Perfect Cream Cheese Buttercream
Cream Cheese Buttercream is a gorgeous creamy blend of cream cheese and butter, sweetened with confectioners sugar, and flavored with vanilla and a touch of sour cream.
Cream Cheese Buttercream is one of those magical confections that is as delicious as it is simple and easy to make. You basically put all the ingredients into a bowl, whip them together, and you're done. Still, there are a few things to pay attention to...
The ratio of cream cheese to butter should be 1:1
For cream cheese buttercream that's thick enough to fill and frost a layer cake, and even pipe decoration onto a cake, you want equal amounts of butter and cream cheese. A lot of cream cheese buttercream recipes call for a 2:1 ratio, with double the amount of cream cheese to butter.
This results in a more pronounced cream cheese flavor, but it has a loose consistency that's difficult to work with - especially if you're trying to fill layers of cake. If the consistency of cream cheese buttercream is too loose, those layers of cake will slide around and you'll end up with a big mess instead of a gorgeously frosted layer cake.
Add a bit of sour cream
I know, I know. I just got done saying that for the perfect cream cheese buttercream consistency the ratio of cream cheese to butter should be 1:1. And yet, in this recipe, you'll notice there is slightly more butter than cream cheese. This is because I also like to add a bit of sour cream.
Buttercream Temperature is important
Cream Cheese Buttercream is, of course, mostly cream cheese and butter - two ingredients that are super duper sensitive to temperature. Too cold and the buttercream will be difficult to work with. Too warm and it will just slide right off your cake. No bueno.
The good news is that temperature is easy to fix. If the buttercream is too warm to work with, just put it in the refrigerator for a while. If you're working in a warm room and your buttercream is getting too warm, stop and put the whole cake in the refrigerator. Do not, I beg you, think "If I hurry, I'm sure it will be fine."
Just recently I ruined a whole cake with my impatience. Noticing that the buttercream was too warm, I thought I'd just rush though frosting and filling the cake and then put it in the refrigerator. The top two layers slid right off the cake, breaking apart as they did. Some lessons must be learned the hard way.
I also like the buttercream I'm piping decorations with to be a bit firmer than the buttercream I'm using to frost the cake. So, after frosting a cake, I usually put the cake and the remaining buttercream in the refrigerator for a spell to firm it up before proceeding with decoration.
Working with frozen cake layers.
I usually freeze cake layers for at least an hour before filling and stacking them into a layer cake. Frozen cake layers are just so much easier to work with because you don't have to worry about them cracking or crumbling. Working with frozen layers also makes maintaining a good buttercream temperature super easy.
When using cream cheese buttercream as a filling over frozen cake layers, the buttercream will harden slightly, making the cake layers easier to stack. However, be sure to work quickly when icing the outside of a cake with frozen layers. If the buttercream gets to cold it will become difficult to spread.
Three cakes that pair beautifully with Cream Cheese Buttercream:
More Favorite Buttercream Recipes:
- Italian Meringue Buttercream
- Classic American Buttercream
- Quick Chocolate Buttercream
- Apple Cider Buttercream
Used in this recipe:
Cream Cheese Buttercream is a Building Block Recipe
Building block recipes are tried-and-true recipes that I consider foundational to great home baking. They are the kind of recipes I come back to over and over again, sometimes baking them as is, but often using them as a jumping off point to create something new. > Scroll through all Building Block recipes.
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Cream Cheese Buttercream is a gorgeous blend of cream cheese and butter, sweetened with confectioners sugar, and flavored with vanilla and a touch of sour cream.
- 16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 18 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 tbsp sour cream
- 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp salt
- 9-10 cups powdered sugar (*Or more - See note.)
- Beat the cream cheese, butter, sour cream, vanilla, and salt with an electric mixer until very creamy and almost fluffy, 3-5 minutes.
- Add the powdered sugar and beat on low speed just to incorporate the sugar without it flying all over your kitchen, then beat on medium-high for another 3 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl two or three times.
- If the buttercream isn't thick enough to ice your cake, add more powdered sugar, ½ cup at a time, until you get the consistency you're looking for. However, please note the temperature of your buttercream before adding more powdered sugar. If the room is warm, the buttercream might be on the thin side simply because it's too warm. Place it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour, re-beat it and check the consistency.
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