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Cream Cheese Frosting for Piping, Frosting and Glazes

Use this cream cheese frosting for piping, smooth frosting and glazes. It's not too sweet and pairs perfectly with loads of cake and cupcake recipes, like my Banana Layer Cake and One Bowl Carrot Cake. In this tutorial I'll show you everything you need to know about making it, colouring it and storing it, too!

How to make cream cheese frosting

To make cream cheese frosting, the key is to use room temperature ingredients. This will prevent a lumpy bumpy mess. 

It’s important to use cream cheese from a block, not a tub. Avoid whipped cream cheese because that will be too soft and since it’s whipped and aerated, it will create air bubbles in your frosting.

Take your butter and cream cheese out of the fridge four hours before you use them so they soften. This prevents lumps in your cream cheese frosting. The first step is to mix them together until they’re combined into a pale, smooth mixture.

ingredients for cream cheese frosting

Add icing sugar or powdered sugar, which needs to be sifted so there are no lumps in that either. Don’t over-mix because you’ll break the cream cheese down and make the frosting too runny. Stop when its smooth and add vanilla and salt. Mix those until they’re combined, and now it’s ready to use!

Cream Cheese Frosting made with powdered sugar

The quantity of sugar in this recipe is perfect for frosting a cake or to pipe a swirl on a cupcake. To adjust the stiffness of this cream cheese frosting just adjust the amount of sugar. If you want it to be less sweet you can use less sugar or use more sugar to make it sweeter. Be aware that with less sugar, the consistency will be runnier. The result will be much softer and less textured piping. With less sugar it will be difficult to frost a cake with smooth sides and sharp edges.

use this cream cheese frosting for piping swirls on cupcakes

How to use cream cheese frosting to frost a cake

For really smooth frosting, follow the recipe as written to make your frosting. Then chill your cake in the freezer for 15 minutes before you frost it. Apply a crumb coat first, which is a very thin layer of frosting that catches and traps any crumbs that come off the cake so that they don’t get into your final coat of frosting. It’s especially important to use a crumb coat before your final coat of frosting if you’re using cream cheese frosting, which is more translucent or less opaque than regular buttercream frosting.

For the final coat, spread your frosting on generously. Push it up above the top edge of the cake and that will help you get sharp edges. Smooth the frosting with a cake comb, scraping around the cake several times. Touch up any indents by spreading more frosting over those and then smooth again until you’re happy with the sides. For the top, push sideways with an offset spatula. Don't push down because that will cause a bulge in the frosting around the top of the cake. 

use this cream cheese frosting for frosting cakes and piping borders

How to use cream cheese frosting for piping

You can pipe borders or swirls with this frosting and the texture will hold its shape. If the frosting gets softer as you pipe, it's from the warmth of your hands on the piping bag or the warmth of the room. Put the piping bag or bowl of frosting into the fridge for 5 minutes to chill it slightly. That will make the frosting stiffer so it will hold its shape better. You'll notice more texture and definition in your piping.

Cream cheese frosting isn’t as stiff as regular buttercream but it’s stable enough to support another layer of cake onto top. This means you can use it as filling for cakes, even for naked cakes!

how to colour cream cheese frosting

How to colour cream cheese frosting

You can colour cream cheese frosting just like buttercream. I recommend gels over liquid colours because they’re much more concentrated so they’ll give you bright and bold colours without making the frosting too watery. As you tint cream cheese frosting, try to fold in the colour instead of stirring aggressively. As I mentioned before, if you over-mix cream cheese frosting you’ll break down the cream cheese and the frosting will become less stiff, or more runny. If that happens as you’re colouring it you can either put the bowl in the fridge for 5 minutes to chill it so that it firms up a bit or you can add more sugar, which will stiffen it. Cream cheese frosting pipes beautifully and has a gorgeous shine to it, too.

How to make a cream cheese glaze

To use this cream cheese frosting as a glaze, microwave it for 30 seconds. Then add milk a spoonful at a time until you can drizzle it with a spoon. Spoon it onto your loaf or cake and it will run down the sides.

how to make cream cheese glaze

Although this will never set or crust to be firm, it’s thick enough that it won’t absorb into your cake and disappear! It’s just as tangy and rich and delicious as when it’s thicker and stiffer so it’s a very decadent topping for any dessert.

banana cake with cream cheese glaze

How to store cream cheese frosting

You can leave cream cheese frosting at room temperature for four hours. If you need to store it overnight, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge. You can leave cream cheese frosting in the fridge for up two weeks or in the freezer for two months! I like to store cream cheese frosting in a ziplock bag so it doesn't take up much space.

how to store cream cheese frosting in the freezer

When you take cream cheese frosting out of the fridge or freezer it will be very firm. Let it sit on the counter for about an hour before stirring it to knock out any air bubbles. 

If you use cream cheese frosting on a cake, store that cake in the fridge. Take it out between two and four hours before serving to let it come to room temperature, when it will taste the best!

how to store a cake with cream cheese frosting

To save cake leftovers, cover any cut sides with plastic wrap to keep the cake moist. Put the cake in the fridge and take it out an hour before eating it.

Did I miss anything? Ask me in the comments below!

Here's the recipe for this cream cheese frosting for piping, frosting and glazes. You can adjust the quantities to use US (cups) or metric measurements. You can also scale the recipe up by using the buttons at the top of the recipe.

If you try this cream cheese frosting recipe, I’d love to hear what you think of it! Please leave a rating and comment below.

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cream cheese frosting for piping and smooth frosting on cakes

Cream Cheese Frosting


  • Author: Emily
  • Yield: To fill and frost a three-layer 6" cake

Description

This is a cream cheese frosting for piping, frosting and glazes. It's not too sweet and it pairs perfectly with loads of cake and cupcake recipes.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 lb powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Put room temperature butter and cream cheese in a bowl and use an electric mixer to mix until smooth.
  2. Sift powdered sugar and add to the bowl, mixing until incorporated.
  3. Add vanilla and salt and mix to combine. The cream cheese frosting should be smooth and easy to stir. You mixer or spatula should leave soft peaks in it.

Notes

To fill and frost a three-layer 8" or 9" cake, double this recipe (click X2 at the top).

To make a glaze, microwave the cream cheese frosting for 30 seconds. Add milk a spoonful at a time until you can drizzle the cream cheese frosting as a glaze.

Store cream cheese frosting in an airtight container or a bowl covered with plastic wrap. You can leave it at room temperature for up to 4 hours or in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 weeks or in the freezer for 2 months.

You can also watch a video tutorial of this cream cheese frosting for piping, frosting and glazes:

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Recipe rating

6 comments on “Cream Cheese Frosting for Piping, Frosting and Glazes”

  1. Hi! Love your site and recipes! So good to have a super British girl baking! One question with this cream cheese frosting please - what cheese do you use? I can only ever find Phili but thats in a tub. Where do you buy a block from please? Thanks a lot. Linda x

    1. Hi Linda! I haven't seen blocks in the UK so I would use a tub but add it straight out of the fridge and at the end of the recipe instead of the beginning, which will give your icing a stiffer consistency 🙂

  2. Hi, wondering what to use for powdered sugar in Australia. Is it pure icing sugar (100% sugar cane) or icing sugar mixture (36% and contains cornflour)?

  3. Thanks a lot Emily - tried to reply to your answer but the 'reply' button doesn't do anything! I have tried putting Phili in some muslin and draining the fluid out and it worked quite well but I'll try adding it at the end of the recipe like you suggested - must be easier than faffing about straining the cheese!Thanks very much.

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