There are times when you want a lightly fluffy frosting on a cake. A frosting somewhere between the billowy fluff of whipped cream and a heavier buttercream. That’s where this whipped cream frosting with cream cheese comes in. Firm and stable enough to frost and pipe on a cake but, light and dreamy enough to not feel like you’re eating a sugar bomb.
This frosting has a slight tang from the cream cheese, a hint of sweetness from the powdered sugar, and a subtle hint of vanilla. It’s for all the folks who love cake but hate the heavy sugary frosting that often comes with it.
Best of all, unlike other frostings, this has minimal ingredients (cream cheese, heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla). And all ingredients are cold right from the refrigerator, making this one of the easiest frosting of them all!
- Experience level: Easy to make
- Taste: Mildly sweet
- Texture: Smooth and fluffy
- Piping: Ok for piping, but might deflate over time
- Works best on: sheet cakes and cupcakes; not recommended for layer cakes
- Make-ahead: You can make this frosting a day ahead and store it in the refrigerator before using.
- Does not freeze well
- Not good for hot outdoor environments
- Only good to sit out for 2 hours then should be refrigerated immediately
- Not good for layer cakes
How to Make Whipped Cream Frosting with Cream Cheese
Traditional cream cheese frosting has you mix room temperature cream cheese with butter then add a large amount of powdered sugar to it.
My whipped cream frosting starts out with cold cream cheese. The reason being, the cold helps whip the heavy cream to bigger, fluffier heights! Though it seem odd because most cream cheese recipes tell you to use room temperature cream cheese to create a smooth mixture with the butter that is in traditional cream cheese frosting, the cream cheese in this recipe functions differently. Here it is being used to stabilizes the frosting and keeps it from deflating. But to get that super fluffy whipped cream, you want to keep the cream as cold as possible. Cold cream emulsifies better, and stays emulsified longer, meaning your cream can whip up fluffier without breaking. Warm cream cheese may mix and smooth out faster, but it also works against the cold cream. So grab your cream cheese right out the fridge and just let the stand mixer do the work to smooth out the cream cheese.
- Take your cold cream cheese and cut into 1/2-inch cubes.
- Place the cream cheese cubes into the bowl of a stand mixer and mix it on medium high until it’s creamy and smooth, about 2 minutes. You can also use a hand mixer, but it might take you longer than 2 minutes to get it creamy and smooth.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl frequently to make sure you get all the cream cheese thoroughly mixed. This is especially important if you use a hand mixer.
- Once the cream cheese is smooth, add the heavy cream, while the mixer is on low speed and mix until you have a thick liquid.
- Swap out the paddle attachment to the wire whisk attachment and then whip on medium high speed until you have soft peaks.
- Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and whip until light and fluffy and the sugar and vanilla is absorbed!
Tips for Making the Frosting
The key to this frosting is patience! Don’t rush the process. Here are some troubleshooting tips.
- Mix the cream cheese thoroughly. You want to try and get as many lumps out of the cream cheese as possible. This means you’ll want to stop your mixer periodically, scrape down the sides of the bowl, then keep mixing.
- Don’t over mix the whipped cream. Some folks are impatient and will turn the mixer on high speed to whip the cream. Make sure to use a medium speed, so you can control how fast the cream fluffs up.
- Once I’ve achieved soft peaks, I’ll often remove the bowl from the stand and use a balloon whisk to beat the frosting by hand until it’s stiff. If you overbeat the frosting, it will get grainy. With a hand whisk, you have more control and can stop right when it achieves the proper stiffness.
- Use cold materials. Cream whips best when it’s cold. If your kitchen is super warm, stick the bowl, paddle, and whisk attachment in the fridge for 10 minutes. This will chill it down and help with the whipping.
- Use full fat cream cheese. You might be tempted to use low fat cream cheese, but full fat cream cheese not only has more flavor but contains less water.
- Sift the powdered sugar. It seems like an extra step, but not sifting your powdered sugar will result in a lumpy frosting. Also, sift the powdered sugar after you’ve measured it, not before.
How to Flavor Whipped Cream Frosting
Though the flavor of cream cheese lends a subtle tang to this frosting you can also make adjustments to it.
- Cocoa: Try adding 3 tablespoons of Dutch-processed cocoa to the whipped cream for a chocolate variation.
- Mocha: Add 1 tablespoon of instant coffee and 3 tablespoons of Dutch-processed cocoa to the whipped cream to make a mocha version.
- Peppermint: Swap out the vanilla extract for peppermint extract to make a peppermint version.
- Lemon or orange: Swap out the vanilla extract for lemon or orange extract to make a citrus version.
- Double Vanilla: Scrape the seeds out of half a vanilla bean pod and use in addition to the vanilla extract to give the frosting a luxurious upgrade.
How to Color Whipped Cream Frosting
You can color this frosting by adding drops of food coloring when it is in the soft peaks stage. You can also divide the frosting at the soft peak stage into several bowls and hand stir in a different color into each bowl, using a balloon whisk or silicon spatula.
How to Store the Frosting
Because this frosting is made from dairy, it needs to be stored in the refrigerator. You should use or consume the frosting within 3 days of making it.
You should store unused frosting or a frosted cake in an airtight container in the fridge. Let the frosted cake come to room temperature (about 1 hour on the counter) before serving. The frosting is stable and can sit at room temperature for about 2 hours before it needs to be refrigerated.
It’s not recommended to let a cake topped with this whipped cream frosting sit out on a hot day or brought to a picnic, as the frosting might collapse or spoil from the heat.
Whipped Cream Frosting
This whipped cream frosting starts out with cold cream cheese. In the beginning, if you are having any trouble using a mixer to smooth out the cream cheese you can use an immersion blender to help you achieve the desired consistency.
- 8 ounces (225 grams) cold full fat cream cheese
- 1 3/4 cups cold heavy whipping cream
- 1 cup (115 grams) powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cut the cream cheese into chunks:
Cut the cream cheese into 1/2-inch chunks. Place in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. You can also do this using a large mixing bowl and a hand mixer using the beater attachments.
Mix cream cheese until smooth and creamy:
Mix the cream cheese on medium-high speed until the cream cheese looks smooth and creamy, 2-3 minutes. Be sure to scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl frequently to make sure all the cream cheese is smoothing out and no lumps remain. This is especially important with a hand mixer which is less powerful than a stand mixer.
Drizzle in the heavy cream:
Once the cream cheese is creamy, decrease the speed to low and slowly drizzle in the heavy cream. Mix until all the cream cheese is incorporated into the liquid, frequently pausing to scrape down the sides and bottom to make sure everything is being full incorporated.
Swap to whisk attachment and whip frosting:
Once you have a thick liquid, swap out the paddle attachment or beaters for the wire whisk attachment. Whip the cream on medium-high speed, until soft peaks form and you can start to see “tracks” in the bowl from the wire whisk.
Sift in powdered sugar and continue to whip:
Sift in the powdered sugar and add the vanilla. Continue to mix the whipped cream on medium-low speed until the sugar and vanilla are incorporated and you have stiff peaks. You can also remove the bowl from the mixer and hand whip the cream with a balloon whisk for more control.
Use and storage:
Use frosting immediately or store in the fridge in an airtight container and use within 3 days.