With just a few ingredients and a method that takes just about a minute, you can mix up this fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting to use on your favorite cakes and cupcakes. (It has a little less added sugars, too!)

cream cheese frosting in bowl with mixer

Cream Cheese Frosting

I love a good cream cheese frosting for topping cakes and cupcakes because of the flavor, texture, and creaminess. It pairs so well with Pumpkin Cupcakes, Sweet Potato Cake, Apple Cake, and Carrot Cake Cupcakes—and is so crazy-easy to make.

The only thing you need to be aware of is that this works best (and is easiest to blend) if the cream cheese and butter are allowed to soften at room temperature for about an hour before you start. This makes it easy for the frosting to mix up with a handheld mixer with minimal lumps.

You can even make this frosting ahead and spread or pipe it on your cake or cupcakes right before serving. Versatile and easy? Sign me up!

ingredients in cream cheese frosting

Ingredients You Need

To make this frosting recipe, you need:

  • Cream cheese: I prefer to use classic full-fat cream cheese in the Philly-style block.
  • Unsalted butter: This helps to make a thick frosting that holds up when piped.
  • Vanilla extract
  • Honey: This adds subtle sweetness.
  • Powdered sugar: This is an optional addition to add more sweetness and stiffness, which may be helpful if you plan to pipe on the frosting.

Ingredient Substitutions

You can use maple syrup for the honey. (Avoid honey for kids under age 12 months.)

You can omit the honey and use all powdered sugar, starting with ¼ cup and adding as much as you like when you taste it for sweetness.

You could leave out the butter if you prefer, though I like the flavor better with the mixture of the cream cheese and the butter.

how to make cream cheese frosting step by step

Step-by-Step Instructions

Here’s a look at how to make this frosting so you know what to expect. Scroll down to the bottom of this post for the full recipe.

  1. Soften the butter and cream cheese at room temperature. Add to a bowl with the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Start mixing on low with a handheld mixer.
  3. Mix until light and fluffy.
  4. Spread or pipe onto cake or cupcakes.

TIP: You can transfer the frosting to a plastic storage bag. Seal, cut off one bottom corner, and pipe onto your cake or cupcake.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is cream cheese frosting made of?

Cream cheese frosting is made from cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and a sweetener such as honey or powdered sugar.

Can cream cheese frosting be left out?

You can leave cream cheese frosting out at room temperature for 1-2 hours (less if it’s warmer than room temperature), but then it needs to be stored in the fridge for food safety reasons.

What is the difference between cream cheese frosting and cream cheese icing?

Usually, cream cheese frosting is thick and pipable and cream cheese icing is thinner and more easily drizzled on desserts.

Can I make this into chocolate cream cheese frosting?

Yes, you can add cocoa powder to make a chocolate version of this. See the full information on Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting.

cream cheese frosting on carrot cake cupcakes

How to Store

Store in a sealed plastic storage bag with as much air removed as possible for up to 24 hours before using. If there are leftovers of the cake or cupcakes topped with the frosting, refrigerate them in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Best Tips for Success

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cream cheese frosting with mixer

Favorite Cream Cheese Frosting

Learn how to make the easiest, most delicious cream cheese frosting for cupcakes and cakes. It's an easy method that yields a fluffy texture with lower added sugars. (Plan to let the cream cheese and butter soften at room temperature for at least an hour before mixing.)
4.97 from 33 votes
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Cuisine American
Course Dessert
Calories 181kcal
Servings 8 -12


  • 8 ounces cream cheese (softened at room temperature)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter (softened at room temperature)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar (optional)
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  • Add the ingredients to a large bowl.
  • Starting on low speed, beat with a handheld electric mixer until light, fluffy, and lump-free. Add the powdered sugar for additional sweetness and stiffness, if desired.
  • Spread onto a cake or cupcakes, or transfer to a plastic storage bag to use as a piping bag. (Seal the bag, trim one bottom corner, and press the frosting out like a piping bag.)



Store in a sealed plastic storage bag with as much air removed as possible for up to 24 hours before using.
Add the powdered sugar for more sweetness and a slightly stiffer final texture.
Spread or pipe onto cakes or cupcakes. 


Calories: 181kcal, Carbohydrates: 10g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 15g, Saturated Fat: 9g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 46mg, Sodium: 92mg, Potassium: 47mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 10g, Vitamin A: 558IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 30mg, Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Rate in the comments and tag @yummytoddlerfood on IG!

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  1. I want to make the frosting for a birthday cake. The party is at a park. How long will the frosting hold up for at room temperature once the cake has been frosted?

    1. It is fine for hours as long as it’s not out in the heat. It is made of dairy, so if you can put it in a cooler to stay cooler, that would be best.

  2. Can the frosting last at warm weather room temperature to hold a gingerbread house? If not, how can I make the frosting hold the gingerbread house?

    1. This isn’t a good option for a gingerbread house since it doesn’t firm up quickly. You’ll want to make royal icing instead.

  3. I made this frosting last night (Thursday) for today’s batch of cupcakes. I have leftover frosting for my next party… Will the frosting last in the fridge until Sunday?
    (It’s really yummy! And I love that it has less added sugar!)

  4. 5 stars
    Unreal! Paired with the carrot cake recipe, the family are amazed with my cooking success, lol. Love your recipes

  5. 5 stars
    Pretty good, but know the honey flavor is quite strong (I did the 1/4 honey and 1/4 powdered sugar). Next time I’ll try using maple syrup or just powdered sugar.

  6. 5 stars
    Oops I meant to post my first comment on the Carrot Cake bars recipe but I also made this frosting and it was delicious!

  7. 5 stars
    Just made these for breakfast for my family and they were absolutely delicious. Quick, easy, healthy and so yummy! I did not have enough honey for the cream cheese frosting recipe so I used some maple syrup instead. I will be making these again and again.
    Thank you!

  8. 5 stars
    I love all your recipes and going to try to make vanilla cupcakes with this frosting for my sons birthday – can I add blue food dye ? If so how much?

  9. 5 stars
    nevermind, I just searched again and found the faq section. initially I just read the “how to store” section and it did not mention refrigeration.

    1. Yes, be sure everything is very soft and then use a sturdy wooden spoon to stir it thoroughly together, mashing as needed to incorporate the ingredients.