05 Jan

How to Make Perfect Bakery style Cupcake Frosting: Thick Cream Cheese

Ever wonder how to frost cupcakes like a bakery? Well in order to frost cupcakes like a bakery, you need the perfect cupcake frosting – that creamy rich frosting that stands up well for swirls and piping, looks gorgeous, lasts for a long time, and still tastes great.

how to make thick cream cheese frosting

Here are some tips I’ve gathered from experience and from the bakery for making perfect cream cheese frosting at home in your own kitchen:

  • Use cold cream cheese: unlike butter, cream cheese is already soft enough its better to start with just slightly softened cream cheese. I like to set the cream cheese out for 5-8 minutes before I start my frosting.
  • Add 1-4 tsp meringue powder: the meringue powder helps the frosting keep its shape, but is not necessary.  Really helpful when piping pretty cupcake swirls.
  • If you use butter in your cream cheese recipe, make sure the butter is softened to room temperature
  • Sift, sift, and sift your powdered sugar before adding it to your frosting
  • Be careful to not over beat your frosting
  • Add 1-2 Tbsp sour cream for that cream cheesy tang

Here is a cream cheese frosting recipe I like to use when I bake cupcakes at home:

cream cheese cupcake frosting

Best Cream Cheese Frosting for Bakery-style Cupcakes (enough for about 12 regular sized cupcakes)
recipe by Dorothy

8 oz. cream cheese, cold
4 Tbsp butter, softened
1 Tbsp sour cream
2 tsp meringue powder (optional)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment  beat the butter and cream cheese until creamy. Be careful to not over beat.  Beat in the sour cream, hen tthe meringue powder (if using).  Add the vanilla.  Add the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time. Mix until combined and fluffy. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes and enjoy!

I would love to hear your frosting tips!

PS. Tune in to the Food Network this Saturday, January 8, at 4pm to see us on Cupcake Wars!

More Bakery Style Cupcake Frosting recipes:

salted caramel cupcake frosting


light and fluffy vanilla buttercream cupcake frosting

decadent chocolate fudge cupcake frosting

more sweets:

110 thoughts on “How to Make Perfect Bakery style Cupcake Frosting: Thick Cream Cheese

  1. Pingback: How to Make Perfect Bakery style Cupcake Frosting: Cream CheeseThe Cupcake Princess | PolymerClayLand

  2. Hi Dorothy,
    I don’t have a tip for decorating, but for baking. I like to use Pampered Chef muffin stone pan because you never have browned cupcakes when you bake with stone. Your white cupcakes stay perfectly white, no browned outside when you remoce the cupcake paper. And they are super moist. The cookie stones are also wonderful. No brown underside, even is overbaked. It’s because metal heats much higher that what your oven is set at, which causes the browning or burning.

  3. I made your cream cheese frosting and put it on a carrot cake cup cake and it was soooooo delicious! You know your recipes. You are the cup cake princess. Thank you.

  4. This looks like a great frosting recipe! Quick question…I live in a small town in Spain and am not sure where to get meringue powder. What happens if I omit it (or is there a good substitute)?
    Thanks for any tips!

    • Hi Julia! It is totally fine to leave out the meringue powder! It will still be delicious! The meringue powder just helps “stiffen” the cream cheese frosting so it will hold its shape better. You can also leave the frosting in the fridge and then take it out 20 minutes before you want to pipe it, or add a little bit of cornstarch instead of the meringue powder to help stabilize the frosting.

  5. I was wondering how to get the frosting to be fluffy and look like bakery cupcakes. Is it all in the tip of the bag you use, or more the frosting type? Thank you!

  6. Hi. I need a cream cheese frosting to keep it’s piped shape under studio lights for a tv shoot. I was thinking using the meringue powder and perhaps freezing the cupcakes. But I know they tend to “weep” when moved from freezer to room temp. Any ideas or do I have to live with droopy frosting?

    • Hi Amy!

      If you just need frosting for a shoot, I would suggest not using cream cheese frosting at all! Since no one will be eating it and you only need it for aesthetic purposes, I would suggest using a shortening based frosting instead. Let me know if you need a recipe. It will hold its piped shape under the hot lights and won’t weep (it won’t taste nearly as delicious as this cream cheese frosting though!).

  7. Btw I only use cc frosting but w a couple summer weddings I’m NERVOUS! :) I don’t use the mer. pwdr tho so maybe that would help.

  8. Hi there Cupcake princess,
    I am baking 225 cupcakes for my daughters high school graduation and cant seem to find a good lemon cupcake recipe or white cake recipe that is not dry or that doesn’t dry out after the first day. I am so frustrated as I have to work out how to make all of these cupcakes and deliver them to her event the next day without them tasting all dried out. I have the other two flavors figured out but not the lemon. Can you help!!!!:)

  9. Hi there!
    I was wondering, how would you go about adding another flavor to a frosting? I’ve looked at the vanilla buttercream recipe as well, and I want to make a frosting with a flavor like pineapple or lemon. What kind of frosting is best for that? And should I leave anything out if I add that?
    Thank you so much!!

    • Hi Janelle!

      Its easiest to change up frosting flavors by using different extracts. For example, if you wanted to make lemon frosting, you would sub lemon extract for the vanilla extract in the recipe. Everything else in the recipe stays the same. I prefer a sweeter lemon taste, so for lemon frosting I like to use 1 tsp lemon extract with 1/2 tsp vanilla extract.

  10. Hiya!:)
    I’m making 72 cupcakes for my boyfriends graduation party! His favorite cupcake and frosting is red velvet with cream cheese frosting so I have to use those recipes!
    I LOVE piping frosting really tall on cupcakes, so would this frosting be able to stand up and keep its shape for a long time???

  11. I am making Oreo cheesecake cupcakes for my wedding and want to frost them with cream cheese frosting. Can I frost them on Thursday afternoon and keep them refrigerated until the wedding on Saturday and be sure my piped frosting will still hold up? Or is ther something that I can do to make sure it keeps its shape?

  12. Is there any way to substitute for the meringue powder, which I cannot find, and do not have time to order? Can I do a cooked egg white meringue, and if so, how many whites would I need to use in one batch of your frosting, and would I just fold them in at the end, or what? I need to frost a three-tier wedding cake that I will try to keep out of the heat as much as possible… but it will be outside, in a week… and cream cheese frosting is the one required component…
    I love cream cheese frosting, but it’s so bloody soft.

    • Hi Lara, the meringue powder is not an absolute necessity. I have never tried a cooked egg white meringue. Just make sure you use COLD cream cheese and a high quality cream cheese. That will keep it from being too soft :)

  13. Hi there,

    Is it possible to add in a bit of lemon juice just to have that tangy taste without causing the frosting to be runny and unpiperble? Thks!

  14. I made this tonight and it’s WONDERFUL! It’s by far the best cream cheese icing I have ever had. Thank you thank you thank you!

  15. Looking to use this frosting for a Cake for my nephews Birthday. My Sister in law has asked for cream cheese frosting. Is it possible to frost the night before covered and keeped in a cool room. Or is it best to frost the day of?

  16. Hello! The cream cheese icing recipe looks perfect! I am planning on using it for 100 cupcakes and a wedding cake I am making. One question. I have to travel to the wedding, and was planning on doing all the icing before the reception. If I make the icing the day before, will it still pipe nicely?

  17. Is it possible to colour this icing? I am having a party with a cookie monster blue theme and was thinking of using the gel dye to dye this blue. Any thoughts?

  18. I made this today and it is seriously the BEST frosting I have ever made! took my lemon cake mix cupcakes to the next level!

  19. Hi cupcake princess,

    I am making orange poppyseed cupcakes with cream cheese frosting (with a bit of lemon juice) for my dads upcoming wedding. I was planning on making the cupcakes and icing them on the Friday and putting them in the transport containers for the night. Do you think they will survive the night? The venue were then going to refrigerate them until the wedding at 6pm???

    Any tips would be lovely as I would hate for the cupcakes to be a disaster on the day.


    • Hi Je! You can pipe roses with this recipe if you refrigerate the frosting first and then pipe the roses while it is still cold and the frosting is more solid. However, how long the roses keep will depend on where you store them and how warm it is. Just make sure you start with very cold cream cheese to help the frosting stay thick and strong enough for the roses.

  20. Pingback: best chocolate frosting | The Cupcake Princess




  22. I used this frosting on my favorite carrot cake cupcakes. My mom likes a smooth frosting, so I always use a tablespoon + a teaspoon of instant pudding mix. The icing ends up very creamy, but still holds up.

    I also used this as a frosting on an eggnog cupcake, but I used rum extract in place of the vanilla and grated a little fresh nutmeg over each cupcake. Great recipe!

  23. I swirl frosting around the cupcake using my finger. You can swirl it from the outside to the middle and sort of form a soft peak.. It makes for a quick way to get the frosting on each cupcake and no bag to clean up. No one knows you took the easy way out.

  24. hi. :) first of all you’ve got a great website. :) :bd. i just need some advice … :D …i sell my cupcakes in school and i have a hard time with the frosting since it gets runny and it’s hard to put a lot of cream cheese like how everyone is requesting it :( i read something about substituting butter with shortening, is that really helpful?

  25. Do the cupcakes need to be refrigerated after frosting since the frosting has cream cheese in it? I frosted them tonight and they wont be eaten until tomorrow.

  26. I love the idea of meringue powder to stabilize the cream cheese frosting – I’ll give that a try. I looked high and low for a cream cheese frosting that would hold swirls and I found one in Cooks Illustrated magazine. Their recipe also calls for cold cream cheese, room temperature butter, etc., but the difference is buttermilk powder to stabilize and bring up the “tang” of the cream cheese that’s subdued somewhat by the sugar. It makes a wonderfully airy, slightly sweet/tangy frosting that holds swirls beautifully.

  27. You’re tips for the frosting are great! I didn’t know you could over beat frosting though..what exactly happens when you over beat it? And how do I make sure not to?

  28. Hi there! First of all, great site!

    Thank you for sharing this recipe.:) I’m very new at baking but my friend who’s getting married two weeks from now seems to think I rock at it already so she asked me to bake cupcakes for her wedding. Please help. Do you have a trusted carrot cupcake recipe that goes well with this frosting?:)

    What would hold shape better, this frosting or the salted caramel frosting (bakery style)? I live in a tropical country. The reception though will be held in a hotel.

  29. hello! this is a nice recipe but in our place its hard to find the meringue powder, can i substitute the unflavored gelatin?

  30. Pingback: How to Make Perfect Bakery style Cupcake Frosting: Thick Cream Cheese ~ in order to frost cupcakes like a bakery, you need the perfect cupcake frosting – that creamy rich frosting that stands up well for swirls and piping, looks gorgeous, lasts for

  31. I’ve been baking and decorating cakes for quite a few years now and never had any luck with making a cream cheese frosting that would hold up to decorating. I had NO idea the cream cheese shouldn’t be softened. Never really thought about it I guess. I’ll definitely try this!

    • Hi Justin! definitely try making cream cheese frosting with cold cream cheese – the softened cream cheese gets so soft that when you beat it, it just becomes runny, so I like to use cold cream cheese!

  32. Pingback: How to Make Perfect Bakery style Cupcake Frosting: Thick Cream Cheese ~ in order to frost cupcakes like a bakery, you need the perfect cupcake frosting that creamy rich frosting that stands up well for swirls and piping, looks gorgeous, lasts for a long t

  33. Hi,
    I am making a 3 – tier Wedding cake in June, the bottom is going to be a sheet cake and the top two will be 7-inch and 8-inch I will be stacking the two top tiers and separating the 8-inch with columns on the sheet cake. Red Velvet with Cream Cheese Frosting as the filling and a Butter Cream Frosting and decorations. Do you have a recipe that can be used for all of these that will hold up. I know Red Velvet is a moist cake. I am currently going to used Duncan Hines Box, with some additions. Thanks, I did watch the show, I forgot how you came out. I hope you won. :-) Thanks,

  34. Hi!
    I’m really looking forward to trying this recipe and have my fingers crossed!
    I live in India and the weather is very very unpredictable :(
    It’s mostly very hot or very humid (not good for any sort of butter or cheese icing – unless I use shortening but I personally don’t like the taste )
    Every time I have attempted CC icing its been watery or it splits!
    I managed to get my hands on a box of Wiltons meringue powder so really hope it works.

    Wish me luck!

  35. If I pipe roses a few days before I need them, should I store them in the fridge before placing on my cake? Will they get too dry? I need a lot and just don’t have time to pipe them all the day of.

  36. Hi – how long do you recommend beating the butter and cream cheese? My cream cheese frosting always ends up runny (but I’ve never used this recipe) and I’m wondering if it’s the length of time I beat it. I also leave the butter and cream cheese out for about 30 minutes to soften.

  37. I have heard cornstarch in the cream cheese frosting helps to stabilize it. Have you used it? Would it be better to use meringue powder or cornstarch? How much cornstarch/

  38. Pingback: How to Make Bakery Style Cupcake Frosting Salted Caramel | The Cupcake Princess

  39. What do you think of subbing tangy greek yogurt for the sour cream? I do with everything else but not sure how it would go in frosting.

  40. Hi! I just heard about your site!! :) quick question….I have yet to fing a frosting that is stiff enough for piping…do u have a good recipe??

  41. Hi Cupcake Princess,

    This may be a silly question but I am making homemade chocolate cupcakes for a birthday party and am looking to use a different frosting than I normally do. Would you suggest this cream cheese frosting or do you have another recipe that I could use?

    Thank you!!

  42. Hi there, can you use this frosting recipe to do a rose swirl cake?
    I made that came today but didn’t like the buttercream cream cheese icing I made. It was to heavy and I didn’t love the taste. Thank you

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  44. Not sure if it’s showing for everybody, as nobody else seems to have mentioned it, but I don’t know if the last tip still reads the way you meant it to:

    “Add 1-2 Cialis 10mg Tbsp sour cream for that cream cheesy tang”

    I’m sure a certain amount of hilarity would ensue. :)

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