This silky smooth and creamy small batch cream cheese frosting is perfect to make for a mini cake or small batch of cupcakes! It's sweet, slightly tangy, and totally delicious.
If I'm at a bakery and see something with cream cheese frosting, I'm gonna get it. It's a the best classic topping for cakes, cupcakes, and other baked goods in my opinion. It's rich, creamy, tangy, and goes with tons of flavors, like red velvet, carrot cake, and lemon.
However, making a large batch of frosting can lead to lots waste if you don't use it all. That's where small batch cream cheese frosting recipe comes in.
This small batch recipe is perfect for when you only need a small amount of frosting and to avoid waste! It's quick and easy to make, and you can customize the flavor and consistency. Make it into an icing to drizzle on cinnamon rolls or a thick frosting to frost a small vanilla cake, mini carrot cake, or swirl on chocolate cupcakes or vanilla cupcakes.
I'm drooling already, so let's get into the recipe. If you're looking for more frosting options, check out my chocolate whipped cream frosting, lavender buttercream frosting, faux Swiss meringue buttercream, and brown sugar buttercream frosting.
Here are some notes about the ingredients used. For quantities and instructions, see the recipe card below.
- Unsalted butter- Make sure the butter is softened so it's easy to mix. Pull it and the cream cheese out of the refrigerator an hour before you start making the frosting. The butter should still be cool to the touch but easy to dent with your finger while applying gentle pressure. If the butter is too warm and melty, your frosting will be greasy. If you're out of butter, try this cream cheese frosting without butter!
- Cream cheese- Use softened, full fat cream cheese to make the frosting extra creamy. Use cream cheese in block form, not from a tub. Cream cheese from a tub will be too runny.
- Powdered sugar- Powdered sugar (also called icing sugar) adds structure and sweetness to the frosting. There's no need to sift it beforehand.
- Vanilla bean paste- Vanilla bean paste adds the same rich flavor as vanilla extract with flecks of vanilla beans. If you don't have it, use the same amount of pure vanilla extract instead.
- Sea salt- Salt rounds out the flavor profile and balances the sweetness.
- Unsalted butter: Salted butter can be used instead, just omit the additional salt in the recipe.
- Sea salt: Fine Kosher or pink Himalayan salt are good substitutes.
Helpful Equipment and Tools
You'll need an electric hand mixer with a large bowl or a 5-quart stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. The instructions below are specifically for a hand mixer, but they work using a stand mixer too.
How to Make Cream Cheese Frosting
Here are the steps to make the frosting. Make sure your butter and cream cheese are at room temperature before you start.
STEP 1: First, add the softened butter and cream cheese to a large bowl. With your mixer, beat them together on medium-high speed for 5-10 minutes until they are well combined, fluffy, and lump-free.
STEP 2: Gradually add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time. Beat it in with a mixer on low until smooth and well combined. I like to start my mixer on low and gradually increase the speed to medium to prevent powdered sugar from flying out of the bowl. Another thing you can do is cover the bowl with a kitchen towel to keep the powdered sugar in.
STEP 3: Mix in the vanilla bean paste and sea salt on medium speed until fully combined.
STEP 4: Pipe or spread the frosting over a cake, a small batch of cupcakes, or cookies and enjoy!
Expert Baking Tips
- Use room temperature butter and cream cheese. This will insure that the frosting is smooth and creamy with no lumps.
- Use a kitchen scale. If the frosting is too thick or sweet, you may have over-measured the powdered sugar. Use a food scale and measure the ingredients in grams to avoid this!
- Sift the powdered sugar. You don't need to sift the powdered sugar before adding it to the butter and cream cheese unless you need the frosting to be ultra-smooth for decorating a cake.
Additions and Variations
You can swap out the vanilla bean paste for a variety of other flavorings. Here are some of my favorite flavors you should try!
- Lemon: Substitute lemon extract for the vanilla.
- Chocolate: Add 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder to the recipe.
- Maple: Substitute 2 tablespoons of maple syrup for the vanilla bean paste.
- Cinnamon: Add ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon to the recipe.
- Coffee: Mix a little instant coffee with the vanilla to make coffee cream cheese frosting.
Storage and Freezing
Store leftover cream cheese frosting in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. When you're ready to use it, give it a quick mix with your electric mixer to make it soft and smooth again.
Scoop the frosting into an airtight, freezer-safe container to prevent freezer burn and odor absorption. Label the container with the date, and then freeze the frosting for up to 3 months.
When you're ready to use it, thaw it overnight and then give it a whisk to make it smooth and creamy. Don't thaw at room temperature or in the microwave because it can cause the frosting to become watery or separate.
Frequently Asked Questions
This recipe yields about 2 cups of frosting. This is enough to frost 6-8 cupcakes or cookies. It's also enough to frost 12 mini cupcakes, a single-layer 6 or 8 inch cake, or a 9x9" cake or pan of brownies. For larger batches, you can easily double or triple the recipe.
Yes, cream cheese frosting needs to be refrigerated since it's prone to spoiling at room temperature. You can leave it out at room temperature for a maximum of 2 hours according to the FDA.
If you need the frosting to be thicker, add a tablespoon of cornstarch. Unlike buttercream, adding powdered sugar doesn't help make the frosting thicker; it'll just make it sweeter!
To make the frosting thinner, whisk a tablespoon of milk or heavy cream into the frosting until the desired consistency is reached. If you're going for a glaze or icing, you'll need to add 4+ tablespoons.
More Small Batch Recipes
Small Batch Cream Cheese Frosting
- ¼ cup unsalted butter softened
- 4 oz cream cheese softened
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- ⅛ teaspoon sea salt
- In a large bowl, beat the softened butter and cream cheese together with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy.
- Gradually add the powdered sugar to the mixture, one cup at a time, beating well on low after each addition.
- Add the vanilla bean paste and salt and mix on low until well combined.
- Use to frost a cooled cake or cupcakes.