Cream cheese frosting is the perfect addition to finish cakes, cupcakes and loaves. It is less sweet than a traditional buttercream and has a subtle, sophisticated tang. This simple cream cheese frosting requires only four ingredients and is so easy to whip up.
Tips for making simple cream cheese frosting
- You want your cream cheese to be soft! If the cream cheese is too cold it will not combine smoothly with the other ingredients and your frosting will be lumpy. Let the cream cheese come to room temperature on the counter for a few hours before you make the frosting. If you forget this step or are crunched for time you can remove the cream cheese from the foil and microwave for 20-30 seconds.
- You want your butter to be soft! This is for the same reason as the cream cheese. You do not want a lumpy frosting. Again, let the butter come to room temperature for a few hours before using. I do not recommend softening the butter in the microwave as it is more likely to melt. You do not want to use melted butter to make the frosting.
- Use full fat block cream cheese, not low fat or tub/spreadable. Low fat and tub cream cheese contain more water than full fat block cream cheese. Using either of these products will result in a looser frosting. This can be corrected by adding more powdered sugar, however this will impact the tanginess of the frosting.
Making the frosting
This frosting can be made using with a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer. I prefer to use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Start by beating the cream cheese until it is smooth (about 30 seconds). Next add the softened butter to the cream cheese and continue to beat until smooth and creamy.
Next add the vanilla and mix until combined. Turn the mixer to the lowest speed and slowly add in the powdered sugar. If you add the powdered sugar too fast you will end up with a big white cloud of sugar on your counter and floors. Stop the mixer once the powdered sugar has combined with the wet ingredients. If you over mix the frosting you will end up with air pockets which will make piping the frosting more difficult.
Your frosting is now ready to top your baking creations!
Want more tang?
If you are looking to intensify the tanginess of the frosting simply add some lemon zest! I recommend adding anywhere from 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of zest depending on your personal preference. My Small Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting includes 1 teaspoon of zest in the frosting.
Filling the piping bag
Filling a piping bag can be messy! I like to use a large drinking glass to help with this problem. Place the tip of the bag into the bottom of the glass. Next fold the opening of the piping bag down over the outside of the glass. This will hold the bag steady and give you a nice opening to fill the bag with frosting.
Once the piping bag is full secure the end with a bag tie or clip. This step will prevent the frosting from shooting out the wrong end of the bag once pressure is applied to start piping.
What can I use cream cheese frosting on?
You have likely seen cream cheese frosting on carrot cake and red velvet cupcakes. Cream cheese frosting however, is much more versatile than these two applications. It is the perfect accompaniment to spiced cakes, think pumpkin spice cupcakes, or gingerbread loaf! It can also be used on traditionally sweet cupcakes in place of buttercream to reduce the level of sweetness.
Simple Cream Cheese Frosting
This simple cream cheese frosting is easy to make and requires only four ingredients. It is the perfect topping for your cake, cupcakes or loaf.
- Beat softened cream cheese in a stand mixer or with an electric hand mixer until smooth (approx. 30 seconds)
- Add softened butter and beat until smooth and well combined
- Stir in vanilla extract until combine
- Turn the mixer to the lowest speed and slowly add the powdered sugar until combined
- Frost your delicious baked goods and enjoy!
This recipe make enough for 12-18 cupcakes or a 9" round cake