Cream Cheese Frosting, 7 Different Ways

Learn how to make classic cream cheese frosting, then apply it to your favorite cake and cupcake recipes.
By: Emily Lee

Related To:

Cream Cheese Frosting: Cathy Lowe

Cream Cheese Frosting: Cathy Lowe

Photo by: Tara Donne ©Tara Donne

Tara Donne, Tara Donne

Fluffy, sweet and sinfully easy, cream cheese frosting is a baker's best-kept secret for elevating almost any treat from "good" to the realm of outstanding. This Cream Cheese Frosting from Food Network Kitchen is a classic, tried-and-true recipe of unsalted butter and cream cheese at room temperature, combined with powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Enjoy the frosting in its purest state, or jazz it up with different mix-ins like lemon juice and shredded coconut. Before applying it to baked goods, it doesn't hurt to do a quick taste test to check for smoothness and the right fat-to-sugar ratio ... Just remember to leave enough in the bowl to cover your cake.

Here are a few of our favorite applications:

Cakeman Raven Southern Red Velvet Cake


Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

With its vivid red layers, this traditional Southern cake never fails to impress once the first slice is cut and revealed. But without the cream cheese frosting, we doubt it would still be belle of the ball.

Food stylist: Anne Disrude
Prop Stylist: Lynsey Fryers


Food stylist: Anne Disrude Prop Stylist: Lynsey Fryers

If your cream cheese frosting is destined for hummingbird cake, try adding a little bit of lemon zest to the frosting. The bright citrus notes will complement the sweet pineapple and spices incorporated into the cake batter.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

This dense carrot cake studded with toasted pecans is the perfect canvas for Food Network Kitchen's next-level cream cheese frosting, which includes heavy cream for extra-fluffy, extra-rich results.

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Ina's Coconut Cake
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When preparing this moist coconut cake, Ina Garten enhances classic cream cheese frosting by adding almond extract in addition to vanilla extract. The nutty almond flavor is the perfect complement to the sweet shredded coconut.


Photo by: Renee Comet ©Renee Comet

Renee Comet, Renee Comet

Dreams are made of airy frosting and fluffy cake — but texture keeps things interesting. Here, Ree Drummond combines classic cream cheese frosting with crunchy pecans and tender flaked coconut. Separate the cake layers with blueberries for a burst of freshness in every bite.

Trisha Yearwood douses this moist cake with a sweet and tangy key lime glaze before finishing it off with classic cream cheese icing. You'll notice that her icing doesn't include vanilla extract, and for good reason: You don't want anything competing with the lime juice.


Photo by: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Renee Comet, 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

On a similar note, Giada De Laurentiis skips the vanilla extract and goes for lemon juice to cut through the butter and cream cheese when whipping up these bright springtime cupcakes.

Once you've mastered cream cheese frosting, check out this quick guide to buttercream, royal icing more.

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