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Decorator’s Cream Cheese Frosting {Perfect for Piping!}

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

     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.

       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.

mixer bowl filled with cream cheese frosting and mixer paddle

     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.

      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 and 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.

Yield: 30 Servings

Decorator's Cream Cheese Frosting

swirl of cream cheese frosting with sprinkles

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
  • 1 pound powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 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

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Monday 17th of May 2021

How far in advance can this icing be made and stored in the refrigerator?


Monday 17th of May 2021

It can be made several days ahead of the time and stored in the refrigerator. Just bring it to room temperature and whip it up a bit and you'll be in great shape!


Tuesday 11th of May 2021

This frosting is perfect for piping and will be a go-to for me. I made a double batch for red velvet cupcakes. It has the distinct cream cheese taste, and it’s not overly sweet. I refrigerated it overnight. If you do this, be sure to take it out several hours ahead of time to pipe or spread.


Tuesday 11th of May 2021

I am so happy you liked it!


Thursday 29th of April 2021

HELLO! I need a sturdy frosting to ice and decorate a wedding cake. will this recipe fit the bill?


Thursday 29th of April 2021

Yes, it should work nicely. Just give the cake a good chill before you transport it to the venue and it should hold. It pipes beautifully.


Wednesday 14th of April 2021

Hi, once made and frosted on cupcakes do you need to store in the fridge or can you leave the cupcakes out


Wednesday 14th of April 2021

They can be left out for a couple of hours, but I would refrigerate them if it's going to be much longer than that just to be on the safe side.


Tuesday 6th of October 2020

Hey Carlee, I need strawberry cream cheese frosting. Could I just add a little bit of a strawberry puree reduction or will that totally change the consistency?


Tuesday 6th of October 2020

That could definitely work. I would consider cooking them down a bit to make sure there's not too much liquid. I like getting some freeze dried strawberries and turning them into a powder and then adding them into the frosting.

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