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How to thicken cream cheese frosting?

This velvety Cream Cheese Frosting is a versatile recipe that may be used in a number of applications. It’s not too sweet and has a ton of tangy cream cheese flavor!

Close up overhead view of cream cheese frosting swirled over yellow cupcakes


Cream cheese frosting recipe

This cream cheese frosting recipe is the greatest! It’s really the only recipe you’ll ever need. Believe me, I’ve used it for cakes and cupcakes several times and always receive amazing feedback!

I’ve made a lemon cream cheese frosting in the past but honestly, a basic frosting is my absolute favorite! It’s silky, zesty, and somewhat sweet.

It’s also an excellent basis for additional tastes, but be cautious not to add too much of anything else since it will thin down the frosting and make it runny.

You might add crushed pineapple that has been well drained. Citrus curds of many types. You may also create chocolate cream cheese by adding a little cocoa powder!

Best Cakes to go with Cream Cheese Frosting

This frosting is phenomenal on so many different cake flavors. These are a couple of my personal favorites:

  • Carrot cake
  • Red velvet cake or cupcakes
  • Pineapple carrot cake
  • Banana cake
  • Vanilla cupcakes
Side view of cream cheese frosting swirled over yellow cupcakes



My cream cheese frosting recipe uses five simple ingredients. Let’s go through what they are.

  1. Butter: Since cream cheese already has a large quantity of salt, use unsalted butter.
  2. Cream cheese: Use a high-quality cream cheese, such as Philadelphia. Use full-fat cream cheese instead. This will not provide the same outcomes.
  3. Sugar: Confectioners’ sugar also known as powdered sugar is the only sugar that works for this recipe. Any additional sugar will provide a grainy texture to the frosting.
  4. Vanilla: I strongly advise using high-quality pure vanilla extract.
  5. Salt: This is entirely optional! A little additional salt, I’ve discovered, helps temper the excessive sweetness that comes from using so much powdered sugar. Taste the frosting before adding it, and just add a little amount at a time until you’re satisfied with the outcome.

How to make cream cheese frosting

It’s the same idea as preparing buttercream. To begin, softened butter and cream cheese should be used, but the butter should not be so soft that it seems greasy. The sweet spot for softening butter seems to be 20 to 30 minutes on the counter.

Whip the butter and cream cheese together until it’s completely smooth creamy. Depending on your mixer, this might take up to 5 minutes.

Next I add all of the other ingredients – the sugar, salt, and vanilla – all at once and beat until everything is totally combined and creamy. Alternatively, you can add the sugar in two additions to make it easier to fully incorporate without making a huge mess.

creamed butter in a large glass bowl next to cream cheese frosting in a large glass bowl

While the icing is light and elastic, it holds its form well when pipped. If the frosting is too soft, place it in the refrigerated for 5-10 minutes before whipping it again. The chilly temperature will harden it somewhat.

But, try not to add any more confectioners’ sugar. The cream cheese makes the frosting creamier and it will take quite a bit of confectioners’ sugar to get a stiff frosting. The extra sugar may be too sweet to bear.

You can make cream cheese frosting up to a week in advance. Just keep it refrigerated in an airtight container.

Close up of cream cheese frosting in a white bowl

Can you color cream cheese frosting?

Indeed, the answer is yes! To tint the frosting, add a few drops of gel food coloring. Avoid using liquid food coloring because it can ruin the texture and make the frosting too runny.

How do you thicken cream cheese frosting?

Refrigerating cream cheese frosting for 5-10 minutes is the best method to thicken it. As the butter cools, it’ll help firm up the frosting.

You may also use meringue powder to thicken and stabilize the icing. I’ve done this many of times and it always works. It’s even great for stabilizing frosting with wet ingredients, like my pineapple frosting. Begin with 1 tablespoon, mix it in, and see if you need more.

Tips for success

  • Don’t work with too soft butter. If it’s oily, it’s too soft and won’t mix properly with the cream cheese.
  • Make sure the confectioners’ sugar contains cornstarch as the anticaking agent. It will aid in the thickening of the frosting.
  • Be sure to use full-fat cream cheese! Cream cheese with lower fat content contains more liquid and can result in a runny frosting.
  • Avoid adding more sugar to thicken the frosting! This will just add to the sweetness.
Overhead view of cream cheese frosting swirled over yellow cupcakes

This delicate and silky icing will leave you speechless. It’s perfect for all sorts of cakes, cupcakes, and even cookies!

You can also shop my favorite baking tools. Thank you so much for your help!


  • 1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 16 ounces (453 g) softened cream cheese, sliced into pieces
  • 4 cups (480 g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt


  1. Cream the cream cheese and butter together in the bowl of a stand mixer equipped with the paddle attachment or with a handheld electric mixer until smooth and creamy.
  2. Combine the sugar, vanilla, and salt in a mixing bowl. Beat on low until just incorporated then turn the mixer to high speed and beat for 2 minutes.
  3. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to one week.


This recipe makes enough frosting for two 8 or 9-inch tiers or 24 cupcakes.

This frosting is suitable for piping, but make sure it is not too warm and loose before attempting to pipe.

  • Refrigerating cream cheese frosting for 5-10 minutes is the best method to thicken it. As the butter cools, it’ll help firm up the frosting.
  • You may also use meringue powder to thicken and stabilize the icing. I’ve done this many of times and it always works. Begin with 1 tablespoon, mix it in, and see if you need more.

Yield: 20
Serving Size: 2 tablespoons
Amount Per Serving:
101 calories 8g total fat 5g Saturated Fat 0g trans fat 3g Saturated Fat Cholesterol: 24mg Sodium: 177mg 2g carbohydrate 0g fiber 1 gram sugar 5g protein

* Percent Daily Values are based on a diet of 2000 calories. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the values shown are just an estimate.

Related Questions

  • How to make cream cheese frosting thicker without powdered sugar?

    What do you thicken frosting without powdered sugar? A. There are various simple techniques to thicken frosting without adding sugar or additional sweetness. Unsweet thickeners include flour, cornstarch, meringue powder, gelatin, and cocoa powder.

  • Why did my cream cheese frosting go runny?

    HOW COME MY CREAM CHEESE FROSTING IS RUNNY? This may happen if you use a low-quality cream cheese with a greater water content, or if you use tub cream cheese instead of brick cream cheese. Be sure you acquire the greatest quality, full-fat block cream cheese you can find.

  • Will cornstarch thicken cream cheese frosting?

    Cream Cheese Frosting with Cornstarch
    Cornstarch is also used in several cream cheese frosting recipes. The cornstarch thickens the frosting without adding too much powdered sugar. Sift 14 cup cornstarch with the powdered sugar to make extra thick cream cheese frosting with cornstarch.

  • Why is my cream cheese icing so thin?

    Unfortunately occasionally cream cheese frosting does liquefy and this mainly comes from the liquid in the cream cheese mixing with the icing (confectioners’) sugar and dissolving it, leading to a runny icing. Adding more sugar will not solve the issue and will result in an overly sweet icing.