Perfect Cream Cheese Pound Cake

This recipe produces a perfect cream cheese pound cake. After persistent recipe testing with many failures, I found the best ratio of ingredients to produce a moist, dense, and flavorful pound cake. Using 9 simple ingredients, this cream cheese pound cake recipe will be your new favorite. To prevent a ruined cake, follow the baking time and temperature closely. 

Cream cheese pound cake

Until recently, I had never made really good plain pound cake. I have delicious lemon pound cake, raspberry swirl pound cake, and brown butter pound cake in my back pocket, but regular pound cake has always been a disappointment. It was so hard for me to tackle this recipe because pound cake can easily turn out dry, rock solid, and/or lacking flavor.

But then I began adding cream cheese and sour cream to the cake batter. And my long history of pound cake disappointments began fading away.

Cream cheese pound cake

Today I’m teaching you how to make my favorite cream cheese pound cake in a bundt pan. I’m confident this is the best pound cake and I’m showing you exactly why:

  • Very buttery & very moist
  • Not dry
  • 1 bowl recipe
  • Only 9 basic ingredients
  • Dense, but not heavy as a brick
  • Soft & smooth crumb
  • A little tang from cream cheese
  • Sweet & vanilla flavored

You can easily halve this recipe for a loaf pan or try my mini pound cakes recipe.

Cream cheese pound cake

Cream Cheese Pound Cake Ingredients

Here are the ingredients for cream cheese pound cake and why each is used.

  1. Butter: Butter is the base of pound cake. You need 3 sticks of properly softened butter.
  2. Cream Cheese: Cream cheese is the difference between dry pound cake and moist pound cake. End of story. If you’ve experienced dry pound cake before, cream cheese will solve all those problems. I swear by it and you will too!
  3. Sugar: This is a very large cake, so a lot of sugar is required to sweeten the cake and properly cream all the butter and cream cheese. 2 and 1/2 cups seems like a lot, but remember this cake is heavy and yields many servings.
  4. Sour Cream: Sour cream is an unconventional ingredient in pound cake, but it adds so much moisture. We are avoiding dry pound cake as much as we can!
  5. Vanilla Extract & Salt: Both are used for flavor. See recipe notes for more flavors.
  6. Eggs: Eggs are the workhorse of pound cake– the main ingredient carrying all the weight. You can’t make pound cake without eggs.
  7. Cake Flour: Cake flour is lighter than all-purpose flour and produces the best pound cake in my opinion. Since it’s so light, the attention remains on the butter. All-purpose flour is simply too heavy for this pound cake recipe; the cake will be heavy as a brick. If needed, use this homemade cake flour substitute.
  8. Baking Powder: Baking powder is another unconventional ingredient in pound cake. I don’t use much for this amount of batter, but the small amount lightly lifts the crumb so the cake isn’t overly heavy and squat.

Each ingredient is important and has a very specific job!

Pound cake batter

Cream cheese pound cake

Pound Cake Disasters: Don’t Do This

And now it’s time to discuss what can go very wrong with pound cake. I’m sharing my mistakes so you don’t waste time or ingredients. The picture below shows 2 pound cake disasters I experienced before landing on the perfect pound cake recipe and method.

  1. Mistake #1 – Left Picture: This is seriously under-cooked pound cake baked at 350°F (177°C). This temperature is TOO HOT for pound cake, which is mostly butter and eggs, to cook evenly. As you can see below, the exterior will brown before the center is cooked. I was so upset cutting into this cake. It looked perfect on the outside.
  2. Mistake #2 – Right Picture: This is seriously over-cooked pound cake. Learning from mistake #1, I cooked the pound cake at 325°F (163°C). I was so nervous to under-bake the pound cake, so I over-baked it. The cake wouldn’t release from the pan, even though it had been generously greased.

These cakes were just awful!

Pound cake disaster

How to Make Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Now that you know what can go wrong, let’s talk about how to make the most perfect cream cheese pound cake. The *TRICK* is a lot of mixing before you add the eggs.

  1. Mix, mix, mix: Beat the butter until creamy. Add the cream cheese, then beat the two until smooth. Get all the cream cheese lumps out. Beat in the sugar, then add the sour cream and vanilla. So far there’s been a lot of mixing and that’s ok!
  2. 1 egg at a time: Add the eggs 1 at a time, making sure each is incorporated before adding the next. When the eggs are room temperature, the mixer only needs a few turns and won’t over-mix them. Over-mixed batter = heavy-as-a-brick cake.
  3. Add dry ingredients: Add the dry ingredients right into the same mixing bowl.
  4. Pour into pan: Pour the batter into a generously greased 10-12 cup bundt pan. This is totally not sponsored, but I absolutely adore Nordic Ware bundt pans. Make sure you use one that holds 10-12 cups of batter. This one is also gorgeous! 🙂
  5. Bake: Bake the cream cheese pound cake at 325°F (163°C). Halfway through baking, loosely tent the cake with aluminum foil to prevent over-browning.
  6. Cool, then invert: Let the pound cool for about 2 hours in the pan, then invert onto a serving plate and cool completely before serving.

Serve with whipped cream, fresh berries, strawberry topping sauce, and/or homemade lemon curd. There’s a simplistic beauty about pound cake– it doesn’t need glaze, frosting, bells, or whistles.

Cream cheese pound cake with berries

Cream cheese pound cake

Pound Cake Success Tips

Enough from me! Let me leave you with 4 tips before you get started.

  • Follow the recipe. Use the ingredients and measurements listed.
  • Bake low and slow. Pound cake is a large heavy cake and requires a cooler oven. Don’t be alarmed if your cake takes longer than 90 minutes.
  • Bring all ingredients to room temperature before beginning. Room temperature ingredients promise a uniformly textured cake. Cold ingredients do not emulsify together and the pound cake won’t bake properly.
  • Make sure each egg is mixed in before adding the next.
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Cream cheese pound cake

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Yield: serves 12-14
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This recipe produces a perfect cream cheese pound cake. After persistent recipe testing with many failures, I found the best ratio of ingredients to produce a moist, dense, and flavorful pound cake. Using 9 simple ingredients, this cream cheese pound cake recipe will be your new favorite. To prevent a ruined cake, follow the baking time and temperature closely. Learn from my mistake!


Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (3 sticks; 345gunsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 8 ounce (226g) block full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 2 and 1/2 cups (500g) granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup (80g) sour cream, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 cups (345gcake flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • optional for serving: homemade whipped cream & fresh berries

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F (163°C). Not 350°F. Generously grease a 10-12 cup bundt pan with butter or nonstick spray.
  2. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the cream cheese and beat on high speed until completely smooth and combined, about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed until combined, about 1 minute, then add the sour cream and vanilla and beat on high speed until combined and creamy. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  3. On low speed, beat the eggs in 1 at a time allowing each to fully mix in before adding the next. Careful not to overmix after the eggs have been added. Once the 6th egg is combined, stop the mixer and add the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat on medium speed *just* until combined. Do not overmix. Using a rubber spatula or sturdy whisk, give the batter a final turn to make sure there are no lumps at the bottom of the bowl. The batter will be a little thick and very creamy.
  4. Pour/spoon batter evenly into prepared pan. Bang the pan on the counter once or twice to bring up any air bubbles. Bake for 75-95 minutes. Loosely tent the baking cake with aluminum foil halfway through bake time to ensure the surface does not over-brown. The key to pound cake is a slow and low bake time. Use a toothpick to test for doneness. Once it comes out completely clean, the pound cake is done. This is a large heavy cake so don’t be alarmed if it takes longer in your oven. If it needs longer, bake longer.
  5. Remove cake from the oven and allow to cool for 2 hours inside the pan. Then invert the slightly cooled pound cake onto a wire rack or serving dish. Allow to cool completely.
  6. Slice and serve with optional toppings like homemade whipped cream & fresh berries.
  7. Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Notes

  1. Freezing Instructions: Wrap baked and cooled pound cake in 1-2 layers of plastic wrap, then a layer of aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw in the plastic wrap & foil overnight in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature before slicing and serving.
  2. Loaf Pan: Pour the batter into two greased 9×5 inch loaf pans. Bake each at 325°F (163°C) for about 60 minutes. Or halve all of the ingredients to make one loaf.
  3. Cake Flour: For the best results, I strongly recommend cake flour. You can find it in the baking aisle and I have many more recipes using it. If you cannot get your hands on cake flour, you can make a DIY cake flour substitute.
  4. Almond Extract or Other Flavors: Along with the vanilla extract, mix in a little almond extract. This is optional, but it adds the most exceptional flavor! I usually use around 1 teaspoon of almond extract. Alternatively, use 1 teaspoon of lemon extract, orange extract, coconut extract, or any of your favorite flavors.

Keywords: pound cake, cake

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490 Comments

  1. I made this in a loaf tin, generously coated with oil, left it in the pan for two hours… But it still stuck?!?! The entire crust was left in the tin. How do I get it out smoothly?

    Thankfully I was making this for home an and the cake is DELICIOUS. Husband had rave reviews.

    1. I always coat my pan with solid crisp then using half sugar and half flour dust pan good then shake out the excess, I rarely get one that sticks to the pan!

      1. I use shortening or butter to coat pan then coat with flour, make sure you do not leave a cake in the pan for that long as it will stick. If I use a bundt pan I let it cool in pan for about 10 minutes then tap edge of pan all the around then invert cake onto plate for about 30 minutes then remove pan. If I use a loaf pan I do the same at cooling for 10 minutes then tap pan on edge on all sides, invert on to the side of pan for 20, then turn out onto cooling rack.

  2. Liz Sotomayor says:

    I give this recipe 5 stars because it tasted so good…. even if I made mistake #1 . My cake was under cooked but looked a little better than the under cooked picture you posted. I baked the cake for 95 minutes at 325 degrees. I guess I should have gone longer. I didn’t use the toothpick test and I should have, so that’s on me. some parts where cooked through, some were not. My family still devoured it after I told them not to eat it! I will be making this again. BTW, you’re right about the almond extract.. wow!

  3. I can’t wait to try this recipe! I was thinking of using my brownie pan because of them being smaller pieces & more convenient. Would that turn out good besides adjusting the baking time? Also would i still cover Halfway through?

    1. Hi Michelle, that will work, but the brownie size pound cakes will be quite dense. The bake time will be shorter. No need to tent with aluminum foil unless you see the tops browning very quickly.

      1. Thank you so much! They actually turned out really good but now I’m going to have to try the normal bundt pan to see the difference! In the brownie pan it was only 20 minutes & made so many which is what we needed at the time…

      2. Louise M Gammage says:

        I made this today and it turned out perfect. Im not a baker, I just followed your instructions. And, it slipped out of the pan so easy. Thanks for this recipe.

  4. I don’t understand any of the negative comments! I have made this cake 3 times and it’s perfect every time. If you follow the directions to the letter you will have a perfect cake. Thank you Sally for all your time experimenting and coming up with this winner!

  5. Love this recipe! My husband is from Guatemala and loves what they call Quesadilla and I aim to please, so I added Queso Fresco to this recipe and hit the nail on the head! The traditional recipe his mother makes involves rice flour and no leavening agent or eggs and I felt it was grainy, heavy, and not at all enjoyable, but this recipe saved the day! All is friends and coworkers enjoy it as well and say I should make it to sell, but he says it just for him! Thanks Sally! Everything I have made from your website has been great!

  6. I made this pound cake tonight. Delicious. Followed recipe to a t. Even made the homemade whipped cream, consistency was perfect. Moist. So good. Will be making this again!

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