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The Best Cream Cheese Frosting

This Cream Cheese Frosting is not overly sweet and has a great cream cheese flavor thanks to a key ingredient. It is never lumpy and never, ever runny!

a small spatula with three piped shells of Cream Cheese Frosting.

I perfected this recipe for my cake decorating business. You can imagine a wedding cake with a runny filling would not be a great idea. 

Why this is the best tasting Cream Cheese Frosting

  • This recipe uses just 1 1/2 times sugar to cream cheese/butter. Most recipes for cream cheese frosting use twice as much sugar as cream cheese/butter. This allows the cream cheese flavor to be front and center in this frosting.
  • A splash of fresh lemon juice emphasizes the cream cheese flavor. This ensures that even with equal parts cream cheese and butter the frosting has a distinct cream cheese flavor.

Why this Cream Cheese Frosting is never runny

  • Butter is about 20% water and cream cheese is about 50% water. The extra moisture in the cheese can make the frosting runny. The extra butter in this recipe makes a slightly firmer frosting, especially when it’s chilled.
  • I start my Cream Cheese Frosting by softening the butter with the beater, then adding the sugar and finally the cream cheese. Because cream cheese has more water than butter, mixing the butter with the sugar first prevents the sugar from absorbing too much water from the cream cheese. This is why cream cheese frosting made in the usual way often becomes soupy.
  • This process allows the butter to become similar in texture to the cream cheese before the two are combined, even if the butter is still a little cool. So, no lumps!

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients

Ingredients for cream cheese frosting with text overlay.

Ingredient Notes

  • Confectioner’s Sugar – Compared to most recipes, this one has less sugar but still plenty of sweet flavor.
  • Cream Cheese/Butter – Used in equal proportion for the perfect frosting texture that is never runny.
  • Vanilla/Lemon Juice/Salt – The combination of these ingredients emphasizes the flavor of the cream cheese and balances the sweetness.

How to make Cream Cheese Frosting that is not runny

See the recipe card for detailed instructions and measurements.

a mixing bowl with whipped butter
  • First, soften the butter with the beater attachment.
  • The butter should be room temperature. Pliable, but not soft and melty.
a mixing bowl with butter and powdered sugar
  • Add the powdered sugar to the butter and mix until well combined and there are no lumps of butter.
  • Mixing the butter with the sugar coats the sugar with fat so it absorbs less water from the cream cheese. This prevents the icing from becoming runny.
a mixing bowl with whipped butter and sugar
  • Once the sugar and butter are combined toss the cream cheese in while the mixer is running.
cream cheese icing in a mixing bowl
  • Mix until the frosting is smooth and well combined.
whipped cream frosting on a whisk
  • Switch to the whisk and whip until the frosting is light and aerated.
  • It’s best to use this frosting right away.

Cream Cheese Frosting FAQs

How can I make Cream Cheese Frosting better?

Always mix the butter with the sugar before adding the cream cheese. Add a little lemon juice to emphasize the cream cheese flavor.

Why is my Cream Cheese Frosting runny?

The best way to prevent runny cream cheese frosting is to mix butter with the sugar to waterproof it before adding cream cheese. If you mix butter and cream cheese together before adding sugar the sugar will absorb too much water from the cream cheese and the frosting becomes runny.

How do I thicken Cream Cheese Frosting?

Cream cheese frosting will be softer at room temperature so you can chill it a bit to thicken it.

Does Cream Cheese Frosting need to be refrigerated?

A cake iced with cream cheese frosting can be held at room temperature for 3-4 hours. After a few hours the cake should be refrigerated.

a swirl of cream cheese frosting on a small spatula with a bowl of icing in the background

beauty shot of carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.

This recipe has a pronounced cream cheese flavor and it’s plenty sweet but not cloying. It’s a versatile recipe that I use for carrot and red velvet cake, as a topping for breakfast buns and to decorate cheesecakes

Here are some of my other favorite frosting recipes:

If you love this recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review.

cream cheese frosting
Print Recipe
4.60 from 135 reviews

Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

There is a better way to make cream cheese frosting. This recipe is lump-free and doesn't become runny. It has great cream cheese flavor.
Prep Time15 minutes
Total Time15 minutes
16 servings


  • 8 oz unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 12 oz confectioner’s sugar (3 cups)
  • 8 oz cream cheese (room temperature)
  • teaspoon table salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract


  • Cream 8 oz unsalted butter in a mixing bowl until softened. Add 12 oz confectioner’s sugar (3 cups) and mix until combined with no lumps. Scrape the bowl and beater attachment.
  • With the mixer running, toss in 8 oz cream cheese. Scrape the bowl and beater completely, add ⅛ teaspoon table salt, 1 teaspoon lemon juice and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract. Switch to the whisk attachment.
  • Whip the mixture on medium high until light and fluffy
  • Best used immediately after it’s made.


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Offset Spatula
Bench Scraper

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Makes enough to fill and frost an 8″ cake.
Best if used immediately, but can be refrigerated or frozen. Return to room temperature and re-whip before using.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 154kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 45mg | Sodium: 64mg | Potassium: 24mg | Fiber: 0.001g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 545IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 17mg | Iron: 0.02mg
Have you tried this recipe?Mention @eileen.bakingsense or tag #bakingsense!

Recipe Rating


Saturday 27th of May 2023

This is best cream cheese frosting recipe. This is my second time making it. FYI I froze the leftover frosting before and at a later date thawed it out and used it on another cake. Make sure to use a sealed tight container.


Tuesday 16th of May 2023

Looking forward to trying this recipe!! I see that it's been called 'stable' - is it stable enough for piping onto cupcakes? Nothing fancy - just swirls? I typically hate the taste of Buttercream, so looking for an alternative. Thank you!

Eileen Gray

Tuesday 16th of May 2023

Yes, you can pipe this buttercream. But it should be refrigerated.


Friday 24th of March 2023

What temperature should the cream cheese be?

Eileen Gray

Friday 24th of March 2023

Room temp.


Sunday 23rd of October 2022

can you add ice cream in cream cheese frosting

Eileen Gray

Sunday 23rd of October 2022

I'm not sure I understand your question. You want to add ice cream to the frosting? Obviously it would melt so it would be like adding liquid cream.


Monday 4th of April 2022

Thank you for this recipe! What do you think of this sandwiched between 2 coffee cookies? I'm imagining it as tiramisu adjacent atleast. I like it in theory for sure. But does the consistency of the frosting work in a sandwich cookie?

Thank you again!


Monday 4th of April 2022

@Eileen Gray, thank you for replying! X

Eileen Gray

Monday 4th of April 2022

Yes, this could work for a sandwich cookie. But you will need to refrigerate if they're around for more than a day since because of the cream cheese. You might just want to fill them as you serve them if they won't be eaten all at once.