NO Butter Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe
This no butter cream cheese frosting is light, fluffy and melts in the mouth just like whipped cream. A simple, easy and effortless recipe that gets done in less than 10 minutes. Perfect for cupcakes or your favorite carrot cake recipe.
Have you ever wanted to make a cream cheese frosting with just cream cheese? NO butter?
The best part it’s rich, delicious, creamy and melts in the mouth. While I should not favor one of my recipes over another, I will say that this is my favorite cream cheese frosting. Don’t get me wrong both my recipes are good and I love them both. And yet this one – I cannot resist eating it with a spoon. The truth is I love cheese and I can eat cheese by the block.
While both recipes are the BEST, there are advantages and disadvantages to both
This no butter cream cheese frosting is really light and has a whipped cream kinda consistency. Because there is no butter. You can pipe swirls and also use it to frost a cake. And yet, it’s a soft icing so there are limitations to what you can do with this. If I make cream cheese frosting for the family – this is it. Light and fluffy just like whipped cream.
On the other hand, my classic cream cheese frosting has butter which adds stability. Also, butter can be whipped to make a more light and fluffy buttercream kinda frosting. So you can use it in a cake covered with fondant too. It does make some nice firm cream cheese swirls on cupcakes. In addition, you can pipe borders around a cake. For my business, the classic is usually my go-to recipe. Customers love it and I love working with it.
Let’s talk ingredients and substitutes for this recipe (Save/Pin)
- Cream Cheese – No low fat – please use full-fat cream cheese such as Philadelphia or Mascarpone. There is no butter in this recipe so a cream cheese fat is all the stability you get in this recipe. Also, always use cream cheese at room temperature.
- Lemon – Just a tiny amount to cut the sugar. And it makes a huge difference. It does not affect the taste. So if you want the lemon flavor you will need to add more.
- Salt – Sounds like a lot but it does help cut the sugar a lot!!
- Powdered sugar – Use good powdered sugar made from cane sugar, not beet sugar. And you will never have a grainy buttercream or frosting recipe.
Useful Tips and Tools
- For buttercream and frosting mixing always use a paddle attachment so you do not incorporate too much air into the buttercream. Some recipes, however, such as meringue buttercreams, require the use of the whisk attachments.
- Having said that, a simple Bowl, whisk and Spatula with a little extra elbow grease will do too.
- Personally, I believe in measuring ingredients by weight, which makes my kitchen scale one of the most valuable items when baking. The same goes for mymeasuring cups and measuring spoons. It’s always a good idea to have these handy and use them when baking rather than trying to guess measurements.
- After the cream cheese frosting is prepared always keep it sealed well in the fridge. This will prevent any odor from the other foods to attach itself to the buttercream. Therefore, I place my buttercream in a stainless steel storage (we try to avoid using plastic in our home). And I also cover the top surface of the buttercream with cling wrap.
Flavors – cream cheese frosting
- Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting – Replace 2 tbsp powdered sugar with cocoa powder – mix together before you add into the mixer.
- Lemon cream cheese frosting – Replace the fresh cream with 1 tbsp of lemon juice – more if you like a tart buttercream.
- Peppermint cream cheese frosting – Replace 1 tsp of vanilla in the recipe with 1 tsp peppermint extract to the above frosting.
- Maple cream cheese frosting – Replace the cream in this recipe with Maple syrup – the syrup will lighten the frosting so you may not be able to pipe firm swirls but it will still be absolutely delicious.
- Caramel cream cheese frosting – Omit the fresh cream in the recipe – Add 1/4 cup thick caramel sauce (see my homemade caramel sauce recipe here) – and add the caramel sauce at the last stage and you have whipped the cream cheese frosting.
The consistency will be softer so you won’t be able to pipe firm swirls.
Since caramel is added sugar the resulting frosting is rather sweet. You can add salt flakes to cut some of that and get a salted caramel effect.
Personally, I prefer to make the classic cream cheese frosting recipe and then drizzle the caramel over the finished cupcake or cake as an added effect which is usually more appreciated than adding caramel into the frosting.
Frequently asked questions
This is probably to do with the low-fat cream cheese lecture I gave you above. You must use cream cheese with at least 32 to 38% fat or more. Cream cheese is not an extra ingredient here used instead of butter. So the powdered sugar needs to mix with the fat in the cream cheese and butter, which gives us that light and fluffy texture.
Always room temperature. This will give you a smooth texture. Cold ingredients will give you lumpy cream cheese and very sweet frosting because it has not emulsified enough.
Powdered sugar made from cane, not beet sugar. Did you ever have a frosting that feels grainy on the pallet? That’s usually made with beet sugar since it does not dissolve easily in the frosting. You can make frosting with caster sugar. And yet, it really takes forever to dissolve and emulsify. Also, it does not have the same light and fluffy volume you get from powdered sugar.
NO!! Cream cheese frosting is not brand sensitive but rather fat sensitive. You don’t need to use a brand name cream cheese. If you can find a local cream cheese that has above 32% fat – go ahead and use it. Of course, the cream cheese has to be unflavored so it does not influence the final flavor of the frosting.
Cream cheese is a perishable product just like milk and yogurt or whipped cream. Hence, it must be treated with the same courtesy. The high powdered sugar content does work as a preservative. So we can keep the finished product out for a few hours. And yet, in general, you must treat cream cheese just as you would milk or yogurt.
Similarly, just like whipped cream – cream cheese becomes fluffy with all the mixing and a lot of air is incorporated in the frosting. And yet, over time it loses its volume when kept outside. Especially in warmer climates.
I have two favorite CC frosting – one is this without added butter, and the other is with added butter the classic Cream Cheese Frosting. This is richer in cream cheese flavor, with a softer consistency. It’s an absolute treat and I love to use it on cupcakes. Also, it’s more stable and does a great job with piping. In addition, kids love it since the cheese flavor is just right.
Actually, I prefer to use the classic cream cheese buttercream frosting under fondant because it has butter.
You want your frosting to be firm with the right consistency. If it’s too soft it will not firm up in the fridge. As a result, you will not be able to drape a heavy fondant. This frosting does give you a nice consistency but it’s not ideal for covering with fondant.
No Butter Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe
Conversions – Please switch between Metric & US for more measurement options
- Add room temperature cream cheese, lemon juice, cornstarch and whipping cream in a mixer bowl.
- Whip on medium speed for about 3 minutes until light and fluffy.
- Add powdered sugar one cup at a time until you’ve used 2 cups of the powdered sugar.
- Lastly, add the vanilla.
- Continue to mix on medium high for more 3 minutes until light and fluffy.
- Check consistency – if too soft add a little more powder sugar. If necessary add a tbsp or more of whipping cream to lighten it up.
- The more you whip, the lighter this frosting becomes. Just like whipped cream frosting.
- Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting – replace 2tbsp powdered sugar with cocoa powder – mix together before you add into the mixer.
- Lemon Juice – Replace the fresh cream with 1 tbsp of lemon juice – more if you like a tart buttercream
- Peppermint – replace 1 tsp of vanilla in the recipe with 1 tsp peppermint extract to the above frosting
- Maple – Replace the cream in this recipe with Maple syrup – the syrup will lighten the frosting so you may not be able to pipe firm swirls but it will still be absolutely delicious
- Caramel – Omit the fresh cream in the recipe – Add 1/4 cup thick caramel sauce (see my homemade caramel sauce recipe here) – and add the caramel sauce at the last stage and you have whipped the cream cheese frosting. The consistency will be softer so you won’t be able to pipe firm swirls. Since caramel is added sugar the resulting frosting is rather sweet. You can add salt flakes to cut some of that and get a salted caramel effect. Personally, I prefer to make the classic cream cheese frosting recipe and then drizzle the caramel over the finished cupcake or cake as an added effect which is usually more appreciated than adding caramel into the frosting.
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