If you’ve ever wondered if you can make Cream Cheese Frosting Without Butter, the answer is a resounding YES! This rich, creamy-dreamy 3-ingredient cream cheese frosting is the proof.
If you've been searching for a lusciously creamy, tangy, and sweet frosting that requires just three simple ingredients, you're in luck! This no-butter cream cheese frosting is exactly what you've been looking for.
Whether you're a fan of carrot cake, strawberry tartlets, cherry chocolate cakes, brown butter cinnamon rolls or even birthday cake macarons, this no-butter frosting is about to become your new best friend. It's incredibly versatile, complementing a wide array of treats with its irresistible flavor.
One of the most intriguing aspects of making this cream cheese frosting recipe no butter magic is its wild transformation in the refrigerator. At first, it may seem thin and slightly runny but fear not.
After a quick chill, it magically firms up, becoming the ideal consistency for piping exquisite decorations onto your desserts. Whether you're aiming for elegant roses or playful dollops, this frosting will hold its shape flawlessly, turning your creations into edible works of art.
But let's not forget about the most important part—the taste! Cream cheese brings a delightful tanginess to the frosting, perfectly balanced by a subtle sweetness. Each velvety bite is a harmony of flavors, threatening to outshine whatever baked good lurks beneath. The smooth texture and heavenly taste make it hard to resist licking the spoon (and the bowl, if I'm being honest!).
⭐ Why You’ll Love This 3 Ingredient Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe
You might think that a frosting recipe without butter is a lost cause, like a ship without a rudder. But you’d be wrong! This cream cheese frosting no-butter recipe has all the tangy sweet goodness of your favorite icing, without butter.
Aside from tasting like a bakeshop dream, this easy cream cheese frosting without butter is also:
- Made With Only 3 Ingredients - THREE. You can’t beat that!
- Super Versatile - Whether you spread a generous layer over your favorite bundt cake, pipe gorgeous rosettes onto cupcakes, or use it to add some pizazz to your favorite brownies, strawberry cheesecake cookies, or cheesecakes, my cream cheese icing without butter is here for you.
- Takes Less Than 10 Minutes To Make - Of all the many virtues this cream cheese icing no butter recipe embodies, its expediency is really what takes the cake. 🎂
As promised, you only need a handful of ingredients to make this cream cheese frosting without butter recipe. Chances are, if you have cream cheese, you’re good to go:
- Cream Cheese - Make sure you’re reaching for block-style cream cheese. If you’d like it to be a little lighter on fat and calories, opt for Neufchatel cheese instead of fat-free cream cheese. You’re also welcome to swap in plant-based cream cheese instead!
- Powdered Sugar - Also aptly known as “icing sugar,” this powdery white sweetener is what gives this 3-ingredient cream cheese icing its lusciously smooth consistency. If you’re fresh out, you can easily make your own using granulated sugar and cornstarch or potato starch.
- Vanilla Extract - For rich, warm flavor. If you’re looking for a beautifully flecked frosting, try using an equal amount of vanilla bean paste instead.
See the recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and measurements.
⏲️ Substitutions & Variations
As much as I love this 3-ingredient cream cheese frosting no-butter wonder just the way it is written, there is plenty of room for you to make it your own. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Vegan - Go dairy-free by swapping in your favorite plant-based cream cheese substitute!
- Different Extracts - While vanilla is classic, there are lots of other tasty flavors to choose from. Try almond or lemon for a spring-inspired flavor palate, or maple for fall and winter. You can also use freeze dried fruit powders to create your homemade cream cheese icing to add to your favorite desserts.
- Color Coordinate - Add a few drops of gel food coloring to get your cream cheese frosting with no butter to match any occasion. You can also try replacing some of the powdered sugar with powdered flavor additions that ALSO add color like beetroot powder, crushed freeze-dried strawberries, or butterfly pea powder.
This recipe has not been tested with other substitutions or variations. If you replace or add any ingredients, please let us know how it turned out in the comments below!
📖 How To Make Frosting Without Butter: Step-by-Step Instructions
Spoiler alert: making frosting with no butter is as easy as making regular frosting. Here’s how it’s done:
Step 1: Whip the cream cheese in a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until smooth.
Step 2: Sweeten. One cup at a time, add the powdered sugar to the cream cheese, mixing until smooth. Scrape the bowl as you go.
Step 3: Add vanilla, then bring the speed of the mixer to a medium-high speed and mix/whip for another 2-3 minutes.
Step 4: Store in an airtight container in the fridge and use as desired on all your favorite recipes. Note that the cream cheese frosting will firm up after being in the fridge after 30 minutes or so.
👩🏻🍳 Expert Tips
- Remember to scrape down the sides of your mixing bowl several times throughout the process. There’s nothing worse than going to frost your favorite cake and finding a bunch of chunks of solid cream cheese at the bottom of your bowl!
- Use softened cream cheese and make sure it's at room temperature for easy blending.
- Pulling out an electric mixer with a paddle or whisk attachment or a hand mixer will help to achieve an extra smooth consistency.
- Add a pinch of salt for balance and versatility, as it complements your homemade frosting!
- If you want to be able to frost a cake or pipe the frosting, make sure to give it a 30-minute chill in the fridge to firm up first.
You say poh-TAY-to, I say poh-TAH-to. You say frosting, I say icing. In the world of confections, these two are pretty much interchangeable. If you were to demand a difference, I’d probably say that frosting is more likely to have butter and be thicker, whereas icing is a bit thinner and doesn’t have a tendency to include butter.
Nope, cream cheese frosting and buttercream are NOT the same thing. They may both be popular for jazzing up cakes and cupcakes, but they've got their own unique qualities.
Buttercream is all about the butter, plus some powdered sugar and tasty flavorings like vanilla extract. It's smooth, buttery, and sweet, adding a rich layer of decadence to your treats. You've got two main types: American buttercream, which is quick and easy, and Swiss meringue buttercream, which is decidedly fussier on account of needing to temper egg whites.
Cream cheese frosting is a different beast altogether, especially if you make this no-butter recipe. While the method is similar to making American buttercream, this 3-ingredient cream cheese frosting is entirely butter-free, leaving it with a slightly different (though still dreamy) consistency.
If your cream cheese frosting feels a little loose after mixing, don’t fret! It’ll become thicker after about 30 minutes in the fridge.
Ooops! Sounds like you might’ve tried to use granulated sugar or caster sugar in place of powdered sugar.
When it comes to storing this delightful frosting, the best way is to keep it refrigerated. Cream cheese is the star ingredient here, and it's important to keep it chilled to maintain its freshness and prevent any spoilage. Place the frosting in an airtight container, ensuring it is well-sealed, and pop it in the refrigerator. It should stay fresh for about 3-5 days.
Now, onto the freezing dilemma. Yes, you can freeze cream cheese frosting, but freezing can slightly alter the texture, making it a bit softer upon thawing. However, the taste and overall quality should remain intact.
To freeze the frosting, make sure it's in a freezer-safe container or freezer bags. Remove as much air as possible before sealing to prevent freezer burn, then label the container with the date. Cream cheese frosting can be frozen for up to 3 months.
When you're ready to use the frozen frosting, transfer it to the refrigerator and let it thaw overnight, then give it a good stir before using it. You may find that it's a touch softer than when freshly made, but it should still be delicious.
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Cream Cheese Frosting without Butter
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 oz (226 g) Cream Cheese
- 3 cups (120 g) Powdered Sugar
- 1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract, or vanilla bean paste
Cream Cheese Frosting without Butter
- Add the cream cheese into your mixing bowl and mix on medium speed until it’s smooth and somewhat fluffy.8 oz Cream Cheese
- One cup at a time, add the powdered sugar into the cream cheese, mixing until smooth scraping down the sides intermittently.3 cups Powdered Sugar
- Add vanilla, then bring the speed of the mixer to a medium high speed and mix/whip for 2-3 minutes.1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge and use as desired! Note that the cream cheese frosting will firm up after being in the fridge after 30 minutes or so.