This ultra-creamy, classic cream cheese frosting is easy to make from scratch and perfect for frosting cakes and decorating cupcakes. This recipe includes 4 flavor variations: brown butter, cinnamon, vanilla bean, and honey.
Cream cheese frosting is easily one of my favorite dessert toppings. It's rich and creamy with a delightful tang and thick texture. Plus it's super simple to make and takes mere minutes to blend together. I especially love it with carrot cake (or carrot cake cupcakes!), but it pairs with a multitude of cakes, cupcakes, and other desserts!
Step-By-Step Recipe Instructions
This frosting is a piece of cake to make and comes together in just 10 minutes with only 5 simple ingredients.
- Use a stand mixer or a handheld electric mixer to beat cream cheese and butter on high speed until smooth.
- Add vanilla extract and salt to the cream cheese and butter and beat to combine.
- With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add confectioners’ sugar. When all of the sugar has been added, turn up the mixer to high speed and beat until the frosting is cohesive and creamy.
Use full-fat cream cheese blocks. For the best flavor and texture, avoid low fat cream cheese and cream cheese from a tub.
Let the cream cheese and butter come to room temperature before blending. Room temperature ingredients are essential for smooth frosting. Trying to blend chilled cream cheese will lead to lumpy frosting. Check out my tips for bringing ingredients to room temperature more quickly.
Sift the confectioners' sugar. Sifting the sugar will ensure that there are no clumps of sugar in your frosting.
Re-chill the frosting before piping. You need the cream cheese and butter to be room temperature for mixing, but you may then find that your frosting is a bit too soft or runny for piping. It may be helpful to let the frosting chill in the fridge for 30 to 60 minutes so that it firms up just enough to be easily piped.
To make brown butter frosting, brown the butter and let it cool to room temperature before mixing the frosting. You can also brown the butter ahead of time, refrigerate it, and then bring it to room temperature just before you're ready to use it.
To make cinnamon frosting, simply add ½ tsp. ground cinnamon in with the confectioners' sugar.
To make vanilla bean frosting, replace the vanilla extract with 2 tsp. vanilla bean paste.
To make honey frosting, add ¼ cup honey when adding the vanilla. Note that the extra liquid in this recipe will make the frosting slightly softer than the other flavors. I recommend keeping this frosting well chilled and letting it sit at room temperature for a shorter period of time (15 to 30 minutes) before spreading or piping.
Absolutely! Cream cheese frosting can be made ahead (I recommend making it up to one day ahead so it's still fresh when serving) and stored in an airtight container in the fridge. When you're ready to use the frosting, let it sit at room temperature for 30 to 60 minutes to soften slightly before spreading or piping the frosting onto your dessert.
To avoid lumpy frosting, be sure to use room temperature cream cheese and butter, which will blend together more easily. Sifting the confectioners' sugar will also help to minimize any lumps in the frosting.
If the frosting has become runny, it is most likely because the frosting has become too warm. Return the frosting to the fridge for at least 30 minutes to give it time to firm up a bit before using. (Of course, be aware of food safety concerns and avoid eating frosting that has been sitting at room temperature for more than a few hours.)
Store leftover cream cheese frosting in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Let the frosting sit at room temperature for 30 to 60 minutes to soften slightly before spreading or piping.
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