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Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

Our recipe for cream cheese buttercream makes a stiff cream cheese frosting that is perfect for decorating. The texture is velvety smooth, and it is lightly sweetened with a slight tang from the cream cheese. This is a fantastic option for topping your favorite cakes and cupcakes.

Three mini cupcakes topped with cream cheese frosting.

This cream cheese buttercream is thick, creamy, lightly sweet, and has just the right amount of structure. 

While we adore a good Ermine Frosting or Italian meringue buttercream, this cream cheese frosting is one of the most versatile dessert toppings to have in your repertoire. 

Whether you spread it on thin or pipe it up high, this frosting will keep its shape if you want to pipe designs. Using our special technique, you won’t need the extra sugar for added stiffness and thickness. 

 We know you’ll love this lightly sweetened cream cheese frosting as much as we do! 

Why This Recipe Works

  • Just 4 ingredients. Butter, powdered sugar, cream cheese, vanilla extract (and a pinch of salt) are all you need to whip up a batch of this sweet and creamy frosting. The best part is that you may already have these common ingredients in your fridge and pantry!
  • Makes a stiff frosting for decorating. Creaming the butter with powdered sugar before adding the cream cheese will make this frosting thicker than the frosting we used on our chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting.
  • Lightly sweetened. Unlike traditional American buttercream frosting, which can become too sweet, this cream cheese version has the perfect balance of sweetness and tanginess from the cream cheese. 

Ingredients Needed 

Here is a list of the ingredients you will need for this cream cheese buttercream frosting. Scroll down to the printable recipe card for all the details. 

  • Butter. Use salted or unsalted butter (whichever one you have on hand), and make sure it’s at room temperature.
  • Powdered sugar. Also known as confectioners sugar or icing sugar. Sift the powdered sugar before adding it to avoid any small sugar clumps from forming. 
  • Vanilla extract. You can also use vanilla bean paste or add flavors like almond extract and mint extract.
  • Cream cheese. Use full-fat cream cheese (block style) that’s been softened to room temperature. 
  • Salt. A small amount of salt helps to balance the sweetness.

Cream cheese, vanilla extract, butter, powdered sugar, and salt.

👨‍🍳 How to Make It

Here is a brief overview to get an idea of what to expect with this recipe for stable cream cheese buttercream. Scroll down to the printable recipe card for all the details.

A stick of butter in a bowl with powdered sugar.

Add the butter and powdered sugar to a mixing bowl fitted with a paddle attachment. 

Start the mixer at a slow speed, then increase the speed to medium-high, beating it until smooth and creamy. 

Butter and powdered sugar mixed together. Vanilla extract next to the bowl.

Add the vanilla extract and salt. Mix well.

Adding cream cheese to a mixing bowl.

Add the cream cheese and beat on medium-high speed until well blended.

Freshly whipped cream cheese frosting in a mixing bowl.

Adding the cream cheese last will make a more stable cream cheese buttercream that will hold up well for decorating.

Tip: For thick cream cheese frosting, add the ingredients in the order listed.

Cream cheese buttercream in a jar.

Tips for Success

  • Let the butter and cream cheese sit out at room temperature for a while, but don’t let it get too soft. 65°F to 70°F is the perfect temperature for buttercream.
  • The order you add ingredients makes a difference. Add them in the order listed for a thick cream cheese frosting. 
  • While this technique allows you to have a more lightly sweetened, but still thick frosting, you can add more powdered sugar if you want a sweeter taste. Just add it a few tablespoons at a time until it’s as sweet as you’d like!
  • Use block-style cream cheese. Don’t use spreadable cream cheese that comes in a tub or low-fat cream cheese, as they have a higher water content and will make the frosting runny.
  • Start the mixer out on low speed so the powdered sugar doesn’t fly out of the bowl.

How to Use Cream Cheese Buttercream

This simple frosting can be used for any cupcake, cake, or cookie. Here are some delicious recipes to get your creativity spinning! 

How Much This Recipe Makes

One batch of this recipe will make between 2 to 2-1/2 cups of cream cheese frosting. You can cover 24 standard cupcakes with a simple swirl or pipe a tall mound on 10 to 12 cupcakes,

You can also cover a 13×9-inch sheet cake or frost a double-layer 8-inch or 9-inch cake. If you want to fill the cake layers with buttercream, then you will need to double the recipe.

For reference, the ombre cake below is a 3 layer chocolate cake that I filled and frosted with 2 batches of cream cheese buttercream. I had to make a third batch so I would have enough frosting to pipe the swirls on top of the cake. I had enough leftover frosting to cover a few cupcakes.

A three-layer cake that is filled, covered and decorated with cream cheese frosting.

How to Store Frosting

If not using immediately after preparing, store this frosting in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.  

When you want to use your frosting, remove it from the refrigerator and let it sit on the counter for 30-60 minutes. It will soften for easier spread and piping. 

You can freeze this buttercream for up to three months if you store it in an airtight container. Let it thaw in the fridge, then whip it briefly with your mixer. 

This frosting can sit out at room temperature for up to two hours. If you’re storing it for longer, keep it covered and refrigerated. 

A swirl of cream cheese buttercream frosting on top of a cupcake.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the Difference Between Cream Cheese Frosting and Buttercream?

Traditional buttercream is made with butter and confectioners sugar, while cream cheese frosting replaces some of the butter with cream cheese. Traditional buttercream is stiffer and better suited for piping roses and intricate shapes.

What thickens cream cheese buttercream frosting? 

If you blend the butter and sugar together before adding the cream cheese, you will have a thicker frosting. The butterfat coats the sugar preventing the sugar from pulling water out of the cream cheese, which can make the frosting runny.
If the frosting is still too runny, refrigerate it for 30 minutes to help give it more structure.

Does buttercream frosting with cream cheese need to be refrigerated?

Yes, you should refrigerate baked goods covered in cream cheese buttercream. You can leave it out at room temperature for 2 hours if needed. Actually, the frosting will taste better if it softens at room temperature for a couple of hours.

Our cream cheese buttercream recipe makes a stiff frosting that is the perfect consistency for decorating. It is an ideal frosting for cakes and cupcakes or sandwiched between chocolate cookies or graham crackers.

It keeps its shape if you pipe it out of a star tip, and its lightly sweet flavor makes it a versatile topping for any dessert. 

⭐️ Helpful Tools

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😋 More Recipes You Will Love:

More Recipes You’ll Love

Our Nutella buttercream is rich and creamy, with a pop of chocolate hazelnut flavor. Pair it with a chocolate filling or vanilla cake filling in a red velvet cake roll.

This ultra-decadent Italian Meringue Buttercream is incredibly delicious and silky smooth. It is perfect for layered cakes or under fondant

When frosting is a little too thick, but you need a sweet and creamy topping, you need our Homemade Whipped Cream! Perfectly light and sweet for topping pies, mousse, and tarts!

For More Cream Cheese Frosting Recipes:

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Cream cheese buttercream frosting swirled on top of a cupcake.

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

Yield: 2 cups to 2-1/4 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

This cream cheese buttercream frosting is the perfect accompaniment to any dessert. The frosting is easy to make, and you can use it as a filling or topping for cakes, cupcakes, and other sweet treats.

It is thicker than most cream cheese frostings and pipes well. Make sure you add the cream cheese last to ensure it is thick and pipable.

This recipe will cover 24 standard cupcakes with a simple swirl, or you can pipe a tall mound of frosting on 10 to 12 cupcakes. You can also cover a 13x9-inch sheet cake or frost a double-layer 8-inch or 9-inch cake (double the recipe if you want to add frosting between the layers).


  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces cream cheese (block style)


  1. Add the butter and powdered sugar to a mixing bowl. Start the mixer on slow speed then increase the speed to medium high. Beat until smooth and creamy. Add the vanilla extract and salt. Mix well.
  2. Add the cream cheese frosting and beat on medium high speed until well blended.


  • Use block style, full-fat cream cheese. Reduced fat cream cheese, Neufchâtel, and the type of cream cheese that comes in a tub all have a higher water content and will make your cream cheese buttercream loose and sloppy. 
  • Cream cheese has a higher water content than butter and can make the frosting too soft. Adding the ingredients in the order listed will give you a thick cream cheese frosting.
  • Blending the butter with the sugar first will coat the sugar in butterfat and prevent the sugar from drawing water out of the cream cheese. 
  • This technique also allows you to make the frosting less sweet since you do not need to add extra powdered sugar to make the frosting thick. 
  • If you want a sweeter frosting, you can add additional powdered sugar. 
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 32 Serving Size: 1 tablespoon
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 77Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 62mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 0gSugar: 7gProtein: 0g

Nutrition information is a guideline only. It is calculated automatically by third-party software, and absolute accuracy is not guaranteed.

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