Table of Contents
Why this recipe works
Is there anything better than a creamy, buttery frosting? This brown butter cream cheese frosting takes your average frosting to the next level.
The slight nuttiness of the brown butter pairs perfectly with the tanginess of the cream cheese, and results in a delicious, irresistible frosting that you’ll want to put on everything! Cakes, cookies, cupcakes… you name it!
I’ve used this frosting recipe on so many different cake flavors – it goes with anything! My gluten-free banana cake, gluten-free chocolate cake, gluten-free carrot cake would all taste great with brown butter frosting on top!
You’ll love this recipe because:
- Butter – Using unsalted butter allows you to adjust the amount of salt in the recipe to your own taste preferences. Use high-quality butter to really let the brown butter flavor shine through. If you want more tips and tricks for browning butter, I have a whole post on how to brown butter!
- Cream cheese – Use room temperature cream cheese for a smooth, creamy texture. I use full-fat cream cheese, but in a pinch low-fat cream cheese will work here. It will not be as rich and creamy, but still delicious.
- Powdered Sugar – Use powdered sugar (also known as confectioners’ sugar or icing sugar) to provide the sweetness to this yummy frosting. I do not recommend using granulated sugar as it is too gritty. We’re looking for a creamy, spreadable frosting here.
- Salt – Don’t forget to sprinkle in a pinch of salt – this will bring out all the delicious flavors and balance out any sweetness from the icing sugar. I use table salt, but kosher salt or fine sea salt both work well here, too.
- Vanilla Extract – Just a little bit of vanilla extract will round out the flavors of the cream cheese frosting. Use pure vanilla extract rather than imitation vanilla extract, which actually contains no vanilla at all!
It’s so easy to make browned butter cream cheese frosting with just a few simple steps. It will really elevate any dessert that you’re making! the below step-by-step instructions and photos are meant to show you the recipe at various stages to help you make this frosting recipe perfectly every time. It does not contain all ingredients, amounts, or detailed instructions.
For the ingredient list with measurements, full instructions, printable recipe, and additional notes, please scroll down to the recipe card.
hints & tips
Brown butter is as simple as it sounds, butter that is slowly browned in a skillet to give it a more complex flavor. Brown butter adds a rich, nutty flavor to any dish that uses butter.
I like to use unsalted butter for most recipes because I can always add salt to the final recipe, like I do in this cream cheese frosting.
Brown butter only takes about 10 minutes to make on the stove top. It’s very simple, yet you will want to stand next to the stove at all times stirring to make sure that the butter does not burn. You want there to be little brown bits, not black bits, which would mean the milk solids have burned. If you want more tips and tricks, check out my tutorial on how to brown butter.
While there is probably enough sugar in this cream cheese frosting to leave it out at room temperature for most of the day, I prefer to refrigerate my frosting or any desserts decorated with this frosting out of an err of caution.
Store leftover cream cheese frosting in the refrigerator in an airtight container for about 3-5 days. The frosting will be hard coming out of the refrigerator. Let it sit out at room temperature for about 30 minutes to soften. You can also rewhip it briefly with an electric mixer to make it soft and easy to work with again.
Brown butter cream cheese frosting freezes really well. I like to place mine in a freezer-safe bag and press all of the air out of the bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. Place the container in the refrigerator overnight to thaw. Similar to refrigerated frosting, you can let it sit out for 30 minutes to let it come to room temperature and soften.
There are so many great ways to use this delicious brown butter frosting. It’s the best frosting and absolutely perfect on top of my gluten-free banana cake with toasted walnuts like I showed in the above image.
Love cookies? Sandwich two of my gluten-free snickerdoodles with some nutty brown butter cream cheese frosting for an extra treat.
A swirl of frosting on top of my chewy gluten-free chocolate cookies is also sure to be delicious!
Amp up my gluten-free brownies recipe with swooshes of this nutty, cream cheese frosting. A sprinkle of flaky Maldon salt on top is always a good idea!
No matter which way you decide to use your brown butter frosting, it will take your desserts to the next level!
Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (113g)
- 8 oz cream cheese (softened (226g))
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups powdered sugar (330g)
- Cut the unsalted butter into small pieces. Heat a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Place the pieces of butter into the skillet.
- Cook, stirring frequently, as the butter melts. It will begin to foam up. Keep stirring.
- Cook for an additional 5-6 minutes, stirring constantly. The foam will subside and the milk solids will settle to the bottom of the pan and turn brown. Stir to prevent the milk solids from burning.
- Once the butter turns an amber color and has a nutty aroma, remove it from the heat and pour into a heat-proof bowl. Let cool and solidify before continuing.
- Add the softened cream cheese and solidified browned butter to a large mixing bowl.
- Beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.
- Add the vanilla extract and salt and mix to combine, about 1 minute.
- Gradually add the powdered sugar, and beat until smooth and creamy and you've reached your desired consistency. If for some reason you need to thin out the icing, add a tablespoon of milk. If you want your icing to be thicker to pipe onto cupcakes, you may want to add more powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time.
- Use brown butter cream cheese frosting to frost cakes, cupcakes, cookies and more. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- This frosting recipe will frost 12 cupcakes or a 9×13-inch sheet cake. If you want to frost a 3-layer 8-inch cake, you will want to double the recipe.
- You can make the browned butter in advance and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. You can also freeze browned butter for up to 3 months. Just let sit out at room temperature before adding to the softened cream cheese.
- You can store leftover brown butter cream cheese frosting in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. Let sit out at room temperature for about 30 minutes to soften before using.