Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

This fluffy cream cheese icing is everyone’s favorite carrot cake frosting recipe and is often used for red velvet cake icing as well. Since it tastes delicious and is so simple to make, it’s easy to see why.

Cream Cheese Icing
Cream Cheese Icing

Cream cheese icing is by far my favorite icing to use on cakes and cupcakes.

It is not too sweet, goes with almost any kind of cake and is surprisingly easy to make.

And even though it seems like the cream cheese might make it heavy, it really doesn’t. Especially once you know the secret to making the icing fluffy.

Cream cheese icing with a little red food coloring makes the perfect Valentine's Day heart-shaped cake

Since it is white, you can easily add a few drops of food coloring to match the decor of whatever party you are throwing.

In the picture above, a couple of drops of red food coloring gives the icing the pink color.

Ingredients

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Here’s your shopping list:

  • Dairy: 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter – if you already have salted butter at home, you can use it. But I think the frosting tastes better with unsalted butter.
  • Sugar: 1 pound (4 cups) of icing sugar (also known as powdered sugar or confectioner’s sugar)
  • Flavoring: 1 teaspoon vanilla

Equipment

Here’s what you’ll need to make the icing:

  • stand mixer and bowl – you can use a hand held mixer if you prepare all of the ingredients ahead of time and are willing to hold it for a few minutes.
  • sifter*
  • spatula

How To Make Fluffy Cream Cheese Icing

1 | Soften The Butter And Cream Cheese

A few hours before you start, take the cream cheese and butter out of the refrigerator to soften.

You can get away without doing this, but it’s harder to get the lumps out of the icing if you start with hard ingredients.

If you are in a hurry, you can soften butter and cream cheese in the microwave.

Do this process for the butter and cream cheese separately.

Most microwaves perform better with smaller quantities, and with ingredients that have the same consistency. So trying to put the butter and cream cheese in at the same time does not give good results.

Remove the butter or cream cheese from its packaging.

Put it in the microwave on low power for 10 to 15 seconds. Don’t try it on high power because it tends to melt (not soften) the butter and cream cheese.

Then test to see if it is soft.

If it isn’t, repeat the process until the ingredient has softened. (The number of times you will need to do this depends on the strength of your microwave.)

2 | Mix The Cream Cheese

Cut the butter and cream cheese into chunks. While not absolutely necessary, this makes it easier to beat them (especially if you are using a handheld mixer).

Mix the cream cheese and vanilla in your mixer on medium speed until the cream cheese is smooth.

Add the butter.

Beat the cream cheese and butter mixture until it is fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. (This is the key to having light, fluffy cream cheese icing).

3 | Add The Sugar

Sift the icing sugar before you start.

Reduce the mixing speed to low.

Add the icing sugar 1/2 cup at a time.

Mix until all of the sugar has dissolved into the cream cheese before adding the next 1/2 cup.

Keep adding sugar until the icing has reached a spreadable consistency, which should take 3 to 4 cups.

Continue mixing until the icing is fluffy and smooth. (Again, lots of beating makes sure the cream frosting turns out light and fluffy).

Now it is ready to spread on your dessert of choice.

Refrigerate For Future Use

Because this icing is made with cream cheese, it does need to be refrigerated to stay fresh and hold its shape.

You can store it in an air tight containers for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

Let it warm up before attempting to spread it.

If it seems lumpy, mix it in the mixer until it gets its fluffiness back.

Cakes You Can Use Cream Cheese Icing On

Cream Cheese Icing

Fluffy Cream Cheese Icing

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Prep Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 12 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 2 8" layer cakes, 24 cupcakes or 1 9" x 13" sheet cake
Calories: 55kcal
This fluffy cream cheese icing is everyone's favorite carrot cake frosting recipe and is often used for red velvet cake icing as well. Since it tastes delicious and is so simple to make, it's easy to see why.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter softened
  • 8 ounces (1 package) cream cheese softened
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 cups (1 pound) sifted icing sugar also known as powdered sugar or confectioner's sugar

Equipment

  • Stand Mixer and Mixing Bowl
  • Spatula
  • sifter

Instructions

  • Beat the cream cheese with the vanilla on medium speed until smooth.
  • Add the butter.
  • Beat the cream cheese and butter mixture until it is fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes
  • Reduce the speed to low.
  • Gradually add the icing sugar, waiting between each addition until the previous one has been incorporated and the icing is fluffy.
  • Spread the icing on your cake or cupcakes as you would with any other icing. 

Notes

Leaving the butter and cream cheese out for a few hours to soften before making the recipe is not absolutely necessary, but it is much easier to mix without lumps if you do.
Cutting the butter and cream cheese up into chunks before adding them to the bowl makes it easier to mix them (especially if you are using a hand held mixer).
Using unsalted butter results in a better tasting frosting, but if all you have is salted butter go ahead and use it (the recipe will still turn out okay)
It is possible to make this recipe with a hand-held mixer but adding the ingredients in over time will be a little more difficult, unless you have a helper.
You can adjust how sweet the cream cheese icing is by using less sugar. It will still work with 3 cups of sugar instead of 4.
Since this icing is made from cream cheese, it does need to be refrigerated to stay fresh and keep its shape.
You can store it in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Let it warm up before spreading. If it seems lumpy, mix it for a few seconds in a mixer to get its fluffiness back.
Nutrition Facts
Fluffy Cream Cheese Icing
Amount Per Serving (1 g)
Calories 55 Calories from Fat 76
% Daily Value*
Fat 8.4g13%
Cholesterol 24.4mg8%
Sodium 55.7mg2%
Carbohydrates 31.4g10%
Sugar 30.5g34%
Protein 1.3g3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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