Cream Cheese Icing that isn’t soupy!

OK, did that get your attention!

How many of you have made cream cheese icing only to get a soft, sometimes soupy mess that was almost impossible to ice a cake with?  (I raise my hand and wave wildly).  Well I’m going to tell you why that happened and help you make better cream cheese icing.

Cream cheese icing is a soft icing, it isn’t really suited for cake decorating, it is almost strictly known for its flavor.  Sure you can pipe a simple border with this icing, but you really don’t want to try and make roses with it.

Let me tell you what I have learned after making cream cheese icing.  First I realized that I was beating or “whipping” it too much.  How can that be you say, aren’t you supposed to beat the hell out of icing to make it nice and fluffy?  Yes and no.  Birthday cake icing made with hydrogenated shortening ( like crisco) takes a beating and keeps getting fluffier, you can’t kill the stuff.  The same icing made with all butter instead of shortening, will not stand up to such a beating, and here’s why.  Shortening is 100% fat, and it is hydrogenated, incredibly stable with a high melting point.  Butter is mostly fat, but also has water naturally.  The more you beat butter, the more it will break down, causing the water to separate from the fat meaning that you need to keep adding more and more powdered sugar to get it nice and thick.  That’s when a light bulb went on in my head!  The same exact thing was happening to the cream cheese! Cream cheese has likely more water naturally than butter.  That’s when I developed this method.

This is a cheesy, pleasantly sweet icing.  This recipe hasn’t been tested with lower fat cream cheese, I doubt that the results would be the same, live a little, use the real deal!

Let’s get started!

Get ‘yer stuff!

Make sure that the butter and the cream cheese are at room temperature (I left mine out for 2 hours)!  If it is a hot summer day and you don’t have A/C then move…  Well hot days without A/C aren’t good for making any kind of icing, so if your kitchen is hot, this may turn out a bit too soft, you can remedy that by popping it in the fridge for a while.

Now in the bowl of a mixer (a hand mixer will work fine too) place the room temperature butter, vanilla, and salt.  Beat until smooth.

now add your powdered sugar fluff it up before measuring, and beat until smooth.   Your mixer is probably going to complain a bit if you don’t have a strong mixer.  Scrape the bowl as needed.

now you should have a very stiff buttercream, it may even be a bit crumbly.

Now is where the magic happens!  Add the cream cheese all at once.  Now mix at the mixer’s slowest speed for one minute, until the cream cheese is just stirred in and the mixture is smooth.  Scrape the bowl half way through to help it combine (I have a fancy scraping blade for my mixer).  Now STOP THE MIXER!  You should now have a very thick, creamy cream cheese icing where the cream cheese hasn’t broken down, creating a soupy mess!  Don’t expect this to be as “fluffy” as buttercream, that’s OK, it’s awesome the way it is.

Now you have an icing that is thick enough to pipe on cupcakes or to ice a carrot cake.  Feel free to double this recipe.  This icing is best kept chilled, but best eaten at room temperature.  If icing cupcakes take them out of the fridge 30 minutes prior to eating, a layer cake, at least an hour.

That glob of icing didn’t end up in my mouth, I swear…

Printable recipe click here

  • 1 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar (fluffed before measuring)
  • 8 oz. block of cream cheese (not low fat, not “whipped” or in a tub





Frostings, Fillings, and GlazesPermalink

49 Responses to Cream Cheese Icing that isn’t soupy!

  1. RBJ says:

    Thank You!!!

  2. Pingback: Red Velvet Cake |

  3. Jessica Wittman says:

    Just made this, you are a genius! No more too soft cream cheese frosting for this girl. Thanks!

  4. cake_o says:

    i really like your procedure! from now on, i will not rely on a recipe that has a lot of reviews, maybe it helps but not all the time. i just made it a few hours ago and its really the texture what i’m looking for. thanks a lot! 🙂

    • Baking Better says:

      Glad that you liked it! For years I battled soupy cream cheese icing that required tons of extra sugar to make it workable, that’s why I developed this method!

  5. kuppykakeprincess says:

    THANK GOD FOR YOUR GLORIOUS RECIPE!!! I have been looking for a recipe for cream cheese frosting that does NOT use shortening (yuck)! I like my Kuppy Kakes to be 100% home made and have a delicious taste to them and shortening ruins it all!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE this recipe…..I highly recommend it!!

  6. alex marsh says:

    OMG you are actually a life saver! i can not tell you how much stress and freaking out ive done in my kitchen because of soupy cream cheese!! ive attempted it a billion times following so many different recipes and never get it how i need it!! thank you! this little gem is going straight into my recipe book!!

  7. Aggie says:

    I am making a wedding cake. I tried this recipe in the trial cake and it is AWESOME! Thank you. I have one question…. can it be less sweet / how much less sugar can I put and still have it at a good stiffness? I’m putting a lot of icing, frosting, a chocolate ganache… so less sweet would work nicer…

    • Baking Better says:

      You can fiddle around with it. To make it less sweet you need a higher ratio of fat to sugar. It will be softer with less sugar though, and may need to be chilled to keep it workable. This is already a lot less sweet than most cream cheese recipes out there. Just remember when making this and experimenting with less sugar, make sure not to over beat it!

      • Aggie says:

        For your info. I cut the sugar down to 2.5 cups, and salt to 1/4 tsp. I was just as stiff! Thanks again for your wonderful tips!

  8. Ellen says:

    You are a scientist-baker! I made cream cheese frosting using a different recipe a few weeks ago for a bake sale and was frustrated with how soft it was and how hard it was to get into my piping bag. Your recipe is the best one going. And the last step does work like magic! Thank you!

  9. Renee M. says:

    I have the “perfect” carrot cake recipe, however, I was never happy with my cream cheese icing because it was too thin. I tried this recipe yesterday when I made this cake for Father’s Day. It is the best ever! Not only is the consistency what I have been searching for, the flavor is fabulous. THANK YOU!!!

  10. Fran says:

    Thanks for a great recipe…runny cream cheese frosting has been a great frustration. It’s great to find out the theory behind it, too. I wasn’t sure if I had whipped the butter a little too much. Should it become paler and little fluffy? I will experiment next time, although the batch was very easy to work with on my first try. I had way too much for the single cake that I made so I will do a half quantity next time.
    How long will your frosting keep? Can it be frozen?

  11. nicole says:

    Thank you!!! I’ve been experimenting with different cream cheese frosting recipes for my carrot cake. This one was by FAR the best one I have tried. I think my days of experimenting are over… 🙂 The consistency is perfect. Actually, now that I think about, I’m going to put some lemon zest in next time…just can’t help experimenting, can I? Hehe! Thanks again!

  12. Christina says:

    Pure Genius!

  13. Cathy B. says:

    Do you know if fondant decorations will stick to this frosting?

  14. Whirlwind says:

    How come you can’t use cream cheese in a tub? Will it be bad if I do? I’m doing a cake for tomorrow and tub cream cheese is all I have 🙁

    • Baking Better says:

      Cream cheese in the tub usually has additives in it to make it softer and more spreadable when cold. You’ll likely end up with a softer icing, which is what I was trying to avoid with this recipe. It may work, but be prepared for a softer icing and you may need to add more powdered sugar.

  15. Baking Better says:

    They should be fine if you freeze them first. I always chill cakes and cupcakes before transport, and serve at room temperature.

  16. Ashley P. says:

    I know this post was a long time ago, but I thought I’d take a chance and see if I can get a response. Would adding food coloring end up making it too soft? Clearly I wouldn’t beat in the color, but stir/fold it into the mix. Also, I would probably use gel rather than a watery one. I don’t want to ruin the consistency, but I need to have a few colors. Have you dyed this frosting before? If so, how did it hold up?

  17. Randall Corbin says:

    I just made this icing and thought it very important to let others know what happen. We have a baby shower/party tomorrow for some very good friends. My wife made some cupcakes earlier in the week, but I noticed that the frosting was just pooled up on top so I thought I would give her a hand. She made clear she wanted no frosting with Crisco. Being today is Valentines day, I wanted to surprise her with an awesome frosting that she would approve and I have to say this is the ONE.
    I will be honest, I thought it to be way more sugar at first because it was so dry and powdery, but when the cream cheese hit it, it turned to WHITE GOLD! I just ate 3 spoonfuls all the while stomping my feet on the kitchen floor it was so good. It is awesome. Nuff said!


  18. Fay says:

    Tried this recipe today, it was fantastic! I have experimented on so many recipes for stiff cheese frosting before today but all turned out rubbish and disappointing, I am glad I tried this out today, thank you so much, this is what I have been searching for.


  19. Katharine L says:

    Loved this recipe! It worked perfectly. Even after adding color, I could still pipe it. I used 4x the recipe to fill, frost and decorate an 11 x 15 cake (including a crumb coat). It will be my go-to for cream cheese frosting! Thanks so much.

  20. Amanda says:

    How many cupcakes will this recipe frost with a nice sized swirl? So sorry if it is already mentioned in article! Thanks

  21. Cindy says:

    Hi, I chanced upon your blog while vexing over the soft liquidy c cheese frosting I was making. I had followed a recipe by a very famous cupcake store in the US where it said to beat at high speed for 5 mins the whole cheese butter n icing sugar mixture. I couldn use it to frost at all! I read through your advice n explanation n saw your recipe n I just had to try it though it was v late almost midnight. The frosting turned out EXACTLY AS I WANTED IT!! Thank you so much! I was overjoyed piping stiff frosting that did not droop nor slide!! Thank you!
    Cheers, from Singapore!

  22. Michelle Hawco says:

    been making this for yrs and never found one that i really liked… TILL NOW..!!

  23. Jenna says:

    This recipe looks perfect! Can you tell my how many cupcakes this will frost if piped on?

    • Baking Better says:

      I’d say if you are piping it on and being generous, 12-15 cupcakes. If you are spreading on with a spatula, probably close to 24!

  24. Vanie Arellano says:

    I am curious on this recipe , which I think this is the cream cheese recipe I’ve been looking for.
    How long it will be stable in a room temp area?
    Will it be runny after an hour?
    Because I will be making red velvet this end of june. Travelling time in delivery is about 2hours.

    • Baking Better says:

      for food safety’s sake 2-3 hours is the maximum that this should stay out of the fridge. it shouldn’t get runny at room temp

  25. Rosemary says:

    Could I use salted butter and leave out the 1/2 teaspoon salt?

  26. Beth says:

    This turned out great! It used all the same ingredients and measurements as I always use, you just do it in a bit of a different order. I guess that was all it needed. And a big glob did end up in my mouth. 🙂

  27. Karol says:

    What is ‘fluffed confectionery sugar’ if you don’t mind me asking?

  28. Holland says:

    About how many cups of frosting do you think this recipe makes? I’m making a wedding cake and need to figure how much I need to make. Thanks!!!

  29. Olivia says:

    Omg can’t wait to try it. Finally a thick cream cheese frosting. Yay!!!! Will let you know if it’s as good as everyone’s.

  30. Sarahk1 says:

    Would this frosting crust once refrigerated? I am looking to build aqedding cake that requires a cream cheese frosting and then being covered in fondant. Thanks!

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