Cream Cheese Icing

Cream cheese icing.

How could such a simple recipe give so many people a hard time?

Many have reported to me, that they have successfully made Cream Cheese Soup!

As delicious(?) as that may sound, that is NOT what we are going for!

So what I have done based on all the trials and errors that y’all have told me about, I have done some investigating and found out just WHY the cream cheese icing recipe turns to soup for some of you!


Watch the video as I explain the tricks to avoid this from happening to you.

But note that it is essential you are using the correct cream cheese in BAR form, not the whipped style in the tubs.

cream cheese bar style cream cheese!  whippedNot the whipped tubs!


Also, do not over whip the mixture as this will break down the cream cheese as well.

You will see how delicately I have to treat these 3 simple ingredients in order to get a perfect, thick and pipe-able end result!

So just be sure to heed those few warnings I have for you and you too will see success~ not soup!

Oh yeah, and for those wanting an amazing Cream Cheese Buttercream Recipe~ CLICK HERE

5.0 from 5 reviews
Cream Cheese Icing
Prep time
Total time
Be sure to have the butter at room temperature for about an hour before mixing
The cream cheese is better to stay colder since the more ingredients that are at room temperature the more loose your final result will become and the biggest problem with cream cheese icing is that people find it gets too "loose"
Serves: 6 Cups
  • Cream Cheese 3 Cups (680g)
  • Unsalted Butter 1 stick (112g)
  • Confectioners Sugar 2 cups (240g)
  • Clear Vanilla Extract 2 teaspoons
  1. Place butter in the bowl of the Kitchen Aid mixer with the paddle attachment and cream smooth, transfer to a separate bowl and reserve.
  2. Do the same thing with the cream cheese and mix smooth, but do not whip on high speed.
  3. Add the reserved butter to the cream cheese and mix the two together until smooth.
  4. Add the sifted confectioners sugar all at once and mix just until blended.
  5. Add the vanilla extract
  6. Be sure that all baked good with this icing stay refrigerated as cream cheese is highly perishable.
This recipe is enough to fill and ice one 3 layer 8" cake or ice 24 cupcakes

You may use this icing immediately, or if you find it is too soft to pipe onto cupcakes you should refrigerate for several hours to allow it to firm up.

This icing can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Cakes and pastries with Cream Cheese Icing must be kept refrigerated, you can leave at room temperature for about an hour to 2 hours maximum

For those who can only get the whipped tubs of cream cheese, you will ADD THE CREAM CHEESE LAST and mix only until combined.  So first cream the butter, add the confectioners sugar & vanilla and the cream cheese last. This will prevent the icing from getting too soupy.  Refrigerate for about an hour before using

I use this icing on my Carrot Cake Layer Cake AND in combination with the Swiss Buttercream recipe for the Red Velvet Layer Cake too!

My famous Cream Cheese Buttercream recipe is going to win your heart!


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      1. Hi, in Holland there is no bar philadelphia, but there is something in between, which is a littlebit softer than the bars, but it is not whipped. It still tends to become a littlebit soft, but I put more butter in it, 2 parts creamcheese, 1 part butter. My question is: why so much sugar? It is much to sweet in my opinion. Half would be enough, I think, or is there a reason why there is so much sugar in this recipe (and in many other american recipes)?

    1. Hi, really hoping you can give me some advice! I am making my friends wedding cake in a couple of weeks and am anything but professional! Umm making a spiced pumpkin cake she loves with cream cheese icing 🙂 I am using your frkEn cake method for my 4 layers and am very worried that the cream cheese won’t work with it being frozen. Do you think it will just swish out the layers and do you think you can use this cream cheese to make the cake look semi naked or should I perhaps combine a cream cheese with a buttercream for the semi naked outside? Would love your advice 🙂

      1. Hey there, dont worry! You will be great!! Click here for some tips on wedding cakes but as for the cream cheese, I’m not quite sure what you wrote there, “frkEn”? but I gather you are filling the cakes THEN freezing them?
        I typically only freeze the actual cake layers not filled or iced cakes, causes too much condensation and un-needed trouble. Easier to just fill and ice the cake the day before from frozen layers. But if this is something you need to do due to time restraints, I get it, the cream cheese filling will be fine.
        It will not swish out, unless it is already “swishing out” from the start! LOL
        I would recommend a mix of the cream cheese and buttercream though for a nicer finish

    1. Hey Gretchen, thanks for your reply!
      Whoops, sorry I should really re-read before sending haha. I was not going to fill them before freezing. I was planning on leaving the cake whole and wrapped, then freezing. Then I will quickly cut the dome off and cut the layers when I take it out of the freezer when thawing – and I was going to do this and fill layers and cover the outside on the morning of the wedding??? Is that a very bad idea??
      I did a trial run on the weekend and I wasn’t very happy. The cake was delicious and the cream cheese frosting was also delicious but it wasn’t the best for creating that ‘dirty icing’ ‘naked cake scraped look’ I’m going for. It was very crumbly and the crumbs kept sticking to my icing. I’ll ty your buttercream and mix the cream cheese in and hope for the best..I may however have a minor heart attach before this though! 🙂

      1. That would be fine to fill and then freeze, be sure you dont thaw the cake too much before you start icing, that will give you those nasty crumbs, frozen cakes= no crumbs

  1. first of all hi gretchen im freddy im from mexico and my wife has really liked the things ive cooked with your recepies so just wanted to thank you for your help in the kitchen also i wanted to know if there was a way to give this icing a strawberrry flavor or any other flavor? again thanks hope to hear your reply soon gretchen and keep on making your great and helpfulll recepies. 🙂

    1. HI Freddy! I am so glad your wife is enjoying the recipes! LOL
      You can flavor this icing, by adding in some strawberry compote or puree, or adding in other extracts. Be careful not to add too much of any liquid ingredient though or it will “break” the mixture and cause it to be very soft

      1. What about adding freeze dried fruit? Was looking for recipies using dried berries for a pink birthday cake and thinking of using this recipe as a base….?

        1. I think you have to reconstitute the fruit before using in the recipe or it will be like dried bits of fruit in your recipe

  2. Hi Gretchen, I’ve made so many of your desserts and everything always came out Wonderful. Your my go to person for everything baking. I have a question I want to make a mascarpone buttercream can I substitute the cream cheese for the mascarpone?

    1. Awesome thankyou! Im not sure the question actually- since we are talking about buttercream, but we are on the cream cheese icing post?
      Anyway- if I think you are saying you would like to make the buttercream recipe, AND this recipe and combine the 2 together- then YES- it is the BEST IDEA EVER! and yes to mascarpone (just be careful not to over whip or you will have soup)

    1. Hey thanks! Well, its a yes and no answer- yes you can, but I have found that (especially GUM PASTE!) cream cheese icing is a secretly high moisture icing, you wouldn’t know it by looking at it, that’s why I say secret, but it has a tendency to sneak attack and melt things that are highly meltable like gum paste- fondant will probably do better

    2. hi gretchen
      im shan from philippines. just few days inyo baking and doing some net readings. i stumbled upon your site and been browsing it for couple of days already to learn..thanks so much for the info.. just start making biscotti and want to get more ideas also..can o substitute almond with walnut in anything with nut recipes? does it affect the taste or thesame as with any other nuts?
      thank you

      1. awesome thanks! and you are welcome too! Yes all nuts are interchangeable to your preference or availability

    1. You can use any brand you like, however the spreads are very thin, very soft very whipped….if that is all you can get- add it last rather than first and mix as little as possible

  3. Hi
    love your videos and recipes . please can u tell me how much ingredients will i need to make cream cheese frosting for a i layer carrot cake and just for the top.

    Thank You.

  4. Hello gretchen!! Im making my cousin her wedding cake and she wanted strawberry cake with cream cheese frosting! My question is would it droop or slide off after awhile… cake will be indoors but im just afraid!! It looks like its pretty firm but thought i would ask!! Thank you!!

  5. Hi Gretchen! I had an order for Carrot Cake Cupcakes, so I used your Tropical Carrot Cake recipe (but subbed the tropical for raisins and nuts, and added nutmeg and a pinch of ginger). They are cooling now, but the batter tasted delicious! Love the browned butter touch it added.

    Anyway, I came here to look at your Cream Cheese Icing recipe. I was surprised to find that you have butter in it. For years I have made it with just cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla. So I searched for other recipes and found they all add butter. Now I begin to wonder, why the butter? Is it for richness, stability or something else? So, oh great baker in the land of sunshine, please enlighten me. I really don’t have a clue and mean no disrespect. Thank you so much for helping out all of us!

    1. HI Joe! The butter is going to help firm this up, since cream cheese alone once creamed, will lose its structure and likes to turn a bit soupy- so the butter will give so firmness and body

  6. Hi Gretchen,
    You have made me unsure in the original recipe for cream cheese icing outside of the US you have said add the cream cheese at last but cold ! now in the new recipe I haven’t found it
    what must i do now I’m confused
    Please help me I do a wedding cake and I need the recipe urgently
    Thank a lot I so glad that you are back I can’t live and work without you and your recipes

    1. For cream cheese that is manufactured outside of the US I have learned that it is very soft to start with, therefore if you use THAT TYPE in this recipe and mix as I show you here, you will have SOUP.
      So- if you have the softer style cream cheese, simply add it last. (And for that type of soft cream cheese when it is cold, it is still SOFT- so it is fine to add it cold)
      Thats all.
      Hope that helps!

  7. Hi gretchen
    HELP! Im suffering from C3F (curse of the cream cheese frosting)
    After months of searching for a block of cream cheese instead of the tub version i finally found a foreign company cream cheese block.
    I followed your recipe and did exactly as you said. The butter and cream cheese were absolutely fine and stiff up until i added powdered sugar…..thats when the landslide happened!! It turned into cream cheese soup! And i didnt even overwhip it!! Before mixing in the sugar, as soon as it went in, it all turned liquid!
    But i will not be beaten. Im determined to keep on trying till i get it right!!
    Any suggestions??
    Thanks a bunch.

    1. Hmm, sounds strange!

      How could the sugar (before even mixing it in) have turned the whole mixture to soup?
      This must have been some pretty powerful sugar (like Kryptonite! LOL Just kidding)
      But honestly- sounds very strange.
      What are the ingredients listed on that cream cheese you got?
      Typically it should only have Milk and or Cream, Whey Protein Concentrate, Salt, Carob Bean Gum, Xanthan Gum, Cheese Culture.

  8. Hey Gretchen! I made your cream cheese recipe and it’s delicious! I airbrushed it and put black fondant on the sides for a zebra design. But 8 hours later, the fondant had melted into the icing. Any ideas why? I left it sitting on the counter. If I put it in the fridge, will the fondant melt? Thank you!

  9. I did a 3 tier wedding cake with this recipe! And let me tell you…everyone was coming up to me and telling me how delicious the cake was! They kept telling me that they never tasted cream cheese that was that good! And all it was, was a regular strawberry cake with this cream cheese! I was afraid that it was going to start sliding off cake after a few hours but no it was perfect in the hall for the 4 hrs and then they cut cake! So 4 hrs I know it holds up! Thank you Gretchen and this recipe is staying in my books!! Next I’ll be making red velvet cupcakes with your special cream cheese frosting!! Yummy! ! Can’t wait to try more of your recipes!!

  10. Hi and thank you for sharing all of these tips and recipes with us!!

    Question; can I airbrush color on to cream cheese icing or can I add food coloring too it?

  11. Hi Gretchen,
    To make this chocolate cream
    cheese, what type of chocolate is best? And how much is required if I want to use half of the recipe?

    1. yes you can replace some or all of the shortening, but be aware that shortening is a stabilizer in the Buttercream recipe so by taking it out you will have a much softer buttercream. I prefer to make the Swiss BC AND this cream cheese icing and just fold the two together, much sturdier

  12. Hi Gretchen! This looks like just the right cream cheese frosting recipe I need for my red velvet cupcakes this weekend. I live in Illinois. Is there any certain brand of confectioner sugar that you would recommend? TIA!

  13. Hi Gretchen – Looking forward to making your cream cheese frosting. We are using to ice a carrot cake and would like it to have a little lemon flavor. What suggestions do you have for adding lemon flavor without altering the consistency of the frosting too much? I was thinking maybe some lemon zest or maybe just a couple of tablespoons of lemon zest. I greatly appreciate any guidance you might have. Happy Thanksgiving! Lisa

  14. Hello, Ms. Gretchen, Thank you a million times over for your wonderful recipes.They turn out wonderful every time I bake. Thank you for your expertise.
    The Red Velvet is to die for, that stabilized whipped cream is awesome. Oh my goodness the buttercreams are awesome as well. Thank you again.

  15. Hi Gretchen, I’ll be making an order and I’ll be using your recipe for the red velvet cake and cream cheese filing, I’m so exited, this is a 12″ round 4″ height -covered with fondant. How many recipes should I make for this size of pan/ cake? Thank you. I’m from Hamilton, Ontario in Canada.

    1. HI Gisell! For each 12″ layer you will need to double the recipe (If you decide to mix the entire batter at once – not sure what your mixer or oven situation is like) but good rule of thumb is to always fill the pans half way full with batter

      1. Thank you! I doubled the recipe, this red velvet cake is delicious, perfect!! Thanks very very much for sharing. My plan is to try each one of you recipes. My excuse are the holidays… …. I just made a batch of the Swiss Buttercream.. I love it! Fabulous !!! Now I’m going to make the cream cheese icing. Thanks again and God always bless you.

        1. woohoo! Awesome! Have you ever seen the movie Julie & Julia!? Where the girl goes on a mission to recreate everyone of Julia Childs recipes? We can do Gisell and Gretchen! LOL

          1. Fantastic !!! Count with me for that mission!!! LOL .
            Ok, let me tell you please, the cake was delicious, many complements received, many people asked for seconds and thirds piece of cake……… (I was invited, and I cut the cake…lol) really a SUCCESS, the combination of Swiss buttercream & cream cheese filing is phenomenal, a BIG hug Gretchen, million thanks, I have no words to say how grateful I am.

  16. Hello Gretchen, I doubled your red velvet recipe for my 12” cake and it turned out so good. What quantity of cream cheese recipe do I need for the frosting?
    Awaiting your reply.
    Thanks a million for sharing this great mouth watering recipe.

  17. hi gretchen im making the red velvet cake and the creamcheese frosting how do i get it to come out smooth but thick enough like yours to be able to pipe those nice swirls with the star tip? ive seen so many done so nicely on google pics but no recipes on how they get it that way.

  18. Hi Gretchen, great recipe as usual. I work in a cupcake shop and they incorporate one more ingredient to its cream cheese frosting and it is milk powder. Personally I find it really nice (until I try your). My question is what the milk powder then does in the recipe. Thank you in advance and waiting for your replay

    1. Hi Gretchen I’m still waiting for your replay, but I have another question. I have to make a wedding cake next month (my first challenge) and the prospect wife wants a cake decorate with fresh mix cherries (strawberries,blackberries,etc) and vanilla and choc cake. Which filling do you recommend for those? I was thinking of choc custard for the vanilla one. What do you suggest me? Thanks anticipated

  19. hai Gretchen! Merry Xmas to u. I will try bake red velvet for my friend wedding cake. What im afraid of is the icing, do you think the icing will stay for 4hr in room tempreature. FYI, i had tried all your cake , its delicious. Thank you for the lovely recipe that you gave.

  20. Hi, Ms. Gretchen, can i use the Whipped Cream and the Cream Cheese frosting the Red Velvet Cake.. I want to try it but i want to use whipped cream instead of Swissbutter Cream. T.Y

  21. Hi Gretchen
    Sorry for getting back to you in relation to the same question. But you said you prefer pastry cream with fruit filling but as this recipe contains high perishable ingredients, it should not be at room temperature for long hours. The cake is for a wedding, so do you still think I could use this filling or recommend to use another option. Thanks in advance

    1. I have used pastry cream for weddings with no trouble. It has stayed out for up to 5 hours no trouble as long as the cake is sufficiently refrigerated before (overnight preferably) the buttercream (or fondant) acts as a seal & keep the filling very cold.

  22. My mother in law is NOT a baker, she does a pumpkin roll once a year… i bought cream cheese yesterday and got home around 4pm, the cream cheese has been sitting out on the island since i brought it home YESTERDAY at 4pm. She said well it has to be at room temp to be able to mix it and i said yes it does, but that just means an hour or 2 and then it MUST be refrigerated!!!!! She’s saying that its alright and its not going to hurt anything for it being out for, what is now 18 hrs!!!!! She is hard headed and doesn’t want to listen to me because she thinks sge knows it all, but i have been watching EVERYTHING baking related and reading blogs RELIGIOUSLY for a year now so i think i know a little more than her since she admits she’s not a baker. Just because she has almost 40yrs on me doesn’t mean she knows more about this stuff than i do. So will someone PLEASE tell me if its safe to eat this cream cheese thats been sitting out for 18 hrs because i don’t want anyone getting sick!!! And if at all possible leave a link to an actual reputable website that says whether its safe to eat it or not because thats probably going to be the only way she’ll listen to me!!!!!!! Please anf thank yoh in advance!!!! I’m searching trying to find something that tells about it but i thought this would be easier and faster because i know Gretchen knows her sh#t! Lol

    1. Hi Amanda! LOL to your frustration in your comment! Awe…well…here’s the thing. Does dairy go bad sitting around at room temperature. yes. Is the cream cheese bad NOW? After 18 hours? I doubt it. Would it turn sour or “go off” faster now that it has sat out for so long? Yes for sure, and I wouldnt keep the cake around for very long once you do go forward to make this cream cheese icing and get that cake assembled.
      Here’s a quick story- I made a chocolate mousse cake once (among dozens of other cakes I made all at the same time) so this one chocolate mousse cake got mixed up with the cakes that did NOT have to be refrigerated. SO this mousse cake sat out on the counter for over 12 hours! MOUSSE!! = whipped cream!! I was horrifed, and naturally could not sell this to my customer after my mistake….so I made another one on the fly.. later I cut into the cake just to see the damage I had created, and guess what? IT WAS FINE!!! I couldnt believe it!! I ate it and it was fine!!!! Of course the shelf like had been severely cut short- since a mousse cake can last for a week in the fridge. But now it was really just a day maybe two!
      So the moral of this story is- It is whatever YOU feel comfortable with eating. Smell it. Does it smell “off” sour? (Cream cheese really doesnt have much of a smell except for slight dairy smell) so you shouldnt really “smell” anything but that, maybe just more pronounced since it is warm.
      I cannot really tell you “Yeah go ahead it will be great!” Since I am a risk taker and I would eat it.

      I think a wise thing to do is to tell people with compromised systems (like older people and preggos) to avoid it though since this is what happened. Its more of a precaution rather than a cause for alarm though
      (But not until I refrigerated it to get it back to a cooler temp, mixed the cream cheese icing and KEPT It refrigerated and only up to 1 more day!

    2. Hi Gretchen. I wonder the same thing. How long usually do ingredients, that needed to be in room temperature, before they go bad and not recommended to be used in banking. Ingredients such as butter, cream cheese, milk or heavy cream. Usually, it takes me around 3 hours to have a room temperature melted butter. Since a lot can happen during that time, I usually fall asleep during that time. LOL… and ended up a butter or cream cheese sitting around 5-6 hours. haha.. Of course depending on temperature/condition, room temperature can vary. but ideally, how long, such as those products I mentioned, should be sitting at room temperature? Thanks

      1. well ideally just until they are the consistency that is required from the recipe which is typically 1-3 hours
        I have let butter stay out for a week before and had no trouble. It all depends what you are talking about. Cream cheese no, You read my reply though to the 18 hours LOL

    3. I’m afraid of using cream cheese more than 3 hours since I’m not the only one who will be eating the pastry.. just wanted opinion on room temperature since it happens to me a lot that while waiting to have the products to be in room temperature, I fall asleep. haha

  23. Thank you very much for this recipe, as all your others (I’m a fan)! I often make a VERY simple cream cheese + whipped cream frosting. it’s my favorite in terms of flavor (light and rich, yet not too sweet) , but clumpy and hard to pipe/decorate (I’ve read others with the same experience). Its literally whipped cream cheese plus whipped cream folded in, and works perfectly on guava cake! And, since it is folded in, there is often cream cheese clumps….Is there anyway to incorporate whipped cream into this cream.cheese buttercream recipe? I’d love a smoother, firmer version of what I already do, and really liked this cream cheese buttercream recipe from you, but find cream cheese buttercreams are often lacking that lightness.. any tips would be appreciated! 🙂

  24. Hi dear.your recipies are really very easy for cook.m so happy with your technices.i want to say thank you so much for teaching us how to bake and decorat cakes.

  25. Hello Gretchen,
    I want to make a cake for my cousin’s birthday and I think it is the perfect opportunity to try out your cream cheese icing recipe. Since it is her 30th birthday, I want to make the cake special and therefore cover it with fondant. Is that possible with this recipe?

    Thanks in advance!

  26. Hi..1question before doing this icing..can I make the half of the icing using half cream cheese half butter and half sugar??? Please tell me…Thanks

    1. Thanks..I made your red velvet cake..we will enjoy the cake tomorrow. .I ll send you a photo!! You are very kind and your recipes …perfect ..omg I want to make them all but because I am from Greece I have a tiny problem to find some ingredients. .anyway I appreciate for replying.keep …BAKING! !!!

  27. Hello Gretchen 🙂 Thanks to you; I now have a beautiful recipe of the Red Velvet Cake. I can’t wait to make it! But before I come to that, i’ve been making some tests for the buttercream. In fact, in the past, when making buttercream, I always had a sandy texture because the icing sugar wouldn’t melt entirely. Is it possible to add a bit of milk or cream to it at the end, in order to dissolve all the sugar?
    I’ve been trying that and it worked.
    Or do you have another solution for the icing sugar that wouldn’t melt, please?
    Of course, I sifted the sugar before using it, but it didn’t do anything… 🙁

  28. Gretchen what do you recommend to go under fondant? In my experience cream cheese icing is to soft and turns into a goopy mess. Client wants red velvet with cream cheese icing! Thanks for your help!

  29. Hi Gretchen.. I want to achieve the not-too-sweet cream cheese frosting. What would be an alternative ingredient for powdered sugar?

  30. hi ms.Gretchen, can i use hand mixer in making this cream cheese frosting? ‘coz i don’t have any stand mixer like yours. thank you!

  31. Hey Gretchen! I was wondering if I could make a chocolate cream cheese icing, how would I do so. Also, would I use cocoa powder or actual chocolate, and how would I keep the taste a deep flavor? Thank you so much! You’ve got good talent!

  32. Hi Gretchen….I wanted to use this carrot cake recipe and cream cheese frosting for a birthday cake….is it possible to tint the frosting and still achieve the wonderful cream cheese flavor?

  33. Hi Gretchen,

    I usually avoid the regular buttercream due its grainy texture from the confectioner’s sugar.

    In this cream cheese recipe the same sugar is used. Is the cream cheese frosting grainy as well?

    Also is confectioner’s sugar the same as icing sugar?


    1. Confectioners is the same as icing sugar yes. I do not find any offensive graininess in either recipe (I do try to use Dominos Brand whenever possible- I think this helps)

  34. Hi Gretchen.

    Thank you for all your replies!
    As you had mentioned the frosting needs to be refrigerated to make it thicker, does it need whipping again before I start using it?

    Also can this frosting be frozen for later use, like butter cream?


    1. Yes to freezing, although it may get a bit separated on the thaw? and you will have to remix back to consistency and I avoid “whipping” cream cheese icing at all cost since this is what will break it down and cause it to become really soft.

  35. Hi Gretchen

    Can I incorporate melted white chocolate into the cream cheese frosting? If so, in what quantity.


  36. Thank you Thank you Thank you sooo much for the comment in red about those of us who only have the whipped kind of Philadelphia cream cheese. In Denmark there’s only whipped cream cheese. So in a long time I gave up on making cream cheese icing cuz it turned out to this soup. But if I use the right cream cheese (not the light version) and handle it carefully as you describe its possible! No more soup:)
    I love your recepies! Thank u;)

  37. Yes, indeed, thank you for the BIG RED NOTE! In Europe we only have the whipped kind in a tub which is made in Germany though it’s Philadelphia cream cheese. I live in France and even when I was in Rome, Vienna and England all the Philadelphia cream cheese came from Germany. Now I will brave myself in making this cream cheese icing though I am still too scared to try making American buttercream because we don’t have Crisco, Sweetex, CK Products or any other hi ratio shortening which is only available in the USA. doesn’t deliver to France and neither any other Amazon in Europe

  38. Thank you chef… You are a life saver. I always get back to your videos for no fail recipes. God bless you for doing so great.

  39. Hi Gretchen, I am sooo intrigued by your Cream Cheese Buttercream Recipe ! I cannot wait to try it. I usually use coconut oil when a recipe calls for shortening. I hope it will taste good with the cream cheese !
    I have watched your cream cheese frosting recipe many times. And going on this page, finally noticed your tip about adding the cream cheese at the end ! I live in the UK. And apparently, they don’t sell the bars here. So they have “soft cheese”. It does not say whipped on the tub unless specified, but it still is the spreadable version which has more moisture.
    I will try putting the cream cheese at the end next week and get back to you !
    Love love love your videos !

  40. Three cups of cream cheese is equal to how many bars of cream cheese? Is an 8oz bar equal to one cup? Wasn’t sure if the 8oz referred to weight or volume.

      1. Hi gretchen! Looking over comments below. Does that mean it’s 3 bars of cream cheese we use? For 3 cups?

  41. Hi Gretchen,

    Can this cream cheese icing be used to frost and decorate just like buttercream? can it stay at room temperature again like buttercream?


    1. yes to frost & decorate but no to room temperature, the cream cheese is perishable and must stay refrigerated, however it can stay out for 2-3 hours

  42. Hi Gretchen, i simply love your cream cheese icing recipe. Its the best i have tried, n believe me i have tried quiet a few. I read and saw the video of mixing it with swiss merinque buttercream, but i was wondering could the same be done with american buttercream. Also, I live in India, and its hot here, 38-40 degree C . So was wondering about it stability to be outside the fridge… 2-3 hours ? Will it survive and not droop or melt.?

    Hoping to hear from you soon. Thank you.

    1. Thank you so much. 🙂
      I must say, thank you for replying to all my queries,i sumtimes do feel silly asking something, but its really nice, no matter how silly or repeated the question is, you always reply. So thank you for that. i am a self taught baker, and learn a lot from watching your videos and your blog.

      Basic cake recipes, all combined, so i dont have to wonder what cake to use when,details on the ingredients. Different frostings, etc etc feels like a mini baking school 🙂 thank u.

      1. Sure no problem! If you have a question, its not silly to you! and I dont really find many questions to be silly at all anyway! Im so glad you are finding value here and I am happy to help! 🙂

  43. Hi Gretchen,
    Thanks for all the recipe that you shared. Im planning to make a red velvet cake for my daughter’s birthday she like red velvet cake.
    What if instead of butter can I use vegtable shortening for cream cheese frosting? Im worried because in my country is very hot Im from Philippines always watching and waiting for your video. And I want to use cream cheese for my fondant cake.

    Thank Neth

  44. Hi!
    I’m planning to make a 6 layer rainbow cake… What kind of icing do you recommend me? This cream cheese frosting or the cream Che butter cream frosting?
    Thanks so much from Italy !!!

    1. Thank you 🙂 I know buttercream, I look for some alternative because I can’t convince myself it is good 🙁 I can’t help the fact that the buttercream tastes like sweet butter for me. No matter how much vanilla extract I put. I made swiss meringue buttercream some time ago. I was good when I was trying this. But it lost it’s good flavour after spend few hours in the fridge. It was really really horrible. I am reading so many opinions about buttercream, all over internet, how tasty it is and I am asking myself where I made a mistake???

    1. I do not prefer to do so, unless it is INSIDE a layered cake (like leftovers) since upon the thaw it can separate slightly and get weepy. You can of course if you want to or have to- i just do not prefer to do so

  45. Hi Gretchen. Thank you so much for the add the cream cheese last tip. Living in the UK, they don’t have cream cheese bars. So when I started making cream cheese frosting, I found it difficult to keep a good texture. But now, I have done it ! Thanks to you. I can’t wait to try the Swiss Buttercream. I don’t like them too sweet , but will make your recipe to the T with no adjustments.
    Will you do an Ermine icing video ? I’m interested in trying it for red velvet cakes.

  46. Silly question. This recipe makes enough to fill and ice an 8″ 3-layer cake… How much icing would you put for the filing? I’m afraid to over fill and run out of icing to ice the cake.

  47. Hi Gretchen,

    when I added my regular Philadelphia cream cheese (not the bar type) at the end to my creamed butter and sugar, the mixture curdled and separated. What is the reason for this and how to avoid this from happening so that the mix is properly emulsified? My cream cheese frosting is never smooth and shows signs that it’s going to curdle any moment! 🙁 please help

    1. ugggh the dreaded Whipped Tubs of cream cheese! I wish you guys could get the bar style like here! It just doesn’t make sense to me that your stores done carry it! But that being said, many (using the whipped tubs) have had success just by adding it at the end as I mention, and as you did. Im not really sure why yours separated, perhaps fold it in by hand?

    2. Thanks Gretchen for your feedback! It’s really frustrating:( I will try folding it by hand and see how it goes

      Thanks so much!!!

  48. Hi Gretchen. I want to use this recipe to color as green color and pipe swirls on cupcakes. How long can it stay at room temperature? The room is air conditioned

    1. yes to color – i use gel paste for everything ~~I try to write all storage info on the recipes after the mix method: Cakes and pastries with Cream Cheese Icing must be kept refrigerated, you can leave at room temperature for about an hour to 2 hours maximum

  49. I’m a little confused on the cream cheese icing ingredients. The video said 1 pack of cream cheese. The written ingredients said 3 cups which is 3-8 oz packs. Don’t mean to sound stupid, which is it? Thank you. Donna

    1. HI Donna, sorry for the confusion~ you are not sounding stupid~ I often make mistakes so I appreciate it when people ask me to clarify or even point out my glaring mistakes!
      I can see where you may have thought it was 1 pack since I showed only 1 pack in the video, however I did have a larger portion already measured out behind that 1 pack (it was a costco log of cream cheese! LOL)
      Anyway- the correct measure is 3 cups of cream cheese.

  50. Hi Gretchen,

    How can i turn this into a Caramel cream cheese frosting? also into a White chocolate cream cheese frosting? should it be real baking chocolate?


  51. Hi Gretchen, I saw that you mentioned that I can add melted chocolate to the cream cheese. Question 1. Would I get the same result if I used cocoa powder?
    Question 2. If I did use melted chocolate which one should I use? Semi-sweet chocolate chips?

  52. Hi Gretchen!
    Would it be alright to use Kiri Cream cheese instead of Philadelphia? And one more thing, I have found recipes stating to use whipped cream in place of butter in areas as humid as mine.. Should I use butter or whipped cream? Would salted butter do?

    1. Im not sure what Kiri cream cheese is, but I think it should work if it is just a name brand. I have not used whipped cream, but you can of course try it. My recipe uses butter- so if you want to try my recipe, follow as it is listed here. salted it fine

    2. Thank you so much! I tried yhe exact recipe, and it turned out perfect! 🙂
      If it’s of use, I did add whipped cream to another batch of the frosting, but it totally changed the flavor.. So It’s a no-go for me in the future..
      Thank you once again, Gretchen! Love from Pakistan!

  53. Hi Gretchen

    I want to use this cream cheese frosting to pipe 2 layers of simple rosettes around the sides of the cake. I’m afraid if it will fall or droop after 2 or 3 hours. Please help


    1. I have not had any problems with this icing for piping. However some people have trouble with the consistency from the start (due to the cream cheese *as I note in the blog post)
      If that is happening to you, I would recommend to use a more stable mix like the Cream Cheese Buttercream Recipe

      1. Hi Gretchen

        regarding the consistency, i got it right as i used the philadelphia bar cream cheese and followed your instructions exactly. Rosettes on top of cupcakes/ cakes using this recipe stayed in perfect shape for many hours in an A/C room.

        Im actually worried about the rossetttes piped on the collar / sides of the cake as the rosette is vertical and hence would it droop and fall off. i hope i’m clear in the way i explained it 🙂

        Thanks as always!

          1. Sorry to keep bothering you Gretchen…thanks for clarifying….so after I take it out from the fridge…for how long can the vertically piped cream cheese frosting stay without falling off.

            Thank you!

          2. I really don’t know for sure, it depends on your conditions in the room. I would say it will not fall off at all since I have never had any trouble with this icing , but I can’t guarantee that is the same for you

  54. Thanks for a great recipe! I can only speak for my country, Australia, but we have Philadelphia in block form and in tubs – the tubs come in spreadable form – and firm form just like the block. In the last few years, our big supermarket chains Coles and Woolworth’s have been doing ‘home brand’ cream cheese in tubs and its much cheaper than Philadelphia. I use the home brand plain cream cheese in the tub form for everything from icing to cheesecakes etc and I’ve never had an issue, although I quickly pour off the tiny amount of liquid that tends to form on top, it looks and smells just like whey. Hope this helps for any Aussie’s who come to this site!

      1. I remember last year there was a cream cheese recipe and a white chocolate recipe with the roll. Everyone loved your cream cheese recipe I should have saved it. This one is a lot of mix. Thank you for your replies love your recipex.

          1. Thank you dear I have that just don’t have the cream cheese filling you used last year. I have been looking through all the books I bought from you but no find. You have a great weekend

  55. Gretchen, this icing is amazing! I was looking for a pipeable cream cheese icing and it worked beautifully with the spice cake I just made. I searched many different websites before finding your recipe. I read all the reviews it really helped me feel comfortable using it for my cake. AND your video was also gave me confidence that it would actually work. Thanks again. I will be searching your website for more goodies. -Tara

  56. This question is not part of the topic to this post but I was wondering is it essential to add simple sugar syrup (1:1 of water to sugar)to cakes? I am planning to bake 2 layers 8″ white cake and set it in the fridge overnight then frost the next day with your cream cheese icing. Is the syrup meant to keep the cake from drying? Thank you for your great work to help others like myself new to cake making.

    1. No it is NOT essential to add simple syrup in fact it is often NOT desirable to add it to cakes like the white cake, pound cakes, the more dense creamed cakes do not need syrup, as it will often leave them soggy and gummy in texture. CLICK HERE FOR MORE

  57. Hey Gretchen 🙂
    A big fan of your recipes here . So a HUGE thank you for all your amazing work . Much love to you 🙂
    I happened to see your cream cheese icing video on a page on Facebook called ‘chomp chomp’ . And while it showed ‘Gretchens recipe’ in the beginning of the video .. I didn’t see any link to your page or website . So I thought maybe you should know about it if in any case someone is using your content to get more viewership . If they already have your permission , then I’m sorry to have bothered you at all .
    IL attach a screenshot of what I saw on your FB inbox .
    Hope this isn’t inappropriate/bothersome of a message to you .

    Have a beautiful day 🙂

    1. Hi Thank you so much for the support and for the heads up about the facbook video. There is an epidemic called freebooting CLICK HERE and well its pretty impossible to stop at this point, so there is not much I (or other creators can do) short of copyrighting videos and content and that is costly, not to mention getting lawyers involved in everyday life which to me is a big turn off.

      1. Aw.. that sucks big time. But I’m sure your hard work and honesty will get you so much farther than these dishonest groups do . Continue with your amazing work 🙂

  58. Hi Gretchen we don’t have d bar cream cheese in the Uk. We have 2 types of Philadelphia cheese that comes in tub. One is called soft cheese & the other is d whipped one. I have used the soft cheese one for my cream cheese filling a few time but it always comes runny. I even place d cheese in a towel and tie overnight so get out excess water but still my mixture was runny. Don’t know what to do again

    1. Yes I understand this problem, so the best thing to do is use the “soft” one not whipped and add it LAST and mix it on LOW speed and very little as possible, you can also add a cup of buttercream to help with stability and also get it to the refrigerator after mixing

      1. Hi Gretchen! Im Zsazsa from Manila and Im your fan. Ive been trying your cakes and it tastes great. May I ask if I can blend or mix the Cream Cheese Icing with your Stabilized whipped cream? Ive been looking for a cream cheese frosting thats not really sweet at all but firm. Thank you and looking forward for your reply soon. Have a great day!

  59. Hi Gretchen! I’ve been pretty successful with most your recipe except this one. I can’t seem to keep the buttercream from curdling when I mix the two today. Multiple attempts and same results and I’m following your recipe to the T. What am I doing wrong? Can you help?

  60. Oh boy…everything was peachy till i used powdered sugar…then as others i end up with the soupy thingy!

    The cream cheese wasnt the wipped kind for sure but on the tub was saying “now softer” which is way different from the wipped…i think!

    1. yes probably the case. Once you add anything to something that is already “now softer!” it will just make it softer yet! I think I should update this blog post to read that this recipe does best when mixed by hand! Since there will be more contact with the actual cream cheese and the integrity of it when using a wooden spoon, so the user can then realize when too much is just too much mixing. Also adding the cream cheese last *as I noted in this post (Or on the video – I cant remember) is another way to ensure it doesnt turn to soup

      1. Now that i have a creme (which is delicious) but unusable for my needs if i mix it to a traditional swiss buttercreme will have something that i can use in the end and at same time is not that sweet?

        P.s. In Greece as concern Philadelphia cheese (plain taste) we dont have another kind (block) and if my memory serves me right there’s only 1-2 other brands which have no idea if are suit my needs!

        Thanx for your time

  61. Suddenly i had an idea and kindly i want your opinion.

    What will happen if in the Swiss Buttercream i mix (by hand) at the end cream cheese!!!

    Im gonna have a less sweet stable frosting or gonna have another disaster?

    P.s. With my last failed attempt of Cream Cheese buttercream i made a triffle!

    Thanx in advance

    1. Sure you could add it by hand, but the same thing applies, you will have a “slightly” softer buttercream by adding the cream cheese.

  62. Hi Gretchen,
    I make a red velvet layer cake with cream cheese frosting for a wedding and where we live it us super humid. That day it was. I left the cakes in the fridge til the last minute two hrs into the reception the cream cheese was melting. What would you recommend to stabilize the cream cheese frosting? Question two what do you recommend for the buttercream make it stiffer in the humidity? I have never made your Swiss Buttercream but i’m going to soon! Thank you for your time Sincerely Karen

    1. hi Karen, humid hot summers are the worst for cakes and baking, but you did the right thing to keep them refrigerated until the last minute.
      I usually add buttercream to my cream cheese icing for added stabilization (buttercream made with shortening of course is the key to stabilizing THAT recipe first)

      1. Oh Thank you!! Now I remember ur video on that!! Next time I’ll know, I will so embarrassed when that happened almost called it quits…I can’t Thank you enough for getting back to me!

  63. Can I replace the confectioners sugar with maple syrup? I want to keep it firm and tasty for decorating a birthday cake next week. Or would it taste too buttery and not hold up well? Sometimes I make frosting with just cream cheese and maple syrup (the perfect flavor), but it won’t stabilize enough for piping.

    Also, I’ve considered using Swerve and Stevia, but I’m worried about the bitter aftertaste and digestive issues associated with those.

    1. the confectioners sugar will absorb some of the moisture in this recipe, so it does help for stability, so by adding a different sugar (a liquid one) I warn that it may become soupy (as you stated has already happened to you when you made it your way)
      I would definitely try the stevia (I have not tried swerve though)

    1. Cream cheese does have a higher moisture content than buttercream, so it may soften it slightly. I usually put a buttercream barrier between any decor and the cream cheese icing

  64. Can I use the raspberry moufilling to fill a chocolate cupcake? Will it hold up? I want to use a frosting that is stable. I have tried your Italian meringue buttercream (which is by far the best one I’ve tried). I’m topping the cupcake with chocolate piped leaf? Will this work. I wanted to create a swirl color scheme of fall colors with the frosting. Any advise?

    1. Im not sure wht you are asking, I’m usually pretty good at reading auto-correct or typos, but this one? raspberry moufilling?
      I am thinking raspberry MOUSSE? filling?
      if so, then yes you can.
      And yes to chocolate piped leaf, what are you using? Ganache? Fudge? yes to both.
      Buttercream colors best with this buttercream recipe HERE

      1. HI
        Thank you for getting back to me. Sorry about the auto correct. Yes it was raspberry mousse filling.

        I changed the what I’m making so now I’m making an apple pie filled cupcake. Not sure if I will make an cinnamon frosting to top it off. I want to go with the Italian meringue buttercream because it holds up so well. I want thinking of adding food coloring to the bag just to touch the frosting and swirl the colors.will that change the consistency since I would be use a few drops?

        Just wanted to let you know I used your Italian meringue buttercream frosting on 300 cupcakes for my daughter’s wedding two weeks ago! I made raspberry, chocolate and cookies and cream flavor! There were a hit and held up great! Thank you

        1. Would be fine to stripe the bag with color, won’t affect anything there.
          AWESOME! Wow that’s alot of cupcakes! LOL Great job!

  65. Hello Gretchen just wanted to say I love following your recipes you are amazing!

    Now I had a question about the amount of cream cheese I’m measuring out about almost three blocks of Philadelphia cream cheese because that’s what the recipe directions say, now is that correct?
    Thank you!

  66. I made the swiss buttercream icing & then mixed it with your cream cheese icing. After I did that I noticed some lumps. It seems like the lumps could be from when I heated up the sugar & eggs whites. Do you think I cooked the egg whites to form lumps?

    1. Did you smooth out the cream cheese enough? Also if the butter (and or shortening) is too cold it will have lumps when you mix everything together

  67. Pingback: Key Lime Cupcakes

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