Cream Cheese Frosting

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Cream Cheese Frosting made with just 5 ingredients is rich and creamy, PERFECT for cakes or cupcakes, and ready in under 10 minutes!

We love putting together sweet desserts, and nothing tops them better than this Easy Whipped Cream, Chocolate Frosting, or Chocolate Ganache.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream Cheese Frosting is my go-to frosting recipe whenever I’m making a cake or cupcakes for a special event, like a birthday. In my opinion, it’s more mild and lighter than buttercream, and incredibly EASY to throw together, so you can make as much or as little as you need.

This cream cheese frosting recipe uses sour cream, which adds a really creamy texture, while the tangy flavor compliments the sweetness of the frosting. This frosting is perfect for piping onto cupcakes, or spreading onto a cake before adding fondant.


If your cream cheese frosting turns out runny, it may be over-mixed. Try folding in more powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time, until the frosting thickens up. You can also add a tablespoon of corn starch to the frosting to stiffen it.

Another reason may be that the cream cheese frosting is too warm. Return the frosting to the refrigerator, because the cream cheese and butter will harden as they cool.


It is absolutely essential to beat the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and sour cream together before adding the sugar, and to make sure they’re at room temperature before you start. If the it’s too cold, or the sugar is added too early, the frosting will be lumpy.

You can also start by just creaming the butter by itself, then adding the cream cheese, then the sour cream and vanilla, to ensure everything is as smooth as possible. You need to have a really good mixture to smooth out the cream cheese to keep the powdered sugar from forming lumps.

If your frosting is lumpy, you can try pushing it through a strainer to remove the lumps. Or microwaving and stirring it at 30 second increments to melt them, then refrigerating to help the frosting harden again, and beating it one more time. This is not ideal and the texture will be off, but it is a last resort.


This is a dairy-based frosting, so it must be stored in the refrigerator. Take it out of the refrigerator about an hour before you’re ready to use it, to soften the frosting enough to work with again. Cream cheese frosting will last 3-4 days.


I usually don’t recommend freezing dairy products, but cream cheese frosting contains enough sugar (like ice cream) that you can actually make this up to a month ahead of time and freeze it. When you’re ready to bake, defrost in the refrigerator the day before.

You can also completely decorate your cake and freeze it until you’re ready. Just freeze the whole cake for about an hour to harden the frosting, then take it out and wrap it tightly with plastic wrap and tinfoil to keep it from getting freezer burn. Remove the plastic wrap when you’re ready to defrost.

Red Velvet Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Some people argue that cream cheese frosting contains enough sugar to last a few hours at room temperature, but I wouldn’t risk it when it comes to food safety. Stick to the 2 hour rule when it comes to dairy based frosting.



  • I’ve made this recipe using full fat cream cheese and with lower fat Neufchatel cheese, which is a lot like cream cheese. You can use either depending on your preference. I wouldn’t use completely fat free, because the texture would not turn out right and it won’t be as spreadable without the fat.
  • This classic cream cheese frosting is perfect for carrot cake, banana cake, red velvet cake, and more.
  • I always make frosting with unsalted butter because you can’t always control the amount of salt in the stick, which can taste off in a frosting.
  • This frosting recipe uses vanilla extract, but you can change that depending on what type of cake you’re making. Try peppermint extract for the holidays, or lemon extract for lemon cookies.
  • If your frosting turns out too sweet, try adding a pinch of salt to balance the sweetness, or a teaspoon of lemon juice.
  • Over-mixing the frosting can cause it to have a sticky texture or too much stiffness.

Tangy Cream Cheese Buttercream

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Cream Cheese Frosting

4.56 from 9 votes
  • Yield: 24 servings
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Course: Dessert
  • Cuisine: American
  • Author: Sabrina Snyder

Cream Cheese Frosting made with just 5 ingredients is rich and creamy, PERFECT for cakes or cupcakes, and ready in under 10 minutes!


  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups powdered sugar


Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.

  1. Add the cream cheese, butter, sour cream and vanilla to a stand mixer and beat until light and fluffy.

  2. Add in the powdered sugar one cup at a time until smooth and incorporated.

Nutrition Information

Yield: 24 servings, Amount per serving: 130 calories, Calories: 130g, Carbohydrates: 20g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 15mg, Sodium: 31mg, Potassium: 13mg, Sugar: 19g, Vitamin A: 190g, Calcium: 11g, Iron: 0.1g

All images and text © for Dinner, then Dessert.

Keyword: cream cheese frosting

Easy Cream Cheese Frosting

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  1. Not sure what the sour cream adds to it but I used it and I could not detect it in the frosting. I also took it one step further and added about 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. You can adjust that to suit your taste or add more if you want a nice full lemon flavored frosting.
    It was awesome!

  2. My family loved this cake. We love all things lemon!! This cake is so moist and lemony. This recipe is a keeper! Thanks so much for the recipe!!

  3. Beat the butter within an inch of its life, add cream cheese in pieces , beat that to death then add the sour cream and vanilla, continue the beating but taste the mix after sifting each cup of powdered sugar. I only ended up needing two cups of that instead of the suggested four. Yum! This recipe is a keeper.

  4. To much sour cream flavor, I even put 1/2 the recommended amount and you could still taste it through and through.

  5. How much does this recipe make? I am making your strawberry cake pops, but doubling it, and wondering if I also need to double the cream cheese frosting recipe in order to have 3 cups for the cake pops?

    1. Must this recipe be refrigerated? I’m looking for scream cheese frosting that will holdup at room temp (air conditioned) and not get “droopy”.

      1. Yes, you should always refrigerate any cake or cupcake that has cream cheese frosting. I’d suggest taking it out of the refrigerator an hour or two before you’d like to serve it so the frosting has time to come to room temperature and the cake layers lose their chill.

      1. Hi Sabrina,
        I got this recipe and it is similar to yours:
        680g cream cheese
        170g butter
        150g 10x sugar
        226g sour cream
        this looks like it is 3 batches, is this correct?