My favorite cream cheese frosting recipe

Posted: April 15, 2024
My favorite cream cheese frosting recipe

This easy recipe for cream cheese frosting is perfect for a carrot cake, red velvet cake, and really any kind of cake or pastry. What about cinnamon rolls with a creamy layer of homemade cream cheese icing?

Making Cream Cheese Frosting

The first time I made my own cream cheese frosting was, of course, for a carrot cake. I was an instant fan of this delicious cream cheese icing and use it regularly for all kinds of other recipes.

This frosting is made with a few simple ingredients: a combination of butter, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and, of course, cream cheese. The butter adds firmness and the vanilla extract and powdered sugar add flavor and sweetness.

cream cheese frosting 3

Level of sweetness

I intentionally didn’t make the frosting too sweet, so you can make it a sweeter frosting if you like by adding more powdered sugar. If you add more icing sugar, the structure will be somewhat firmer.

This recipe is my absolute favorite frosting and a lot of my family and friends really love it as well. I recently made red velvet cupcakes for them with a nice swirl on top and they were gone before I knew it.

Cream cheese frosting as a filling

As you can see from the carrot cake in the photo, you can use this frosting to fill a layered cake. If your frosting is still a little on the soft side after you make it, just put it in the refrigerator for a while until it is firm enough. You can also pipe swirls of cream cheese frosting, but not as high or tight as you are used to with my buttercream recipe.

I like to use room temperature butter for this recipe as it’s easier to mix it until light and creamy. I do use cold cream cheese, because it will make sure the frosting isn’t getting too thin. The brand of cream cheese I use is Philadelphia, I like the structure and it works every time. Make sure you use a full-fat cream cheese, I noticed the cheaper ones are an other type of cream cheese and are often too thin and watery.

cream cheese frosting 2

How to combine easy cream cheese frosting

I already named a few of my favorite recipes which are going really well with this frosting recipe. I will make a small list of baked goods that are perfect for this frosting. And after that I will list some ingredients that pair very good with the frosting as well.

​Recipes that go well with cream cheese frosting:

  • Carrot cake (cupcakes)
  • Red velvet cake (and cupcakes)
  • Cinnamon rolls
  • Spice cake
  • Pumpkin cake

Ingredients that pair well with cream cheese frosting:

  • Fresh fruit
  • Chocolate
  • Spices (like cinnamon, gingerbread spice mix, etc.)

As you can see, this frosting is perfect for fresh and fruity summer recipes, but also for the warmer flavors of fall. That makes it the best cream cheese frosting recipe ever if you ask me.

cream cheese frosting 4

Questions about cream cheese frosting

Can I make frosting without butter?

Yes, you can, but your frosting will be much less firm. This is because the butter makes the frosting firm in the refrigerator, making it suitable for filling cakes and piping swirls. Without the butter, you can still use the frosting on a sheet cake or spread a little on a cupcake. And it’s perfect for more of a glaze-like topping on cinnamon rolls.

Can I add flavor to the frosting?

You absolutely can! For example, you can mix orange or lemon zest (just the colored part of the zest, not the white-that’s bitter) into the cream cheese frosting, or replace the vanilla extract with another flavor extract. You could even add melted chocolate for a chocolate cream cheese frosting, it’s delicious!

Help, my frosting is grainy!

This is almost always because the ingredients were not at the same temperature. You can try heating the mixture a little and mixing until smooth (don’t heat the frosting too long, you don’t want the butter to melt). Another reason this happens is adding wet ingredients all at once instead of in smaller portions. I always add a little bit, mix it well and then add the rest (in 1 or 2 parts).

Can I use mascarpone instead of cream cheese?

I never do this myself, but it is theoretically possible. You can also make mascarpone frosting if you like.

Help, my frosting is really thin!

You may have mixed the frosting too long. If you put your frosting in the refrigerator for (at least) an hour, the butter can set and your thicker frosting should be usable again.

​Does it have a strong cream cheese flavor?

For anyone wondering if this frosting tastes like cream cheese: yes, you can still taste the cream cheese. It could hardly be otherwise when it is the main ingredient. The taste is more subtle because of the other flavor additives.

What can you do with this icing?

This is a softer frosting. You can pipe small swirls and frost a cake just fine. You can’t use it to frost a cake and then cover it with fondant or marzipan though. The frosting is too wet and will make fondant or marzipan melt.

 

easy cream cheese frosting

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4.95 from 20 votes

Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

Make your cake even more delicious with my favorite cream cheese frosting recipe. Easy to make and use it for a layer cake, cinnamon rolls and more pastries.

Ingredients 

  • 200 grams unsalted butter
  • 300 grams cream cheese
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 200 grams powdered sugar

Instructions

  • Beat the butter with a stand mixer for a few minutes until light and creamy, using the paddle attachment. Add the cream cheese and vanilla extract and mix until incorporated. Make sure you scrape the sides of the bowl.
  • Finally add the powdered sugar. Mix this into the cream on low speed (or use a spatula) in a large bowl. Once the confectioners’ sugar is incorporated, you can mix on high for a short time to get an airy and creamy result. Again: scrape the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl.
  • Taste the homemade frosting, if you like it sweeter you can add more powdered sugar. This will also make your cream firmer (with lots of extra sugar).
  • You can use the cream cheese frosting right away, or let it set in the refrigerator until it gets even firmer (or until you need it).
Tips

This frosting is enough to fill and frost an 20cm/8-inch cake twice. Keep in mind that you can't make the layers of filling too thick due to the structure.
How to store

The frosting will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about a week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

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