This classic Cream Cheese Frosting is creamy, tangy and super addicting. It has just the right amount of sweetness to bring out the flavor of cakes and cupcakes without being cloyingly sweet. I guarantee you’ll want to lick the bowl.
When I started making cupcakes, cream cheese frosting was my go-to frosting for pretty much every single cupcake recipe I baked. Mainly because I have a soft spot for cheese and also because I can easily reduce the amount of sugar significantly while keeping the frosting pipeable.
I have been using this cream cheese frosting recipe for years and it’s finally getting its own well-deserved post. If you’re looking for an easy cream cheese frosting for cupcakes and cakes, or even cinnamon rolls. This recipe is going to be your best friend.
Not too sweet Cream Cheese Frosting
Whenever I see a frosting recipe that calls for 4 – 6 cups of powdered sugar, my eyes bulge out and I immediately feel like I need a cup of black coffee to fight the sweetness. This not too sweet cream cheese frosting recipe only uses 1 ¼ cup of powdered sugar and is enough for a dozen cupcakes even if you’re a generous froster.
There are just a few simple steps to making this easy cream cheese frosting.
- Add the softened butter and cream cheese to a stand mixer bowl.
- Beat with the whisk attachment until smooth.
- Add powdered sugar to the bowl.
- Stir to mix, then slowly increase speed to beat until all the sugar is incorporated and the frosting is creamy and fluffy.
How to make different flavor cream cheese frosting?
- For these Lemon Cupcakes, a little lemon zest and lemon extract add some zing to the classic cream cheese frosting.
- You can even flavor it with freeze-dried fruits such as strawberry for a pretty in pink Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting to adorn these Strawberry Cupcakes.
- Try other powders and ground spices such as cocoa powder, instant espresso powder, cinnamon, etc.
What do I do if my frosting is too runny?
Frosting with lower sugar content can turn out very soft, especially in warmer weather. I found that when I made this recipe with an equal amount of cream cheese and butter, the frosting turns out softer and runnier. But it can harden up with a little refrigeration and can still be pipeable.
Make sure your butter is at room temperature, beatable but not too soft. This recipe calls for 2 parts cream cheese and 1 part butter, which I found to be the perfect ratio to get a pipeable frosting right away without having to refrigerate before piping.
Use liquid flavoring like extracts or juices sparingly. If you want to flavor the frosting, it’s better to use citrus zest, ground spices or powder freeze-dried fruits to avoid adding excess liquid to the frosting.
Except for cinnamon rolls, you want to make sure all your cakes and cupcakes are completely cool before adding frosting on top, or your frosting will cry and melt off the surface of the cakes.
How do you fix over beaten cream cheese frosting?
If your frosting is runny because it has been overbeaten, and refrigeration doesn’t do the trick. You may need to fold in more powdered sugar to stiffen it up but you risk making the frosting too sweet. A couple of other ideas are:
- Adding a starch like corn starch or tapioca flour to thicken the frosting. However, too much can alter the flavor of your frosting.
- Change the flavor of your frosting by adding cocoa powder or powdered freeze-dried fruits which should also thicken your frosting.
If nothing works, you will need to start over.
Do I need to refrigerate cream cheese frosting?
If serving right away, you don’t need to refrigerate. Cream cheese frosting can sit out at room temperature for a few hours. But it is made with dairy products and any leftover needs to be kept refrigerated.
Will cream cheese frosting harden in the fridge?
Yes, cream cheese frosting will harden in the fridge. So if your frosting is too soft to pipe once beaten, you can pop it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to harden up.
But if you refrigerate the frosting overnight, it will be too hard to pipe, simply let it soften at room temperature, re-whip until fluffy and use as desired.
How long does cream cheese frosting last?
Cream cheese frosting will last one to two weeks in the refrigerator and much longer in the freezer. It freezes well and you can defrost it overnight in the refrigerator, then allow it to soften at room temperature before adding/piping onto cakes. You could also re-whip it quickly to fluff it back up.
How do you store cakes and cupcakes with cream cheese frosting?
You need to keep all baked good with cream cheese frosting refrigerated since the frosting can go bad at room temperature. To serve, simply thaw on the counter for 10 – 15 minutes, both the cake and the frosting will soften.
You can also freeze leftover cakes and cupcakes and thaw completely before serving.
What can I do with leftover cream cheese frosting?
Leftover frosting can be stored in the fridge or freezer for later use. If you don’t have enough cake or cupcakes, you can always use it on something else:
- Use it instead of icing on cinnamon rolls. For these, add frosting right out of the oven so it can melt into all the layers, nooks and crannies.
- Spread it on cookies or fill cookie cups like these red velvet cookie cups.
- Use it as a dip for strawberries, other fruits, pretzel sticks, graham crackers, etc.
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment, send me a photo, rate it and don’t forget to tag me @wildwildwhisk on Instagram. I’d love to see what’s cooking up in your kitchen. Cheers!
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 12 oz cream cheese (room temperature, 340 g)
- 6 oz unsalted butter (room temperature, 170 g)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (5 g)
- 1 ¼ cup powdered sugar (125 g)
- Add softened butter, cream cheese, and vanilla extract to a stand mixer bowl and beat on medium speed with the whisk attachment just until incorporated and creamy.
- Add powdered sugar and stir to mix, then slowly increase mixer speed to medium and beat just until all the sugar is incorporated and the frosting is creamy and fluffy.
- Use a pastry bag fitted with your favorite piping tip to pipe frosting onto cakes and cupcakes or simply use an offset spatula or butter knife.
- Allow the cream cheese and butter to soften at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour, but don’t let the butter melt. If the butter is too soft, the frosting can be too soft as well.
- Overbeating cream cheese frosting can make it too runny. When all the sugar is incorporated into the frosting, don’t beat it for much longer to avoid overbeating.
- If the frosting is too soft, pop it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to harden before piping.
- If your refrigerated cream cheese frosting is too hard, you can let it soften at room temperature and re-whip it to make it fluffy again.
- Always store cream cheese frosting in the refrigerator, do not leave it at room temperature overnight.