Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting Recipe on Food52

Fourth of July

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

November 24, 2020
7 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

Traditional buttercreams call for cooking the sugar to the soft ball stage before incorporating it into the egg whites. Cream cheese does not lend itself to this method without breaking. By blending the cream cheese with butter and confectioners' sugar before adding it to the meringue, you get the silky smooth texture of buttercream with all of the tangy flavor of a cream cheese frosting. —janeofmanytrade

Test Kitchen Notes

This frosting has a great balance of cream cheese and butter. Sometimes cream cheese can be a little overpowering (or completely disappear altogether), but janeofmanytrade has the ratio down pat. I paired the frosting with vanilla cupcakes and they were a hit! Everyone commented on how light the frosting tasted, even though it contained butter. —gigi.hotchkiss

  • Makes 5 cups
Ingredients
  • 12 ounces cream cheese, slightly chilled
  • 7 ounces unsalted butter at cool room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted after measuring
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 large egg whites
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Beat the cream cheese with a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed until slightly fluffy. Add the butter, 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time, mixing until smooth. Add the confectioners' sugar and vanilla and mix until fluffy, scraping the bowl well so there are no lumps of butter or sugar. Set aside.
  2. Combine the granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Dissolve the sugar by stirring it, but once dissolved, do not stir any longer or sugar will crystallize. Instead, swirl the pan gently, washing any crystals from the side of the pot with a wet pastry brush. As the mixture comes to a boil, place a candy thermometer in the pot and cook to 238 degrees F, the "soft ball" stage.
  3. As the sugar cooks, place the egg whites into a mixing bowl set up with the whip. As the sugar syrup approaches the correct temperature, turn the mixer on to medium-low and begin whipping the whites. When whites are foamy and the sugar reaches temperature, slowly pour in the sugar, avoiding contact with the whip or it will splash. Once all of the syrup is added, turn the speed to medium-high and whip until the meringue has cooled to room temperature and has formed stiff peaks. (Ed. note: Make sure the meringue has cooled fully and that the butter-cream cheese mixture is not warm, or buttercream may become soupy or break.)
  4. Turn the speed to low, and slowly add the cream cheese mixture, a spoonful at a time. When it is all added to the meringue, turn the speed to medium and whip until smooth and fluffy.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Wendy
    Wendy
  • Truc Anh
    Truc Anh
  • Karen Huckeby
    Karen Huckeby
  • ymelda
    ymelda

    4 Reviews

    Wendy November 24, 2020
    Well, I should have looked at how much frosting this recipe makes... 5 CUPS! I was only frosting 12 cupcakes and have so much frosting left over I'm going to have to now bake a cake and cover it with what's left. My fault entirely!
    Just a FYI, 7 ounces of butter equals 14 tablespoons of butter. Last reviewer mistakenly said cups. I was nervous that the 238 degree simple syrup that is required would absolutely destroy the nice whipped egg whites when poured in, but I poured the simple syrup in a thin stream while beater was moving and I got beautiful fluffy meringue. This is not a recipe to make in a hurry. It takes time to cool down meringue before adding cream cheese mixture and then making sure it is cool and thick enough for spreading. Must say though it smells and tastes great on vanilla cupcakes.
     
    Truc A. June 19, 2020
    I tried the recipe but I used 8 cup of softened butter, instead of 7 (Sorry, i don't know what to do with the last piece of butter). I followed the instructions steps by steps. The buttercream frosting turned out great- enough sweet, smooth, very tasty. It was perfect when I added on the lime pie. The matter is that the frosting is not thick. Maybe I didn't beat the meringue enough.
     
    Karen H. February 27, 2017
    I bet this is really good with chocolate added....
     
    ymelda February 5, 2019
    I was wondering the same and how to add it. And i wish there is a video of this. :(