Cream cheese frosting for piping and decorating cakes/ cupcakes because your bakes deserve a heavenly touch and nothing can taste more amazing than cream cheese frosting.
My very first sweet post of the year is here . Rich and creamy cream cheese frosting that is not runny. I love this silky smooth frosting on about every dessert. You may say I am a bit obsessed .I have been getting a lot of requests to post a workable and pipeable cream cheese frosting. As Valentine’s is around the corner I thought of sharing an elaborate post on ‘All about successful cream cheese frosting. ‘ I hope to share everything that I have learnt about cream cheese frosting over years. You may also like my posts on buttercream frosting , ganache , stabilized whipped cream.
Few years ago when I baked in New York ,bakes with cream cheese frosting were the most popular ones amongst my clients. You will notice that most of the fruit based or special occasion cakes are frosted with cream cheese. And why not , it’s light, creamy and rich in taste . It is sweet but lighter than buttercream.
So what is this cream cheese frosting made of?
It’s made of cream cheese , butter/ veg shortening and lots of powdered sugar and extracts/ flavoring if desired.
I like to add little bit of lemon juice or zest to cut off the sweetness and add more flavor.
Cream cheese alone cannot hold the shape so some butter is always added.
When the weather is warm / hot then I like to make cream cheese frosting with combination of cream cheese and veg shortening and not butter. This makes the frosting more stable and is more likely to hold shape.
We all have had our share of curdled or runny cream cheese frosting and believe me its totally heart breaking.
Making cream cheese frosting is very easy but it’s important to follow few tips and tricks mentioned below-
Always use room temperature cream cheese. It should be soft to touch . Never use cream cheese melted or straight out of the fridge. I leave it out on the kitchen counter for 4-5 hours or overnight.
Butter should be soft to touch as well and not melted or runny .
Using cold cream cheese or butter will curdle your frosting.
Using melted one will make runny frosting.
So be patient and remember that if it starts well it will end well 😉
Use good quality butter and full fat cream cheese.
Always sift the confectionary/ icing sugar before adding to the cream . It makes a lot of difference.
Once you are done making the frosting refrigerate it for at least 1-2 hours or more to set before piping.
Over the time I have realized that for making a nice frosting butter needs to be beaten well and longer than cream cheese.
Initially when I started making cream cheese frosting I used to beat cream cheese and butter together and by cream cheese would thin out considerably. After looking up a lot online I found a great tip on Cake Central. The tip was to beat the butter for 2-3 minutes and add cream cheese later . And since then there wasn’t any looking back . This one tip changed my cream cheese frosting. It help shape and was perfect to decorate cakes.
Be sure to check my in-depth posts on buttercream frosting , ganache , stabilized whipped cream.
You might even like my post on sturdy whipped cream cream cheese frosting. It is light , airy and less sweeter than this classic cream cheese frosting.
cream cheese frosting for piping and decorating cakes/ cupcakes
- ¾ cup softened butter cut into small cubes. at room temperature ( firm but soft to touch and not melted )
- 16 oz 2 packages of original cream cheese, at room temperature (soft to touch but not melted )
- 4-4½ cups confectionery sugar/ icing sugar sifted (important)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract/ essence
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice optional I love it as it cuts the sweetness
- ¼ teaspoon salt - Only if u are using unsalted butter.
- Use electric hand held mixer or stand mixer ( beater attachment and not whisk )
- Beat the butter on medium setting for 3 mins until it's light in color and creamy.
- Add in cream cheese and beat it on low setting for 1 minute until combined and smooth.
- Add salt, vanilla extract, and lemon juice.
- Gradually add the powdered sugar ¼ cup at a time on the lowest speed.
- Use 4 cups of sugar first. All the sugar needs to be added on low speed until combined.
- Once combined increase the speed to medium and beat the frosting for 3 seconds.
- Check the consistency at this point.
- Scoop some frosting with a spoon or a spatula and turn it over gently to check if it holds peaks. Soft peaks are ok. As it will get more sturdy after refrigeration.
- If it seems too soft, go ahead and add a little more sifted powdered sugar. Add the remaining ½ cup sugar if needed.
- Enjoy this creamiest frosting ever .
- Add 1 teaspoon of milk only if the frosting seems thick. ( won't be needed though!)
- For best results in piping, refrigerate the frosting for few hours before frosting.
Important tips.Always use room-temperature cream cheese. It should be soft to touch. Never use cream cheese melted or straight out of the fridge. I leave it out on the kitchen counter for 1-2 hours. Butter should be soft to the touch as well and not melted or runny. Using cold cream cheese or butter will curdle your frosting. Using melted one will make runny frosting. So be patient and remember that if it starts well it will end well 😉 Use good-quality butter and full-fat cream cheese. Always sift the confectionary/ icing sugar before adding it in. It makes a lot of difference. Once you are done making the frosting refrigerate it for at least 1-2 hours or more to set before piping. The frosting recipe is enough to fill and frost one 6” or 8” cake with a basic design.
The frosting recipe can be doubled or tripled.
Please go through the entire post for essential tips and tricks.
Sometimes due to weather conditions, frostings tend to thin out.
Don't worry pop it in the fridge for 30 minutes or more.
And it will be perfect workable consistency.
Tint it in the color u like.
Add flavor variations of your choice.
Storage tips.This frosting stays well without losing shape or turning runny for up to 4 days in the fridge. I do not recommend freezing it.
Vegan version of cream cheese frosting
Use vegan cream cheese.
Use non hydrogenated veg shortening / margarine – plant based.
Use vegan / organic powdered sugar.
All of the above are easily available in store or online.
Try this vegan strawberry cake with vegan cream cheese frosting
Storing bakes frosted with cream cheese
Cream cheese frosting is perishable. Always keep your cakes / cupcakes frosted with cream cheese in the fridge.
The bakes will stay good upto 4-5 days refrigerated.
Storing leftover cream cheese frosting.
Make an easy ice- cream or you can refrigerate it up to a week or freeze it up to 2 months. If you have made a big batch and have lots leftover. Store in portion size one time use ziplock bags or freezer safe airtight plastic containers. Once thawed and used it cannot be frozen again.
For thawing place it in the fridge overnight or for 8-10 hours . There may be slight change in texture of frozen cream cheese frosting . You need to re beat it for 1-2 minutes and then use.
Don’t find cream cheese in stores / difficult to source
Try finding it online or you may choose to make cream cheese at home. I have never tried making it at home but there are many recipes for the same online.
What are you waiting for ? Get going and have fun piping fancy deigns on your bake . Keep spreading sweetness and smiles around.
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Hi, I want to use this recipe, but I need a chocolate flavor. Can I add Hershey’s Cocoa? If so, how much should I add?
And I want to cover a whole 8×4 inch round cake with rosettes. Would one recipe be enough?
You can turn it into a chocolate cream cheese frosting. Just add 1/2 cup of sifted cocoa powder after beating the butter cream cheese and follow it with sugar. All this is to be done at a low speed. You will need approx 1.5 times the frosting for rose swirls all over.
Thank you. I forgot to ask how many cups this recipse makes?
Hello Rachel, it should make approx 2 cups frosting.
Other than using lemon zest, is it possible to turn this into a lemon flavored cream cheese frosting that has the same piping consistency? I really don’t like the way bits of zest look in frosting is the reason I don’t want to use it. Would lemon curd work or would that change the consistency? Thanks.
Hello Rachel, it is very easy to make it lemon flavored by just adding a teaspoon of lemon extract. No zest is required. The lemon curd will change the consistency of the cream cheese frosting making it thinner.
I’m really excited to try this recipe to make carrot cake pops (or is it carrot cake cake pops?). I’d also like to pipe some of the frosting to spell out ‘happy birthday’ on the cake pops. However, I plan on shipping them to my friend. If I freeze the cake pops, will the letters hold up during shipping if each pop is individually wrapped? Thank you!
Hello Nina, this is a very sturdy frosting. I do keep my bakes frosted with it in the fridge at all times. No idea how it would turn out in transit.
I am doing a three tiered wedding cake for my goddaughter‘s wedding this weekend, I normally do this on my daughters birthday cakes which are normal size. Will this icing work for icing a three tiered wedding cake and between layers at a venue an hour away? I plan on stacking the cake in the kitchen at the venue.
Yes, this frosting holds up well in cool weather. My important tip will be to refrigerate the cake with frosting for at least 8-10 hours before you transport it. Chilled cakes are always a success on a long road trip.
I was wondering how well this frosting would work in a 6 layer 9 inch rainbow cake? I won’t be piping anything fancy; just filling between the layers, a crumb coat and rainbow stripes on the outside. I’d appreciate any tips!
Hello Mina, as you see this recipe is very stable. I have successfully made 4 layer cake using this frosting. So I think it will stay well for 6 layers.
I’m really excited to try this for my mother’s birthday. I just wanted to check on a few things. If I plan to use shortening (hot climate) should I still beat it in the beginning like I would the butter? Also if I plan to make multiple batches (two 8 inch cakes split into 4 layers) I was planning to make 4 batches, does that sound correct? Should I make each batch independently to avoid over mixing? Thank you!!
Hello Alexis, you can make a big batch in one go. Beat butter and sugar together. Beat cream cheese separately and fold it in with the butter-sugar mixture towards the end. It works great and holds up very well.
Hi, I’m wondering if there’s a limit on how long it can/should be refrigerated after making? Could it sit in the fridge for a day and still be useable? Thanks – this is just what I was looking for!
That’s a great question, Emily. Yes I have made this frosting up to 2 days in advance and frosted with no problem
Use the same amount of shortening as butter?
Hi, my hand mixer broke down. Is it possible to make the recipe without hand mixer? Or by using mixer grinder?
Hello Rebati, the cream won/t grind in a mixer. The blades wont be able to handle it.
I’m so excited to Troy this recipe that by the way it will be my first cream cheese that I’ll make. Thank you for all the tips. I just have a little question will this be enough to decorate and fill an 8” cake?
Hi Karla, yes this recipe is good for basic filling and frosting an 8″ cake.
Thank you very much. It was delicious everybody like it.
I wish I could send you a picture of the cake. I made a strawberry cake decorated with the cream cheese icing.
Hello Karla, sounds great. Yes you can definitely share the photos on my Facebook page @carveyourcraving message section or email me at carveyourcraving (at) gmail(dot)com. I am excited to see your creation.
Hi, have you ever tried using russian piping tips with this recipe?
Hello Julia, Russian piping tip should work with this cream cheese frosting!! Give it a try!
When substituting with vegetable shortening to make it more stable so that it does not melt in the very hot heat, how much vegetable shortening should I substitute? Is it the equivalent amount of the butter that is being substituted?
Yes zing, swap butter with equal amount of shortening to make it on hot sunny days.
I just tried to pipe cookies with it. While it was stiff enough in the beginning, I can’t stack the cookies without messing up the design. Is there any adjustment I can make to the recipe so I can pile the cookies without destroying the piping?
I am not sure that this recipe is good for a sandwich cookie.I prefer crusting buttercream for that. But you can put the frosted cookie in the freezer for 15 minutes and then add the cookie to.
Thank you so much I’m not very experienced in baking but knew cream cheese frosting would probably be runny and not pipable. I need a pipeable frosting for thanksgiving and The fiancé wants cream cheese. Thanks so much for the helpful info and recipe.
Im looking to make an ancho chili and cayenne cream cheese frosting for a mexican hot chocolate cake. Would I swap out the lemon and the vanilla do u think? Or does the lemon only cut through the sweetness..and it won’t compete with the hot chili? Thank you for the great recipe and info.
The flavor that you are using is interesting. I would say nothing can compete with chilies. You may omit lemon but for sure chili would be overpowering.
Turned out great! I have to frost the OUTSIDE of a 3-layer cake, 8-inch diameter. I’m piping it to look like a big rose. How many batches do you think I’d need? 4? Thanks!
Hi Jennica, in my experience 3 times the recipe will be fine for your needs as it is only for frosting outside and not filling.
Great thank you, I averaged it out to be about that so I should be good. It is just a basic swirl. I can’t wait to try your frosting.
Awesome, good luck!
How many cupcakes would one batch of frosting make? I have an order for 60 cupcakes. Thank you.
Hello Kirin, it all depends on how complex is the design. If it is a basic swirl then this recipe is good enough to frost 14-16 cupcakes. So for 60 cup cakes you will have to use 4 times the recipe.
I’ve been making an awesome carrot cake for years but have never been truly happy with the cream cheese icing…..until now! Thank you so much for the recipe and the tips! Absolutely perfect!!
Awesome Julie. I can imagine. Having an awesome carrot cake with not so great frosting is indeed a bummer. I am glad you found the perfect frosting recipe here.
Amazing! This is the first time to have such amazing frosting!
Last time I ended up with runny frosting..
Today I followed you advice. The only difference was that I added the sugar with butter.. then I added the cheese. It was a little bit runny but after mixing it for 1 min it became fluffy and stable:)
Thank you so much
Sounds great Bayan. Glad it worked out for you.
Hi! I wanted to make colored cream cheese frosting. Do you recommend a colored paste or something else?
Hey dana any edible color is fine. Gel, dry or paste.
How many cupcakes can this frost?
It can frost 14-16 cupcakes.
Worked well for me. I piped some shells too. Thank you. And yes I used your red velvet cake recipe with this cream cheese frosting. Everyone loved it. Thank you.
I need this cake for a graduation on Saturday and need to decorate on Friday. Will the piping hold up over night refrigerated and a 2 1/2 hour car ride?
hey Deborah, yes the piping holds up overnight in the fridge. And you can travel with it in full air conditioner on. Basically cool condition away from direct sunlight. Place it in the refrigerator all the time until you sit in the car.
I made this last night (put in fridge overnight) for a cake to be frosted today. Does it need to be room temp to make it easier to pipe? Should I just whip it some more with my mixer?
Yes it needs to be at room temperature or easily scoopable to pipe well.
can this be used to pipe flowers?
I have used this frosting to make 2D flowers as you can see in the photos. I am not sure about piping roses. Go for stiffer frosting like buttercream.
Hi just want to ask can I use this cream cheese frosting as crumb coat ?
Hey Elyse you mean crumb coating under fondant ? Then I am not sure if it works for fondant.
Hi, I tried the frosting recipe with your red velvet cake recipe. I got the best compliment ever when my regular client rated it to be even better than her personal favourite store bought cupcake. Everybody at home loved it too. The lemon zest added so much difference to the taste.
But I am surprised why I need not add 4 or even 3.5 cups of sugar. I added just 1 or 1.5 cups sugar and I felt it was just perfect. Can there really be so much difference in the quantity of sugar, going by all your other recipes have perfect sugar level as per my taste.
Hey Kirti good to hear this. The additional sugar is added to get piping consistency. I am surprised you just needed 1.5 cups sugar only..nice!!
Kimberly L Rodriguez
Hello. How far in advance can this icing be made? Without having to freeze it. Thanks.
Hello Kimberly, cream cheese frosting is best when used the same day. Frost your bakes within few hours of making it. I won’t suggest freezing as it turns more runny and changes texture.
I am a home baker . Tried cream cheese frosting for the first time . This was so good . I piped roses as you have shown for my daughters birthday cake . Thank you.
If replacing butter with vegetable shortening, do I use the same quantity?
Yes Natalia same quantity.
How many grams would be 3-4n1/2cups of sugar ?
Hi Vipsha, upon some googling I found out that 4 cups Confectioner’s sugar is 500 grams approx.
Hi mam…Is Amul Cheese Spread only a Cream Cheese??? Plz reply soon…
No Anjali. Cream cheese is different. You might find it in leading departmental stores.
You mentioned in your post about using butter/shortening combo if it will be in not so ideal temps. I will be frosting cupcakes for a friend’s reception which will be outdoors. Would the butter/shortening combo be better suited for those conditions and what are the quantites/measurements for each.
half shortening and half cream cheese .. keep refrigerated until serving .
Worked out well. It was smooth and held shape. Thank you
Glad it worked well Nancy
Was great consistency for my carrot cake. I even piped swirls . Thank you for the tips.
Awesome Janie, carrot cake sounds delish!
Is the beater attachment r the same as the paddle attachment
Yes Tracy it’s the same.
How long can i keep the cake frosted with cream cheese out in room temperature?
Hello Jeannette, you can keep cream cheese frosted bakes in cool conditions for 3-4 hours. Say if it is at a venue then it can be out in an air condition room for 3-4 hours provided it was refrigerated well for at least 8 hours before that.
Can I use it under fondant ?
I doubt that cream cheese frosting can be used under fondant as it’s not as sturdy as buttercream or ganache. Check out my extensive post under frosting section for the same Heather.
Turned out great consistency. And sturdy for piping after refrigeration. Thank you for the valuable tips.
I am glad that it worked for you Seto!Thank you for a lovely feedback.
It was great. I frosted , filled and made roses on a French vanilla cake for my princess who turned 3. Thank you.
Good to know that Kathy.. Happy birthday to your daughter!
What a great consistency. Very happy . Thanks!
Awesome to know that Vanda!
I have tried lot of recipes in the past for this frosting but majorly failed . This recipe gave me perfect consistency and is now my go to cream cheese frosting. Thank you a lot!
Glad to know that Sonal, thank you for a lovely feedback!
For me, this has the perfect consistency until I add the sugar. As soon as I add the first batch of sugar, small, sifted, and I start beating slowly this turns into runny right away. Should I beat the sugar with the butter and the flavors first and only add the cream cheese at last?
Hello Erika, did you follow this recipe and tips step by step? If yes, I am sure you won’t have any problem getting a sturdier frosting. You can try beating butter and sugar first and then add cream cheese towards the end and just beat everything for a minute until blended well . No harm in trying a small batch. Good luck!
Can I know how many grams of sugar?
I haven’t weighed the sugar. I always use cup measure.
This cream cheese frosting is just awesome and the tips and tricks have helped in getting a stiff piping consistency. Before this, my cream cheese frosting was always runny but this time its just awesome. I used a part of it for filling and the rest will be used for piping. Thanks so much. I am bookmarking this page.
Wow , It sounds great Anandi. Thank you for a lovely feedback. Have a nice day!
what tip did you use to make the roses? the one in the picture has ridges in it — not the rose…
I use Wilton 2D or 1 M open star tip for roses.
I want to make this, but I am a bit of a germ-a-phob. Is cream cheese really okay to sit out for 4-5 hours or overnight? This worries me, but I want to make this recipe!
Hello Abby, I have mentioned the storage method for cream cheese frosting in my post.. it needs refrigeration always. Thanks for stopping by.
Thank you for the amazing recipe. I plan to try it next week for my sister’s birthday. I live in Texas where it’s extremely hot, so if I decide to use the shortening instead of butter, would it be the same ratio? Or would it be a different amount of shortening?
Keep the same ratio but make sure you work with AC on and refrigerate after frosting until served.
Mike The Baker Man
I just tried this frosting… I now have a new go to for Red Velvet and Carrot cake. The flavor is outstanding and spreads like butter.
True that Mike , it has a great texture and tastes heavenly. I am glad it worked for you as well. Thank you for a lovely feedback!
I would like to make this frosting for an ombre cake. It’s for my daughters bridal shower. How long can it sit out on display before we serve it?
Cream cheese frosting frosted cakes will stay well at room temperature in a cool dry place away from sunlight in a room for 3-4 hours without any problem. If outdoors then depends how sunny it is. If it is too hot then cream cheese frosting is not advisable to keep out for more than 30 minutes. Rather use buttercream. Good luck and congratulation!
Tried the cream cheese frosting it was wonderful!! Thank you so much.
Hey Shirley thank you for a lovely feedback. Glad you liked it.
Can we make cream cheese at home if yes then how ?TIA
Yes cream cheese can be prepared at home. I have never tried it making because it’s easily available . it’s a very standard process and you will find the recipe for the same online .
Hi Khushboo..Thanks for the response..but one more doubt!!I don’t have kitchenaid..but I have hand beater.You have mentioned in the recipe to use whipping attachment..is there any other thing to replace that??
You don’t need one 🙂 cake batter is always whipped. Hand held manual or electric whip is fine too.
Thanks a lot!!
Hi ..thanks for wonderful recipe!!Will try soon..one doubt..can I keep it overnight in refrigerator and use it in morning to frost the cake??
Yes Anshita absolutely. Just place at room temperature for 20-30 minutes until its pipeable consistency.
But I don’t have a whipping attachment..it is just beater attachment.
Cream cheese frosting requires beater attachment or any hand held beater and not whip. Whipping is for cake batter and whipped cream frosting.
I was looking for a nice recipe for a long time now. Will give it a try. Thank you
Do try it and send me your feedback Niomi. Thanks for stopping by.
Do try it and send me your feedback Niomi. Have a nice day.
Amrita Joseph Chacko
Hi Khushboo! Thank you so much for such an informative post about cream cheese frosting. Simply love your pics too!!? I’m based in Kuwait and you get Philadelphia cream cheese in the tub form only not the the block. Does this make a difference?
You are welcome Amrita. Cream cheese block is preferred as I assume the tub one will be like a spread which is lighter version. You may try making frosting by increasing quantity of butter so 1:1 ratio and hope it should work .