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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

How To Make Perfect Cream Cheese Frosting

I was alerted to this information by one of my readers who was also in search of making thick cream cheese frosting instead of the gloopy messes I've been turning out lately. I used to think it was the recipe, but au contraire, it's the technique! Here is the article she showed me. It's from culinarycafe.com.

To have perfectly smooth cream cheese frosting with enough body to spread in dramatic swirls or even pipe through a pastry bag, you have to know these two secrets. First, overbeating breaks down the cream cheese, and produces grainy looking frosting that is too soft to hold a shape. Second, cold (not softened) cream cheese produces the best texture in both of our methods. Have the butter, if you use it, at the temperature recommended for the method you choose, and sift the powdered sugar after measuring.

Yields: About 2 cups
8 ounces cream cheese
5 tablespoons unsalted butter (optional)
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 to 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
Grated lemon or orange zest, ground cinnamon, or liqueur of choice

Food Processor Method
Have the cream cheese cold. The butter can be cold, but preferably at room temperature, 68 to 70 degrees F. Combine cream cheese, butter, vanilla and sugar in a food processor and pulse just until smooth and creamy. If the frosting is too stiff, pulse for a few seconds longer. Do not overprocess. If desired, stir in additional flavoring to taste.

Electric Mixer Method
Have the cream cheese cold and the butter at room temperature. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until blended. Add sugar one-third at a time and beat just until smooth and the desired consistency. If frosting is too stiff, beat for few seconds longer. Do not overbeat. If desired, stir in additional flavoring to taste. This keeps, refrigerated, for about 1 week. Or freeze for up to 3 months. Soften and stir until smooth before using.


Stef said...

Interesting. I've always been really disappointed if I don't soften my cream cheese first. It doesn't seem to mix in correctly and I end up with lumps.

Tango Cakes said...


Great tips!

I just saw your comment on my blog about the icing, too. I've been trying lately to figure out how to get everything thicker without making it too sweet (I've heard just add more powdered sugar).

I need some icing therapy, I think. :)

Cheryl said...

Thanks for the great recipe and all the tips!

Anonymous said...

Hey, it's Meloney again. I just tried this tonight and it really did work. I was able to pipe 1M swirls that kept their shape.

Regarding the lumps, you really do need to sift the powdered sugar at least three times.

Sunday Cook said...

I used this technique for a 2-tiered cake I made for an anniversary party. It worked great - I used butter in mine. Next time I will try will less as it didn't hold up wonderfully at room temp (although it was out for well over 3 hours - what did I expect?) Picture here.

Thanks for the recipe!

Samantha said...

I've tried to do a cream cheese frosting before and it came out pretty thin. Thanks so much for posting this! I'm about to try again in a few days (my fiance LOVES bailey's and kahlua, so I'm attempting to make a better b & k chocolate cake than last year!)... This should definitely help me. :)

Sasha said...

This was an amazing technique. It really does work to use the softened butter and cold cream cheese. No lumps or anything. The smoothest whipped frosting ever! Thanks so much for the tip!

Pinky said...

We use cream cheese based frostings on most of our cakes and cupcakes at the bakery where I work. Our "basic" frosting is made from a mix of regular and neufchatel and the other from just regular philly. Both start out by creaming the room temp butter and powdered sugar till very fluffy, then adding the softened cheese a chunk at a time. I love both these frostings and they are a dream to pipe. In fact they are so sturdy that when decorating my cupcakes I turn the frosted cake upside down when sprinkling. I'll see if I can shrink the recipe down to a home size (as most people surely don't need thirty pounds of frosting)

Pinky said...

Okey doke. Here is our frosting
Cream 3/4 lb (1 1/2 cups) butter with 1 pound sifted powdered sugar. Add 6 ounces softened cream cheese and 6 ounces softened neufchatel a chunk at a time. Add vanilla to taste

How To Eat A Cupcake said...

Thanks Pinky!


kim said...

i just saw this through your post on flickr... i never knew that about CC!! just figured i should beat it up as much as i usually beat an all-butter frosting. thanks for the tip, mine has always been runny in the past :)

Nanette said...

A huge thanks... I was just at the point of taking cream cheese icing off the menu... as I've always found it to be too tempermental (always putting it back into the fridge a couple of times throughout decorating a cake).

This recipe is super simple and works incredibly well :)

Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

I'm still having problems with lumps of butter in my cream cheese frosting!! I use room temp unsalted butter, beat it until soft, then add the cream cheese (usually straight from fridge, but i've tried it at room temp too) and then i beat in the icing sugar. BUT THERE ARE STILL LUMPS! It drives me mad! help please? PS- i've tried it in a Blender too but there were still lumps! Thanks Sophie xx

Alai said...

I made Pinky's cream cheese/neufchatel icing today and it came out FANTASTIC...nice and smoothe, creamy (no lumps) and only needed a dash (maybe 1/2 tsp) of vanilla extract. Both butter and cheeses where room temp (like out for an hour) and it held up nicely. It does make a lot so I'm going to try freezing some an1d see how that holds up. Thanks, Pinky!

Anonymous said...


I've found that beating the butter first until really light, then adding the sugar until creamy, then adding the cream cheese works pretty well. That way you have a creamy base already before adding the cheese, and you don't have to mix it much more to get the cheese added in, therefore limiting the processing time and possibility that the cheese will break down too much

Anchen said...

Thank you for the great tips! It came out puuurrrfectly, thanks!

Anonymous said...

Iup used your recipe today and for the first time ever, i got the frosting to be just perfect !! Thank you so much !!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I am in Australia and have never had cream cheese frosting before, but i really wanted to give it a go. This recipe is soooooo yummy!!! I used a 250gm tub of cream cheese (cold), the whole 5 tablespoons of butter (since 250gms is slightly more than 8 ounces) and 2 1/2 cups of icing sugar (i wanted it a bit sweet). I have found a new favourite, i just love it!
Thanks for sharing N xox

Anonymous said...

I've made this recipe for years with the food processor method; it's fantastic. However, because I like to give credit where credit is due, this is word-for-word from The Joy of Cooking, just FYI.

Anonymous said...

Voila!! I made a batch last night by creaming butter and powder sugar FIRST and then throwing in chunks of cold cream cheese. It was PERFECT!! So glad the mystery is solved.

Kristin Jaskowiak said...

I just made this frosting after scouring the interwebs for the perfect cream cheese frosting and finally found one I can put my faith in. It held up beautifully and had a good taste. No great mouth feel. Smooth, pipe-able. Really great. I don't normally review recipes.