10 Tips for Making Perfect Cream Cheese Frosting

cream cheese frosting

Do you absolutely froth at the mouth when you bite into a cupcake crowned with towering, fluffy cream cheese frosting? Me too, friend. I'm obsessed. There's nothing quite like that sweet, tangy cream cheese flavor blended with butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar. 

But cream cheese frosting can be finicky. If your proportions are off or you don't mix it properly, you could end up with a gloopy, greasy, or runny mess. Well, butter not fret! I've made about a bazillion batches of cream cheese frosting in my day, and I'm here to share my expert tips for making it perfect every time. 

1. Softened Cream Cheese and Butter Are a Must

Let your cream cheese and butter hang out on the counter for a bit before getting cookin'. You want them completely softened, but still cool and not melted. If your cream cheese is cold and right out of the fridge, your frosting will likely end up with annoying little butter bits and blobs. Ew! Softened ingredients blend together smooth as butter. See what I did there?

2. Stick to a 1:2 Ratio of Cream Cheese to Butter

The perfect cream cheese frosting ratio is one 8-ounce block of cream cheese to two sticks of butter. If you use too much cream cheese, your frosting can turn out ultra-dense and greasy. Too much butter will make it more like whipped butter than frosting. So stick with the 1:2 creamed gold standard. 

3. Whip the Cream Cheese Solo First

Before you add anything else, beat the heck out of the cream cheese by itself. I'm talking 5 minutes of serious whipping. This aerates the cream cheese so your final frosting will be light and fluffy, not dense. It also helps prevent those dreaded cream cheese lumps. Whip it real good!

4. Add Powdered Sugar a Little at a Time 

Once your cream cheese is whipped and smooth, you can start adding in powdered sugar. But do not dump it all in at once! Add it 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. This prevents a choke-worthy powdered sugar cloud from poofing up in your face. Slow and steady for smooth frosting, folks.

5. Flavor It Up However You Want

Want vanilla cream cheese frosting? Add in 1-2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. Baking a lemon cake? Mix in some lemon zest and juice. Get creative with extracts, zests, spices, etc. Just start with 1 teaspoon and tweak to your tastebuds' content. 

6. Beat the Frosting Mercilessly 

After all the ingredients come together, beat the living daylights out of it. We're talking 3-5 minutes of serious mixing. This whips air into the frosting, giving it that light, pillowy texture we know and love. Don't be afraid to beat it like it owes you money.

7. Chill Out in the Fridge  

Stick that sucker in the fridge for 30 minutes before frosting your cake or cupcakes. This helps the frosting set up so it glides on smoothly without melting into a puddle. Pro tip: Chill again after a crumb coat for flawless final frosting.

8. Dilute with Milk if Too Thick

If your frosting is turning out crazy thick, thin it out with some milk. Add 1 tablespoon at a time and mix until it reaches the desired consistency. Whole milk works best, but skim or non-dairy milk works too.  

9. Apply a Crumb Coat First

Before decorating with final swirly swoops, apply a thin crumb coat first. This initial layer glues down all the loose crumbs. Let it chill, then frost away without worrying about crumbs in your frosting.  

10. Keep Frosted Cakes Chilled

Once your cake is frosted beautifully, pop it back in the fridge until serving time. The cold environment helps the frosting set up hard. Then let the cake come to room temp before slicing for maximum decadent cream cheese flavor.

There you have it - my totally pro tips for crafting the ultimate cream cheese frosting. Now you too can be a cream cheese frosting connoisseur. You'll be whipping up bakery-worthy swirls and dollops in no time. Go forth and frost, my friends!