This healthier cream cheese frosting uses a fraction of the sugar in traditional recipes and tastes really similar to cheesecake batter!
With it being carrot cake season, I thought I ought to share this amazing frosting recipe. Because carrot cake and cream cheese frosting just belong together.
Below you see it on my Healthy Carrot Cake – my family’s favorite Easter-time treat.
Frosting is hard to make healthy and have it actually taste just like regular frosting. My Paleo Chocolate Frosting is delicious, but I definitely wouldn’t call it healthy – just healthier. Like this cream cheese frosting!
If you manage not to eat it all straight from the bowl, you have to try it on these Pumpkin Cupcakes. Or these Gluten-free Chocolate Cupcakes, which are so unbelievably moist, dark and chocolaty.
Why not Greek yogurt or low-fat products?
I used to add Greek yogurt to make my frostings a little healthier, but then I realized I needed to add more sugar to make up for the extra sourness from the yogurt. So that was kind of pointless.
Looking at other healthier cream cheese frosting recipes, I noticed people using 1/3 less fat or even fat-free cream cheese. If you haven’t heard, low-fat diets can make you overweight and unhealthy, so I don’t see any point in reducing the amount of fat unless your worry is calories.
But even then, I wouldn’t want to use low-fat products, because unhealthy ingredients are often added to make up for the lack of fat. So I figured the only thing I could really do to make it a little healthier is to reduce the amount of powdered sugar.
Why not use a natural sweetener?
Quite simply, none of them work the same way in cream cheese frosting.
- Honey – the frosting has a weird texture and a very strong honey taste. A bit too runny.
- Maple syrup – same as above but with a strong maple flavor. It’s also too runny to spread.
- Maple sugar – this works the best. Good texture, maple flavor (I’d only use it on something that pairs well with maple. So not lemon or orange cake, but yes to pumpkin cake) and it’s firm enough to spread. However, it’s SUPER expensive and not readily available outside of the US and Canada. And it needs to be powdered, or at least very fine. Big granules won’t dissolve nicely, which would result in a crunchy frosting.
- Coconut sugar – better texture, but the frosting is more coconut sugar-flavored than cream cheese-flavored. Also needs to be very fine in texture.
- Sugar subs – I’m not a big fan of these, so I haven’t tried them. I would like to try a keto version one day, but can’t recommend anything for now.
I have tried doing half liquid sweetener + half powdered sugar, but the result was still too runny to spread on top of anything.
So this is why I went with powdered sugar but massively reduced the amount.
Only 1/6th the sugar!
This popular cream cheese frosting recipe on Allrecipes calls for 8 ounces of cream cheese and 4 cups of powdered sugar. That’s kind of crazy.
My recipe calls for 12 ounces of cream cheese and 1 cup of powdered sugar. If you used 8 ounces of cream cheese, that’d be 2/3 cup of powdered sugar. That’s 1/6 the amount of sugar!
So instead of super sweet frosting with some cream cheese taste to it, you have something that’s more like cheesecake filling.
It is richer, but not overly so, and I think way more satisfying.
Also, there’s a range in the amount of butter. You only need 3 tablespoons if you want it a bit softer and you’re not planning on piping it. If you want to pipe it, then use 6 tablespoons of butter.
How much does this healthier cream cheese frosting yield?
Because there’s so much less sugar, the yield is a lot smaller.
This recipe yields a little more than 2 cups of frosting, which is enough for 2 tablespoons (32 grams) of frosting on 16 cupcakes or for about 12 piped cupcakes.
The below pumpkin cupcakes had a nice dome to them, so it actually looks like more frosting than it really is. I tried to make the mound of frosting as small as I could.
Doing it this way yielded enough frosting for 16 piped cupcakes.
I normally don’t like cupcakes with a huge mound of piped frosting on top, because it’s just too sweet, but I didn’t have that issue with this icing. Go ahead and pile it on! :D
It really tastes a lot like cheesecake batter before you add the eggs. I couldn’t stop eating it.
I actually had to remake this frosting because I kept going back to the fridge to sneak bites as it was firming up.
If you’re just slathering on the frosting, you can do that immediately after making the frosting (and when your cake has completely cooled). If you want to pipe it, I recommend refrigerating it for about an hour so that it firms up a bit more.
Don’t let it chill too long before frosting your cake, though, because it gets quite firm, like a cream cheese tart filling. If that happens, just bring the frosting to room temperature and then frost.
That also means you should bring your cupcakes to room temperature before serving if you want the frosting soft. Don’t heat them up, though! The frosting would melt really quickly.
Cupcakes to slather your frosting on
That’s it! I hope you enjoy this frosting. If you make it, I’d love for you to leave a comment below and let me know what you think!
Healthier Cream Cheese Frosting
- Prep Time:
- Cook Time:
- Ready in:
- Yield: just over 2 cups
- 12 ounces (340 grams) cream cheese, room temperature1
- 3-6 tablespoons (42-84 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature2
- 1 cup (120 grams) powdered sugar (you can add more, if desired)
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a medium mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together with an electric hand mixer at medium speed until well combined. It's okay if it looks a little crumbly.
- Gradually beat in the powdered sugar until totally combined and then beat in the salt and vanilla. If it's firm enough for your needs, frost your cake / cupcakes.
- If you want it firmer, refrigerate for about an hour, stirring the frosting after about 30 minutes. Don't let it chill too long before frosting your cake, though, because it gets quite firm, like a cream cheese tart filling. If that happens, just bring it to room temperature and then frost.
- Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days and refrigerate anything you frost with this frosting. The frosting firms up once refrigerated so if you want the softer frosting texture (rather than a cream cheese tart filling kind of texture), let the cupcakes come to room temperature before serving.
- If you live outside of North America and have the kind of cream cheese that's meant for toast (that comes in a little plastic tub) rather than American style brick cream cheese, then get 450 grams of cream cheese, place it in the center of a cheesecloth, and wring out the liquid until you have 340 grams of cream cheese left.
- If you want to pipe this frosting, use 6 tablespoons of butter and if you just want to slather it on, use 3. Or 6 if you just want it a little firmer!
- This recipe yields a little more than 2 cups of frosting, which is enough for 2 tablespoons (32 grams) of frosting on 16 cupcakes or for about 12 piped cupcakes.
77 comments on “Healthier Cream Cheese Frosting” — Add one!
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Omg! What an amazing frosting recipe it is! I don’t like sugar at all but loved the idea of making it like a cheesecake filling.
I further reduced the sugar to half of mentioned and made a rose flavored frosting with a pinch of red color to give it a soft pinkish rosy look. Since i just wanted to frost the cake and not pipe it, it worked.
Wow! I’m so glad that it worked with even less sugar. That is great. :) And a rose-flavored frosting sounds really nice. Thanks for your feedback!
I made the frosting today and it was a big hit. It was 90 F outside. I frosted the frozen cupcakes in order to give the frosting its best chance in the heat. The last ones were still more than acceptable looking over 3 hours later. A delicious not overly sweet frosting that everyone loved. Thank you.
I’m sorry for just now seeing your comment! It was in the spam folder for some odd reason. I’m surprised that this frosting, or any frosting, held up at all at 90 degrees. That’s great to know. Thanks for your comment and sorry again!
Monk fruit sweetener comes in powdered form. You might try that instead of sugar if you want something “healthier”.
The problem is that powdered monk fruit sweetener isn’t “healthier” either. The powdered monk fruit products that I’m aware of are actually mostly erythritol with a bit of monk fruit in them. Erythritol can cause digestive issues and it seems there’s disagreement on whether it’s good or bad for gut health. And if there’s pure powdered monk fruit out there, you’d be left with sweetened cream cheese and not frosting. You need the bulk (so, the powdered sugar or powdered erythritol) to turn it into frosting. This is why I called the recipe “healthier” and not “healthy.” I do believe an 83% reduction in sugar qualifies as healthier.
Thank you so much for the yummy as well as healthy frosting recipe. I have used this frosting many times. Last time I added some orange zest for my orange cake. It was divine taste!
I have tried few strawberry frostings which all are overly sweet. So I want to adopt your recipe for strawberry frosting. Could you please suggest what are the changes to be made if I add 1/2 cup thick strawberry reduction in this recipe? Normally I use the maximum butter in this recipe for piping.
Cream cheese frosting is my favorite and this was really good. I tweaked it a bit. I only added a half cup, plus 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar (Swerve). I used 2 tablespoons of butter and added extra vanilla. I made a recipe for coconut flour pumpkin bars, and piled the frosting on. Yum! Thanks so much for sharing! I SO appreciate it when others share recipes that are healthier.
Your changes sound great! I’m glad that it worked out well for you and that you enjoyed it. :) Thanks so much for your nice comment! I’m happy that you like healthier recipes, too. :)
Hi, would it be possible to make your cream cheese frosting lemon flavoured, without ruining the texture? If so what should I do? I’m a newbie at baking so I would like your input
I’m sorry for just now seeing your question! It would be possible. :) I’d add about 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of lemon zest and maybe a little lemon extract. Add just a little, like 1/4 at a time, unless you like the flavor.
Absolutely the best recipe for CC Frosting! And, you’re right, I couldn’t stop licking my fingers! Thank you so much for this! By the way, I slathered 12 cupcakes generously, and still had some left over.
Woohoo! I’m glad to hear that. :) Thanks for your feedback and sorry for my slow reply!
I just made this frosting using maple syrup instead of icing sugar and reduced the amount of milk to make up for the extra liquid. Turned out great!
Have you ever tried or had someone try using powdered erythritol instead of the sugar? Would this be an option in your opinion? I wasnt able to really find anything helpful when i googled it, though i will admit i didnt dig super deep :)
Hi there! I’ve never tried it but if it’s meant as a sub for powdered sugar, I’m guessing it’d work. Sorry I don’t have a better answer for you! If you try it out, I’d love to hear how it goes. :)
Just stumbled upon this as I was looking to see if there’s a healther frosting recipe for my toddler. I’m planning on making cupcakes for his class birthday, but they may need to sit out in room temp for a few hours. I believe normal cream cheese frosting can sit out at max for 2 hours (maybe more?); but with the reduced sugar in your recipe, would you know if that means it can’t be left out for too long?
I’ve kept normal cream cheese frosted cakes out for a whole day and never had issues. You’re right – less sugar would mean it can sit out less long but it should most definitely be okay for a few hours (I’ve kept mine out for about 8 hours but don’t recommend doing that – just saying that it’s what I’ve done). :) I hope they’ll enjoy it!
Hi, I’ve just baked your wholewheat chocolate cupcakes and they are deicious without being too fussy which is what I find with a lot of ‘healthy’ food blogs. I’m planning on making them ‘Gruffalo’ themed and want to use a chocolate frosting. I love that this recipe uses so much less sugar as the other I’ve tried taste way too sweet. Any suggestions for adding cocoa into this lower sugar frosting?
Hi there! I’m happy that you liked the cupcakes. :) I’ve never tried adding cocoa powder to this recipe so I’m honestly not sure how that’d work out. Cocoa powder is quite bitter so I’m guessing you’d need to add more sugar. I have a chocolate fudge frosting recipe that I link to at the top of this post! It’s pipeable and just uses the sugar from the chocolate chips. By the way, do you live outside of the US? If so, you probably have the cream cheese that’s meant to be spread on bread and not the thick kind like in the US. For a recipe calling for 8 ounces (225 grams) of cream cheese, buy a 300 gram package and wring out the liquid until you have 8 ounces of cream cheese left. It’s a huge pain in the butt but the only way I’ve found to make cream cheese frosting with European cream cheese. I hope that helps!
Lovelovelove this! I really dislike sickly sweet and overly rich cream cheese frosting recipes. This was perfect.
Yay! I’m so happy that you enjoyed it. :) Thanks for your comment!
Hi!! Will I be able to use caster sugar instead of the powdered one?
Thanks and I love it containing less sugar! Can’t wait to try out though.
Hi there! I’ve never actually tried it. I’d imagine that the result would be a little grainy and not totally smooth like it is with powdered sugar. If you try it out, anyway, I’d love to hear how it comes out!
Can I freeze the frosting? I have way too much but don’t want it to go to waste!!
I’m not actually sure about that! I googled it and found this. Seems like it should be okay! Did you enjoy the frosting?
I used this for a cake tonight. It displace the one thing I typically hate about carrot cake-frosting so sweet it could cause a diabetic coma. Everyone raved about it. Thank you!
Awesome! I’m so happy that you and the others enjoyed it. :) I’m also not a fan of super sweet frosting. I’d much rather the cream cheese be the main flavor. Thanks for your feedback!
Hi! Do you think I could substitute sugar with maple syrup? Or coconut sugar? Thank you
Hi! Check out the second to last paragraph of the post. :)
Thank you for your reply! The answer was there all along…sorry I missed it…🙈
Will try the frosting ASAP!
Haha. No worries! It was a long post. ;) Hope you’ll enjoy the frosting!
You mentioned powdered sugar being unhealthy. What if you make your own? 1 cup granulated sugar & 1 tablespoon cornstarch in the blender.
Hello, I was wondering.. would it taste too bad if I didn’t add the sugar? I’m baking a cake for my daughter and I want to avoid added sugar if possible. I was thinking about applesauce but it might make the frosting too liquid..
Hi there! If you remove the sugar, then it’s just cream cheese and butter so I definitely don’t recommend that. I think adding applesauce would make it lumpy and not taste very good, but I could be wrong. I really can’t think of anything that would be a good sub in frosting. Sorry I don’t have a better answer for you!
To add on, I was wondering if I could half the sugar. Would it still taste alright?
You could always try it and add more! I used the least amount that I could and still have it be frosting-like. It already uses a LOT less sugar than regular frosting recipes. Let me know how it goes!
If I were to add Grenadine into this instead of vanilla and doubled it that it would ruin the texture or stiffness?
It’s only an extra 1/2 teaspoon so I think it’d be fine! I’d love to hear how it comes out. :) Enjoy!
Hope you’ll like it! :)
Cream cheese frosting is a favorite of my kids! This healthier option would be great for them!
I bet you’d like it, too! ;)
Cream cheese frosting is my *weakness!* I love the idea of a little less sweetness!
Thanks so much! :)
I have never had that problem. The more sugar I add to the cream cheese frosting, the thicker it gets. I have even had to add a small bit of milk on occasion to thin it somewhat. But I am all for using less sugar that way the star of the frosting ‘cream cheese’ shines through!
That makes me paranoid that there’s some weird difference in the cream cheese here. We have Philadelphia in Germany but it’s not the brick kind. It has extra whey (or water) in it and so I wring out the liquid until it’s less liquidy like the American stuff. I’ve never gotten any comments about my cream cheese containing recipes not working out so I’ll just hope that continues with this recipe. :D
I wonder if outside conditions can affect cream cheese frosting? Although I know you are from Texas and I am from TN…not that much difference in outside conditions there. I assume you have had the same results while living in the states as well? Cream cheese frosting is one of the easiest frostings to make and one of the best tasting. I’ll have to ask around and see if anyone here has had it turn liquid like while mixing. But like I said before…I am all for less suagr especially of the refined sugar type.
When I lived in the US, I just followed recipes and didn’t ever think of experimenting. So every cream cheese frosting recipe I tried there worked fine and so I didn’t pay attention to the runniness. We don’t have AC here or any kind of ventilation other than opening windows so maybe it’s humidity! Or not.
Cream cheese frosting is my all-time favorite, I could eat a whole bowl of it with a spoon, so good thing this is reduced sugar! :)
Same here! I often in fact do. ;)
I’m totally in love with this recipe, the fact that it’s more like a cheesecake filling is a win with me…I find most frostings way too sweet anyway. And I’m trying to cut back on sugar so this is definitely on my must make list!
Awesome! I hope you’ll enjoy it!
Cream cheese frosting is our favorite and I’d love a way to make it healthier!
It’s really such a simple change! :)
I’m definitely going to be making this. Frosting can be so sweet, I’ll bet this is delicious!
I hope you’ll enjoy it! :)
This frosting sounds great for those watching their sugar intake. I love the idea of a cheesecake frosting!
Or even if you’re not watching your sugar intake! ;)
I love the sound of a cheesecake like filling for frosting, and you can’t beat the reduction in sugar that you achieved!
Thanks! I bet you’d love it. :)
I think it’s amazing that you created a lighter frosting! I want to put this on everything!
That’s a very good idea. :D
Yes! Cream cheese frosting is the best. I agree about using Greek yogurt -not a huge fan of how it turns out. Love these!
Thanks, Ashley! :)
Interesting idea. My mother gets mad at me because I don’t make cream cheese frosting with a ton of sugar in it like she does or like most recipes call for but there really is no need for all the sugar.
Just wanted to give you a heads up. I did get an email from you yesterday but it was for the recipe you sent out last week and I thought that was odd but now I see that you put a new recipe on the site yesterday but I wonder if everybody or most people got last week’s recipe rather than this weeks recipe. I got just now to look for a different recipe on your site and just saw this new healthier cream cheese recipe. I don’t know if it was just a glitch in my email or what but I just thought I would tell you.
Thank you for pointing that out! I had no idea. I’ll look into that today and see what’s going on. And does your mother really miss the sugar? I don’t get that. The less sugar, the cream cheesier and more delicious it is (at least in my opinion). :) Also, I’m about to respond to your old comment on the pecan pie fudge recipe (just saying in case you don’t get a notification).
I guess she missed the way frosting ‘used’ to be. She thinks the frosting will be too runny or not the right consistency if there isn’t the right amount of confectioner’s sugar in there. Let’s just say she is stuck in her ‘old’ ways. Not uncommon for people who bake from scratch all the time and we never have used canned frosting *YUCK*.
Interesting! I’ve found that the more powdered sugar I add, the runnier the frosting is, although a part of me thinks that doesn’t make sense. But I’ve seen it happen so many times. I think the mixture is too runny, so I add more and more sugar and it gets thinner and thinner. I read this which says, “Unfortunately occasionally cream cheese frosting does liquefy and this mainly comes from the liquid in the cream cheese mixing with the icing (confectioners’) sugar and dissolving it, leading to a runny icing. Adding extra sugar will not correct the problem.” I bet your mother would love this if you just happened to serve it to her without mentioning the sugar reduction. :)
This recipe is great! I love the option to make a healthier frosting, since cream cheese is my favorite! Looks wonderful!
Thanks so much! :)
I can totally get behind a frosting that tastes like cheesecake batter! ;)
Wow – that’s a huge reduction in sugar! Just 1 cup for 12 ounces of cream cheese, versus 4 whopping cups of sugar for only 8 ounces of cream cheese! Big difference, and a perfect way to let that cheesecake flavor shine through without being overpoweringly sweet! Great work!!!
Thanks so much, Shelley! It’s totally confusing to me. I even made it several times just to make sure I wasn’t messing something up. ;)
I usually don’t like cupcakes because of the frosting, it’s too sweet. I like your version.
Thanks, Marta! :)