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Cream Cheese Frosting #Basics

This Cream Cheese frosting recipe is simple and quick and perfect for piping. It tastes sweet and creamy and rich yet tangy – all the right boxes!

Cream cheese frosting pairs well with so many things, you really can’t go wrong. It is probably most often paired with carrot cakes and red velvet cakes (though the Ermine frosting also works perfectly with red velvet!)

Milk powder is a great addition in this recipe! It adds to taste without diluting the frosting and instead stabilises it for piping. DO NOT add milk instead, replace with equal amount of icing sugar.

Edit – February 2019

Cream cheese frosting is a little tricky – sometimes it comes out the be a perfect consistency and sometimes it becomes soupy and no matter what I do, it doesn’t pipe well. The geek inside me couldn’t just rest and I kept researching and reading anything that said cream cheese!

If we talk in science language, sugar is hygroscopic. What it means is, sugar tends to pull out water from whatever is added to it. Hence sugar is an important element in baking – not just for flavour but also by binding water it leaves less for gluten to form, resulting in a lighter cookie or cake.

But when we’re making a frosting, we don’t want our sugar to do that and make our frosting soupy! Therefore, we first make a regular buttercream by beating butter and icing sugar. This way, the sugar molecules get coated with fat, and then when you add cream cheese, sugar cannot pull water from it. Hence it’s also very important that you use the block-style cream cheese and not the spreads. We also need to make sure we don’t over-beat after adding cream cheese – we don’t want to give the sugar any chance to attract water out!

Lastly, use cold cream cheese. It definitely helps in a more stable end result.

The recipe quantites remain the same, just the process is different. You can see the difference in the result! The piping is stiff and it stays like this 🙂

This recipe makes a batch of cream cheese frosting enough for 12-14 cupcakes or frost one 8″ cake. You can double the recipe.

Cream Cheese Frosting

This Cream Cheese frosting recipe is simple and quick and perfect for piping. It tastes sweet and creamy and rich yet tangy – all the right boxes!
Keyword cream cheese frosting
Prep Time 15 minutes
Author Noopur


  • 125 g Cream cheese cold (just out of the refrigerator)
  • 125 g unsalted butter softened at room temperature
  • 175 g sifted icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
  • 40 g Milk Powder equivalent to 2 small sachets of Nestle milk powder


  • In a bowl, beat softened butter till light and pale.
  • Add sifted icing sugar little at a time and beat till everything is mixed together. 
  • Add milk powder, vanilla essence and mix well.
  • Add cream cheese and mix until just combined and no lumps remain. Don’t overmix. The frosting is ready.
  • Store unused cream cheese frosting in the fridge for 4-5 days or freeze in an airtight container for 2-3 months.


  • Use full-fat block style cream cheese and not cheese spread.
  • If you don’t have any milk powder, skip it and replace it with more icing sugar.
  • Icing sugar should be added in small batches, else they’ll fly off everywhere adding to your cleaning woes 🙂
  • Make sure you scrape down the sides of the bowl each time you add a new ingredient.
  • If the frosting is still soft at the end, chill it for 15 minutes before piping.
Edit (18 July 2017) - Adding to the Game of Thrones frenzy, I made these cupcakes inspired by 'A Song of Ice and Fire'. The 'Ice' is a vanilla-peppermint cupcake with blue cream cheese frosting. The 'Fire' is a red velvet cupcake with red & orange cream cheese frosting. Tempting, aren't these? :)
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