Cream Cheese Frosting


Cream cheese frosting is so easy to make! This is a classic cream cheese frosting with cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla. It's perfect for icing carrot cake, cupcakes, and cookies. Nothing beats homemade frosting.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Cream cheese frosting is a baking classic!

It’s perfect for practically any cake and any leftovers are great dolloped onto some freshly cut fruit.

VIDEO! How to Make Cream Cheese Frosting

Swaps & Suggestions for Cream Cheese Frosting

This is the basic recipe, you can reduce the amount of butter if you want a bit more tang, and increase or decrease the sugar according to your taste. Dress up with ginger, vanilla bean, or coconut flakes.

Here are some fun variations!

  • Add 1/2 a cup of unsweetened cocoa powder and a pinch of salt for a chocolate cream cheese frosting
  • Mix freshly grated or dried, flaked coconut to the frosting to make a coconut frosting
  • Intensify a vanilla frosting by adding some scrapings from a fresh vanilla bean to the frosting
  • Add some blueberry syrup for blueberry cream cheese frosting
  • Add a tablespoon of Amaretto or a quarter teaspoon of almond extract for an almond flavored cream cheese frosting

Cream cheese frosting mixed in a bowl with a flexible spatula.

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From the editors of Simply Recipes

How to Make This Frosting Thicker

If the frosting is too thin, beat in powdered sugar one tablespoon at a time. It may require more powdered sugar than you'd think, so be patient.

Do You Have to Refrigerate Cream Cheese Frosting?

If your kitchen is around 70°F, then you can leave desserts with cream cheese frosting sitting out for up to a day. If your kitchen is warmer, or your dessert has been out for a while, refrigerate it.

How to Store & Freeze

Refrigerate leftover cream cheese frosting in a tightly covered container for up to one week. Let it soften on the counter 15-30 minutes before spreading. Freeze cream cheese frosting for up to 2 months. (Try leftovers sandwiched between graham crackers and frozen like ice cream sandwiches. Divine!)

Use Cream Cheese Frosting with These Recipes

Updated September 19, 2020 : We spiffed up this post with a new video. Enjoy!

Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: Enough for 1 single layer cake or 12-18 cupcakes

This recipe makes enough frosting to frost one single layer round cake, a 9x13 quarter sheet cake, or 12-18 cupcakes.

To frost a double layer cake, use 3/4 cup butter, 12 ounces cream cheese, 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract.


  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick, 4 ounces, 115g), room temperature
  • 8 ounces Philadelphia cream cheese (1 package, 224g), room temperature
  • 2 to 3 cups (360g) powdered sugar (also known as confectioner's sugar), sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1 Beat the cream cheese and butter together: Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together until completely smooth, about 3 minutes on medium speed. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl to ensure that the mixture is mixed evenly.

2 Beat in vanilla extract and powdered sugar: Beat in the vanilla extract. With the mixer running on low speed to start, slowly add in 2 cups of the powdered sugar.

Powdered sugar has cornstarch in it that will thicken the frosting as well as making it sweet. Add more powdered sugar 1 tablespoon at a time to the frosting until you get your desired level of sweetness and thickness.

3 Spread or pipe the frosting to decorate: Use a blunt knife or spatula to spread the frosting, or spoon the frosting into a piping bag to decorate your cupcake or cake.

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Garrett McCord

Garrett McCord is a professional writer and recipe developer whose work has appeared in many print and online publications such as Gourmet Live, Saveur, Huffington Post, Smithsonian, and NPR. Past clients also include numerous food companies, wineries, and distilleries. Garrett writes about cocktails on his website, Coupe de Grace.

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136 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Tina

    This was great. I use only a little less than a cup of powdered sugar though and it was not too sweet.


  2. CJ

    Made this in a jiff for my pumpkin spice cake. Rave reviews by all and the cake seemed to magically disappear! So easy and sooooo yummy.


  3. Stephanie Consalvi

    Tried this one the other day! My kids and hubby loved it. The frosting as what my hubby said was velvety. Yumm!


  4. Michelle

    Very disappointed. Followed the quantities for a double layer cake and ended up with way too much icing. Probably only used half and put the rest in the freezer. And it’s way too sweet, and lost the cream cheese taste, more like buttercream.
    Will add more cream cheese when I come to use the batch from the freezer


  5. Kanu

    What kind of cream cheese substitute can I use?

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