

    (1 stick) unsalted butter

  • 1 pound

    powdered sugar (4 cups)

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Place 8 ounces cream cheese and 1 stick unsalted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl if using a handheld electric mixer). Let sit at room temperature until softened, about 45 minutes.

  2. Add 1 pound powdered sugar (about 4 cups), 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Beat with the paddle attachment, starting on low speed for 30 seconds then increasing speed to medium-high, until well-combined, smooth, and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Recipe Notes

Storing: The frosting can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Let come to room temperature and whisk before using.