Healthier Cream Cheese Frosting

This healthier cream cheese frosting uses a fraction of the sugar in traditional recipes and tastes like cheesecake batter!

Frosting is hard to make healthy and have it actually taste just like regular frosting. My paleo chocolate fudge frosting is delicious but I definitely wouldn’t call it healthy. Just healthier. ;) Like this cream cheese frosting!

If you manage not eating it all straight from the bowl, you have to try it on these pumpkin cupcakes! They can be made with all-purpose, whole wheat or gluten-free flour. You have the same flour options in these whole wheat chocolate cupcakes, which are so unbelievably moist, dark and chocolaty!

I used to add Greek yogurt to make my frostings a little bit 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.

Healthier Cream Cheese Frosting – with only a fraction of the sugar used in traditional recipes! Can be piped.

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.

This popular recipe on Allrecipes calls for 8 ounces of cream cheese and 4 cups of powdered sugar. That’s just crazy!

Healthier Cream Cheese Frosting – with only a fraction of the sugar used in regular recipes! Can be piped.

My recipe calls for 12 ounces of cream cheese and 1 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. 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 16-20 piped cupcakes.

The below 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.

Healthier Cream Cheese Frosting – with only a fraction of the sugar used in many traditional recipes! Can be piped.

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. If you want to pipe it, I recommend refrigerating it for about an hour so that it firms up a bit more.

Healthier Cream Cheese Frosting – with only a fraction of the sugar used in most traditional recipes! Can be piped.

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. 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.

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.

By the way, I know powdered sugar isn’t at all healthy but I’ve never been happy with using honey, maple syrup or coconut sugar as the sole sweeteners in cream cheese frosting. The texture’s just weird with liquid sweeteners and the dark taste of the coconut sugar totally overpowers the cream cheese taste. I have done half powdered sugar and half liquid sweetener in the past, but it was too liquidy to do much with.

Need more cupcakes ideas? I recommend these vegan chocolate cupcakes or these grain-free chocolate cupcakes. It’d also be awesome on these paleo carrot cake cupcakes! :)

Healthier Cream Cheese Frosting

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Rated 5.0 by 6 readers
Healthier Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Prep Time:
  • Cook Time:
  • Ready in:
  • Yield: just over 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Notes

  1. 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.
  2. 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 16-20 piped cupcakes. If you like to pipe huge mounds of frosting, it'll probably only be enough for 12.

Recipe by  | www.texanerin.com

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63 comments on “Healthier Cream Cheese Frosting” — Add one!

1 comment is awaiting moderation!

  • Tasha says
    September 7, 2018 @ 3:00 am

    Hello!

    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 :)

    Thank you!

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Tasha
      September 9, 2018 @ 9:00 pm

      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. :)

      Reply
  • Eugenia says
    August 6, 2018 @ 7:41 pm

    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?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Eugenia
      August 6, 2018 @ 9:50 pm

      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!

      Reply
  • Beth says
    December 2, 2017 @ 9:56 pm

    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?

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Beth
      December 3, 2017 @ 9:36 pm

      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!

      Reply
  • Sonali
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    November 7, 2017 @ 2:57 am

    Lovelovelove this! I really dislike sickly sweet and overly rich cream cheese frosting recipes. This was perfect.

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Sonali
      November 7, 2017 @ 6:52 am

      Yay! I’m so happy that you enjoyed it. :) Thanks for your comment!

      Reply
  • Jennifer says
    October 25, 2017 @ 5:30 am

    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.

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Jennifer
      October 25, 2017 @ 1:04 pm

      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!

      Reply
  • Chantal says
    October 20, 2017 @ 8:20 pm

    Can I freeze the frosting? I have way too much but don’t want it to go to waste!!

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Chantal
      October 21, 2017 @ 2:26 pm

      I’m not actually sure about that! I googled it and found this. Seems like it should be okay! Did you enjoy the frosting?

      Reply
  • Ross Rasmussen says
    October 10, 2017 @ 6:19 pm

    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!

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Ross Rasmussen
      October 11, 2017 @ 8:28 pm

      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!

      Reply
  • sandra says
    September 2, 2017 @ 6:15 pm

    Hi! Do you think I could substitute sugar with maple syrup? Or coconut sugar? Thank you

    Reply
    • Erin replies to sandra
      September 3, 2017 @ 8:37 am

      Hi! Check out the second to last paragraph of the post. :)

      Reply
      • sandra replies to Erin
        September 3, 2017 @ 5:48 pm

        Thank you for your reply! The answer was there all along…sorry I missed it…🙈
        Will try the frosting ASAP!

        Reply
        • Erin replies to sandra
          September 4, 2017 @ 5:26 am

          Haha. No worries! It was a long post. ;) Hope you’ll enjoy the frosting!

  • Wayne Tidwell says
    March 5, 2017 @ 10:27 pm

    You mentioned powdered sugar being unhealthy. What if you make your own? 1 cup granulated sugar & 1 tablespoon cornstarch in the blender.

    Reply
  • Maria says
    December 9, 2016 @ 5:25 pm

    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..

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Maria
      December 9, 2016 @ 10:28 pm

      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!

      Reply
    • JG
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      replies to Maria
      June 3, 2018 @ 7:37 pm

      To add on, I was wondering if I could half the sugar. Would it still taste alright?

      Reply
      • Erin replies to JG
        June 5, 2018 @ 8:22 pm

        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!

        Reply
  • Haddix says
    September 21, 2016 @ 8:50 pm

    If I were to add Grenadine into this instead of vanilla and doubled it that it would ruin the texture or stiffness?

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Haddix
      September 21, 2016 @ 10:35 pm

      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!

      Reply
      • Sheila replies to Erin
        October 9, 2016 @ 7:40 pm

        Will try

        Reply
        • Erin replies to Sheila
          October 9, 2016 @ 8:17 pm

          Hope you’ll like it! :)

  • Sabrina says
    September 16, 2016 @ 6:23 pm

    Cream cheese frosting is a favorite of my kids! This healthier option would be great for them!

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Sabrina
      September 18, 2016 @ 8:46 pm

      I bet you’d like it, too! ;)

      Reply
  • Laura says
    September 16, 2016 @ 4:39 am

    Cream cheese frosting is my *weakness!* I love the idea of a little less sweetness!

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Laura
      September 16, 2016 @ 8:24 pm

      Thanks so much! :)

      Reply
  • Kelly Barcroft
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    September 14, 2016 @ 3:01 am

    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!

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Kelly Barcroft
      September 14, 2016 @ 11:10 pm

      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

      Reply
      • Kelly Barcroft
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        replies to Erin
        September 21, 2016 @ 6:23 pm

        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.

        Reply
        • Erin replies to Kelly Barcroft
          September 21, 2016 @ 10:38 pm

          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.

  • Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet says
    September 13, 2016 @ 8:45 pm

    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! :)

    Reply
  • kellie @ the suburban soapbox says
    September 13, 2016 @ 3:22 am

    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!

    Reply
  • Cathy | Lemon Tree Dwelling says
    September 12, 2016 @ 9:47 pm

    Cream cheese frosting is our favorite and I’d love a way to make it healthier!

    Reply
  • Joanie @ ZagLeft says
    September 11, 2016 @ 10:17 pm

    I’m definitely going to be making this. Frosting can be so sweet, I’ll bet this is delicious!

    Reply
  • Karyn Granrud says
    September 10, 2016 @ 2:36 am

    This frosting sounds great for those watching their sugar intake. I love the idea of a cheesecake frosting!

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Karyn Granrud
      September 13, 2016 @ 7:42 pm

      Or even if you’re not watching your sugar intake! ;)

      Reply
  • Cookin Canuck says
    September 9, 2016 @ 7:34 pm

    I love the sound of a cheesecake like filling for frosting, and you can’t beat the reduction in sugar that you achieved!

    Reply
  • Justine | Cooking and Beer says
    September 9, 2016 @ 5:56 pm

    I think it’s amazing that you created a lighter frosting! I want to put this on everything!

    Reply
  • Ashley @ Wishes & Dishes says
    September 9, 2016 @ 7:00 am

    Yes! Cream cheese frosting is the best. I agree about using Greek yogurt -not a huge fan of how it turns out. Love these!

    Reply
  • Kelly Barcroft
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    September 9, 2016 @ 2:46 am

    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.

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Kelly Barcroft
      September 9, 2016 @ 11:59 am

      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).

      Reply
      • Kelly Barcroft
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        replies to Erin
        September 12, 2016 @ 9:42 pm

        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*.

        Reply
        • Erin replies to Kelly Barcroft
          September 13, 2016 @ 7:57 pm

          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. :)

  • Sheena says
    September 9, 2016 @ 1:43 am

    This recipe is great! I love the option to make a healthier frosting, since cream cheese is my favorite! Looks wonderful!

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Sheena
      September 13, 2016 @ 7:41 pm

      Thanks so much! :)

      Reply
  • carrie @ frugal foodie mama says
    September 8, 2016 @ 11:37 pm

    I can totally get behind a frosting that tastes like cheesecake batter! ;)

    Reply
  • Shelley @ Two Healthy Kitchens says
    September 8, 2016 @ 8:04 pm

    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!!!

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Shelley @ Two Healthy Kitchens
      September 8, 2016 @ 9:44 pm

      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. ;)

      Reply
  • Marta @ What should I eat for breakfast today says
    September 8, 2016 @ 12:43 am

    I usually don’t like cupcakes because of the frosting, it’s too sweet. I like your version.

    Reply

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