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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!

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.


Wednesday 15th of June 2022

Is 1 lb of confectioner's sugar equal to 4 cups? Do you sift the sugar prior to or after measuring for the amount of cups required? Thank you for your answer. Beginner here.


Wednesday 15th of June 2022

@Carlee, Thank you so much for the information. My plan is to bake some key lime cupcakes and to flavor the icing lightly. This icing should be good for some simple swirls with some pearl decos or a dusting of glitter. Thank you, again.


Wednesday 15th of June 2022

A pound of powdered sugar is just over 3.5 cups. I don't usually sift the powdered sugar before I use it in buttercream, but if you want to use about 4 cups of already sifted powdered sugar.


Wednesday 1st of June 2022

Hi, I made this frosting to decorate a 3 layer carrot cake plus a single layer cake and it was a great recipe. It was fast and easy to make and tasted great. I made a triple batch of the frosting, one teal coloured the other bubblegum pink. The icing spread nicely between the layers and on the outside and worked well for the piping. The cake looked great for my niece’s 13th birthday cake. All the kids loved the flavour as well. Thanks for a great recipe. I will recommend this to others.


Wednesday 1st of June 2022

That sounds amazing! I am so glad you liked it.


Monday 18th of April 2022

I made type for my Easter Carrot Cake Cupcakes. Excellent results! I doubled the recipe and used the minimum amount of milk & no emulsion. That made enough+ for 24 cupcakes.


Monday 18th of April 2022

Yay! I am so glad you liked it!

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