Cream Cheese Frosting

Learn how to make cream cheese frosting with just 4 ingredients! Sweet, creamy, rich, and tangy, it's delicious on cakes, cupcakes, and more.

Cream cheese frosting

Who doesn’t love cream cheese frosting?! This sweet, tangy topping is the perfect complement to just about any cake or cupcake, not to mention cookies, bars, and quick breads. I have it on repeat around here in the spring, when we have carrot cake cupcakes for Easter, an actual carrot cake for Jack’s birthday, and then carrot cake cookies, well, just because I like them. 🙂

My cream cheese frosting recipe calls for 4 basic ingredients, and it comes together in less than 10 minutes. The next time you want to make a homemade baked good taste extra-decadent and special, all you have to do is whip it up!

Bowl of powdered sugar next to block of cream cheese, butter, bottle of vanilla extract, measuring spoons, and spatula

Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe Ingredients

You only need 4 ingredients to make this cream cheese frosting recipe:

  • Cream cheese, of course! Skip the whipped or low-fat stuff and seek out block-style, full-fat cream cheese. It gives this frosting the best rich texture and tangy flavor. Let it soften slightly before making the frosting.
  • Unsalted butter – For buttery flavor. Allow the butter to soften to room temperature before mixing up the frosting. If it’s too firm, the frosting will be lumpy.
  • Powdered sugar – Aka confectioner’s sugar. It thickens and sweetens the frosting. Use store-bought, or make your own!
  • And vanilla extract – For warm depth of flavor.

Optional: season to taste with a dash of salt!

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

Frosting in mixing bowl with powdered sugar on the sides

How to Make Cream Cheese Frosting

My method for how to make cream cheese frosting couldn’t be simpler! Here’s how it goes:

First, combine the cream cheese and butter. Place them in a large bowl and use an electric mixer to beat until smooth. I like to use an electric hand mixer to make this recipe, because as written, it’s a bit small for my stand mixer. If you prefer to use a stand mixer, you may need to 1.5x or double the recipe.

If you don’t have a mixer, you can make this recipe by hand with a whisk. It’ll just take a good amount of elbow grease!

Closeup shot of cream cheese frosting swirl

Then, add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Mix until the frosting is smooth and creamy (check out that texture above!!). Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. Tip: if your powdered sugar is lumpy, sift it before adding it to the cream cheese mixture.

If you’d like the frosting to be stiffer, add more powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it reaches your desired consistency. Taste and adjust, adding a pinch of salt if needed. That’s it!

Bowl of cream cheese frosting with spatula

How to Use Cream Cheese Frosting

This cream cheese frosting recipe yields enough frosting for a 8- or 9-inch square or round cake, a loaf cake, or a batch of 12 cupcakes. I love to use it on these desserts:

Double the recipe for a 9×13-inch sheet cake, or triple it for a layer cake.

Leftover frosting will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container in the fridge.

Cream cheese frosting recipe

More Frostings, Glazes, and Whips

If you love this homemade cream cheese frosting recipe, try one of these sweet toppings next:

Craving more treats? Check out these 25 Super Fun Baking Recipes!

Cream Cheese Frosting

rate this recipe:
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Serves 8
Our favorite cream cheese frosting recipe! It's SO easy to make, and it's the perfect sweet and tangy topping for cakes, cupcakes, cookies, bars, and more.


  • 4 ounces cream cheese, full-fat, block-style, softened slightly
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, more for a stiffer frosting, sifted if lumpy
  • teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Sea salt, to taste


  • In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer until smooth.
  • Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and mix until smooth, stopping and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. For a stiffer frosting, beat in additional powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it reaches your desired consistency. Taste and adjust, adding a pinch of salt if needed.
  • Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.


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Rate this recipe (after making it)

  1. Lana

    5 stars
    Oh my goodness, this Cream Cheese Frosting recipe is a game-changer! It’s incredibly easy to make, and the result is so rich, creamy, and tangy that it instantly elevates any dessert it graces. The perfect blend of sweetness and creaminess makes it hard to resist licking the spoon (or bowl) clean. The simplicity of using just 4 ingredients and whipping it up in mere minutes makes it a go-to recipe for any occasion.

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Hi Lana, I’m so glad you loved it!

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Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.