Perfect Cream Cheese Frosting

Perfect Cream Cheese Frosting

This is the perfect recipe for cream cheese frosting.  It’s pipeable, spreadable and will set just nicely for you without running all over the place, but there are a few things to remember.

Full fat Philadelphia Cream Cheese is reliable.  Other cheeses are available and may be cheaper however they don’t perform quite the same when you work with them.

This recipe was originally posted with Red Velvet Cupcakes but as I use it a lot for all sorts of things I thought it deserved it’s own post!


70g butter, softened

200g cream cheese

400g icing sugar sifted

The cream cheese needs to be cold, chilled in the fridge and kept there until you need it.
Drain off the liquid from the pack and discard it.

Beat the butter so it is super soft and ready to go, if it isn’t soft enough let it warm up a bit .  If you use it still too cold you’ll never get it to combine in the next stage, leaving you with flecks of infuriating butter!

Add the cream cheese and beat them together until combined.  Don’t over beat it (that’s important) – cream cheese loosens and becomes more liquidy the more you beat it so less is best.

Sift in half the icing sugar and beat together, add the remaining half and mix again.

Perfect Cream Cheese Frosting
Now you should have perfectly pipeable, spreadable and non-runnyable delicious cream cheese frosting.

If you have overbeaten it (weren’t you listening?) and it’s too sloppy bob it in the fridge for half an hour to start to firm up again before using – don’t be tempted to add more icing sugar!

Use it for piping swirls on cupcakes, spread on carrot cakes the world is your oyster.

Ruth Clemens, Baker Extraordinaire

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56 Responses to Perfect Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. Pingback: Carrot Cake | Baking, Recipes and Tutorials - The Pink Whisk

  2. Jules says:

    I love cheesecake icing, though have had mixed results with piping (probably because I was being a cheapskate and using Morrisons value stuff!) will try with Philadelphia next time.

  3. Sarah Plant says:

    I have never had much luck using cream cheese, especially in cheesecakes. I have made a mental note of your tips – thank you! 🙂

  4. Shirley Dunne says:

    I love those little carrots on the carrot cake. Will have to try those. Have got a similar carrot cake recipe to yours but with raisins and chopped walnuts in it. Think carrot cake is great cos you can fool yourself it’s healthy as it’s one of your “five a day”.

  5. Great tutorial, I do always shy away from cream cheese frosting because, as you say, it can be a bit of a disaster area!

  6. Lydia says:


    I love cream cheese but don’t like it too sweet. Tried the hummingbird cookbook recipe the other day (300g icing sugar, 125g cream cheese and 50g butter!) reducing the sugar and doubling the cheese and it was still disgustingly sweet.

    My favourite cream cheese topping (I won’t say icing as I doubt you could pipe it) was pretty much equal quantities of cream cheese and lemon curd. Yummy AND zingy!

    • Jo says:

      Agree I don’t like it when its too sweet either. Try putting in zest of a lemon, some chopped stem ginger and some of the ginger syrup. Its fantastic on ginger cake or carrot cake

  7. Pingback: Red Velvet Swiss Roll | Baking, Recipes and Tutorials - The Pink Whisk

  8. Katy says:

    Great tips, thanks. I think cream cheese frosting is much nicer then plain ole’ buttercream. I haven’t had any success mixing the cream cheese with my mixer so revert to elbow-grease and a spoon at that stage.

    Best wishes

  9. Gina says:

    Hi Ruth,

    Quick question – does it freeze ok?

    I was going to make the carrot cake later and make a full batch of icing and save half for another/lazier day.

    I made a load of the sugarpaste carrots last time and froze some for next time so hoping they come out ok!


    Gina x

    • Hi Gina – the frosting does freeze okay but it tends to need beating well once defrosted. I’d freeze it in a small tub next to the cake, beat and then ice it when defrosted x

      • Gina says:

        Thanks Ruth! I’d always make the cake fresh but its such a large batch of icing that it’s good to know some can be kept back

  10. Thank you so much for this frosting – you have saved my bacon – its going on top of a grapefruit teacake.

  11. Maree says:

    Is there a way to keep the cream cheese frosting firm while out of the fridge for a few hours? the icing tastes great and hopefully I didn’t overbeat (I was listening:-)) x

  12. Wande says:

    I’m so glad I found this website… I’ve tried and failed on many occasions with cream cheese frosting but it worked a treat this time on my strawberry cheese cake cupcake and it held it’s shape out of the fridge for hours!!!

  13. Pingback: Red Velvet Swiss Roll | hendraawijaya

  14. Leecee says:

    The saying – you get what you pay for is a valuable lesson!!!
    DO NOT use cheap brands of cream cheese… It will not work.

  15. Apple says:

    Perfect recipe, it pipes beautifully, really soft and swirly, and it then sets to a perfect not-too-crusty consistency. Only “But”, for me, is that it tastes a bit of Philadelphia (obviously). But my son loved it and, once it’s on the cupcake, you can barely taste it any longer.

  16. Pingback: [Friday LoveList] Kitties and bullshit « Bloody Marie

  17. margaret says:

    what is the best cheese to buy, does any soft cheese do the trick

  18. Pingback: Red Velvet Valentines Ombre Cake « bakearama

  19. Anna W says:

    Hi! I’ve been looking for a good recipe for cream cheese frostings. And where others have failed me, yours did not!
    It’s a bit too sweet, I think, but the fact that it’s first cream cheese frosting I’ve whipped up that holds and actually tastes like cream cheese frosting makes it a winner!
    Great recipe, thank you so much for sharing it with us! 😀

  20. jemma says:

    can you tell me how long the frosting will keep for.

    • Upto 5 days in the fridge in an airtight container, but if you want to keep it longer then freeze it, once defrosting it will need beating again so that the consistency is smooth x

  21. Pingback: Carrot and Apple Muffins with Cream Cheese Frosting | Who Ate My Crayons

  22. Emma says:

    Yum yum! Just made this frosting to top some carrot cake cup cakes, and it is lovely! Really nice consistency for piping!

  23. Hena says:

    I made this frosting to go on my red velvet cupcakes, it whipped up beautifully and wasn’t runny at all (which was usually the case with my previous attempts – seems my mistake was overbeating) I don’t like it too sweet so only used 350g but it was still a little sweet. Great recipe though, thank you!

  24. Laura says:

    I’m looking for a pipeable cream cheese frosting as I will decorate my cake with ombre petal technique. Befor trying your recipe, pls tell me how shoul I avoid overbeating it if I have to add all that sugar. Maybe I should try mixing butter and sugar first and then adding the cheese. I have already tried 3 recipes and spent a fortuen before even bakiong this cake :)Thank you.

    • Just keep your eye on it – that’s all you can do. If the sugar and butter are beaten together first then the cream cheese never quite mixes in properly so it’s important to do it butter and cream cheese first x

  25. Emily says:

    If I’m using this on a chocolate cake, I sometimes also like to mix in a a bit of cocoa and a tablespoon of instant coffee granules dissolved in equal part hot water, for a lovely mocha tang throughout.

    Once I accidentally used raspberry cream cheese when icing a chocolate cake, too…but I think it’s got to be the best mistake I ever made.

  26. Melita Wheeler says:

    Would you advise if lime zest and some juice in this frosting would work – I thought of this in the early hours this morning and it sounded nice and zesty!?

  27. Katie says:

    I never leave reviews but I just HAD to thank you for this recipe. I have been searching for the perfect creamcheese frosting for so long and yesterday after my 3rd recipe going in the bin I was so pleased to come accross this and it turned out perfectly! I managed to pipe it and it looked fantastic. Its all in the method and you explained it so very well. Thank you.

  28. Pingback: [Friday LoveList] Kitties and bullshit › Blog › Marie Guillaumet

  29. Fernando says:

    What is the temperature of the butter and thr cream cheese?should be both room temp?

  30. Katie says:

    Love this recipe! But those of you who don’t like it too sweet (like my daughter) I have found the best cream cheese frosting to be 300g good quality cream cheese, cold from the fridge and beat, add lemon or orange juice if required and beat in, then add 3-4 tablespoons of icing sugar and mix in. I usually double the quantity for a whole cake though. It certainly takes the sweet edge off it and is very yummy! 🙂

  31. Henna says:

    Hi, I wanted to make a ruffle cake for my friend who loves red velevet. Would this cream cheese frosting recipe work for ruffle piping? Thank you!

  32. Kathy says:

    Can this be used under fondant Ruth? I need to make a carrot cake birthday cake which will be iced and decorated. I will also take this opportunity to say that I use your book (busy Girl) religiously and the chocolate cake in there is better than any I’ve made or bought! Thank you.

    • Thanks Kathy, you can use it under fondant but it doesn’t set as firm as buttercream when you chill it after putting it on the cake, I would add 200g melted white chocolate to the frosting which will help with it’s firmness when chilled x

  33. Lilly says:

    I can not thank you enough for sharing this recipe… Its the only cream cheese frosting that has come out pipeable! Wow! 🙂

  34. Michelle Douglas says:

    Ruth thank you, I’m thrilled with this frosting recipe as it’s worked a treat. I’ve had so many disasters over the years but this worked perfectly. I was worried about the sweetness but I don’t think that’s a problem, thank you again you clever girl you x

  35. Ida says:

    I have have come back here on many occasions to use this recipe. Perfect every time. Thankyou!

  36. Ida says:

    I have have come back here on many occasions to use this recipe. Perfect every time. Thankyou!

  37. Shokora says:

    Whats the purpose of icing sugar in making cream cheese frosting. Will it have an effect if i reduce it by half or even more than half? As i dont like it to be too sweet too. This is the first time i am making it. Thanks

  38. Su says:

    Hi..thank you for your tips..i am from Malaysia where i used to used other brand of cream while i’m in Cardiff for some time i was looking around a cream cheese to buy..but i only found phil brand..anyway i will try to use your tips..

  39. kath says:

    I have tried just about every cream cheese frosting recipe I can lay my hands on & follow them to the letter. The tip I’m told is not to overbeat, well last night I tried again & gently mixed the cream cheese & butter but as soon as I started to add the icing sugar it went sloppy. I hoped to rescue it by leaving in the fridge overnight, still sloppy this morning so put a small amount on the cake & put the cake back in the fridge for a couple of hours -complete disaster! I had to go & buy a tub of ready made. Don’t know where I’m going wrong, so frustrating! -Love your website though!!

    • Try getting your butter and cream cheese to room temp and then working them together. It is the overbeating that makes the cream cheese looser. If they’re both the same temp they should work together nicely x

  40. Gill mortimer says:

    Hi would I be able to make this a strawberry flavour by adding a bit of jam or something?

  41. Louise says:

    Hi, great recipe! 🙂 What are your thoughts on using it inside a fondant covered wedding cake? Obviously this cannot be refrigerated and will already be assembled 24 hours before it’s cut! There are so many answers to this out there… some say the sugar preserves it, others say it’s only safe within 4 hours!! Would love your help…. thank you in advance x

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