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Cream Cheese Frosting Without Butter

You can make the perfect thick, decadent cream cheese frosting without butter — and with no margarine, either! This tangy, rich icing has all of the creamy goodness you could want.

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Swirls of cream cheese frosting made without butter

Sometimes, you just want a light dessert without all of the heavy greasiness that comes with using butter. While most cream cheese frosting recipes use butter, this one is just as rich and indulgent without a teaspoon of butter (or margarine) in sight!

You can count all of the ingredients you need to make this recipe on one hand: heavy cream (our substitute for butter in the homemade frosting), cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt.

This cream cheese frosting without butter is fluffy and lighter, but still creamy. It has that perfect silky texture and mouthwatering mix of tangy and sweet that we all know and love.

Cinnamon rolls, red velvet, carrot cake, pumpkin bread, chocolate cookies, layer cakes . . . There are almost endless ways to enjoy this butter-free cream cheese frosting. And when you share your sweets, no one will notice that the butter is even missing! 

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Here’s what I’m going to teach you in this post: 

  • A quick and easy recipe for cream cheese frosting without butter
  • Tips and tricks to make your icing thick, smooth, and creamy
  • A few creative ways to customize your butter-free frosting to suit a whole bunch of desserts

Five ingredients later, you’ll have a smooth, lighter cream cheese frosting with no butter required. Spread it on cakes, cookies, cupcakes, or eat right out of the bowl with a spoon . . . however you want to enjoy it is up to you!

prepared ingredients for no butter cream cheese frosting

How to Make Cream Cheese Frosting Without Butter

A full printable version of this recipe with ingredient measurements is available at the bottom of this post.

STEP ONE: Pour the heavy cream into a mixing bowl or stand mixer and beat with a whisk until it forms firm, stiff peaks. Cover and move to the refrigerator while completing the next step.

STEP TWO: Add the softened cream cheese to a separate bowl. Using a whisk or hand mixer, beat until it softens and becomes smooth. Sprinkle in the powdered sugar, then add the vanilla and salt. Continue beating the mixture until all ingredients are completely combined.

mix together ingredients in mixing bowl

STEP THREE: Remove the whipped mixture from the refrigerator and begin to slowly and gently fold it into the cream cheese mixture. Fold only until fully combined, and not a second longer!

combine all ingredients together

STEP FOUR: Add to a piping bag for decorating, or simply spread with a spatula for easy application. 

Why Is My Cream Cheese frosting Lumpy?

It’s important to use room temperature full fat cream cheese in this recipe! You’ll get quite the workout trying to beat it to a smooth texture when it’s cold, and it won’t mix well with the other ingredients.

It takes about an hour for it to come to room temperature. Also, be sure to use powdered sugar rather than white granulated sugar, which would make the cream cheese icing grainy and off-putting.

cream cheese frosting without butter on platter of cupcakes

Recipes to Use This Cream Cheese Frosting With

How to Store Cream Cheese Frosting With No Butter

Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks in your refrigerator, or for up to 3 months in the freezer.

It’s very easy to double (or triple) this recipe, and it keeps incredibly well. If you love to bake and love using frosting, go ahead and make it in bulk!

no butter cream cheese frosting swirled on knife

Variations and Add-Ins for Cream Cheese Frosting  

This cream cheese frosting recipe with no butter and no margarine is incredibly customizable! Here are just a couple of ideas to make this frosting your own:


To make a cream cheese Oreo frosting, take about a dozen Oreos, toss them into a baggie, and crush them with a rolling pin. Add them to the icing as you fold during step three. Reserve some crushed Oreos to sprinkle on top. 


To make a chocolate cream cheese frosting, add unsweetened cocoa powder after the confectioners sugar and proceed with the recipe. Note: this will take away some of the sweetness. I think this suits the chocolate flavor more, but you can always add more sugar to reach your desired sweetness.


To turn this into a strawberry cream cheese frosting, grab a jar of your favorite strawberry jam and mix it in during step two. Alternatively, you could slice fresh strawberries and fold them into the frosting in step three.


To make this into a lemon cream cheese frosting, use 2 to 3 teaspoons of lemon extract to really bring out the lemon flavor!

cupcakes topped with cream cheese frosting without butter

How Can I Thicken Icing Without Butter?

To make this cream cheese frosting recipe with no butter, we compensate with whipped heavy cream. While it’s a great substitute for butter in frosting, there are some tricks to preparing it! 

If you don’t whip long enough, or if you overfold the whipped cream, your frosting may become thin and runny.

If your frosting is not as thick as you’d like, place it back in the refrigerator and let it firm up for 30 minutes. If you are still unhappy with the thickness, add a small amount of cornstarch until the desired thickness is reached. 

What Can I Use Instead of Butter For Frosting?

This recipe substitutes heavy cream for butter. It helps get that thick and creamy texture you know and love from a homemade cream cheese frosting recipe without any butter.

Other Dessert Recipes You’ll Love:

cream cheese frosting without butter on platter of cupcakes

Cream Cheese Frosting Without Butter

Samantha Erb
You can make a thick, decadent cream cheese frosting without butter or margarine! This icing has all of the creamy goodness you could want.
4.45 from 9 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Desserts
Cuisine American
Servings 12 cupcakes or a small cake
Calories 173 kcal


  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • ½ tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt


  • In a small mixing bowl, beat heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Cover and chill in the refrigerator.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese for 1 to 2 minutes until softened. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt and beat until smooth.
  • Gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until it’s thoroughly combined.
  • Pipe or spread on cupcakes, cookies, or cake.


Serving: 1gCalories: 173kcalCarbohydrates: 20gProtein: 1gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 30mgSodium: 73mgSugar: 19g
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


About Samantha

I’ve always had a love of cooking and creating new recipes, so it only made sense to create a food blog so I could share those recipes with you. This site is designed to provide easy and flavorful recipes with as little ingredients as possible. That means you still get great flavor combinations without all that extra time and effort. Read more...

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