Cream Cheese Icing

Don’t you want to swipe your finger through the icing on this cake, and take a bite? This delicious, creamy icing (a.k.a., frosting) works well with many types of cake and cupcakes. Bo especially loves it on devil’s food cake or any dark chocolate cake. I use it with my red velvet cake. It is especially good on carrot cake, and can be made with or without pecans. Our family prefers it with pecans.

CBM - Peaked Icing

To achieve the peaks in the icing, simply tap it over and over with a knife or spatula. If the icing is too soft, the peaks won’t stay. You may need to chill for a few minutes, but not too long, because then the icing won’t lift up with the spatula.

This is Truly the Best Cream Cheese Icing I’ve Ever Tasted

This recipe is for the icing I use on my red velvet cake. It is also another one of my converted recipes where I have taken an old favorite and reduced the fat and/or sugar. I’ve decided that this is the best cream cheese icing ever.

CBM - On Carrot Cake

I knew I had to make some changes, so I substituted reduced-fat cream cheese for the regular kind. I kept the butter, but switched to unsalted butter, the only kind of butter we buy now.  Doing this cut out a lot of the fat from the frosting, but not all of it. Everyone is truly amazed when I reveal that the cream cheese is low-fat — of course, I didn’t tell them until after they had tasted it. They said they never would have believed it would taste the same. I rest my case.

Trial and Error

I started out with fat-free cream cheese, and quickly found that it produces an icing with a  tendency to slide off the sides of cakes. For a thicker, stiffer icing, that will stay where you put it, use cream cheese “labeled 1/3 less fat”.


CBM - Smooth Icing

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1  8-oz. package fat-free cream cheese*
  • 1  16-oz. package powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans


  1. In an electric mixer, cream together the butter and cream cheese.
  2. Gradually add powdered sugar, and blend until smooth.
  3. Add chopped pecans, if desired.
  4. Mixture should be slightly stiff. Chill if it is too soft.
  5. Spread over your favorite cake or cupcakes.

Some Cooking Hacks:

  1. I like to cut the butter into small chunks, as this allows it to soften faster. The cream cheese is softer to begin with, but I often cut it into chunks, too. I believe it helps the two ingredients to blend together easier and faster.
  2. Cakes are easier to ice/frost if they have been frozen or chilled first. This prevents them from melting the icing while you are working with it.
  3. To prevent cake crumbs from migrating into your icing, first remove loose crumbs by gently brush the cake with a pastry brush. Next, spread a thin layer of icing on your cake top. Then allow it to dry before completing the task of icing the cake.

If you used the fat-free cream cheese, you will need to chill the mixture prior to icing the cake or cupcakes. This icing is easier to work with if thickened by chilling.

This is a Dairy Product, therefore…

The finished cake will also need to be kept in the refrigerator, because cream cheese icing is a real dairy product that will spoil if left out for more than a few hours.

Thick Icing v. Thinner Icing

This thicker icing is definitely the type you will need if you want to use it on cupcakes. If you were to make petit fours, the thinner version would be best. Below is a photo of the thicker version on cupcakes that I served last Christmas.

CBM - Single Cupcake

What to Do When There’s Not Enough Icing

One Christmas, I somehow managed not to make enough icing – or maybe I put too much between the layers. I had no choice but to leave the sides without icing. It actually made a very pretty cake, as you could see the red layers — it looked very Christmasy. I think I may do that more often.

CBM-Icing Drip

Another beautiful way would be to slice the layers in half cross-wise, so that you then have four thin layers. It is very pretty, but requires more icing. It is liked best by people who want a little cake with their icing. Either way, it is a fabulous topping for your cakes.


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