Traditional Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Serves: Makes about 4 1/4 cups of icing; enough to fill and frost two, 9 x 2-inch layers
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Recipe by Sarah Phillips; Food styling and photos by Kelly Hong © 2003 Sarah Phillips

Variation: Traditional Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream cheese frosting is used in a lot of recipes, and I developed one with just the right ingredient proportions and mixing instructions to turn out perfectly. I studied the attributes of cream cheese to understand why most recipes fail and turn out too soft. I have included tips for success with the recipe. Cream cheese frosting is perishable, so keep refrigerated or anything frosted with it.

This recipe used with the:
Red Velvet Layer Cake with Traditional Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

Classic Coconut Layer Cake Recipe


Never overbeat cream cheese frosting after it has been made otherwise it will become too soft and slimy. If it does, do not add in more powdered sugar, but instead add in chunks of cold
cream cheese and the frosting will correct itself.

12 ounces (1 1/2 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, softened; I prefer Philadelphia Brand
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt

6 cups powdered sugar, sifted; sift after measuring

1. In a medium bowl with a hand held mixer on medium, beat the cream cheese and butter to soften.

2. Add the vanilla extract and salt.

3. With the mixer running on low, slowly add the powdered sugar and beat until light and fluffy.

Correct with milk or powdered sugar if it is too stiff or soft. Sometimes you may have to add in more cold cream cheese if the mixture becomes slimy and won't correct.

Store the cream cheese frosting in the refrigerator where it will keep for a few days. Cream cheese frosting does not freeze well.

Traditional Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting