I am so excited to share this Cream Cheese Buttercream recipe with you because it is one of my most requested frosting recipes of all time! Although I include it with my recipes for Red Velvet Cake, Pumpkin Layer Cake, Lemon Layer Cake, and Pumpkin Cupcakes, I finally decided to create a standalone post just for this frosting. It’s the perfect consistency for piping, frosting cakes smooth, and decorating cupcakes, all without being too sweet or complicated to make. It’s become my go-to and I hope you love it as much as I do!
Before this recipe, I dreaded working with Cream Cheese Buttercream because it’s usually so soft (unless you add way too much powdered sugar). After lots of experimenting and researching though, I found some ways to thicken it up for cake decorating and now it’s a joy to work with! To make it the perfect consistency, I like to add cornstarch in with the powdered sugar. It helps thicken and stabilize the frosting without adding any flavor – basically like adding powdered sugar without the sweetness! You can certainly skip the cornstarch and still have a great Cream Cheese Buttercream as well – it’ll just be a little bit softer.
Another important ingredient in this frosting is brick-style full-fat cream cheese. It’s critical that you don’t use low-fat or spreadable cream cheese, as these variations contain way more water than the full-fat brick kind. That means your frosting will be extra soft, liquidy, and overall frustrating to work with. I always use the Philadelphia brand, but feel free to experiment with other brands as long as they meet the general requirements.
One more tip for working with Cream Cheese Buttercream: if you find that your kitchen environment is humid or the frosting is still a bit soft, pop it in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes, then re-mix it on low in your stand mixer. The butter in the recipe will solidify a little bit in the refrigerator, so the overall buttercream should feel a bit thicker afterwards.
Here’s a quick video to show you how to make this Cream Cheese Buttercream before you read all about it below:
If you love recipe videos like this one, be sure to check out my YouTube channel! I’ve got a growing collection of recipes, decorating tutorials, and Cake Basics over there. Hit the subscribe button on my page so you never miss a new video.
Cream Cheese Buttercream
- 4 Cups (480g) powdered sugar
- 1/4 Cup (32g) cornstarch optional*
- 1/2 Cup (113g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 8 Oz (226g) full-fat cream cheese, room temperature brick-style, not the spread
- 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Sift together the powdered sugar and cornstarch (if using) and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and cream cheese on medium-high until light, fluffy, and uniform (no lumps), about 5 minutes.
- Turn the mixer to low speed and add the powdered sugar and cornstarch mixture a few cups at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the bowl and paddle as needed. Add the vanilla and salt and mix on low for another minute, until fully combined and smooth.
Did you make this Cream Cheese Buttercream? I want to know how it went! Let me know in the comments below or feel free to tag @sugarandsparrowco on Instagram. I’d love to see how you used it!
I am excited to try this recipe. Could I make this into a chocolate cream cheese frosting using cocoa? If so, would I use Dutch processed or regular cocoa?
Hi Rachel! I’m so excited for you to try this recipe and you can absolutely make it into chocolate cream cheese buttercream. It won’t matter if you use Dutch processed or regular for the frosting since it doesn’t require baking. I would add up to 1/2 Cup of cocoa to make it chocolate flavored. Let me know how it goes!
Best cream cheese buttercream I’ve ever worked with! Pipes beautifully and tastes amazing!
Yay, Alyssa!! That makes me so happy!
Sharon McDowell says
Hi Whitney, thank you for this recipe, looks great. Quick question about the cheese. Cannot get brick style, only the spreadable type. Will it retain its structure?
Hi Sharon! You can certainly try it with the spreadable kind, but from what I’ve read it will be a lot softer.
Could you add strawberry preserves to make a strawberry frosting? How much would I need? I’m also wondering about peanut butter, if that could be used and how much.
I’m looking forward to trying this recipe!
Hi Christina! I’ve never tried adding strawberry preserves or peanut butter to cream cheese frosting, so it would definitely be an experiment. If you’re wanting a strawberry buttercream I would try adding 17g of freeze dried strawberries per batch (ground into powder) instead of preserves. That will give the frosting powerful flavor without adding any liquid. And if you want to try peanut butter, I’d add 1/4 Cup in with the butter and cream cheese at the beginning. Hope that helps!
Tracy Medina says
Hi there – Would I be able to make this ahead and freeze it? Sounds yummy!!!
Hi Tracy! You can make it ahead and freeze it. I would wrap it in plastic wrap and store it in a ziploc bag in the freezer, then the day before you’re ready to use it, transfer the buttercream to the refrigerator to thaw. A few hours before you’re ready to decorate, take the buttercream out of the refrigerator and let it thaw at room temp before re-mixing it on low speed in your stand mixer. Hope that helps!
Will this frosting take on food coloring as well as regular buttercream frosting?
Hi Lucy! It absolutely will!
Karen Younger says
Hi Whitney – I have just come across your website and tutorials and I love the simplicity of them! I have already learnt so much to try to improve decorating my next cake. I noticed in this recipe you said the quantity was enough to fill and crumb coat a triple layer 20cm cake (also never heard of crumb coating before and I get so frustrated with the crumbs in my frosting so this is an awesome tip!) What quantity of the recipe would you need to fill, crumb coat and also put a final layer of frosting over entire cake – would you need to double it? Can you also please answer this question for the Basic Vanilla buttercream recipe as well – thank you so much.
Hi Karen! I’m so happy to hear you’ve been enjoying my tutorials! If you want to fill, crumb coat, and frost the cake, you’ll need to double this buttercream recipe. Same goes for the Basic Vanilla Buttercream recipe. Hope that helps and I’m cheering you on in your cake decorating!
Hi Whitney. I made my first beautiful looking cake with your tools list and cake basics. I’m now making a banana cake by request, and was wondering what your thoughts are on using browned butter with this recipe? I’ve read elsewhere the flavor is great, but I’d prefer to use your recipe for the frosting. Thanks for your awesome website.
Hey Whitney i have across your website n i love everything am learning,thanks for the insight on cream cheese frosting.definetly going to try n make my cakes more colourful.thanks alot
Yay, Mercy! I hope you love this buttercream recipe and thanks for the love 🙂
Much love from Kenya
Hi, I just started experimenting with smooth cake frosting and found your tutorials. They are very helpful! I have made a construction cake and a monster truck cake which are very easy but now I am going to be making a Spider-Man cake for my grandson‘s birthday and it needs to be smooth. My question is will this Cream cheese butter cream frosting smooth out as well as regular buttercream frosting? I love cream cheese frosting! Thank you.
Yay, Jenny! I’m so happy you’ve been finding my tutorials helpful! This cream cheese buttercream smooths out as well as regular buttercream, so you can use the same smooth buttercream tutorial to help you frost the cake. Hope that helps!
I made this recipe with about half the sugar (it was a gamble..). It came out perfect, was easy to work with, everyone loved it and now I am a cake star. Thank you!
That’s amazing to know it worked with half the sugar! I’m so happy you’re a cake star now 🙂
Can this recipe be doubled?
jennifer saghir says
This was wonderful. Everyone loved it! I used the recommendation from another commenter to cut the sugar in half. I’m not a frosting fan usually because it’s too sweet, but cutting the sugar made it perfect for me. I added it to your chocolate cake recipe for my daughters unicorn birthday cake. First time ever making and decorating a cake like that and I pulled it off by watching your videos. Thank you!!!
Yay, Jennifer! I’m glad it worked to cut the sugar and this recipe was a hit! Thanks so much for letting me know 🙂
Nurah Enos says
I’m making a 6 layer cake, must I double the recipe?
Hi Nurah! If you’re filling and frosting the cake I would probably triple the recipe for 6 layers.
i just made the creamcheese frosting. It taste amazing! I only have 1 problem..i think it is curdled. It’s also very soft. I don’t think i can pipe it, or frost my cake with it. What can i do?
Hi Anneroos! Oh no. Did you use block cream cheese or the spreadable kind? I only ask because the spread has way more liquid content in it and will make the end result very runny. If you did use block cream cheese, put the frosting in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, then re-mix it with your stand mixer. That should make a more cohesive frosting.
Hi Whitney, Wondering if I could use this to frost a semi-naked cake? Would the consistency be too thick?
Hi Delia! This frosting works great for semi-naked cakes.
Do you think that this recipe, as is, is thick enough to use with Russian piping tips? Or should I add a bit more cornstarch?
Hi Victoria! I’ve actually never tried Russian piping tips so I’m not sure how stiff the frosting should be! It’s definitely stiff enough for lambeth piping but you could always try it as-is and add extra cornstarch/powdered sugar from there if it’s not stiff enough.