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Let us clear something up: Classic cream cheese frosting recipes like this one aren’t just for topping carrot cakes, cinnamon rolls, or red velvet cakes. Too often, the frosting is pigeon-holed, and we aim to change that here and now. In fact, homemade cream cheese frosting can be used to add a pleasantly sweet and tangy note to almost any cupcake or layer cake recipe that calls for buttercream frosting, including this Double Banana Cake. It’s so easy and versatile, it’ll soon become your new favorite frosting.

This recipe requires almost no prep time or special equipment. A stand mixer with a paddle attachment works well, but a handheld mixer is just fine here. (If you go the second route, wrap a large dish towel into a ring shape around the base of a mixing bowl to help it stay in place.) Another bonus: The ingredient list is short and sweet. This is not a time to swap out full-fat cream cheese for a low-fat alternative or use anything but confectioners’ sugar. Look for a confectioners’ sugar made with tapioca starch instead of cornstarch (check the ingredients). The tapioca does a better job of helping to thicken the frosting. And, if you prefer frosting that’s a bit tangier, add about two-thirds of the sugar and taste the mixture before adding more. 

This recipe can be made while a cake bakes or the day before, just be sure to store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator overnight and let it come to room temperature so it’s easily spreadable.


Makes enough for 24 cupcakes


ounces cream cheese, room temperature


tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature


teaspoon kosher salt


cups powdered sugar


tablespoon vanilla extract