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Decorator’s Cream Cheese Frosting

Thanks for sharing!

All of the tangy cream cheese flavor you love in the classic frosting, but sturdy enough to be piped and hold it’s shape. This decorator’s cream cheese frosting is the best parts of buttercream and cream cheese frosting combined.

Swirl of piped cream cheese frosting made stiff for decorating cakes.

It has been at least a week since I last shared a frosting recipe with you, so it is overdue! This frosting is worth the wait.

It has the tang of cream cheese but it is perfect for piping into swirls, rosettes, shells and more.

swirl of decorator's cream cheese frosting piped on black slate with multi colored sprinkles on top

There are a few kinds of cake that just beg to be slathered with cream cheese frosting. Carrot cake and banana cakes are two obvious choices, but cream cheese also goes well with chocolate cake and many more.

The problem is the standard cream cheese frosting isn’t great for doing much more than spreading over the cake. It is soft and doesn’t hold it’s shape well.

mixer bowl filled with cream cheese frosting and mixer paddle

It is absolutely delicious, but not great for piping. And for frosting lovers like myself, sometimes a little bit of frosting spread on top of a cupcake isn’t enough.

(It’s never enough!) Bring on the fluffy swirls of frosting!

mixer paddle filled with stiff but fluffy cream cheese frosting.

Luckily this recipe allows you to have the best of both worlds. It pipes like an American buttercream dream but has that familiar cream cheese taste we love.

The final product does form a slight crust, especially if chilled, that makes transportation a lot easier. It also helps it hold up to a little more warmth than a standard cream cheese frosting.

cream cheese frosting rosettes on cupcakes.

For even more stability, you could substitute some shortening in for some of the butter. The higher melting point always helps to keep things a bit more resistant to temperature.

You can definitely taste the cream cheese in the final product without any help. If you feel like it needs a little more though, a teaspoon of cream cheese emulsion will help drive the flavor home.

fluffy swirls of cream cheese frosting piped onto cupcakes.

After several batches of this frosting in the past month, I can assure you that this frosting will be a hit.  You’ll see it featured on some pretty cookie stacks I’m sharing and also some super fun summer cupcakes.

Go ahead and make a practice batch of frosting now so you’ll be ready for those when I share them!

dark chocolate cookie stacks with cream cheese frosting piped between the layers.

Does cream cheese frosting get hard in the fridge?

Yes, so if you frosting gets soft, just pop it in the refrigerator for a bit to stiffen up. Chilling your frosting will help it remain stable for transportation and will help to set any decorations you made.

Can you use cream cheese frosting in place of buttercream?

The traditional cream cheese frosting doesn’t have the same texture as buttercream, so you can’t use it to make intricate decorations. This recipe combines the flavor of cream cheese frosting with the texture of buttercream so you can use it the same way you would your favorite buttercream.

Did you make this recipe? Please leave a review in the recipe card below!

Yield: 30 Servings

Cream Cheese Frosting for Decorating

Swirl of piped cream cheese frosting made stiff for decorating cakes.

All of the tangy cream cheese flavor you love in the classic frosting, but sturdy enough to be piped and hold it's shape. This decorator's cream cheese frosting is the best parts of buttercream and cream cheese frosting combined.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes


  • 1/2 cup butter, softened*
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar (1 pound)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1-2 Tablespoons milk
  • optional: 1 teaspoon cream cheese emulsion


  1. Beat together butter and cream cheese until super smooth and creamy.
  2. Add salt, powdered sugar, vanilla and cream cheese emulsion if using. Mix until combined.
  3. Add a tablespoon of milk and continue to mix for at least 2 minutes. Adjust final consistency with more milk or powdered sugar.
  4. Spread or pipe immediately or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container. 


*For added stability, substitute 1/4 cup of shortening for some of the butter

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 101Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 12mgSodium: 55mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 0gSugar: 15gProtein: 0g

All nutritional information is estimated and will depend on the exact ingredients you use.

Did you make this recipe?

I'd love to see it! Share a picture on Instagram or Pinterest and tag me @carleecooks to let me know how it went!

swirl of cream cheese frosting with text

Thanks for sharing!


Tuesday 16th of May 2023

If I need to make 60 cupcakes how many batches do you recommend?


Tuesday 16th of May 2023

At least two. You may want to make a little bit more if you plan on really getting generous with them.


Sunday 7th of May 2023

Hey Carlee! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! I will be making a double layered 7 inch cake and I was wondering whether the measurements given would be enough to cover the cake and add some additional designs. The pinterest link for the cake inspo will be below in case you wanted specifications on the additional designs. Please let me know as soon as you can! Thanks!


Sunday 7th of May 2023

What a pretty cake! For a 7 inch layer cake with frosting decorations like that, you will want about 6 cups of frosting. This recipe makes closer to 3, so I would double the recipe. I am sure it's going to be beautiful and delicious!

Peggy Halderson

Thursday 4th of May 2023

Can you frost then freeze cupcakes? I have to make 4 dozen and a cake for a graduation so would like to do some ahead. Thank!


Thursday 4th of May 2023

You can, but you will want to make sure you have the containers really well sealed and air tight so the cake doesn't dry out. That sounds like a lot of work, but I am sure they will be enjoyed!

Carla Polk

Wednesday 9th of November 2022

Can you add powdered coffee creamer to this frosting for stability


Wednesday 9th of November 2022

I haven't tried that, but it's a great idea! I am going to have to give that a go.


Friday 28th of October 2022

How long do you refrigerate the icing?


Friday 28th of October 2022

@Carlee, Thank you


Friday 28th of October 2022

You can refrigerate it for up to a week, just bring it back to room temperature before you use it.

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