This post may contain affiliate links.

Cream cheese frosting, a favourite cake topping, is made up of icing sugar, butter and full fat cream here in the UK.

After lots of trial and error, I think I may have finally found the right balance of ingredients/method so we can use this recipe again and again on top of our favourite bakes!

A bowl on a white table cloth, filled with cream cheese frosting, surrounded by a bowl and pack of cream cheese and a whisk.

I have a confession. I have NEVER ever managed to successfully make cream cheese icing (until now!)

When I was testing my Pumpkin Cake recipe, I knew it needed the perfect cream cheese frosting made in UK-style, rather than American. So I set about testing.

I tested a number of different ratios of the 3 main ingredients (butter, icing sugar, cream cheese). 

I was looking for:

➡️ Stable icing that wasn’t too soft

➡️ Frosting that was easy to spoon and pipe with a piping bag

➡️ A delicious, fresh, cream cheese flavour (of course)

Why you’ll love this Cream Cheese Icing recipe

⭐️ Easy to make and works every time

⭐️ Creamy, dreamy deliciousness to give cakes something EXTRA

⭐️ Just 4 ingredients (but do follow the tips!)

A small glass filled with cream cheese frosting, with a full icing bag laid at the side of it.

Why is cream cheese icing so difficult to make?

A LOT of cream cheese icing (or frosting) are American recipes. American cream cheese is totally different to the product we buy in the UK.

It is much firmer, so it makes an easier-to-handle icing. We need a few changes to make it work well here.

Sarah’s Notes

After extensive testing (and fails!) testing this recipe, I opted for the basic ratio used by the BBC Good Food recipe.

⭐️ I made a few changes to the method which I think improves the stability.

⭐️ I also added vanilla extract as I think it adds a richness to the icing.

I hope this becomes your go-to cream cheese icing recipe too!


The ingredients to make cream cheese frosting laid on a white counter. Full fat cream cheese, butter, icing sugar and vanilla extract.
  • Unsalted butter – We need hard block butter for this. Spreadable butter or margarine won’t give the same result. See notes further down about butter
  • Icing sugar
  • Full fat cream cheese – It’s important to use full fat here to help it whip properly
  • Vanilla extract – NOT essence! (Essence is synthetic and extract is natural)

How to make Cream Cheese Frosting

Butter and icing sugar whisked together in a glass bowl for the recipe Cream Cheese Frosting.

1. Whisk together the butter and icing sugar in a large bowl, as per the recipe below, until light, fluffy and paler.

Ingredients for cream cheese icing all mixed together in a glass bowl to make a mixture.

2. Drain the cream cheese of any liquid, add to the bowl with the vanilla extract and fold in carefully. Mix until there are no lumps.

Hint: Don’t over-mix! Or the icing could become too watery.

Cakes to top with the icing:

⭐️ Easy Apple Cake ⭐️

⭐️ Pumpkin Cake ⭐️

⭐️ Courgette Cake ⭐️

⭐️ Mini Pumpkin Bread Loaves ⭐️

⭐️ Nutella Muffins ⭐️

⭐️ Banana Cake ⭐️


In the fridge Store in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days. Make sure you leave it at room temperature to soften up a little before using again.

In the freezer You can freeze cream cheese icing. Pop it in a container or freezer bag and defrost thoroughly before using again.

Top tips

Cream cheese 

Make sure you use COLD cream cheese. Don’t bring it out of the fridge until you are ready to use it.


Use ROOM TEMPERATURE butter. It should be just soft enough to scoop easily but not runny. If you need to soften it in the microwave because you’ve forgotten to take it out of the fridge, be sure to not soften it too much or your icing will be very floppy.

It also needs to be hard block butter. Spreadable butter or margarine won’t give the same result.


Use vanilla extract, NOT essence, as essence is synthetic and extract is natural. I use something similar to this vanilla extract.


Do I need an electric hand mixer to make this?

No, you don’t but it will take much longer without one.

If you are mixing by hand, expect it to take about 6-8 minutes longer (with plenty of effort!)

Help! My mixture is a little runny!

If this happens, don’t worry. You can thicken it up in the fridge for 20-30 minutes, stirring it now and then.

If it is VERY runny it may take much longer in the fridge to firm up.

Let me know how you got on and what you thought of these recipes. Please rate the recipe using the ⭐️ below.

Also I’d LOVE to see your cooking creations. If you’d like to share yours with me, you can tag me on Instagram (@tamingtwins).

5 from 11 votes

Cream Cheese Frosting {for Cakes & Bakes}

This is the ULTIMATE recipe for Cream Cheese Frosting to top our favourite cakes and bakes with. It’s delicious, it’s simple, and it works every time!
Credit: BBC Good Food Guide
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 9


  • 100 g Unsalted butter, See notes
  • 100 g Icing sugar
  • 200 g Full fat cream cheese, See notes
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract, See notes


  • Put the butter and icing sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer for 3-5 minutes until it is light and fluffy and has become paler in colour. (At this point it can look like the mixture has gone grainy, but keep the faith it will come together as you keep mixing).
  • Open your cream cheese, drain off any watery liquid floating on top, add the cream cheese to the bowl along with the vanilla extract.
  • Fold this in carefully, by hand using a wooden spoon ideally.
  • Mix just until there are no lumps of cream cheese left – if you over-mix your icing will become watery.


Cream cheese: Make sure you use COLD cream cheese. Don’t bring it out of the fridge until you are ready to use it. Also make sure it’s full fat, otherwise it might not whip to the right consistency.
Butter: Use ROOM TEMPERATURE butter from a hard block. It should be soft enough to scoop easily, but not too runny. 
Vanilla: Use vanilla extract, NOT essence. I use something similar to this vanilla extract
Whisk: Preferably use an electric whisk, but if you don’t have one, you can do this by hand. It will just take longer.


Calories: 202kcalCarbohydrates: 12gProtein: 1gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 10gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0.4gCholesterol: 46mgSodium: 71mgPotassium: 33mgSugar: 12gVitamin A: 576IUCalcium: 24mgIron: 0.03mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Family Food
Like this? Leave a comment and rating below!Mention @myusername or tag #myhashtag!

new cookbook!

Featuring 100 delicious recipes that can be cooked in one pot, you can open any page in this book and find something that will give you not only a meal that the whole family will eat and enjoy, but also one that makes your life a little simpler in the process.

More Recipes

Sarah Rossi founder of and author of 'What's for Dinner?' books.


Hi, I'm Sarah. I help busy people decide 'What's for Dinner?' Find hundreds of recipes here, and also in my bestselling recipe book. Hope my recipes make your life easier ❤️

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. 5 stars
    It was super tasty but it was hard to make it smooth as the butter was a little lumpy . It is 5 star nevertheless for taste and quality.