Soft, smooth, and silky cream cheese frosting is perfect for many cakes and cupcakes. There are only 4 ingredients needed for this frosting and a few minutes of your time. Make it in the classic vanilla flavor or try my chocolate cream cheese frosting with your favorite cupcakes.
If you like this classic frosting, try my Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting too. You won’t be sorry.
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
Cream cheese frosting is my absolute favorite frosting for many cakes and cupcakes. It truly goes perfectly with any flavor of cake, not just the classic pairing with carrot cake and red velvet cupcakes. Try adding some of this frosting to cheesecakes, brownies, cookies, and even dessert tacos.
Possibilities of use for this frosting is endless and it’s very easy to make. Even though this frosting can be somewhat finicky, when you know the few simple rules, you shouldn’t have any problems. This truly is a beautiful frosting with soft, creamy texture. It’s not overly sweet because I absolutely hate frosting that is so sweet, it actually makes my teeth hurt.
I never actually use as much sugar in my frosting as many classic recipes recommend. It’s just too sweet and I feel like it takes away from the dessert instead of complimenting and elevating it. I’ve never ran into a problem with cutting sugar from my frosting but for some, I’ve found a great stabilizer. It works great when I need a little extra body.
Many people are a little afraid of cream cheese frosting because it can be too loose, lumpy, or grainy. Hopefully, the tips that I share in this post will help you resolve the most common frosting problems.
TIPS FOR MAKING CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
Use block full fat cream cheese! Always use full fat cream cheese in frosting. Reduced fat cream cheese and cream cheese spread has higher liquid content and can result in softer, runnier frosting. So use a block of full fat cream cheese.
Make sure butter is softened. Butter should be softened before beating it with cream cheese or you many end up with lumpy frosting. Pull butter out of the refrigerator about an hour before making frosting to let it get to temperature. Or, use the correct microwave setting to soften butter. (Consult your manual.)
Use cool cream cheese. While butter should be softened, it’s better to keep cream cheese cold. I usually pull cream cheese out of the refrigerator and out of the box about 15 minutes before making the frosting.
Do not over-beat. Make sure not to beat the cream cheese and sugar for too long. Powdered sugar actually helps bring out the liquid out in the cream cheese so beating if for too long will result in runnier frosting. So beat butter and cream cheese first, and then add powdered sugar and beat just until incorporated.
Use whisk attachment. Whisk attachment is better to use for most frosting recipes because it whips the ingredients and results in fluffier, more stable frosting.
Use meringue powder to stabilize, not more sugar. If you still feel like you want a little more stability in your frosting, don’t add more sugar. Sugar may not necessarily help and your frosting will be overly-sweet. If you don’t want to have overly-sweet frosting, use 2-3 tablespoons of meringue powder to stabilize the frosting.
Refrigerate for a few minutes before frosting. If I feel like the frosting is a little too soft, or I left it at room temperature for a little while before frosting, I pop it in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. It will hold up better to frosting and still be soft enough to spread easily.
CHOCOLATE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
My favorite variation of cream cheese frosting is chocolate. No surprise there, who doesn’t love chocolate?! Chocolate cream cheese frosting is rich, creamy, and absolutely divine for frosting your favorite desserts or dipping strawberries.
To make chocolate version of this frosting, I add cocoa powder and melted baking chocolate. Adding both to the frosting results in a richer chocolate flavor and cocoa powder also helps keep the frosting stable enough for decorating.
This chocolate frosting is perfect for many flavors of cupcakes, brownies, cakes, cookie bars, and as a dip for fruit and crackers. You haven’t lived until you’ve had some of this frosting with fresh, juicy strawberries.
DOES CREAM CHEESE FROSTING NEED TO BE REFRIGERATED?
Yes, cream cheese frosting has to be kept refrigerated.
If not serving cupcakes or cake right away, keep the frosted cupcakes refrigerated. This is dairy based frosting and should not be left at room temperature for longer than a couple of hours. Place frosted cake or cupcakes into an air-tight container with a lid and keep refrigerated.
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Cream Cheese Frosting
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
- 8 oz full fat cream cheese cool
- 2 - 2.5 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 2 oz baking chocolate melted
- Use a whisk attachment when possible.
- Beat butter and cream cheese together, on medium-high speed, until smooth, for a couple of minutes.
- Lower the speed to low and beat in powdered sugar and vanilla extract.
- Turn up the speed back to medium-high and beat for another minute, until the frosting is light, smooth, and fluffy.
For chocolate frosting:
- Melt chocolate in the microwave on "melt" setting. If melting setting is not available, melt at half the power for 45 seconds, stir and melt for 30 more seconds. Continue to microwave in 30 second increments at half the power and stirring in between until the chocolate is melted. Let it cool for a couple of minutes
- Add cocoa powder at the same time as powdered sugar. Scrape sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Raise the speed to medium-high and drizzle in melted chocolate while frosting is beating until all combined.