I’ve been experimenting with naturally sweetened cream cheese frosting. After much trial and error, here’s my recipe! Instead of powdered sugar, I used Medjool dates.
The dates contribute lovely caramel-like flavor and color, which I’m sure you’ve noticed by now. They also add some fiber, which you don’t normally find in frosting recipes.
Even though this frosting doesn’t look or taste exactly like classic cream cheese frosting, this fruit-sweetened frosting is creamy and truly delicious. Plus, it’s very easy to whip up in your food processor!
Why dates? Honey and maple syrup are my usual go-to natural sweeteners, but they don’t work in frosting. Their flavors are too pervasive and they yield frosting so runny, it runs down the cake.
Dates are the answer. I like to call them “nature’s caramels.” When you blend pitted dates with some water, they produce a date paste that is thick and creamy, not unlike the texture of whipped cream cheese.
In addition to dates, you’ll just need cream cheese, butter, and vanilla for this recipe. A little pinch of salt enhances the flavor of it all. Please let me know how you like this frosting in the comments!
Naturally Sweetened Cream Cheese Frosting
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: 2 cups 1x
- Category: Frosting
- Method: Whipped
- Cuisine: American
Learn how to make naturally sweetened cream cheese frosting! It’s so easy. This recipe as written yields 2 cups, or enough frosting for one 9″ round or square cake layer, or 12 cupcakes. Multiply as needed (times two for a double-layer cake or 9×13″ sheet cake, and so on).
- 18 Medjool dates (about 1 ½ cups firmly packed)
- ½ cup room temperature water, plus hot water for soaking
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Small pinch of salt
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- To prepare, pull the cream cheese and butter out of the fridge so they have a few minutes to warm up. Slice the cream cheese into quarters and set aside.
- Place the dates in a heatproof bowl and pour hot water over them until they are covered (this ensures that the dates are hydrated and soft enough to blend—don’t skip this step!). Let them soak for 10 minutes, then drain.
- Once the dates are cool enough to handle, remove the pits and discard them. In a food processor, combine the pitted dates, ½ cup room temperature water, vanilla, and a little pinch of salt.
- Process until the date mixture is quite smooth, about 1 to 2 minutes, pausing to scrape down the sides as necessary. Then, add the cream cheese and butter and blend until smooth and fluffy.
- Use the frosting immediately, or store it in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 5 days. Before using, let it warm to room temperature for about 15 minutes and briefly rewhip before using.
Chocolate version: For chocolate cream cheese frosting, blend in ⅓ cup cocoa powder with the cream cheese and butter.
Heide Linde Horeth
This sounds wonderful and I can’t wait to try it! And I will. I am always looking for alternatives to using sugar. I thought I would share my new discovery that happened by accident! I dehydrated some of my garden raspberries last year as an experiment and they were weird tasting. Dry, crunchy, seedy and sweet. I put them aside and just as I was getting ready to toss them I threw them into the spice mill for a last save. This made a delicious raspberry powder. I have used this to sweeten my whipped cream and my guests noticed and loved the raspberry taste! It has also been great on a toasted bagel and I think it’ll be delicious in iced tea? I just had to share. I can’t wait to make pineapple, blackberry and blueberry powders. I’m hooked.
I’m glad you are excited to try it, Heide!
Just made this frosting for a toddler birthday cake and it turned out great! Used deglet noor dates because I found them pre-pitted and much cheaper than medjool and still turned out well. The color of the frosting was lighter than pictured, which meant that I was able to color the frosting with gel coloring with no problem. It also held up well in consistency and texture to the frosting process and piping decorations. Super pleased with how this turned out, thanks for the recipe!
Great to hear, Melissa!
Yum! This is perfect timing. I am trying to go without added sugars for awhile (including honey, maple syrup, agave etc; fruit, including dried, in moderation is OK) Any suggestions for some date-sweetened cakes or cookies to put it on?
For my now 6-year-old’s birthday, she INSISTED on chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting, which I thought was weird, but accommodated. The whole family really enjoyed it, and found our new go-to! This frosting looks like a terrific alternative to the traditional sugar-laden (but delicious) recipe we have been using for cream cheese frosting.
That’s so funny! I’m glad this frosting delivered.
This looks scrumptious! Can’t wait to make this unusual twist on a cream cheese icing. Thanks, Kate!
You’re welcome, Karen!
It’s like you read my mind Kate. My little boy is turning 1 in a couple months and I so want him to have a “cake smash” but do not want him to eat sugar frosting! This is just perfect as he already eats dates from time to time. I’ll let you know how it turns out when I test it. THANK YOU!
I love that! How fun. Be sure to tag #cookieandkate in any pictures. I would love to see that! :)
How to replace the cream cheese?
The Philadelphia Cream Cheese is an unhealthy product.
Hi Ghislaine! I used Whole Foods 365 organic brand for this recipe. If you do not wish to use cream cheese, I wouldn’t recommend this frosting for you.
Heide Linde Horeth
I just discover that I could dehydrate fruit (raspberries) and grind them to a fine powder in spice mill. I add it to whipping cream, sprinkle on toast and probably much more as I just discovered it. I am always happy to have a healthier alternative to sugar. I love using dates too for this purpose. Yummy!
That sounds nice! Thanks for sharing, Heide.
What a brilliant idea, and to take it a step further and make a chocolate version, woohoo!! Bravo!! I haven’t tried the recipe yet, but I’m still giving it 5 stars because I know it’ll work.
Thank you, Rima!
Just made this with the favorite carrot cake recipe. Both are insanely delicious! I loved the addition of dates. It gives it a little something extra beyond the sweetness that traditional frosting lacks like a caramel flavoring. Thank you so much for this delicious, unrefined alternative.
You’re welcome, Hillary!
Have you tried baking with date “sugar”? It comes from Shields Date Garden which is a fantastic tourist attraction in itself, and well worth stopping in if you are ever driving through the Coachella Valley!
Anyways. Its made from freeze dried dates and is a substitute for refined sugar.
Thanks for sharing, Jane!
Can I substitute vegan cream cheese?
Sure! Let me know how that works for you, Carolyn.
Do you think we can dye this frosting with organic dye to get the color we want? We are making a watermelon smash cake for my daughter and are looking for healthier frosting alternatives! ❤️❤️ Love the dates idea!
Thank you, Ashley! Sure, that should work.
I just made this for my daughters 1st birthday smash cake and it is extremely yummy
I also added a little diy beet powder food coloring to give a tint of pink
Just premade this for a cake next week and put it in the freezer. It is divine
Thanks for your review, Nicole!
The flavor of this frosting is mind bending, it’s so good. But, the texture was problematic for me. It turned into more of a drizzle or glaze. It could go over a loaf or a snack cake, but not on a cupcake. There’s definitely promise here though. I think I need to tweak the date paste process to eliminate some of the water. Either that, or just go with the chocolate version every time since the extra cocoa powder dries it back out again. Poor me, lol.
Thanks for sharing, Fatima!
I am going to make the frosting. But I would like to know how much date puree does the 18 dates make. Either by volume or grams. That way I don’t have to make additional fresh puree. I generally make date puree and freeze it in cubes so I have it on hand when I need. Then I just thaw the amount needed. Thanks
I’m sorry, Diane. I don’t have the volume for you. Just amount or cups.
Delicious, worked well with violife vegan cream cheese.
So simple to make, so delicious. I made it with the carrot cake, and it was a crowd pleaser, adults and kids alike. I doesn’t taste “healthy”. Will definitely make again.
Thank you for your review, Heidi.
Great consistency but needed to add a little confectionery sugar to make it sweeter.
Husband is diabetic and refuses sugar. This on top of your banana cake wasn’t completely sugar free, but it was delicious! Thank you!!
Hi dear, im going through this recipe for my 1 year old daughter birthday coming next April. I hope this recipe helps, as i wanted to make a sugarless cake. Does the cream thick enough for layering in between every layer?
Hi Navitha! Yes, this frosting is quite thick and suitable for layered cakes, in my experience.
So amazing, thank you for this recipe . Made it for a gluten free banana cake. This icing was so delicious, even better than the normal icing.
All my housemates loved it also and was hard to get them to stop eating it from the bowl hehe.
You’re welcome, Leelo!
I just tried this and it turned out absolutely amazing!
How do you have such lovely hair without mayonnaise? My Aunt swore that you need fattening mayonnaise in your diet for great, shiny, thick hair. Maybe I’ll keep it as a hair mask…if I can mask its scent and everything else about it with pureed dates :). First, I need to re-buy a food processor….
That’s funny, I’ve never tried a mayonnaise mask! My grandmother always said that if we ate the crust on bread, our hair would turn curly. I like crust and my hair has gotten curlier. Maybe she was onto something. :)
I’ve made this yesterday and it’s delish! Even better the next day. Thank you! How long can we keep this frosting in the fridge?
Hi Irene, glad to hear it! The frosting should keep for about a week.
What a brilliant recipe. And I can make a chocolate version as well. Too cool! Thank you so much for helping me escape all that sugar!!!
I’m happy you loved it, Janet! Thanks for your review.
Wow still a lot of sugar (20.2g)
Can I freeze this frosting?
Hi Sonia, I’m not sure since I have’t tried. Sometimes dairy products get a little lumpy when they are frozen and then defrosted. It might be worth a try!
I made this last night as I am always interested in alternative frostings. I was disappointed in the final taste tho as there is no remaining taste of cream cheese whatsoever! I think the recipe should be called date frosting made with cream cheese.
I’d also like to point out that dates are 70-80% sugar and one Medjool date has 16g of sugar in it so this recipe has 300g of sugar in it! Would you be using 300g of refined sugar to make the same amount of frosting? I don’t think so. Sometimes the health craze is nuts! Of course there are other nutrients and fibre too but be aware that anything sweet has sugar in it..
Hi Melanie, I appreciate your feedback. I’m sorry you didn’t love this recipe. I was offering a naturally sweetened alternative, not suggesting that this was healthier than other cream cheese frostings made with refined sugar. It is of course frosting and is suppose to be sweet.
Actually Melanie, I just looked up chocolate buttercream frosting recipes made with confectioner’s sugar, and recipes making a comparable amount of frosting use 2 1/2cups of confectioner’s sugar, which is 293 grams of sugar. So yes, actually, 300 grams is about right. Perhaps you’d better think so, after all. I’ll be trying this recipe in the chocolate version for my mom’s birthday cake later this week. Thank you Kate, for all your delicious recipes – I’ve cooked many of them over the years. I came specifically to your blog this evening to find a frosting recipe, because I knew whatever you’d’ve come up with would be stellar. I’ll come back and leave some stars once I’ve made it!
@MelanieGulliver-Seriously, how about you be nice. This is a recipe site and I’m sure that Kate puts her heart and soul into this endeavor. The recipe is a hit with almost everyone on here. You should take your snobby french attitude and fight the urge to write nasty comments.
We all need to treat each other with kindness and respect.
I made this for my daughter’s first birthday cake (which was really just banana bread) and it was delicious. Everyone was asking for more! I made it two days ahead and spread it on the warm banana bread like a glaze. Strong sweet flavor, but it didn’t taste like it was flavored with dates. We just tasted sweet cream cheese.
This was wonderful. And guess what I decided to use it in.
A tiramisu, instead of the classic filling!
And heavens, it turned out so, so very good.
I paired it together with the carrot cake on your website and DIVINE together!
I made the frosting a little bit differently, no butter included and it came out just as lovely.
That sounds like the perfect combination! Thank you for sharing.
I made this frosting for my 1 year-old’s birthday and the whole family loved it! Now needing a dairy-free frosting for a friend’s baby shower and wondering if you think this recipe would still be good with Tofutti cream cheese and Earth Balance?
Hi Sarah! I’m happy you enjoyed the original. I’m not sure about making it vegan as I haven’t tried it. In my experience, it may need a different recipe. Sorry to not be of more help!
I just found you today. I’m diabetic so if a recipe calls for honey or maple syrup what can I use in place of it? Thank you.
Hi Nancy! I’m not sure I have a great option for you. It really depends on the recipe if you can just omit. I’m not a registered nutritionist so I can’t give specifics to your needs, sorry!
A-MA-ZING. The dates are a little pricey for my budget so I used less than what the recipe calles for (and less water) and it is still DELICIOUS. Kate, you continue to WOW me. Thank you for bringing food happiness into my home.
I’m glad you loved it, Joanne! Thank you for your review.
I’m excited to try this recipe. My grandson has epilepsy and sugar is a trigger for seizures. Eurithrotol hurts his stomach so this is great. You sure do look healthy!
Hi Linda! I hope this is something that he can enjoy.
Marilee A Herring
Made this for my son’s 3rd bday on the “Favorite Carrot Cake” and making it again today! It’s awesome.
I look forward to making this date cream cheese frosting. I already homemade date paste in my fridge. How much would you recommend I use for this? Not sure how much 18 dates makes. Thank you, Heather
Hi Heather, I’m not sure either. You can start with a little and then adjust to your taste.
Just made this for a banana cake, it is really good. Not too sweet and I added a few diced dates to the top of the cake for decoration.
Do you think I could substitute goat’s cheese for the cream cheese?
Hi, I can’t say for sure as I haven’t tried it.
I just came up with the same etod and was looking for confirmation ! Dates work extremely perfect in cream cheese frosting !
SOOO Yummm… Carrot cake is my all time favorite so I’m picky when it comes to what I like… but this recipe is TOPS!
we made this Date icing (i added some freshly squeezed Lemon juice to the icing which really brightened up the flavour and added a bit of ZING… Im partial to lemon in cream cheese icing) and your favorite carrot cake… such a delicious combination! definatly added to my list of MUST MAKE AGAIN AND AGAIN! Thankyou for sharing this with us!
Fantastic! Thank you, Letitia. I’m happy to hear that.
Hello! I have date syrup on hand. Could I use this in place of the pureed dates? How much would you suggest I use? Thanks!
Hi! Sorry, that sweetness can vary by syrup. I wouldn’t know without testing it to give you and idea.
And wondering if you’ve ever tried this with pre-made date syrup? Seems like it would make the recipe much easier. The one I have has one ingredient which is just: dates. Thinking should be the same but it doesn’t seem that thick and I’m not sure what the syrup equivalent would be to 18 dates.
Hi, I haven’t sorry!
I just wanted to share that I used this frosting for a friends wedding cake and it was a hit! Everyone loved it and it looked beautiful (I wish I could share the picture with you)! Thank you for sharing the recipe!
You’re welcome, Caitlin! Thank you for your review.
My husband is pre diabetic so we’re trying to avoid processed sugar but it’s his birthday & I’d found a pumpkin muffin recipe to turn into a cake & just needed some frosting. This recipe worked a treat. I added grated orange zest which worked really well.
Have u ever switched out the dates w lucuma powder?
I haven’t, Jerry. Sorry to disappoint!
Really yummy! I just added some lemon juice and zest t give it a bit if tang
This date cream cheese frosting is a game changer. I made it for the first time with the carrot cake recipe and it has such a nuanced, delicate flavour. My entire family (even less open-minded members) loved it, and are wondering when I’ll be making it again (soon).
Thank you for sharing! I’m happy you all enjoyed it, Lizze.
Made this recipe tonight. It’s easy to make and very good. I’m going to use it on an old recipe for brown bread which has raisins in it. Also this recipe called for half all-purpose flour and half wheat flour (but I was out of wheat flour and thus used buckwheat flour and a little honey and one half cup of white sugar). So the Buckwheat flour and the honey were improvised–it turned out very good. In fact good enough to add the date frosting and that was fantastic!
This turned out well. I made about 3/4 of the recipe to top an 8 x 8 cake 1 layer cake. I used whipped cream cheese (I weighed it) because that’s what I got as a substitution on a grocery order. I did a little research and found that in most recipes that don’t require cooking the whipped cream cheese does well. My dates were really moist so I cut back on the added water a little and sweetened the water with a little honey. In the future I think just half a recipe would give me enough to frost the top generously and perhaps scrape the sides. The texture is very nice and even with the added honey it was not over sweet.
Thank you for sharing, Agatha!
I don’t have a food processor but I DO have a Vitamix….do you think it would work for this recipe? I really want to try it!
Sure, you may need to double the recipe if it doesn’t seem to be catching. Let me know what you think!
Help! I think I overmixed the frosting and it has split a bit, is there a way to save it? Lovely flavours tho!
Oh no! I’m not sure without seeing it. What did you end up doing?
This is really nice and doesn’t give me a sugar headache like regular frosting!
Great to hear, Alisa! I appreciate your review.
Made with vegan cream cheese (Kite Hill brand) to go on my chai cake. Tastes awesome!
Great to hear it worked out, Liv!
For my one year old I wanted to make for his birthday a cake with no or nearly no sugar so I used that frosting on top of a banana bread with no sugar.
It tasted sooo good.
The frosting was enough to cover a whole cake and over night in the fridge it had the perfect consistency the next day.
Go-to frosting recipe for my toddler. Love it (and all of your recipes)!
This cream cheese frosting is absolutely delicious! We are not a family of frosting lovers and everyone went crazy for this one. Just a touch of sweetness with a mellow flavour and a beautiful caramel colour. This will definitely be a staple in our family, along with your fabulous carrot cake. I sure can’t go wrong searching your recipes first!
I’m so glad you enjoy it, Jackie! I’m glad my recipes are a first stop for you when you are looking to make something. I appreciate your support!
THIS IS AMAZING! thank you for sharing as I am always looking for healthier alternatives to typical sugary and artificial desserts.
I made this recipe before and paired it with your healthy pumpkin bread recipe for a pumpkin spice cake for my baby’s first birthday! It was delicious and a big hit with everyone there, of all ages! I’m planning to make this for my daughter’s 4th birthday now and she’s requested strawberry frosting… any thoughts on how to make this frosting strawberry flavored? Add 1/3 cup fresh strawberries or grind freeze-dried strawberries to get 1/3 cup, similar to the chocolate alternative? It will be an experiment and I can report back, but would love your expert advice on what you’d try! We’re big fans of yours over here and make at least one recipe a week from your blog or cookbook!