Classic Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

While buttercream frosting may be better suited for some cakes, cream cheese frosting is the only way to go for many others, like carrot cake. The two frosting types are quite similar, and both have butter as a base, but cream cheese frosting has an extra level of creamy, tangy goodness, thanks to the addition of cream cheese. Perfectly sweet, smooth, and decadent, there's really no stopping the number of sweet treats that you can slather this good stuff on.

Recipe developer Jaime Shelbert of Wholly Nourished has crafted a perfectly balanced, classic cream cheese frosting recipe, one that she says, "pairs so well with many baked goods." She also describes this recipe as "quick, easy, and foolproof," and if you want frosting that "turns out perfectly every time," then you can't go wrong here. Carrot cake, red velvet cake, even cinnamon rolls will benefit from this frosting, and if you're used to using premade, store-bought frosting, you'll be delighted by how delicious and easy it is to make an infinitely better version right in your own kitchen.

Gather the ingredients for classic cream cheese frosting

To make cream cheese frosting, you'll only need a handful of classic ingredients, including a softened block of cream cheese, softened butter, vanilla extract, a pinch of salt, and powdered sugar.

Start by mixing all but the powdered sugar

Shelbert uses a stand mixer to make her frosting, but she notes that, "If you do not have a stand mixer, a hand mixer works just as well and yields the same result." So, into the bowl of a stand mixer or a separate, large bowl, add the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and salt. Mix these ingredients together on medium-high for about a minute, just until they're creamy and incorporated. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl, ensuring that all the good stuff stays in the center of the bowl.

Gradually add the sugar

Now, it's time to sweeten things up. Start by adding half of the powdered sugar, so 1 ½ cups, and mix it in on a medium-high speed until it's fully incorporated. Add the remaining sugar and keep on mixing, for about a minute more, until you have a smooth, creamy, and sweet frosting. 

Dress up cakes or cinnamon rolls with this cream cheese frosting

As soon as you're done mixing in the sugar, you can immediately use this frosting, as desired. Shelbert used some to garnish cinnamon rolls, but notes that "this frosting is truly versatile." She suggests adding it to sweet breads, like pumpkin or banana bread, or on the classic carrot cake. "Additionally, it can be used to frost cookies or as a filling for sandwich cookies, such as cinnamon raisin cookies," she says. 

If you thought cream cheese frosting was only good on cake, boy did you think wrong! Fortunately, with this easy recipe, you can experiment with all of the different desserts that you can frost. 

Classic Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe
5 from 31 ratings
Cream cheese frosting isn't only good on carrot cake. With this easy recipe, you can experiment, slathering it on cookies, cinnamon rolls, or banana bread.
Prep Time
Cook Time
frosting on stand mixer whisk
Total time: 10 minutes
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  1. Place the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and a pinch of salt in the bowl of a mixer. Mix on medium-high for about 1 minute, until creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  2. Add half of the powdered sugar and mix on medium-high for about a minute, until incorporated.
  3. Add the remaining sugar and mix on medium-high until smooth and creamy, about a minute more.
  4. Serve the frosting on cinnamon rolls, cakes, or cookies.
Calories per Serving 250
Total Fat 14.1 g
Saturated Fat 8.5 g
Trans Fat 0.3 g
Cholesterol 41.1 mg
Total Carbohydrates 30.8 g
Dietary Fiber 0.0 g
Total Sugars 30.0 g
Sodium 82.9 mg
Protein 1.2 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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