If you’re showing them your love with a homemade cake—take it all the way with homemade cream cheese frosting, too! Learning how to make cream cheese frosting is a breeze. Our cream cheese frosting recipes include both the cake (or cupcake) to be frosted, as well as the frosting itself. You also can make it for your birthday cakes, your favorite cupcakes, banana breads and more. And if you’re a fan of everything chocolate—well, we’ve got chocolate cream cheese frosting recipes, too!
How to Make Cream Cheese Frosting: The Basics
The most important ingredient in your cream cheese frosting? Cream cheese, of course! In the same way cream cheese adds creamy richness and body to cheesecakes
and savory dishes (see these PHILLY recipes
for more of those), it also gives cream cheese frosting its thick, spreadable texture and subtly tangy flavor. Add to that a sweetening agent (usually sifted powdered sugar), butter/margarine and vanilla or almond extract, and you have a basic cream cheese frosting recipe.
How to Make the BEST Cream Cheese Frosting
If you’re looking for the straight-up best recipe for banana cakes, carrot cakes and spiced pumpkin cakes (and cupcakes), you can’t go wrong with classic PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese Frosting. (Try a slightly modified version of it in this recipe for Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting.) Generally speaking, the “best” cream cheese frosting recipe will vary according to the type of cake or cupcake you’re making. Rainbow Cream Frosting, sweetened with strawberry JELL-O Gelatin and COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, is ideal for lemon and vanilla cakes; Vanilla Creme Frosting is made with JET PUFFED marshmallow creme and tastes heavenly with chocolate cake.
Ingredients matter: PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese is our favorite for frosting. If the recipe calls for butter, unsalted will give you the purest butter flavor. Confectioners’ sugar, also labeled “powdered” or “10X” sugar will blend into the cream cheese and butter more smoothly than granulated sugar, and sifting it ensures the smoothest frosting.
When making your frosting, start with softened cream cheese and butter (if your recipe calls for it), and beat them together in a medium to large bowl to blend. Gradually beat in the sugar until smooth, being careful not to over-beat: your frosting could separate into liquid and little clumps of cheese. Add the flavoring at the end, taste and adjust. If you are making the frosting in advance, be sure to refrigerate it. When ready to frost your cooled cake, remove the frosting from the refrigerator and let it warm up to a smooth spreading texture: You don’t want to tear your cake when you are frosting it.
Making cream cheese frosting is as easy as pie, but baking cakes can be slightly more involved. If you’re a novice, check out our tips on how to bake a cake and baking basics, and while you’re at it, take a peek at these tips for freezing baked goods. The beauty of freezing baked goods is that you can have homemade dessert whenever you like—simply by thawing out a cake or cupcakes and whipping up a fresh batch of cream cheese frosting. For more inspiration, check out our collection of cake recipes—all kinds!—and cupcake recipes, which include everything from everyday treats to wedding cupcakes and baby shower cupcakes!