Made without butter, and using just 3 simple ingredients this easy recipe for homemade cream cheese frosting is the perfect topping for many of your favorite recipes such as red velvet cake, carrot cupcakes and more.
Before I tell you about the best cream cheese frosting recipe, I have to warn you.
Finish frosting the outside of your cakes before you taste it.
Because if you try just a taste from the sides of the bowl, you might find yourself going back for another.
And soon you may find that you don't actually have enough fluffy frosting left at all.
So be on the safe side and make sure you have enough. Or plan to make a double batch!
A tangy alternative to buttercream frosting, this cream cheese icing tastes like cheesecake you can spread.
From carrot cake to cinnamon rolls to Chocolate Muffins, it elevates anything it touches.
- Cream Cheese- Ensure you are using block-style full fat cream cheese (not the spreadable stuff in the tub!) for best results. Use a high quality cream cheese for best results- I always have good luck with Philadelphia Cream Cheese.
- Powdered Sugar- AKA Confectioner's sugar or icing sugar. Or use this tutorial to make your own using whatever sugar you have on hand.
- Vanilla Extract
1. Beat cream cheese. In a large mixing bowl using a hand mixer or a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until very smooth.
*It is key to beat the cream cheese well to ensure that you don't end up with a lumpy frosting as butter typically helps with the creamy consistency in classic cream cheese frosting.
2. Add sugar. Add the vanilla and ¼ cup of icing sugar. Beat with your electric mixer on low until incorporated. Add an additional ¼ cup sugar, beat slowly and repeat, adding ¼ cup each time until it has all been added. Once fully incorporated, beat on high for about 1 minute until lightly fluffy.
3. Use. Spread onto cakes, cupcakes, cinnamon rolls and more.
Leftovers and Storage
Make Ahead: This frosting is a great thing to make ahead as it firms up the longer that it sits in the refrigerator. Make up to 2 days in advance and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Then, when ready to decorate your cake or cupcakes, set out at room temperature for 30 minutes before to help it to be more spreadable.
To Store: Since it contains cream cheese, leftover frosting (and anything that you have decorated it with) will need to be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Make it Your Own
Make it Sweeter- As written, this frosting is only a bit sweet as I like to taste the tang of the cream cheese (it's like spreadable cheesecake!) and therefore, I use less sugar. But, if you would like a sweeter frosting, you can increase the amount of sugar to up to 2 and ½ cups, to taste.
Add Your Favorite Flavors- After beating in the sugar, mix in one of the following:
- Cinnamon- Add ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- Chocolate- Add ½ cup cocoa powder for a chocolate cream cheese frosting
- Berry- Pulse 1 cup of freeze dried berries in a food processor or blender until a fine powder and then add the powder to the mix (about 4 tbsp)
- Coconut- Add 1 teaspoon of coconut extract
- Lemon- Add 1 teaspoon of lemon extract
- Maple- Add 1 teaspoon of maple extract
Add a Pinch of Salt- Counter the sweetness with a pinch of salt.
Ways to Use It
This cream cheese icing is the perfect complement on the top of cupcakes or your favorite cake. Try it on:
- Carrot Cake or Cupcakes
- Honey Spice Zucchini Muffins
- Red Velvet Cupcakes or Cake
- Cinnamon Rolls
- Fruit Pizza
- Pumpkin Bars
Frosting Tips and Tricks
- If you would like to pipe it onto cupcakes, refrigerate for 30 minutes and then use immediately (without bringing to room temperature) to help it to hold it's shape
- This frosting makes enough to decorate about:
- a nine inch round or square cake
- 12 cupcakes (spread on)
- 8 cupcakes (piped)
- a six inch round layer cake
A single batch of this recipe is about 2 cups. This is enough to frost a 9x9 inch square or round cake, 12 cupcakes (spread on) or a 6 inch round layer cake.
For 12 cupcakes (piped), a 9x13 inch cake or a 9 inch round layer cake, you will need about 3 cups, so make 1.5x this recipe.
Yes! If your frosting seems to be a bit on the runny side, you can place it in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes before using. Also, if you want to pipe the frosting, allow it to firm up in the refrigerator before to help it to hold its shape better.
Yes, because it contains cream cheese, anything frosted with this frosting should be refrigerated.
Yes, because this frosting contains cream cheese, it should be kept in the refrigerator or freezer.
If you have dietary restrictions, check the packaging of specific ingredients that you use to ensure they are compliant. This recipe is:
- Gluten Free
- Nut Free
And if you liked this recipe...
...you might also like:
3 Ingredient Cream Cheese Frosting (without Butter)
- 8 oz block cream cheese full fat, at room temperature
- 1 cup confectioner's sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth using a hand or stand mixer.
- Add the vanilla and ¼ cup of icing sugar. Beat on low until incorporated. Add an additional ¼ cup of sugar and beat on low until combined. Repeat, adding ¼ cup of sugar each time until incorporated.
- Increase the mixer speed to high and beat for about 1 minute until smooth and lightly fluffy.
- Use immediately if spreading on cakes or cupcakes or set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to firm up if piping.
I made cupcake this afternoon and I was looking for a recipe for an easy frosting. Tasted great and will make again.
I'm glad you liked this recipe, Gina! Thank you for your kind review.
This was such a perfect frosting recipe for the carrot cake I made! Thank you!
Thank you for your kind review, Shweta! Thank you for your kind review.
You can never go wrong with a good homemade cream cheese frosting! 🙂 This one looks perfect.
Thank you, Carrie!
Cynthia | What A Girl Eats
I adore cream cheese frosting! This was delicious as promised! Will use it again!
I'm glad you liked this recipe, Cynthia!
Yummy! This was perfect for my carrot cupcakes. Love that it doesn't include butter.
Thank you for your kind review, Amy!