Unicorn Cake (purple, pink, orange, navy, yellow frosting)

Favorite Cream Cheese Buttercream Recipe

Put off by the over-sweet taste of plain buttercream frosting?

When I first started baking, I basically just used whatever recipes were in front of me. For the first few months, that meant making a lot of buttercream. Buttercream frosting is basically whipped butter and powdered sugar, with enough liquid to make a workable consistency and a bit of flavoring.

There was just one problem I ran into. After several bakes decorated with plain buttercream, several rounds of feedback complained "the frosting was just a little too sweet!" 

Over time, as I experimented with different frostings (even facing down my intimidation to try out Swiss meringue buttercream) - I found a combo that combines the ease and speed of regular buttercream with the less-overpowering sweetness of meringue-based frostings.

This recipe combines amazing taste with the speed of buttercream! The tang of the cream cheese in the frosting - while not obviously detectable unless you know what you're looking for - cuts the overpowering-sweet of the buttercream enough that my 'too sweet' complaints have vanished. In my book, it's a keeper! 

Can I make this frosting ahead of time? 

Absolutely! If well-sealed and protected from drying out, frosting will keep about 24 hours at room temperature, 2-3 weeks refrigerated, or 2-3 months frozen (will likely require re-beating once thawed). 

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Don't forget to pin for later!

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting pinterest pin

Favorite Cream Cheese Buttercream

Want a frosting that's delicious, not overly sweet, but is still great for decorating? Here's my Favorite Cream Cheese Buttercream frosting recipe!
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time0 minutes
Total Time10 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting recipe, Cream Chese Buttercream Frosting
Servings: 1 8-inch cake or 24 cupcakes
Calories: 328kcal



  • 8 ounces cream cheese (one package; softened)
  • 1 cup butter (two sticks, softened)
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-2 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 Tablespoon clear vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (if using unsalted butter)


  • Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with milk until frosting reaches a spreadable/pipeable consistency.
  • Add vanilla and salt if needed and beat until well combined.
  • (Add liquid or gel food colorings if desired!)


(Please note nutrition information is an estimate, and may not be exactly accurate. Calorie count for 1/24th recipe - amount for 1 cupcake - is 218; including 3og carbohydrate, 1g protein, and 11g fat.) 


Serving: 116th recipe (amount for 1 cake slice) | Calories: 328kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 16g

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Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting  - 2x recipe 
(makes enough to frost and decorate a tiered 3-layer 8-inch + 6-inch cake or generously frosts 48 cupcakes)

  • 16 ounces cream cheese (2 packages, softened)
  • 2 cups butter (four sticks, softened)
  • 12 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-4 Tablespoons milk
  • 2 Tablespoons clear vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt (if using unsalted butter) 

(Follow instructions in recipe card above) 


Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting  - 0.5 x recipe 
(makes enough to frost and decorate a 6-inch cake or generously frosts 12 cupcakes)

  • 4 ounces cream cheese (1/2 package; softened)
  • 1/2 cup butter (one stick, softened)
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 - 1 Tablespoon milk
  • 1/2 Tablespoon clear vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt (if using unsalted butter)

(Follow instructions in recipe card above) 


Did you try this Cream Cheese Buttercream recipe?

Let me know how it went - or find me on Pinterest or on Instagram and tag @IntensiveCakeUnit in your photo!

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