Lovers of classic cream cheese frosting absolutely need to try this brown sugar version! The caramel notes from the molasses in brown sugar take this brown sugar cream cheese frosting to the next level. Use it on cupcakes, cakes, brownies or spread between two cookies for a creamy cookie sandwich!
This frosting recipe is similar to regular cream cheese frosting with its lovely tanginess and smooth yet fluffy texture. However, swapping part of the typical powdered sugar for dark brown sugar brings notes of smoke, slightly bitter molasses and deep caramel to the party.
Essentially, if you love what dark brown sugar does for my brown sugar chocolate chip cookies recipe, then you need to try it in frosting!
I pile this brown sugar cream cheese frosting on my hummingbird cupcakes, but I have also been known to enjoy it on regular chocolate cake! There are many ways to put it to use.
Ways to Use Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting
- Warm pumpkin spice goes so well with brown sugar, so try this frosting between two pumpkin snickerdoodles.
- Smash this between two pumpkin whoopie pies and enjoy.
- Almost any frosting is welcome on my eggless chocolate cupcakes, of course, but especially this brown sugar cream cheese frosting.
- Speaking of eggless, this frosting would jazz up my Eggless Banana Bread loaf nicely!
- Any type of carrot cake would love this frosting, especially my small carrot cake or my carrot cake cupcakes.
- Plain small batch vanilla cupcakes are even better with a fancy brown sugar buttercream.
- Both of my mini vanilla cake and small chocolate cake recipes welcome new flavors effortlessly.
- This would be amazing on my small batch cinnamon rolls for the holidays!
- Any place my Oreo frosting would go, ask yourself if this could go too!
Yes, there is really only 4 ingredients in this frosting recipe! Because dark brown sugar contains so much moisture, we won't need a splash of milk or cream (like we do with my whipped cream cream cheese frosting recipe) to make it come together.
- Cream Cheese. Chop 6 ounces from a brick of full-fat plain cream cheese and let it rest at room temperature for about an hour to soften. If cream cheese isn't soft before being whipped, the resulting frosting will have lumps of cream cheese! If this happens to you, warm the frosting gently and beat until smooth; refrigerate before using it on cake or cupcakes.
- Unsalted Butter. Just half a stick of butter that has been chopped and softened at room temperature alongside the cream cheese.
- Dark Brown Sugar. You can use light brown sugar if that's all you have, but dark brown sugar is dark because it contains more molasses than light. The more molasses, the better the flavor, in my opinion.
- Powdered Sugar. Yes, we still need a small amount of powdered sugar to make this brown sugar cream cheese frosting recipe come together, because if we use all brown sugar, it might become grainy.
See recipe card for exact measurements.
How to Make Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting:
You need room temperature or softened ingredients to make this recipe, plus a large bowl and an electric hand mixer.
Combine the softened butter, cream cheese and brown sugar in a bowl.
Use an electric hand mixer to beat until this mixture is light and fluffy. We really want to dissolve the brown sugar, so beat for about 3-5 minutes.
Finally, add the powdered sugar and beat until fluffy.
Give this fluffy brown sugar cream cheese frosting a taste, and add more powdered sugar or a splash of milk or cream, if you think it needs it.
This frosting pipes very well and holds its shape nicely if you use a pretty tip. If you need to make this ahead of time, pipe the frosting on the cake or cupcake, and then refrigerate until needed. It's best to store in an airtight container, if you're going to store it for more than 24 hours. However, let the frosting rest for 15 minutes at room temperature after being stored in the fridge.
If you want to make a batch of this brown sugar cream cheese frosting ahead of time to freeze, you can! Scrape it into a freezer storage bag, press flat and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge, let rest at room temperature for a few hours, and then beat until smooth again.
- 6 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- ¼ cup dark brown sugar
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- Ensure the cream cheese and butter are at room temperature before beginning this recipe. If not, chop them into small pieces and leave them on a plate at room temperature for about 30-60 minutes. They're soft enough when a fingerprint indention can be made with moderate pressure, but not overly soft or melty.
- In a large bowl, beat together the softened cream cheese, butter and brown sugar. Beat with an electric mixer on high speed for about 3-5 minutes to dissolve the brown sugar.
- Add the powdered sugar and beat to combine.
- Pipe immediately onto cupcakes or a cake and serve. See below for make-ahead tips.
Make-Ahead: This frosting can be piped on cupcakes or cake and refrigerated for up to 24 hours before serving. Let rest at room temperature for about 20 minutes before serving.
Freezer: You can make a batch of this frosting and freeze it flat in a freezer-safe storage bag for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge, and then let rest at room temperature before beating until fluffy.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 232Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 49mgSodium: 92mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 0gSugar: 17gProtein: 2g