This cream cheese frosting recipe for carrot cake is creamy, sweet, tangy, delicious, and easy to make! With only four main ingredients, this frosting will add a rich and luxurious taste to your homemade carrot cake.
What Frosting do you Put on a Carrot Cake?
Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting
Homemade carrot cake is beloved for its moist crumb, warm spice notes, and sweetness of carrots. The perfect complement to carrot cake is the luscious and velvety embrace of my homemade cream cheese frosting recipe.
Why is Cream Cheese Frosting so Good?
Sweet, tangy taste!
Smooth, creamy texture!
A perfect frosting for lots of different types of cakes and cupcakes!
What is Cream Cheese Frosting Made of?
How to Make Carrot Cake Frosting With Cream Cheese
Here is my step-by-step guide for creating the perfect cream cheese frosting recipe for carrot cake. Only four ingredients and straightforward instructions!
- 8 oz | 224g cream cheese (1 block) - Cream cheese offers a tanginess and freshness to the frosting, helping to balance the cake's sweetness. Take the cream cheese out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes beforehand to soften to room temperature.
- ½ cup (115g) unsalted butter - Butter is essential to this frosting recipe. It helps to make your frosting recipe taste rich and flavorful. Ensure that the butter is also at room temperature to ensure even mixing.
- 3 cups confectioners' sugar (powdered sugar | icing sugar) - Sift the sugar to ensure no lumps and a smooth texture.
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract - Vanilla helps to enhance the flavor of the cream cheese frosting mixture and gives it a more rounded taste.
- Optional: a pinch of salt - I like a little salt to cut through the sweetness of the frosting mixture. If you are using salted butter, omit the salt.
How to Make Cream Cheese Frosting for Carrot Cake
Now that I have kept my promise to use only four main ingredients, I will show you how easy my frosting recipe for carrot cake is to make! No tricks at all! Just three easy steps:
Step #1 Creaming
Add the cream cheese and butter to the large mixing bowl of an electric or stand mixer.
Whip on medium speed for 2 minutes or until creamy.
To ensure the mixture is evenly combined, don't forget to scrape down the sides of the bowl. You don't want to find parts that aren't mixed well and ruin the creamy texture of your frosting.
Step #2 Add Sugar and Vanilla
Once the cream cheese and butter are well mixed and creamy, it is time to add the confectioners' (powdered) sugar, vanilla, and optional salt. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds.
This low speed will ensure the icing sugar does not fly over your kitchen bench.
Don't forget to scrape down the sides of the bowl again with a rubber spatula before increasing the speed to medium for 2 minutes or until all ingredients are well beaten and creamy in texture.
Step #3 Taste and Adjust
Have a little taste of your frosting for flavor and texture. Adjust if necessary.
How to Make Frosting for a Carrot Cake Thinner?
If your cream cheese frosting recipe for carrot cake is too thick, add some cream or milk, one tablespoon at a time, and keep beating until it is the desired consistency.
How do you Thicken Carrot Cake Frosting Recipe?
If your frosting recipe is too thin, you can thicken it by adding more powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time, until you achieve the desired consistency.
If everything suits your taste, it is time to use this mixture as the filling or frosting on your carrot cake cupcakes or cakes.
Yes! That's it. Just a few steps make this the best frosting recipe for carrot cake!
Recipe Tips for Cream Cheese Frosting
Here are some extra tips for creating the perfect cream cheese frosting every time:
- Full-fat cream cheese - I always use the full-fat version of cream cheese for this carrot cake frosting recipe as it results in the best flavor and texture.
- Can I use cream cheese spread for frosting? Always choose the cream cheese in tin foil packaging and block form. This type of cream cheese is the key to my frosting recipe for carrot cake. Do not use the smooth, spreadable cream cheese sold in a tub, as it will make your frosting thin and runny.
- Softened cream cheese and butter - This is essential for the often-asked question, 'how do you make cream cheese frosting smooth?' Use cream cheese and butter brought to room temperature. This ensures that when beaten, your cream cheese and butter will have the perfect creamy texture. If you use these ingredients while still too cold, they won't beat evenly to a smooth consistency and can lead to lumps. Therefore, waiting for the cream cheese and butter to reach room temperature is crucial.
- Sugar addition - To prevent a cloud of sugar dust, beat the mixture on low speed for 30 seconds or until just incorporated. This will help prevent the powdered sugar from flying out of the bowl.
- Sift the sugar - Sift the confectioner's sugar beforehand to ensure a smooth and lump-free frosting recipe for carrot cake.
- Don't overmix - Don't overmix the frosting, as this can lead to the fat separating from the butter and cream cheese.
- Adjust, adjust, adjust! - Keep adjusting the frosting mixture until you achieve the perfect consistency and taste!
How to Use Cream Cheese Frosting Carrot Cake
Here are some tips for using this cream cheese buttercream frosting recipe to achieve that bake-worthy frosted carrot cake look:
Cool the cake - Ensure the carrot cake has completely cooled before frosting. A warm cake will cause the frosting to melt and slide off the cake.
Can you Pipe Cream Cheese Frosting?
Cool the frosting - If you want to pipe your cream cheese frosting recipe for carrot cake, chill it first. This makes the texture of your cream cheese frosting denser so that it can be easily shaped with a piping bag and will also help it hold its decorative piped shape.
Decorative touches - Now is your chance to get creative! As cream cheese frosting is not as stable as classic buttercream frosting, pipe on simple rather than intricate designs with a round-shaped tip.
What Should you Decorate a Carrot Cake With?
I like to use cream cheese frosting for decorating a carrot cake and then use different garnishes such as:
- Nuts - Many different types of nuts are perfect for decorating your carrot cake. Walnuts and pistachios, pecans, and almonds are all an ideal match.
- Candied carrot - Pieces of carrot candied in a sugar syrup make a pretty garnish on top of your cream cheese frosting recipe for carrot cake.
- Sugar paste or fondant carrots - Make simple fondant carrot decorations to decorate your carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.
What Flavors Go Well with Carrot Cake Frosting?
If you want to add variations to my cream cheese frosting recipe for carrot cake, here are some suggestions:
- Cocoa powder - I like to add unsweetened cocoa powder to this best carrot cake frosting recipe. This will give you a delicious chocolate cream cheese frosting with a subtle tangy and fresh taste. Use it to frost my delicious chocolate cake recipe.
- Freeze-dried fruit - You can choose any freeze-dried fruit you like, grind it up, and add it to my frosting recipe for carrot cake for extra fresh flavor. Also, if you choose a fruit like strawberries or raspberries, you will add a lovely pink hue to the frosting. So pretty!
- Cardamom and orange zest - Ground cardamom and orange zest add warmth and indulgence to this frosting recipe.
- Spiced cookies - Cookies like gingerbread or my favorite speculaas add flavor and crunch to this cream cheese frosting recipe. Crush one cup of your pick of cookies and stir it through the frosting in the last stage.
- Lemon zest - Lemon zest is also one of my favorite cream cheese frosting flavors. It adds freshness and tartness and compliments the warm spices of the carrot cake.
Other uses of this Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe
Here are some other ways that you can use this cream cheese frosting recipe for carrot cake:
- Cream cheese frosting for cupcakes - A rich and creamy frosting makes cupcakes the best! This cream cheese frosting is delicious frosted over my two-banana cupcakes recipe.
- Cookie sandwich - Use this frosting to sandwich together chocolate chip cookies and oat cookies for the perfect cookie sandwich!
- Cakes with cream cheese frosting recipes - This frosting elevates any cake to dessert-worthy! Try it on my brown sugar banana bread or chocolate chip banana bread.
- Cream cheese filling for cake recipe - Use this cream cheese frosting recipe to fill layer cakes, such as my classic chocolate cake recipe for special occasions.
What Frosting do you Put on a Carrot Cake?
Here are some other carrot cake frosting without cream cheese ideas:
Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting
Light and fluffy cinnamon buttercream frosting - perfect to compliment your carrot cake and other baked goods!
The butterscotch sauce from my sticky date pudding recipe drizzled over your carrot cake will elevate it to a dessert-worthy dish.
How to Store this Frosting Recipe for Carrot Cake
How Long Can Frosted Carrot Cake Sit Out?
This basic cream cheese frosting lasts up to a day at room temperature. Note: if the temperature gets too high, the frosting on the cake will begin to melt.
Does Frosted Carrot Cake Need to be Refrigerated?
Any longer than a day and a frosted carrot cake should be refrigerated because the fresh butter and cream cheese in the frosting can spoil.
How Long Can Cream Cheese Frosting be Refrigerated For?
If you are not using your frosting immediately, storing it in an air-tight container in the refrigerator is best. It can then last up to one week. To use, remove it from the fridge, bring it to room temperature, and use.
Can you Freeze Carrot Cake Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe Best?
Yes! If you store the cream cheese frosting in an air-tight container in the freezer, you can keep it for up to 3 months.
Bring the frosting recipe with cream cheese to room temperature and use.
Can you Make Cream Cheese Frosting Ahead of Time?
You can make this cream cheese frostings for carrot cake ahead of time. Store it in the fridge or freezer and let it thaw to room temperature when ready to use it.
To make it extra light and fluffy cream cheese frosting again, re-whip it for 30 seconds.
Frosting Recipe for Carrot Cake FAQs
What is the Traditional Frosting for Carrot Cake?
Cream cheese and butter frosting (also known as cream cheese and powdered sugar frosting) is the traditional frosting for a carrot cake.
What's Carrot Cake Made of?
My grandma always made her carrot cake recipe in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held mixer.
First, combine the all purpose flour, baking soda, and spices, such as nutmeg, in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, vegetable oil such as canola oil, sugar, and vanilla. Then, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and fold through to form a smooth batter. Gently mix through the carrots, raisins, and nuts. The batter is then cooked in the oven in cake pans lined with parchment paper and then cooled on racks before frosting with a delicious cream cheese icing or frosting!
What is the Difference Between Cream Cheese and Buttercream Frosting?
Buttercream frosting is made from butter, cream, confectioner's sugar, and vanilla. Cream cheese frosting is made from butter, full-fat cream cheese, confectioner's sugar, and vanilla.
Best Frosting for Carrot Cake - Cream Cheese Frosting Vs Buttercream?
It depends on your taste. You'll love cream cheese frosting if you are like me and like a little tangy flavor in your frosting. But if you like the sweet and buttery taste of butter frosting, then carrot cake buttercream frosting is also delicious.
What is Different About Cream Cheese Frosting?
- Flavor Balance: The natural sweetness of carrot cake is balanced by the sweet tanginess of the butter cream cheese frosting.
- Velvety Texture: The smooth and luscious texture of cream cheese frosting matches the moist crumb of the carrot cake.
- Visual Delight: The snowy swirls of cream cheese frosting contrast with the orange hue of the carrot cake. I also like to sprinkle crushed nuts, such as walnuts and pistachios, on top for even more visual delight!
- Elegance: Cream cheese frosting can lift a simple homemade carrot cake for special occasions such as birthdays and desserts.
- Versatile: Cream cheese frosting can also be paired with other cupcakes, cakes, and baked goods.
What is Different About Cream Cheese Frosting to Icing?
The terms frosting and icing are often used interchangeably and can vary from country to country. Generally, frosting is thicker and fluffier than carrot cake cream cheese icing.
What is Carrot Cake Icing Made of?
My grandma used to make a lovely carrot cake icing from confectioner's (icing) sugar with a small amount of butter, lemon juice, and lemon zest. This thinner texture meant she could easily drizzle the carrot cake icing over the cake.
How to Make Carrot Icing?
Combine the sugar and butter until incorporated. Add the lemon juice and zest and beat until well combined. Spread over your homemade carrot cake.
Can I Use Salted Butter for Cream Cheese Frosting?
You can use salted butter in this cream cheese frosting recipe. If you do, simply omit adding any salt.
How do I Make Cream Cheese Frosting Harden?
The easiest and best way to make this cream cheese frosting for carrot cake harden is to put it in the refrigerator and wait 5-10 minutes. Putting it in the fridge makes the butter in the mixture firmer, making your cream cheese frosting harden.
Can I Add Cornstarch to my Cream Cheese Frosting?
If you feel that your cream cheese frosting is not thick enough and don't want to add more sweetness, you can add cornstarch instead of additional confectioners' sugar.
What Can I Replace the Cream Cheese With?
What if I want to substitute some of the cream cheese with other ingredients? Is that possible? Of course you can! Let me show you how.
- Greek yogurt - Greek yogurt has a similar tangy flavor profile to cream cheese. Also, its creamy texture works well as a frosting ingredient. To use, substitute a third of the cream cheese with Greek yogurt. This will produce a lighter, tangy take on my traditional cream cheese frosting.
- Sour cream frosting carrot cake - For an extra light, creamy, and tangy frosting, replace a third of the cream cheese with sour cream.
Frosting Recipe for Carrot Cake - In Conclusion
Cream cheese frosting is the perfect accompaniment to carrot cake and will transform your cake from ordinary to extraordinary! Follow the easy steps in the recipe below and use this delicious and creamy homemade frosting on a carrot cake for your family and friends today!
Frosting Recipe for Carrot Cake
- 1 Electric stand or hand-held mixer
- 8 oz (224g) cream cheese block (do not use smooth cream cheese in a tub) room temperature
- ½ cup (115g) unsalted butter room temperatue
- 3 cups confectioner's sugar powdered sugar | icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of salt optional
- With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium speed for 2 minutes or until creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure that all of the mixture is being beaten evenly.
- Add the confectioner’s sugar, vanilla, and optional salt. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Increase to medium speed for 2 minutes. or until the mixture is well-combined and creamy.
- Taste and adjust the flavor and texture as desired. Refer to the 'Notes' section below for tips on how to make the frosting thicker or thinner.
- Use as a filling or frosting on your carrot cake.