the best cream cheese frosting

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Here’s the thing: I know this is a big claim to make. Any time you use the word “best” as an adjective, you’re entering dangerous territory.

But here’s the other thing: In my opinion, this is THE BEST cream cheese frosting.

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Recently, I’ve been borderline obsessed with this website called Thought Catalog. It’s basically the extent of my daily reading. Shameful, I know.

Anyway, I figured it would be fun to write my own “thought catalog” of sorts. Basically, this is my excuse to write you a random list of my random thoughts as of late.

  • Is it pretentious to say “as of late?” Hmm…
  • It’s time to lay off the chocolate-covered espresso beans.
  • It’s not easy to lay off the chocolate-covered espresso beans when in possession of a 1-pound package of them.
  • I would eat Greek food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if possible.
  • Rachael Ray’s husband’s band as a musical guest on the Rachael Ray Show. Weird.
  • Major respect to all you waiters and waitresses out there.
  • I would eat this frosting by the spoonful if I didn’t know any better.
  • Sometimes I pretend to not know any better (shhhhhhhh!).
  • End. Rant.

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We’ve frosted things with cream cheese before. An Apple Cider Bundt Cake, Red Velvet Beet Brownies, and this Four Layer Chocolate Cake with Coconut and Almond Filling. Point is, cream cheese is one of my favorite kinds of frosting. And now I’ve found, what I consider to be, the best recipe for it.

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What I like best about this frosting is that it is not too sweet. Just looking at the ratio of ingredients, you can tell that this recipe is heavy on the cream cheese, easy on the confectioners’ sugar. It’s almost like spreading a forkful of tangy New York cheesecake on top of whatever it is you’re baking. I also love the texture of this simple 4-ingredient recipe. It’s creamy, decadent, and the perfect thickness for frosting (and piping on) a cake.

No matter what you’re making – cinnamon rolls, layer cakes, cupcakes, brownies, pancakes, french toast – try this frosting!

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The Best Cream Cheese Frosting

Slightly Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook 

- ¾ C. unsalted butter, at room temp.

- 3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, at room temp.

- 2 C. confectioners’ sugar, sifted

- 1 ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add cream cheese, and beat until combined and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the sugar and vanilla, and beat for about another 5 minutes.

Store in an airtight container until ready to use; keeps for about 1 week.

Yields about 5 ½ C. frosting (enough to frost an 8-inch layer cake or 2 dozen cupcakes)

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34 Responses to “the best cream cheese frosting”

  1. Can I use this in a pastry bag ???

  2. The cake was a huge hit. I adapted your recipe using mascarpone and adding lemon curd and zest. It is very delicious.

  3. I lucked out and have been informed that refrigeration will be available. Yay! I had done some research and it was mentioned on one site that vegan cream cheese might work without refrigeration because it lacks dairy. I tried it and if you hadn’t tried the original recipe you probably would think it was pretty tasty. I found myself pining for the original. :-)

  4. I love this recipe. I paired it with a golden vanilla butter cake and a strawberry/balsamic reduction to create a cake better than shortcake. I would love to use it on a cake I’m making for a wedding in June but I’m concerned about refrigeration. I don’t want to poison anybody. How long can this frosting handle no refrigeration? I would appreciate any help you are able to give me. Thank you.

    • Hi Lee, so glad you enjoyed the recipe. That cake sounds delicious! To be honest, I don’t have an exact/ scientific answer for you. Obviously the longer you can keep it refrigerated, the better. Personally, I would feel comfortable eating cake that has been sitting out for up to four hours… that said, that doesn’t mean it is 100% “safe” at that point.

      If possible, I would suggest frosting the cake layers in advance, keeping them refrigerated, and then assembling them as close to serving. If not, try to keep the cake in a very cool room – do not allow it to sit out in the heat or sun under any circumstances.

      Hope this helps!

  5. I’m not a huge fan of cream cheese but this was AMAZING!!!!

  6. Can I use the viva paper towel trick to smooth out cream cheese frosting?

    • I’m actually not familiar with that trick (had to look it up just now), so I’m not sure. Personally, I would’t recommend as I don’t like the idea of essentially rubbing paper towel particles all over a cake that I’ve labored over. I also find rustic, imperfectly-frosted cakes to be incredibly charming – but it’s totally your call and your aesthetic!

  7. Wow…this is good!

  8. You have a beautiful blog! Thanks for the recipe, this is a must try!

  9. didn’t turn out as white and fluffy as yours but the taste is FABULOUS! thanks for the recipe! :)

  10. Going to try it on new year’s dinner. looks amazing. thanks for sharing :)

  11. Sounds fabulous. Will we (hopefully) get to experience the best cream cheese frosting ever on the next family holiday?

  12. Oh my, this looks so lovely! =D

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