A quick 5 ingredient Cream Cheese Frosting to top your favorite cupcakes. A base recipe to add custom flavors and colors too!
This quick frosting recipe will cover 12 cupcakes, piped on thick. If you prefer a thinner, smooth texture, you'll be able to frost up to 18 cupcakes. Even more frosting options:
- Frost 24 mini cupcakes
- Top your favorite Cinnamon Rolls or Red velvet cupcakes with this easy recipe!
- Frost 20-30 cookies
- Perfect for a 9x13 sheet cake
Important Ingredients with Substitutions
- Cream cheese (softened, room temp) - Full-fat cream cheese or even Mascarpone cheese will work best for this recipe. Make sure the cream cheese is at room temperature before starting this recipe. When choosing cream cheese, as long as you choose the full-fat option the brands of cream cheese do not matter.
- Heavy whipping cream - Cold cold cold. Leave in the fridge until ready to use.
- Vanilla extract - Pure vanilla extract provides the best flavor. I have been favoring the vanilla bean paste recently, this will still make for a delicious frosting.
- Powdered sugar - Aka, icing sugar, or confectioners sugar. I'll always recommend the Domino brand. I've used others and they've left a floral and chemical taste in my mouth more often than not. So I do not skimp on branding for this ingredient.
- Pinch of Salt - Hello flavor enhancer!
See the recipe below for the full list of ingredients and quantities.
Instructions for cream cheese frosting without butter
Step 1: In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Set aside in the fridge while the cream cheese mixture is combined. This step works in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment also.
Step 2: In a large bowl combine the room temperature cream cheese. Use an electric mixer with beaters to cream the cream cheese, ensuring no lumps are left behind. Or use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment to beat the cream cheese. If your cream cheese hasn't become as soft as you'd like, the paddle attachment will help break it down faster and smoother than a hand mixer.
Step 3: Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt. Start on a low speed and beat until combined and smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl when necessary.
Step 4: Lastly, add the whipped cream ½ at a time to the cream cheese mixture. Fold in with a rubber spatula until combined thoroughly.
The frosting is ready to pipe or spread!
For chocolate cream cheese frosting - Want chocolate cream cheese frosting? Add 6 tablespoons of cocoa powder to the bowl when adding the powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt.
Spiced frosting - Add 1 tablespoon of your favorite spice. (ie, pumpkin pie spice, apple pie spice, ground cinnamon)
Extracts - 1 tablespoon of your favorite extract
Lemon zest - 1 tablespoon
Lemon juice - 1 tablespoon. Any additional wet ingredients are going to result in soft icing. Add additional powdered sugar for a thicker frosting.
For peanut butter cream cheese frosting using PB2: Add ½ - 1 cup of PB2 powder to the base recipe. Taste as you go to determine how much peanut butter flavor you'd like. I don't think there is a limit honestly. Ha!
For peanut butter cream cheese frosting - ½ cup. Yes, please!! Use good ol' Jif creamy peanut butter, try to avoid the natural kind. The oil tends to separate making it difficult to mix in.
Fruit puree - Fruity frosting? Add ¼ cup fruit puree for every 8 ounces of cream cheese, then add an additional 2 cups of powdered sugar for every 8 ounces of cream cheese. Adding a fruit puree will thin out your frosting, not ideal for piping. I'd use this frosting for cake layering or frosting a sheet cake.
Freeze-dried fruit - If you're still wanting a fruity flavor without thinning the frosting, mix in ¼ cup of blended freeze-dried fruit. There is no need to add additional powdered sugar. This is a pipable option for when you want to add fruit.
Gel food coloring - Before adding color to your homemade frosting, chill it for 20-30 minutes first. Be sure to use gel coloring as it won't thin out your frosting. Add a couple of drops and mix in until you reach your desired color.
Store sealed in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks. Cream cheese icing if stored in an airtight container at room temperature will only last 2 hours, after that make sure to get it refrigerated.
To bring the frosting back to life, let it sit at room temperature for an hour. Stir it up and it's good to go.
For more information on storing, check out How To Store Cream Cheese.
Level Up With Expert Tips & Tricks
To soften cream cheese, you can remove it from the fridge 2 hours before starting this recipe. Set it in a warm place or just on the countertop. Any longer than 4 hours could result in it spoiling since dairy products can start to grow bacteria and have a much different taste the longer it sits out.
Check out my post about how long cream cheese should sit out.
For best results before whipping the heavy cream, place the bowl and whisk it into the fridge or freezer for 15-30 minutes. This will help to continue to keep the cream cold and give the cream the right consistency for mixing into the cream cheese. Fluffy & Chilly.
Make sure your cream cheese is fully softened before mixing. Also, sift the powdered sugar before adding it to the mixture to avoid lumps.
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:
Cream Cheese Frosting without Butter
- 8 ounces cream cheese softened, room temp
- ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- pinch of salt
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Set aside in the fridge while the cream cheese mixture is combined. This step works in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment also.
- In a large bowl combine the room temperature cream cheese. Use an electric mixer with beaters to cream the cream cheese, ensuring no lumps are left behind. Or use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment to beat the cream cheese. If your cream cheese hasn't become as soft as you'd like, the paddle attachment will help break it down faster and smoother than a hand mixer.
- Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt. Start on a low speed and beat until combined and smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl when necessary.
- Lastly, add the whipped cream ½ at a time to the cream cheese mixture. Fold in with a rubber spatula until combined thoroughly.
- Ready to pipe or spread!