Cream Cheese Vs Buttercream Frosting: Which Comes Out on Top?

Dear friends, We will discuss the differences between Cream Cheese and Buttercream Frosting. Cream Cheese and Buttercream Frosting are the two most popular products. There is much to know about them. Many people want to know what cream cheese is, how it tastes, how beneficial or harmful it is for the body, and the correct recipe for its preparation. Others want to know – what buttercream frosting is, how it tastes, how to make it, and details about its article. We are mainly going to Cream Cheese vs Buttercream Frosting in today’s discussion.

Cream Cheese Vs Buttercream Frosting

So, let’s learn from today’s article, Cream Cheese Vs Buttercream Frosting, in detail about the taste, preparation process, health benefits, popularity, and difference between these two food products.

Also Read: Gorgonzola vs Blue Cheese: Exploring the Distinctive Characteristics

Overview of Cream Cheese Vs Buttercream Frosting

AspectCream Cheese FrostingButtercream Frosting
Primary IngredientsCream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla extractButter, powdered sugar, milk/cream, vanilla extract
FlavorCreamy, tangy, slightly cheesyIt can be made with dairy-free margarine and plant-based milk
TextureSmooth and creamyWhite or slightly off-white, can be tinted with food coloring
SweetnessModerately sweetVery sweet
TanginessTangy due to cream cheeseNot tangy
StabilitySofter and less stable in warm temperaturesStable in warm temperatures
Ideal UsesWhite or slightly off-white, can be tinted with food coloringVersatile, suitable for various cake types and decorating
Shorter shelf life due to cream cheese content needs refrigerationColour VariationsWhite or slightly off-white, can be tinted with food colouring
Decorative VersatilityLimited piping and decorative options due to softer textureExcellent for piping and intricate decorations
Shelf LifeLonger shelf life can be stored at room temperatureIt can be made with vegan cream cheese and margarine
Allergen ConsiderationsContains dairy (cream cheese and butter)Contains dairy (butter)
Vegan OptionsIt can be made with dairy-free margarine and plant-based milkCan be made with dairy-free margarine and plant-based milk
Common PairingsCarrot cake, red velvet cake, cinnamon rollsMost cakes, cookies, and cupcakes

Also Read: Custard vs Ice Cream: Exploring the Differences Between Custard and Ice Cream

What is Cream Cheese?

Cream cheese is a soft, creamy, mildly tangy product made from cow’s milk. It has a smooth, spreadable texture and is a popular ingredient in sweet and savory dishes. Cream cheese is commonly used in cooking and baking, particularly in cheesecakes, cream cheese frosting for cakes and cupcakes, and bagels with cream cheese as a base for various dips and spreads.

What is Buttercream Frosting?

Buttercream frosting, often called “buttercream,” is a popular type of icing or frosting used in cake decoration and baking. It’s known for its creamy texture and sweet, buttery flavour. Buttercream is a versatile frosting used to decorate cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and other baked goods.


Cream cheese is a popular dairy product used in various sweet and savoury recipes. It is known for its creamy and slightly tangy flavor. While cream cheese is a simple ingredient, it can be used in numerous dishes. Here’s a basic list of ingredients to make cream cheese:

  • Milk: The main ingredient in cream cheese is cow’s milk. Whole milk is often used to create a richer and creamier cheese.
  • Cream: Cream is another essential ingredient that gives cream cheese a creamy texture and richness.
  • Lactic Acid Bacteria: These are the microorganisms responsible for fermenting the milk and cream, which results in the tangy flavour of cream cheese. Common bacteria used include Lactococcus lactis and Streptococcus thermophilus.
  • Salt: Salt is added for flavour and as a preservative.
  • Stabilizers (optional): Some commercial cream cheese products may contain stabilizers like guar gum or carob bean gum to improve texture and shelf life.
  • Flavorings (optional): Depending on the cream cheese you’re making, you can add various flavourings such as herbs, spices, fruit, or sugar to create flavoured cream cheese varieties.

The exact proportions and specific production methods can vary depending on the brand and type of cream cheese you want. Remember that store-bought cream cheese is readily available, but making your own at home can be a fun culinary project if you’re interested in cheese-making.


Prepare Your Equipment:

  • To ensure cleanliness, sterilize all your equipment, including pots, thermometers, and stirring utensils.

Warm the Milk and Cream:

  • Pour the milk and cream into a large, heavy-bottomed pot.
  • Heat the milk and cream over low to medium heat until it reaches a temperature of 85°F (29°C). Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature.

Add Starter Culture:

  • Sprinkle the mesophilic starter culture over the surface of the milk and cream.
  • Gently stir it in using an up-and-down motion for about a minute.

Add Calcium Chloride (if using pasteurized milk):

  • If using pasteurized milk, dilute the liquid calcium chloride in 1/4 cup of non-chlorinated water.
  • Add this solution to the milk and cream mixture and stir gently for 1-2 minutes.

Add Rennet:

  • Dilute the liquid rennet in 1/4 cup of non-chlorinated water.
  • Add the rennet solution to the milk mixture and stir gently for 1-2 minutes.

Let the Milk Set:

  • Cover the pot and let the milk mixture sit undisturbed at room temperature for 12-24 hours. The mixture should develop a thick, custard-like consistency.

Cut the Curd:

  • Once the mixture has set, it’s time to cut the curd. Use a long knife to cut the curd into small cubes, about 1/2 inch in size.

Cook the Curds:

  • Gently heat the curds over low heat while stirring slowly. Gradually raise the temperature to 105°F (40°C).
  • Maintain this temperature for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Drain the Curds:

  • Line a colander with cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl.
  • Pour the curds and whey into the cheesecloth-lined colander to separate the curds from the whey. Let it drain for a few hours or until the desired consistency is reached.

Add Salt:

  • Once the curds have drained, transfer them to a bowl and gently fold in the cheese salt.

Store Your Cream Cheese:

  • Transfer your homemade cream cheese to an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator. It can be kept for about a week.

On the other hand, buttercream frosting is a versatile and delicious icing that can be used to decorate cakes, cupcakes, and other baked goods. Here are the basic ingredients you’ll need to make a classic buttercream frosting:

  • Butter: Unsalted butter is used in buttercream frosting. You’ll need softened butter to make mixing with the other ingredients easier. The amount of butter can vary depending on the recipe, but a common ratio is 1 cup (2 sticks) of butter.
  • Confectioners’ Sugar (Powdered Sugar): This sweetens and thickens the frosting. The amount of powdered sugar needed varies, but a common starting point is 2 cups. You can adjust the sweetness and consistency by adding more or less.
  • Vanilla Extract: You’ll want to add a teaspoon or two of pure vanilla extract for flavour. This gives the frosting a delicious vanilla flavour.
  • Milk or Heavy Cream: To achieve the desired consistency and creaminess, add a few tablespoons of milk or heavy cream. The amount can be adjusted based on how thick or thin you want the frosting.

Optional Ingredients for Flavor and Color

  • Salt: A pinch of salt can help balance the sweetness of the frosting and enhance its flavour.
  • Food Coloring: Use gel or liquid food colouring to tint your frosting for decorative purposes. Add a few drops at a time until you reach your desired colour.
  • Flavour Extracts: Besides vanilla extract, you can experiment with flavour extracts like almond, lemon, or orange to create different flavour variations.


  • Start by beating the softened butter in a mixing bowl until it becomes creamy and smooth.
  • Gradually add the powdered sugar, a little at a time, and continue beating until the mixture is well combined and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Add the vanilla extract (or other flavour extracts) and a pinch of salt, if desired, and mix until incorporated.
  • If the frosting is too thick, add milk or heavy cream, a tablespoon at a time, and continue mixing until you reach your desired consistency. If it’s too thin, add more powdered sugar.
  • If you want to colour the frosting, add food colouring a few drops at a time until you achieve the desired shade.

Also Read: Sponge Cake vs Pound Cake: What’s the Difference


Variations of Cream Cheese: Cream cheese has numerous variations to suit different tastes and culinary needs. Some popular variations include flavoured cream cheeses like chive and onion, smoked salmon, and strawberry. There are also reduced-fat and vegan options for health-conscious or plant-based individuals. Additionally, artisanal and homemade cream cheeses offer unique textures and flavours. Here are some of the most popular types of cream Cheese:-

Regular Cream Cheese: This is the classic and most common type of cream cheese. It has a smooth, creamy texture and a slightly tangy flavor. Regular cream cheese is often used as a bagel spread and a key ingredient in cheesecakes.

Whipped Cream Cheese: Whipped cream cheese is a regular cream cheese that has been whipped to incorporate air, making it lighter and fluffier in texture. It’s often used as a bread, crackers, and vegetable spread.

Neufchâtel: Neufchâtel is similar to regular cream cheese but has a lower fat content. It has a slightly tangy flavour and is a good choice for those looking for a lower-fat option.

Flavored Cream Cheese: Flavored cream cheeses come in various flavours, such as chive and onion, garlic and herb, smoked salmon, and many others. These flavoured varieties are great for adding extra taste to bagels, sandwiches, or as a dip.

Vegan Cream Cheese: Vegan cream cheese is a dairy-free alternative from plant-based ingredients like soy, almonds, or cashews. It mimics the texture and flavour of traditional cream cheese, making it suitable for people with dietary restrictions or those who prefer a vegan diet.

Variations of Buttercream Frosting: Buttercream frosting comes in various delicious variations. Classic American buttercream blends butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Swiss meringue buttercream uses egg whites and granulated sugar for a silky texture. Italian meringue buttercream incorporates sugar syrup. Flavour options include chocolate, fruit purees, coffee, or extracts, creating endless frosting possibilities. Here are some of the most popular types:

American Buttercream: This is the most basic and straightforward type of buttercream. It’s made with creaming butter, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and a small amount of milk or cream. American buttercream is sweet and rich, making it a favourite for many homemakers.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream: This buttercream is made by heating egg whites and sugar over a double boiler until the sugar dissolves, then whipping the mixture into stiff peaks before adding softened butter. It results in a silky, smooth, and less sweet frosting with a meringue-like texture.

Italian Meringue Buttercream: Like Swiss meringue buttercream, Italian meringue buttercream involves whipping egg whites into stiff peaks. However, it differs because a hot sugar syrup is poured into the egg whites while whipping. This creates a stable and glossy buttercream with a slightly different texture and flavour than Swiss meringue buttercream.

French Buttercream: French buttercream is made by incorporating egg yolks into a sugar syrup, then whipping in butter. It’s incredibly rich and has a custard-like flavour due to the egg yolks.

German Buttercream: This lesser-known buttercream combines pastry cream (a cooked mixture of milk, sugar, and egg yolks) with butter. It results in a creamy and smooth frosting with a subtle custard flavour.

Ermine Frosting (Flour Buttercream): Ermine frosting is made by cooking flour and milk into a thick paste, then cooled and combined with butter and sugar. It’s light, fluffy, and less sweet than American buttercream.

Cream Cheese Vs Buttercream Frosting: Flavor & Texture

Cream cheese frosting and buttercream frosting are two popular choices for topping cakes and cupcakes, and they have distinct flavour profiles:

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Flavour: Cream cheese frosting has a tangy and slightly tart flavour due to the cream cheese used in the recipe. It has a rich, creamy, mildly sweet taste with a hint of tanginess. The tanginess can vary depending on the brand of cream cheese and the amount used in the frosting.
  • Texture: Cream cheese frosting is smooth and creamy, making it a perfect complement to various cakes, particularly those with a moist and dense texture, like carrot cake or red velvet cake.
  • Versatility: This frosting pairs well with cakes that benefit from its tangy contrast, as it can balance out the sweetness of the cake layers. It’s a favourite for many who enjoy a less sweet frosting option.

Buttercream Frosting

  • Flavour: Buttercream frosting is sweet and buttery with a rich, smooth flavour. It has a predominantly sweet taste due to the powdered sugar in the recipe, but the butter adds a luxurious, creamy quality to the frosting.
  • Texture: Buttercream frosting is known for its silky and velvety texture. It’s easy to work with and can be piped into various decorative designs.
  • Versatility: Buttercream frosting is incredibly versatile and is suitable for a wide range of cake flavours. Its sweetness pairs well with many cake types, and it’s often used for decorating cakes due to its flexibility.

Choosing between cream cheese and buttercream frosting ultimately depends on your preference and the cake or cupcakes you make. If you prefer a tangy and less sweet frosting with a creamy texture, go for cream cheese frosting. If you want a sweet buttery frosting for flavour and decoration, opt for buttercream frosting. Additionally, you can experiment with different cream cheese or butter ratios to adjust the flavour to your liking.


Cream cheese and buttercream frosting are two popular options for topping cakes and cupcakes, each offering a distinct taste and texture.

Cream cheese frosting is known for its rich and tangy flavour. It combines cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and sometimes a hint of vanilla extract. The cream cheese provides a slight tanginess that balances the sweetness of the sugar, resulting in a smooth, creamy, and slightly tangy frosting. This frosting pairs exceptionally well with carrot, red velvet, and spice cakes, enhancing their flavours with a delightful contrast.

On the other hand, buttercream frosting is a sweeter and lighter option. It’s made by beating butter and powdered sugar together, often with a bit of milk or cream, to achieve a creamy consistency. Buttercream is incredibly versatile and can be flavoured in various ways, including vanilla, chocolate, or fruit extracts. It has a sweeter and more buttery taste than cream cheese frosting, making it a favourite for decorating and piping intricate cake designs. Its sweetness can complement a wide range of cake flavours, making it a popular choice for many bakers.


Cream cheese frosting and buttercream frosting are two popular choices for topping cakes and cupcakes, and they differ not only in taste but also in appearance.

Cream cheese frosting typically has a slightly off-white or ivory colour, which can vary depending on the brand of cream cheese used. It has a creamy and smooth texture holds well for piping and decorating. It often has a slightly rustic or homemade look when spread or piped onto a dessert due to its softer consistency. Cream cheese frosting is known for its tangy flavour and pairs excellently with carrot cake and red velvet cake.

On the other hand, buttercream frosting usually has a more vibrant white appearance when made with pure butter, lending a cleaner and brighter aesthetic to desserts. It can be piped into intricate designs with sharp edges and smooth surfaces, making it a favourite for professional cake decorators. Buttercream frosting is versatile and can be flavoured and coloured in various ways, making it suitable for various cake designs and styles.

Final Comments

In conclusion, cream cheese frosting offers a tangy and slightly savoury flavour profile, making it a great choice for complementing rich and moist cakes like carrots or red velvet. On the other hand, buttercream frosting provides a sweeter and smoother texture, ideal for classic cakes such as chocolate or vanilla. Ultimately, the choice between the two depends on personal preference and the cake’s flavour profile.

Also Read: Sponge Cake vs Pound Cake: What’s the Difference

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is better, buttercream or cream cheese frosting?

It’s a matter of personal preference. Buttercream is sweeter and smoother, while cream cheese frosting has a tangy and creamy flavour. Choose the one you like best for your specific dessert or cake.

Is cream cheese frosting the same as buttercream?

No, cream cheese frosting is not the same as buttercream. Cream cheese frosting is made with cream cheese, powdered sugar, and sometimes butter, while buttercream is made primarily with butter and powdered sugar. Cream cheese frosting has a tangy flavour and a creamier texture than buttercream’s sweeter, buttery taste and consistency.

What are the pros and cons of cream cheese frosting?

Cream cheese frosting pros: Creamy and tangy flavour complements sweet treats, is Versatile, and pairs well with various desserts like carrot cake., Smooth and spreadable texture for easy application. And Cons: High in calories and fat. Not suitable for dairy-free diets. It can be too sweet for some tastes. Sensitive to temperature, it may melt or become too stiff.

Which icing is best for cakes?

The best cake icing depends on personal preference and the cake you make. Common choices include buttercream, cream cheese frosting, ganache, and fondant. Each has its own unique flavour and texture, so it’s best to choose the one that complements your cake and suits your taste.

What are the main ingredients in cream cheese frosting?

Cream cheese, powdered sugar, and butter.

What are the main ingredients in buttercream frosting?

Butter and powdered sugar.

Which frosting is tangier in taste?

Cream cheese frosting is tangier due to the cream cheese.

Which frosting is sweeter?

Buttercream frosting is sweeter than cream cheese frosting.

Which frosting is more stable in warm weather?

Buttercream frosting is more stable in warm weather because it has a higher melting point.

Which frosting is used on red velvet cake?

Cream cheese frosting is the traditional choice for red velvet cake.

Can you pipe intricate designs with both frostings?

Yes, cream cheese and buttercream frostings can pipe intricate designs, but buttercream may hold its shape better in warm conditions.

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