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A Better Cream Cheese Frosting

What can I say about Cream Cheese Frosting? Well, this recipe is a little different than most others and I like it better.

a small spatula with three piped shells of Cream Cheese Frosting. A bowl of frosting in the background

The internet is funny, isn’t it? When I google “Cream Cheese Frosting” or “Cream Cheese Icing” a million recipes come up and almost every one of them is exactly the same.

I like it this recipe better than the typical one that’s out there on the web. I perfected this recipe for my cake decorating business. You can imagine a wedding cake with a very soft filling might not be a great idea. 

Virtually all the other recipes I’ve seen have twice as much cream cheese as butter and about 3-4 cups of powdered sugar per 8 oz of cream cheese.

The procedure is also the same…you start by with creaming the butter and cream cheese together.

How to make the best Cream Cheese Frosting

  • The first difference between my recipe and the standard is that I use equal parts cream cheese and butter because more butter makes a slightly firmer frosting, especially when it’s chilled.
  • I use slightly less sugar than average and a hint of lemon juice to enhance the flavor.
  • Butter and cream cheese have different textures. Butter is more brittle, especially when it’s cool. As the butter gets warm it can become very soft and greasy, whereas cream cheese keeps a fairly consistent texture.
  • 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!

Scroll through the step by step photos to see how to make the best Cream Cheese Frosting with no lumps:

a mixing bowl with whipped butter
First, soften the butter. 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.
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 light and aerated.

This recipe has a pronounced cream cheese flavor (thanks to the lemon juice, which accentuates the cream cheese) 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

I hope you like it!

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

If you love classic frosting recipes like this you’ll love my new book: Easy Baking From Scratch: Quick Tutorials, Time-Saving Tips, Extraordinary Sweet and Savory Classics. The book contains over 100 recipes that have been well-tested and are presented in simple, clear language. It’s available now on Amazon.

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

cream cheese frosting

Cream Cheese Frosting - Cream Cheese Icing

Yield: 4 cups icing
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

There is a better way to make cream cheese frosting. This recipe gets no lumps and doesn't become runny. It has a great cream cheese flavor.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (8 oz, 224g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2.5 cups (12 oz, 345g) confectioner's sugar
  • 1 cup (8 oz, 225 g) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Cream the butter in a mixing bowl until softened. Add confectioner's sugar and mix until combined with no lumps. Scrape the bowl and beater attachment.
  2. With the mixer running, toss in the softened cream cheese. Scrape the bowl and beater completely, add the lemon juice and vanilla. Switch to the whisk attachment.
  3. Whip the mixture on medium high until light and fluffy
  4. Best used immediately after it's made.

Notes

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.

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Did you make this recipe?

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Mar7746

Monday 5th of April 2021

Definitely the best! The ratio of butter to sugar makes this a rich, buttery cream cheese frosting. Using the whip attachment makes it light and fluffy. My family loves it. This will be the only cream cheese frosting recipe I use.

Zoe

Monday 14th of December 2020

My usual cream cheese frosting recipe (same as yours minus the butter!) cracks when I refrigerate this overnight. Will this recipe hold well overnight? Thanks :)

Eileen Gray

Monday 14th of December 2020

Yes. I haven't had a cracking issue with it.

Mary

Wednesday 2nd of December 2020

I read another cake decorator’s recipe for cream cheese icing. She suggested adding a couple Tablespoons of cornstarch. She said it makes the icing firmer, and it dries with a light “crust” making it less “risky” for decorating as it won’t melt down. Have you ever heard of or tried this? I’m wondering if 1/2 butter 1/2 cream cheese and a bit of extra cornstarch would work for a larger cake on a warmer day, like for a wedding?

Eileen Gray

Thursday 3rd of December 2020

Personally, I would never ice the outside of a wedding cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. It's just too risky, in my opinion. As I used to tell my clients all the time, when you think about how many people get a slice of wedding cake with the outside frosting it is very few. Flavor-wise, it matters much more what's inside the cake since the majority of the slices come from the middle parts of the cake. Even the edge slices only get a little bit of icing on one side and the top. As far as the cake on a warmer day, if there is cream cheese icing involved I would keep the cake indoors until just before cutting to avoid food poisoning from cream cheese at warm temps.

Allison

Saturday 15th of August 2020

Thank you for this recipe. I have made a lot of cream cheese frostings/icings and usually runny and way too sweet. When I think about the food science involved it makes perfect sense. Most recipes seem to start with the cream cheese then butter then sugar or cream cheese and sugar with lumps of butter added in....cream cheese soup! Looking forward to our next carrot cake or cinnamon rolls!

Tani

Thursday 23rd of July 2020

Can this be the topping of cinnamon rolls. Or there are another recipe? If i have the left over can i store it at refrigerator and for how long can it be used again?

I tried the cinnzeo frosting cream cheese but never satisfied with the result

Many thanks

Eileen Gray

Thursday 23rd of July 2020

Yes, you can certainly use this on cinnamon rolls.

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