After the time and care it takes you to bake up a homemade cake (like one of these beauties!) or a batch of soft sugar cookies, you may be tempted to pull out the tub of store-bought frosting lurking in the back of your cabinet. The problem with that high-fructose corn syrup-laden frosting is that its artificial flavor and coloring will ruin the deliciously decadent flavor of your freshly made cake. (If you absolutely must use the canned stuff, reach for our best-loved brand.)
A simple solution? This oh-so-easy cream cheese frosting that’s ready in 10 minutes or less! We love cream cheese frosting because it’s a bit tangier and less syrupy sweet than plain frosting. Because the frosting is made with simple, on-hand ingredients like cream cheese, butter, vanilla and confectioners’ sugar, you’ll be able to pronounce everything in the recipe. (What even is polysorbate 60? Yuck.) Plus, this quick and effortless cream cheese frosting can be stored in the fridge for later, so you’ll never be tempted to go store-bought again.
These homemade frosting recipes are delicious, too.
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How to Make Cream Cheese Frosting
There’s nothing better than a recipe like this one that uses ingredients you already have and is perfectly delicious. Grab these (make sure the butter and cream cheese is softened) and get to work.
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt, optional
3-3/4 to 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
Step 1: Prep the Ingredients
Let the cream cheese and butter soften if they’re hard from the fridge. (In a pinch? Try these tips to soften butter in a snap.) While they sit on the counter, measure out the rest of the ingredients. It’s important to have the ingredients ready to go for this recipe since they all have to come together so quickly.
Test Kitchen tip: If you need a pure white frosting, use clear vanilla extract rather than a standard vanilla extract. (Ever tried homemade vanilla extract? It’s so good.)
Step 2: Just Beat It
Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and salt in a large bowl. Keep beating until the mix is light and fluffy. It’ll already look a little bit like frosting, but will be thicker and glossier.
Test Kitchen tip: If your confectioners’ sugar is clumpy, sift it with a fine-mesh sieve before adding it to the cream cheese mixture to prevent a lumpy frosting.
These desserts are practically begging for a dollop of cream cheese frosting.
Step 3: Add the Sugar
Gradually beat the confectioners’ sugar into the mix. We usually add one cup at a time—you don’t want all that sugar to fly up into your face. (Don’t ask us how we know.)
Once you’ve added three cups, slow down a bit. Taste the frosting. Is it sweet enough? Is the texture firm but workable? If it’s not sweet enough or if it’s too thin, add more sugar, a tablespoon at a time, until it tastes good and the texture’s just right. If you add too much sugar and the frosting gets stiff, you can thin it out with a dash of milk.
Test Kitchen tip: While making the frosting, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula frequently, to make sure all of the ingredients are incorporated evenly.
Using Cream Cheese Frosting
After you sample a few fingerfuls (for quality control purposes, of course), get frosting! (Psst! Here’s how to use a piping bag like a pro.) This recipe yields about three cups of cream cheese frosting, which is enough to cover a two-layer cake, a single-layer sheet cake or two dozen cupcakes.
After frosting, be sure to store your goods in the refrigerator until serving. Cream cheese can melt or even spoil if left at room temperature.
Test Kitchen tip: This frosting can be made and refrigerated so you can always have some on hand for desserts or a late night treat. Just bring it to room temperature and beat again to fluff it back up before using.
How to Make Flavored Cream Cheese Frosting
While a straightforward cream cheese frosting is just the thing you need for carrot cake, you might want to amp up the flavors to add more personality to your bakes. Here are some of our favorite icing flavors and how to create them:
Almond: Add a few drops of almond extract in place of (or along with) the vanilla.
Coconut: Use that bottle of coconut extract in the pantry! Add a teaspoon to the recipe. You can even fold in toasted coconut.
Lemon: Add a few drops of lemon extract in place of the vanilla. You can even add in a touch of lemon zest.
Peppermint: Add a few drops of peppermint extract in place of the vanilla. Go easy with peppermint extract—it’s super strong.
Rum: Add a tablespoonful along with the vanilla. If you prefer rum extract, a teaspoon works.
Strawberry: Make strawberry cream cheese frosting by pureeing three ounces of fresh berries and adding to the basic frosting recipe
Extracts, especially almond and peppermint, are fairly strong, so start slow and add more to taste.
Try It With These Cakes for Frosting Lovers
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Come-Home-to-Mama Chocolate Cake
You’ll spend less than a half hour whipping up this cure-all cake that starts with a mix. Sour cream and chocolate pudding make it rich and moist, and chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate make it decadent comfort food at its finest. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
Pecan Cake with Cookie Butter Frosting
My mom and I bought a jar of cookie butter to try it out, and we fell in love with it. I knew the flavor would go well with maple syrup and pecans, so I came up with this cake. I like to make a pretty design on the top of the cake with pecan halves. —Natalie Larsen, Columbia, Maryland
Nana’s Chocolate Cupcakes with Mint Frosting
Even though she is no longer with us, Nana’s treats bring me so much joy every time I bake them. For a more indulgent version, double the frosting and pile it on high! —Chekota Hunter, Cassville, Missouri
Old-Fashioned Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
A pleasingly moist cake, this treat is the one I requested that my mom make each year for my birthday. It’s dotted with sweet carrots and a hint of cinnamon. The fluffy buttery frosting is scrumptious with chopped walnuts stirred in. One piece of this cake is never enough—better than all the other carrot cakes I’ve tried!—Kim Orr, West Grove, Pennsylvania
Frosted Chocolate Cake
This recipe is my mother’s oldest and most popular chocolate cake recipe. I always thought it should have a fancier name, but this is what she called it. Mom would say a fancy name would not make it taste better. —Beth Bristow West Plains, Missouri
Easy Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
After trying a few buttercream frosting recipes, this easy buttercream frosting takes the cake with its unmatchable homemade taste. With a few simple variations, you can come up with different colors and flavors. —Diana Wilson, Denver, Colorado
Mamaw Emily’s Strawberry Cake
My husband loved his Mamaw’s strawberry cake recipe. He thought no one could duplicate it. I made it, and it’s just as scrumptious as he remembers. —Jennifer Bruce, Manitou, Kentucky
Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
This is a wonderful recipe I discovered and changed a bit to suit my taste. I love the flavor of pumpkin and the cinnamon makes ordinary cream cheese frosting extra special. When I made a batch for my husband to take to work, he said they disappeared in record time. —Debbie Wiggins, Longmont, Colorado
Cranberry Coconut Cake with Marshmallow Cream Frosting
Filled with a homemade cranberry curd and smothered with one of the fluffiest frostings you’ve ever had, this tall cake will make a memorable impression at any gathering. —Julie Merriman, Seattle, Washington
Chocolate Bavarian Torte
Whenever I take this eye-catching torte to a potluck, I get so many requests for the recipe. —Edith Holmstrom, Madison, Wisconsin
Maple Walnut Cake
This maple-flavored cake with candied walnuts honors my grandpa, who made maple syrup. —Lori Fee, Middlesex, New York
Cherry Cola Cake
Cherry cola and marshmallows make a zippy chocolate dessert that is scrumptious topped with vanilla ice cream. — Cheri Mason, Harmony, North Carolina
Say happy birthday with this dark, moist cake. The basic buttery frosting has an unmistakable homemade taste. With a few simple variations, you can come up with different colors and flavors. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
Marvelous Cannoli Cake
A luscious, chocolate-studded cannoli filling separates the tender vanilla layers of this rich cake, which starts with a package mix. It’s best when served well chilled.—Antoinette Owens, Ridgefield, Connecticut
Pink Lemonade Stand Cake
If you love a moist and creamy cake, this is it. Lemon juice and lemonade give the layers a tangy touch, and the cream cheese frosting with sprinkles makes it pretty. —Lauren Knoelke, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Marvelous Marble Cake
Pound cake and chocolate make the best marble cake. — Ellen Riley, Birmingham, Alabama
Tropical Carrot Cake
I look forward to August because our family reunion means fun and great food, like this classic cake with the special flair it gets from pineapple. My great-aunt gave me this recipe, and I always make it for the reunion. —Victoria Casey, Enterprise, Oregon
Vanilla Bean Cake with White Chocolate Ganache
For a distinctive dessert with unforgettable flavor, I recommend this cake. Feel free to substitute your favorite jam and lend your own touch to this signature treat. —Lisa Bogar, Coventry, Vermont
Rich Buttercream Frosting
A few simple ingredients make a creamy frosting that finishes cakes, cupcakes and cookies. If you love making desserts, keep this frosting recipe handy. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
Potluck German Apple Cake
My mother made this German apple cake for my brothers and me when we were kids. It’s an excellent choice for a Christmas potluck or actually any time of year. —Edie DeSpain, Logan, Utah
Ganache-Topped Chocolate Cake
To say this cake is elegant would be an understatement. It’s worthy of special occasions, but so easy to whip together you can enjoy it any day of the week. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
Simple vanilla frosting is a great topper for any cupcake. I frosted 300 cupcakes with this recipe for my wedding in lieu of a traditional cake. It made for a delicious bridal twist. — Annie Rundle, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Minted Chocolate Torte
Our family has enjoyed this remarkable layered cake for years. It’s a favorite for many occasions. —Barbara Humiston, Tampa, Florida
Coconut Cake with White Chocolate Frosting
My husband adores coconut but not so much cake. When I take this beauty to family potlucks, he gets his coconut, too. —Sharon Rehm, New Blaine, Arkansas
Amaretto Butter Frosting
Put the crowning touch on cupcakes with this rich and buttery Amaretto topper. —Anette Stevens, Olds, Alberta
The post How to Make Cream Cheese Frosting in Only 10 Minutes! appeared first on Taste of Home.