Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

By: Cassy Joy Garcia

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This simple, no-fail cream cheese frosting recipe will become your go-to anytime you need it. With regular, strawberry, chocolate chip, and peanut butter variations, this recipe will set you up for success!

4 bowls of frosting (cream cheese, strawberry cream cheese, peanut butter cream cheese, and chocolate chip cream cheese) on a marble surface

Why is our Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe so good?

We're standing by this cream cheese frosting as the best EVER for a few reasons. First, the recipe ingredients are really simple. It's made with just 4 ingredients (really, no fuss) and is designed so that it comes together quickly. Cassy even included a few fun variations (chocolate chip, strawberry, and peanut butter in addition to classic) so that no matter the cake or cupcake you’re frosting, you can make your flavor combination dreams come true.

What can you use this fabulous Homemade Cream Cheese Frosting on?

This cream cheese frosting is DELICIOUS on any cake (especially our spice cake!) or cupcakes that you’d typically frost. The recipe should be enough for one full-size cake in a 9×13 pan, a two-layer round cake, or 12+ cupcakes.

A few flavor combination ideas:

  • Spice Cake (my absolute favorite cake on earth) with Classic Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Chocolate Cake (or cupcakes) with Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Vanilla Cake (or cupcakes) with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Red Velvet Cake (or cupcakes) with Classic Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Carrot Cake with Classic Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Carrot Cookie Cake with Classic Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Peanut Butter Cake with Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Strawberry Cake with Strawberry or Classic Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Apple Cake with Classic Cream Cheese Frosting

There are so many options!!

Ingredients for the Best Cream Cheese Frosting

This 4-ingredient cream cheese frosting is so delicious and so reliable. Here’s what you’ll need:

all of the ingredients for classic cream cheese frosting in different sized bowls on a marble surface
  • Cream Cheese – to start, you’ll need 8 ounces of softened cream cheese.
  • Butter – in addition to the cream cheese, you’ll also want to grab 8 tablespoons of softened butter.
  • Vanilla Extract – 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract adds a really delicious, subtle vanilla flavor to the frosting.
  • Powdered Sugar – 4 cups of powdered sugar counter the tangy cream cheese and sweeten the frosting perfectly!

Here's What You Need to Make this Recipe

In addition to the ingredients above, you'll also need some supplies to make this recipe:

Add-Ins and Variations on this recipe for Cream Cheese Frosting

This recipe is DIVINE as written (seriously, my favorite frosting ever), but if you’re looking to change things up, Cassy came up with some really fun variations. 

Dairy-Free Cream Cheese Frosting

To start, if you’re looking to make a dairy-free frosting, simply swap the regular cream cheese for dairy-free cream cheese (Kite Hill brand is a great choice) and the butter for ghee or palm shortening (though this can be a tricky ingredient to work with, so if you aren’t familiar with it, it may be best to opt for the ghee). 

Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

Okay, now for the especially fun variations. For strawberry cream cheese frosting, you’ll add 3 tablespoons of freeze-dried strawberry powder in with the powdered sugar. It turns the frosting into this lovely pastel pink and adds the most delicious strawberry flavor in a natural way. If you like strawberry desserts, I have a feeling you will adore this variation.

a bowl of strawberry cream cheese frosting in a bowl

Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Frosting

For a chocolate cream cheese frosting, shave a bar of dark chocolate with a cheese grater until you’ve got about a ¼ cup of shaved chocolate (or more, if you’d like!) and fold that into the already-beaten frosting. This is a favorite in our house! I've even been known to smear this over a chocolate chip vanilla cake for a really fun dessert.

a bowl of chocolate chip cream cheese frosting in a bowl

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

Though I love the varieties a lot, this Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting is the one I make the most often. It's just so easy and we always have peanut butter on hand. To make a peanut butter cream cheese frosting, add 2-4 tablespoons of peanut butter (depending on how peanut butter-y of a frosting you’re going for) to the bowl with the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla.

a bowl of peanut butter cream cheese frosting in a bowl

How To Make Cream Cheese Frosting

The process is really easy! All you’ll need to do is add the softened cream cheese, softened butter, and vanilla to a large bowl and beat on high using an electric hand mixer until a creamy consistency is achieved. Then, add the powdered sugar to the cream cheese mixture one cup at a time, and beat to combine.

cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in a large metal bowl before mixing together
a person adding powdered sugar into a metal bowl of cream cheese frosting
a person beating together the ingredients for cream cheese frosting
a large metal bowl of cream cheese frosting

What's the difference between frosting and icing?

This is such a great question! Icing is typically really thin (think: something you'd drizzle over coffee cake, for example) while frosting is thick and spoonable. This particular recipe is for a thick, YUMMY cream cheese *frosting* as opposed to a thinner icing.

Why is my cream cheese frosting yellow?

Cream cheese frosting should be white (or off-white) but not necessarily yellow. Know that the vanilla extract will add some color to the frosting, but if you suspect the color has altered days after making it, it could just be past its usable time. 

How do you stiffen or thicken Cream Cheese Frosting?

Because this cream cheese frosting has very little liquid added in, you shouldn’t run into this issue. If you do, though, feel free to add more cream cheese until your desired consistency is achieved (adding more powdered sugar will overly sweeten the frosting).

a large metal bowl of cream cheese frosting

Does cream cheese frosting need to be refrigerated?

It does! This recipe is best stored covered in the refrigerator and used within 5 days.

Can you freeze cream cheese frosting?

Absolutely and props to you if you're this prepared in the baking department. Freeze your frosting in an airtight container for up to three months. When you’re ready to use, simply let the cream cheese frosting thaw in the fridge overnight. If it’s separated at all after thawing, beat it again until fully incorporated.

Print

Cream Cheese Frosting

With regular, strawberry, chocolate chip, and peanut butter variations, this cream cheese is too delicious to pass up!

  • Author: Cassy Joy Garcia
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

Scale
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups powdered sugar

Optional add-ins

  • 3 tablespoons freeze-dried strawberry powder (for Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting)
  • 1/4 cup of shaved chocolate (for Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Frosting)
  • 24 tablespoons of peanut butter (for Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting)

Instructions

  1. Add the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla to a large bowl and beat on high using an electric hand mixer until a creamy consistency is achieved.
  2. Add the powdered sugar to the cream cheese mixture one cup at a time, then beat to combine.

Notes

  • If you're making Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting, add the freeze-dried strawberry powder in with the powdered sugar.
  • If you're making Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting, add the peanut butter in with the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla.
  • If you're making Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Frosting, fold the shaved chocolate in at the very end.

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