This coffee cream cheese frosting is sweet, slightly tangy, and super creamy. Because it's made with instant coffee, you can whip up a batch in under 10 minutes! It's perfect spread on cakes, cookies, cupcakes, and more.
This coffee cream cheese frosting recipe is based on my small batch cream cheese frosting. It's easy to make in less than 10 minutes and doesn't even involve brewing a cup of coffee! It's made with instant coffee for the most convenience.
The bitterness of the coffee pairs beautifully with the sweet, slightly tangy cream cheese. It's perfect piped on coffee flavored desserts like coffee cupcakes, a dirty chai latte cake, banana bread, or even carrot cake. You can use it on cookies and brownies too! The frosting can also be thinned out into an icing for coffee cake.
Coffee and cream cheese are two of my favorite ingredients. On the blog, you'll find tons of cream cheese recipes, from raspberry brownie cheesecake, to pumpkin cream cheese muffins, to chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, to blueberry cheesecake overnight oats.
Here are some notes about the ingredients used. For quantities and full instructions, see the recipe card below.
- Unsalted butter- Make sure the butter is softened so it's easy to mix and less likely to split. Pull it out of the refrigerator an hour before you start making the frosting. Room temperature butter is cool to the touch but easy to indent with your finger. If the butter is warm and melty, the frosting will turn out greasy.
- Cream cheese- Make sure to use softened, full fat cream cheese for the best consistency and texture. It should be a block, not from a tub. Cream cheese from a tub (including low fat cream cheese and cream cheese spread) makes the frosting runny.
- Powdered sugar- This adds structure and sweetness. You can sift it to make the frosting extra smooth, but it's not a requirement since most powdered sugar brands use anti-caking agents.
- Vanilla extract- Use pure vanilla extract for the best flavor. To make frosting with instant coffee, it has to be dissolved in the extract, so you can't substitute vanilla bean paste.
- Instant coffee granules- Instant coffee is basically dried brewed coffee. Coffee beans are roasted, ground, brewed, and then dehydrated. The crystals are left behind and all you have to do is add liquid! Use a high-quality brand for the best flavor. I recommend Blue Bottle!
- Instant coffee: You can use espresso powder instead to make espresso cream cheese frosting, but make sure it's espresso powder, NOT ground espresso beans. Feel free to use decaf instant coffee as well.
Helpful Equipment and Tools
You need a 5-quart stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (also called a flat beater) or an electric hand mixer with a large mixing bowl. The recipe instructions are written for a stand mixer but also work with a hand mixer.
Step by Step Instructions
Before you start, make sure your butter and cream cheese are at room temperature!
STEP 1: First, add the softened butter and cream cheese the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium-high speed for 5-7 minutes until fluffy and smooth with no lumps.
STEP 2: Next, gradually beat in the powdered sugar on low 1 cup at a time. I like to pulse my mixer until the powdered sugar is mostly mixed in and then increase the speed to medium-low to keep sugar from flying out of the bowl. You can also cover the bowl with a kitchen towel to keep the powdered sugar in.
STEP 3: In a small bowl, mix the vanilla extract and instant coffee together until the coffee granules completely dissolve.
STEP 4: Next, pour the vanilla coffee mixture into the bowl of frosting and mix on medium-low speed until combined. Now the frosting is ready to spread over your favorite baked goods!
Expert Tips for Success
- Make sure to use full fat cream cheese. It gives the frosting a richer, more delicious flavor! It also helps with the thickness. Using low fat cream cheese or cream cheese spread will make the frosting runny.
- Use room temperature dairy ingredients. If your frosting is clumpy or splits, it might because the butter or cream cheese is too cold. Pull them out of the refrigerator about an hour before baking so they're easy to mix into a smooth consistency.
- Use a kitchen scale. If the frosting is too thick and sweet, you may have over-measured the powdered sugar. Using a food scale and measuring the ingredients in grams prevents this!
Additions and Variations
Here are a few different flavor ideas for your frosting. I haven't tested these, so let me know how it goes in the comments if you try one!
- Chocolate: Add 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder to make mocha cream cheese frosting!
- Maple: Substitute 1 tablespoon of maple syrup for the vanilla exact.
- Cinnamon: Mix ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon in with the coffee.
- Pumpkin Spice: Add ¼ cup pumpkin puree and a few teaspoons of pumpkin spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and allspice). You may need to add more powdered sugar to get the right thickness.
Ways to Enjoy
I love this frosting slathered on a batch of olive oil brownies or used to fill a mocha cake, and you can try it in these recipes too:
- Small Vanilla Cake
- Pumpkin Chai Snack Cake
- Spiced Apple Cupcakes
- Small Batch Chocolate Cupcakes
- Chocolate Crunch Cake
Storage and Freezing
Coffee cream cheese frosting stays fresh for up to 5 days when stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If the frosting is too stiff straight out of the fridge, let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes and give it a good stir with a spoon or handheld mixer to make it creamy again.
Cakes and cupcakes decorated with this frosting need to be refrigerated until about 30 minutes before eating.
Scoop the frosting into an airtight container or freezer bag and freeze for up to 2 months. When ready to use, let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight or on the counter for a few hours. Since freezing creates ice crystals, the frosting might be slightly less stable once thawed. It'll be a bit harder to pipe but still delicious!
Frequently Asked Questions
This recipe yields about 4 cups of frosting. It's enough to frost 12-16 cupcakes, a 2 or 3 layer 6-inch cake, a 2 layer 8-inch cake, a 9x13" sheet cake, or an 8x8" or 9x9" cake or pan of brownies.
No, you can't. Regular coffee grounds (and espresso grounds) won't dissolve in the vanilla and your frosting will have a gritty texture.
I haven't tested it, but you can try! Try using vegan butter sticks and a block of vegan cream cheese. Don't use vegan cream cheese spread.
You can make this without butter by following my recipe for no butter cream cheese frosting! You may have to add a little more powdered sugar to make it thick enough. If you want to pipe your frosting, I highly recommend making it with butter.
More Frosting recipes to Try
Coffee Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 5-quart stand mixer or electric hand mixer
- 113 grams unsalted butter room temperature
- 226 grams cream cheese full fat, softened
- 500 grams powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
- Add butter and cream cheese the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium-high speed for 5-7 minutes until smooth with no lumps.113 grams unsalted butter, 226 grams cream cheese
- Gradually beat in the powdered sugar on low 1 cup at a time until smooth. Increase the speed to medium and mix until fluffy.500 grams powdered sugar
- In a small bowl, mix the vanilla and instant coffee together until the granules dissolve.1 tablespoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
- Pour the vanilla and coffee mixture into the frosting and mix on low until well combined.
- Spread the frosting over cakes, cupcakes, and more. Enjoy!