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