An easy Cream Cheese Frosting recipe, perfect for carrot cake, red velvet, pumpkin cakes, and more! We adore this less-sweet frosting. It uses less sugar and has a bit of protein to balance it all out. See tips for making this a sugar free cream cheese frosting!
A Thick, Luxurious Cream Cheese Frosting
Cream cheese frosting is always a good idea! Lightly sweet, a bit tangy, and so velvety-rich.
It’s my go-to, because some of the sugar is replaced with protein rich cream cheese.
The consistency is thick, creamy, and perfectly smooth. It’s the perfect topper for carrot cake, red velvet cake, pumpkin cake, and hummingbird cake! I use cream cheese icing more than any other kind.
The frosting is whipped up in minutes, and ready to frost all your treats!
What You’ll Need
- Cream Cheese (see notes on bringing to room temperature prior to whipping!)
- Butter (I use pastured/grass-fed butter for the best nutrients!)
- Powdered Sugar (or make a sugar free cream cheese frosting with powdered monk fruit sweetener! Use discount code “SUNKISSEDKITCHEN” for 20% off you first order!)
- Vanilla Extract
How to Make Cream Cheese Frosting
Step 1: Add softened cream cheese and butter to a large mixing bowl, or stand mixer bowl, and using the whisk attachment, whip until soft and fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl down, and continue to whip together to ensure all the butter and cream cheese are whipped and there are no chunks remaining. See notes about evenly softening your cream cheese and butter.
Step 2: Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Beat at a low speed until the powdered sugar is mostly mixed in, and then turn it up to a high speed to whip it to a desired consistency. Add additional powdered sugar, if necessary, to thicken it to your desired texture. Note: Over softening the cream cheese and butter can lead to a softer or more runny textured frosting.
Tips and FAQ for Cream Cheese Icing
Can cream cheese frosting be left out?
Cream cheese frosting needs to be refrigerated. If it’s warm out, it will over soften at room temperature.
Store leftover frosting in an airtight container for up to a week. Add back to a mixer bowl and whip to soften prior to using it to ice more cakes or cupcakes.
Immediately refrigerate leftover frosting, as well as any cakes or cupcakes that have been frosted with cream cheese icing.
Can I freeze Cream Cheese Frosting?
Yes! This recipe makes a large batch of cream cheese frosting. Store leftovers in an air tight container, and freeze up to 3 months. Allow it to thaw in the refrigerator overnight, and then add back to a mixing bowl and whip to soften prior to using to frost cakes or cupcakes.
How to Make a Smooth Cream Cheese Icing – No Clumps!
Cream cheese will leave clumps that are hard to whip out if it isn’t evenly softened prior to using.
I cut my butter and cream cheese into small chunks, and allow to soften for 1-2 hours, prior to using. This allows the center of the cream cheese to soften as evenly as the outside.
How to Thicken Cream Cheese Frosting
If your cream cheese icing is too thin to pipe or spread onto your cakes, two things could have happened:
- The cream cheese and butter were overly softened. This is the worst case, because in my experience, adding more powdered sugar does not fix it. Adding more will result in a frosting that gets more and more gummy, instead of having a soft and fluffy texture. If this happens to me, I throw it out and start over. You can also try to refrigerate it for a couple hours, then beat it again.
- Some brands of powdered sugar have different textures. If you believe your butter and cream cheese were softened but not melted, then add another 1/2-1 cup of powdered sugar to thicken it up.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of arrowroot starch (or use tapioca or organic corn starch). This will soak up the excess moisture in the cream cheese and thicken your frosting. It’s not enough to alter the taste!
Sugar Free Cream Cheese Frosting
Most often, I make my cream cheese frosting with either all or half of powdered monk fruit sweetener. It tastes like sugar, and when I serve it at parties, no one is the wiser!
I use ZenSweet Powdered Monk Fruit Sweetener, which has the best flavor of the options I’ve tried. It actually creates a better textured frosting than regular powdered sugar! Use discount code “SUNKISSEDKITCHEN” for 20% off your first order).
When I am making treats for kids, I like to mix half powdered sugar and half powdered monk fruit sweetener. They tend to be the toughest critics and they can’t tell I’ve made the swap!
How to Use Cream Cheese Icing
The tangy, less sweet frosting is popularly used on carrot cake. But don’t stop there! It has a wide variety of uses, and can be used anywhere you’d normally use Vanilla Buttercream.
- Gluten Free Carrot Cake
- Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Pineapple
- Hummingbird Cake
- Red Velvet Cake
- Gingerbread Cupcakes
- Pumpkin Cake or Cupcakes
- Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 16 ounces cream cheese 2 blocks of cream cheese, full fat recommended
- 1 cup butter 2 sticks (I use salted butter)
- 6 cups powdered sugar *or 3 cups powdered monk fruit sweetener
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Soften butter and cream cheese to room temperature. For the best results, cut the butter and cream cheese into small pieces and allow to sit at room temperature for about 2 hours. Do not allow the butter to begin melting, or your frosting will be too soft.
- Add the softened butter and cream cheese to a large mixing bowl or stand mixer bowl. With a whisk attachment, whip the butter and cream cheese together until the mixture is light and fluffy. Use a silicone spatula to scrape down the sides, ensuring it's evenly mixed and not clumpy.
- Stop the mixer, and add the vanilla and powdered sugar. Mix on low until the powdered sugar is mostly mixed in, then increase the speed to high, and whip until the frosting is light and fluffy. Adjust the thickness of your frosting by adding an additional 1/2 cup-1 cup of powdered sugar, as necessary.
- Frost cooled baked goods immediately. Do not leave cream cheese frosting out at room temperature for too long. If necessary, refrigerate until ready to use, and then add back into the mixer and whip again to soften prior to frosting cakes.