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Decorator’s Cream Cheese Frosting

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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.

Piped ruffled swirl of decorator's cream cheese frosting on plate showing smooth creamy texture and ability to hold its shape.

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.

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.

Hand holding mixer paddle with a bunch of fluffy decorator's cream cheese frosting on it, ready to be used.

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!

Ruffle swirls of decorator's cream cheese frosting piped on strawberry cupcakes using a star tip.

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.

Smooth swirls of decorator's cream cheese frosting piped on pink strawberry cupcakes and topped with colorful sprinkles.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

Extra cream cheese frosting piped between two graham crackers to make frosting sandwiches.

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

Piped ruffled swirl of decorator's cream cheese frosting on plate showing smooth creamy texture and ability to hold its shape.

Cream Cheese Frosting for Decorating

Carlee
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.
4.55 from 157 ratings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 24 Servings (about 2.5 cups)
Calories 101 kcal

Ingredients
 

  • ½ cup butter softened
  • 4 ounces cream cheese softened
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • cups powdered sugar (1 pound)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon cream cheese emulsion optional

Instructions
 

  • Beat together butter and cream cheese until super smooth and creamy.
    ½ cup butter, 4 ounces cream cheese
  • Add salt, powdered sugar, vanilla and cream cheese emulsion if using. Mix until combined.
    ¼ teaspoon salt, 3½ cups powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon cream cheese emulsion
  • Add a tablespoon of milk and continue to mix for at least 2 minutes. Adjust final consistency with more milk or powdered sugar.
    1 to 2 Tablespoons milk
  • Spread or pipe immediately or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container. 

Notes

*For added stability, substitute 1/4 cup of shortening for 1/4 cup of the butter
This recipe makes about 2.5-3 cups of frosting. It is enough frosting for a 9×13-inch cake, a two layer cake without extra decoration, or 12-24 cupcakes depending on how much frosting you put on each.  
Store extra frosting in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Freeze for longer storage or put between graham crackers and enjoy as a tasty treat! 

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 101kcalCarbohydrates: 15gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 12mgSodium: 55mgSugar: 15g
Tried this recipe?Mention @carleecooks or tag #cookingwcarlee!

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Recipe Rating




Dana

Friday 5th of January 2024

Hi! I am looking forward to trying this frosting. Do the cupcakes need to be refrigerated with this frosting? How long can they stay at room temperature before the frosting start to go bad? For example, I am planning on making them on a Thursday but the party is on Saturday. Thanks!

Carlee

Friday 5th of January 2024

I would refrigerate them. They can sit out for a while, but I wouldn't leave them out for a couple of days. Put them in a container with a lid if you can to keep the cupcakes from drying out.

Sandra

Saturday 11th of November 2023

Thanks so much Carlee. I love the info in the notes!......

Carlee

Saturday 11th of November 2023

Yay! I am glad the notes were helpful.

V

Sunday 20th of August 2023

I need enough for frosting to do just a swirl for approx 300 or so brownie bites, how many batches would I need to make?

Carlee

Sunday 20th of August 2023

This recipe makes about 3 cups of frosting. So if we assume you'll use about a Tablespoon on each brownie bite, you could do 48 brownie bites with each batch. So you will need about 6 batches. Depending on the size of your brownie bites, you might not need a whole Tablespoon for each. But that will give you a starting point to estimate.

Alawna

Tuesday 16th of May 2023

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

Carlee

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.

Kristal

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!

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/1003458360705938507/

Nancy Burris

Tuesday 28th of November 2023

@Carlee, Can you frost cupcakes and store in the fridge for 18 to 24 hours?

Carlee

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!