Basic Cream Cheese Frosting

This cream cheese frosting is anything but basic! Made with only 6 ingredients, it’s a sweet and tangy, luscious finishing touch for cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and more!

Butter cream cheese frosting in a white bowl with 2 sticks of vanilla..

A basic cream cheese frosting is a great choice when you’re looking for something a little different than a traditional buttercream. There is a delicious balance between tangy and sweet which is a nice change from any of the sweeter frostings out there. You’ll probably recognize that familiar mouthwatering tang as the flavour and creamy texture that puts a red velvet cake or carrot cake over the top!

Although it’s not as stable as buttercream, it’s still sturdy enough to hold its own. It’s spreadable enough for sugar cookies and makes piping cream cheese frosting for cakes and cupcakes a breeze. Heck, you can even warm it up and pour it over the top of your pancakes and waffles.

Once you have this cream cheese frosting recipe down, you’ll be able to start customizing and adding additional flavour variations. This simple recipe is basically effortless, yet it becomes a magical part of a spectacular dessert. It really is one of the BEST frostings you’ll ever have!

How to Make It

Beat butter and cream cheese on medium high until creamy. This is all done in one bowl, so you’ll want to use one big enough to hold the entire amount of frosting made.

Mixing the frosting in the mixing bowl.

Lower the speed and add the powdered sugar in portions. Beat well in between each addition.

Add the salt, cream, and vanilla and beat until fluffy.

Cream cheese frosting beaten until fluffy.

Enjoy and let me know what you end up using yours for!

Tips & Variations

  • Use real whole fat cream cheese from the block, not the spreadable stuff in the container.
  • Make sure your butter and cream cheese are brought to room temperature beforehand. It will allow for easier mixing, but also fewer lumps and a smoother finish.
  • Add lemon or orange zest for a pop of bright flavour.
  • Swap 1 Tbsp of cream for juice for a fruity twist.
  • For a chocolate cream cheese frosting, replace 1/4 – 1/2 cup of powdered sugar for the same amount of sifted unsweetened cocoa (remove the lumps!).
  • A splash of coconut, almond, or mint extract are all possible flavour variations.
  • Use unsalted butter if you’re adding the dash of salt to control the amount.
Butter cream cheese frosting in a white bowl.


What do I have to do to the frosting to be able to pipe it?

Not much! Just a couple of things to keep in mind. First, is to make sure you’re using a block of cream cheese, not the spreadable stuff. It will make your frosting too thin. Then, make sure you have a smooth texture, with no lumps. If you’re trying to get a thick frosting out of the piping tip, the lumps will set you back. Prior to piping, have it in the fridge for a bit to set. It’s a sturdy frosting, but it’s definitely not a stable one. It will melt in the heat. So, frost just before serving, or keep it in the fridge.

How to store it?

This frosting will keep covered in the fridge. This poses a problem for those of us with little self-control because it is just that good! Aside from the midnight trips to the fridge with a spoon, it should last for up to 3 days.

Can it be frozen?

Yes be sure to store the frosting in a freezer safe container, it will keep for up to 1 month.

Can I freeze cream cheese frosting?

Yes, it freezes very well. You can transfer it to the freezer for up to 3 months and just thaw in the fridge overnight when you want to use it again. You may need to whip it a bit just to get it back to it’s smooth consistency.

Whenever you need a frosting and you want to try something a little less sweet than a buttercream, then I hope you try this Basic Cream Cheese Frosting. Enjoy!

Cream cheese frosting in a white bowl.

More Frostings and Fillings to try

Butter cream cheese frosting in a white bowl with 2 sticks of vanilla.

Basic Cream Cheese Frosting

Rosemary Molloy
This cream cheese frosting is anything but basic! Made with only 6 ingredients, it's a sweet & tangy, luscious finishing touch for cakes, cupcakes & more!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 2 cups
Calories 1925 kcal


  • ½ cup butter (softened)
  • 5 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 5 cups icing/powdered sugar
  • 1 pinch salt*
  • ¼ cup cream (whole/heavy or whipping)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

*If using unsalted butter then add ¼ teaspoon of salt.


    • In a large bowl beat on medium high until creamy the butter and cream cheese 1-2 minutes, lower the speed and add the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well between each addition, then add the salt, cream and vanilla beat until fluffy approximately 2-3 minutes. Enjoy!


    Different variations can be made with this recipe. Add zest of an orange or lemon, substitute 1 tablespoon of cream with juice. For chocolate remove 1/2 cup of the powdered/icing sugar and replace with 1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa be sure to sift the cocoa to remove any lumps.
    Keep the unused frosting in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days or stored in the freezer in a freezer safe container for up to 1 month.


    Calories: 1925kcalCarbohydrates: 303gProtein: 5gFat: 81gSaturated Fat: 50gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 21gTrans Fat: 2gCholesterol: 241mgSodium: 670mgPotassium: 143mgSugar: 296gVitamin A: 2807IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 106mgIron: 1mg
    Keyword basic cream cheese frosting, cream cheese frosting, cream cheese frosting for a cake
    Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


    1. Hello !
      I notice in the directions for Basic Cream Cheese Frosting it says if you wish to make chocolate remove 1/2 cup of flour. Should that read remove 1/2 cup icing/powdered sugar?
      Thanks for clarifying,

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