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.
  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; 345g) unsalted 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 (345g) cake 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. 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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191 Comments

  1. I made (blueberry) muffins in the weekend. Fantastic result. I am really enjoying your recipes and thank you for not adding chocolate in all your recipes. I can’t tolerate chocolate

  2. Awwwww!!! I love pound cake in any form, but mixed with cream cheese?!?! It both sounds and looks incredible…..can’t wait to try this one!! Amazing once again Sally!

    1. Hi Patricia! I wish I could help, but I have very little experience baking gluten free. You can try a GF cake flour, but I haven’t tested it. Let me know how it turns out.

  3. I noticed your Nordic Ware bundt pan has a dark interior. Do you think the baking temperature had to be adjusted because of that? The reason I’m asking is, I own several of Nordic Ware pans in different shapes and finishes(purchased in perfect condition at thrift stores or garage sales), and I’m uncertain if I need to adjust the baking temperature and time for each of the finishes.

    1. Hi Darlene! This is a great question and normally I would say YES but this cream cheese pound cake is a special case. It’s heavy, creamy, and thick and will always require a lower oven temperature. I tested with my williams sonoma gold touch bundt pan (lighter than my nordic ware) and it still required the lower 325F temperature. Hope this helps!

    1. Without getting technical regarding protein content of the various flours,my solution for cake flour is to measure out 1 cup AP flour, remove 2 tablespoons of flour, replacing with 2 tablespoons cornstarch, sift well.
      When measuring by cup, drop the flour into the cup, rather than scooping. 1 cup of AP flour measures 120 grams. I use this method for all my recipes requiring cake flour.
      I hope this saves you a market run.

  4. So excited to try this!! I make “fancier” cakes for everyone else, but plain ole cream cheese pound cake is my absolute favorite. I have no doubt that yours will be a home run!

  5. I’m so excited you published this recipe! My worst baking disaster was a pound cake. It was like your under-cooked cake, except the center of mine was still liquid. I haven’t attempted a pound cake since. I’ll feel much more confident attempting again with your instructions!

    1. I feel your pain! Failed pound cakes are pretty miserable. Especially since they take so long to bake and you feel like you wasted a whole bunch of time! Let me know if you try this recipe though. Would love to hear your thoughts!

  6. Hi Sally, I have a William Sonoma cook book, that has a lemon blueberry bundt that is my go to for fancy bundts. Do you think your recipe would work with lemon blueberry?
    Thanks in advance, planning on make ahead for, Eagle scout ceremonies, and bringing to share.

    1. Absolutely! Lemon zest and lemon extract (not juice) would be your best bet in this particular recipe. I recommend 1-1.5 cups fresh or frozen (do not thaw) blueberries.

  7. This is the only pound cake recipe that I use. It was my grandmothers recipe and she passed it on to me ( I was 9 years old) and I am 78 now. Every meal served at church request this cake. Thanks for sharing. You can flavor it as you desire, such as almond, lemon, strawberry.

  8. Hi Sally – Thanks for your great recipes, I’m planning on making this today. I like reading comments, but it would be helpful if they were sorted a bit. You have a lot of fans that just say things like “this looks really good”, which isn’t really helpful. It would be nice to have the people that rate the recipe actually have baked it. And maybe a tab for questions only, like organized in a FAQs kind of format so people don’t ask them over and over. Just some thoughts – Hope you’re having an amazing day!

    1. Hi Nancy! You are so kind to leave feedback and I completely understand. It’s best to wait a few days for real reviews to come through. I’m trying to see if I can “un-star” the comments from those who have not made the recipe yet. At this time, I don’t have control over the ratings.

      I used to feature different tabs for Questions and Reviews, but unfortunately, most people didn’t check off which category their commentary was under so we had to manually categorize each. This took upwards of 4 hours/week and just wasn’t conducive to workflow. I was wasting time not being in the kitchen producing new content. I try to answer most FAQs in the recipe notes though!

      1. Thank you Sally, I understand the time involved and appreciate how much time you give us all. I think the Recipe Notes are always so helpful. The cake came out amazing, although I did reduce the sugar to be equal weight to the flour. I bet it’s even better tomorrow. Thanks for a great recipe!

  9. Sally, at the risk of being a bother, would it not be easier to take the Internal Temperature of the Pound Cake (210 degrees F.) and wind up with the proper result every time?
    I rely on internal temperature as the most accurate way to know when baked goods are properly baked. eg. cheesecake is always perfect at 150 degrees F. No jiggling, no guess work. I’m surprised that more recipes do not include the Internal Temperature for perfect results. Thank you.

    1. It’s 100% easier and by all means, use your thermometer for cake doneness! I absolutely recommend it. But for anyone who doesn’t own a thermometer, the toothpick is the next best option. Thank you for asking this question!

  10. This cake looks beautiful, Sally! Pound cakes are the perfect basis for so many desserts, too! Spread some jam/Nutella on them, serve with fresh cream and fruit, top with ice cream, grill to make chocolate sandwiches, layer in trifles…the options are endless! I must try this recipe, I love the addition of the cream cheese! Keep up the good work!

  11. I just made this pound cake, and it smelled so good, I couldn’t let it cool but about 15 minutes B4 I had to have a piece. SOOOO MOIST & GOOD! The cake flour really does make a difference in the texture. Thanks for another winner Sally!

  12. Just made this pound cake this afternoon! Let it cool for 2 hours and came out of the pan beautifully! Tastes delicious- sweet, moist and buttery! My top is a little darker than I would like, left it for 75 minutes and did tent it. I guess my oven cooks faster, but it’s delicious!
    Thanks Sally, your recipes are always on target with THE BEST directions!

  13. How would you go about adding chocolate chips?
    Also, I have a super long log pan. I am not sure what it is called, but it’s a monster. Would that work? My family usually makes poundcake in that type of pan.

    1. Hi Sara! I’m unsure of the dimensions of your pan. Will it hold 10-12 cups of batter? Adding 1-2 cups of chocolate chips would be delicious!

  14. Sally
    I use a lot of your recipes. I want to try this pound cake as pound cake is our favorite. I always have trouble with them sticking. I’ve tried every method I’ve found on blogs and internet. The one I’ve been making has whipping cream. Tastes great but always sticks. I’m trying yours but am concerned. Did I understand correctly to leave in pan 2 hrs. ? Usually most recipes say 5 to 10 min. Thanks for your help before I bake another tasty but ugly cake.

    1. Hi Susan! Yes, 2 hours. You could get away with 1 hour, but I strongly recommend letting it cool in the pan for longer than 10 minutes. Grease the pan VERY well. I actually use “baking” nonstick spray (the kind with flour in it) and a lot of it. Let me know if you try it!

  15. I want to make this for Fat Tuesday, and wondered if you could suggest a frosting I could make to put down as a base for the colored sugars, as this will be our King Cake. Thanks so much.

    1. I would recommend no topping for the cake. Instead put the batter into separate bowls and add color to each bowl. Spoon the batter varying the colors in the pan. It will a great, colorful surprise when the cake is cut into and eaten

  16. Your recipe calls for Vanilla extract but also you can add some other flavorings. Is that instead of Vanilla or plus another flavoring. But how much if its with the Vanilla. I love anything with lemon.

  17. Love all your recipes. Thank you. This cake turned out perfect. I followed all your steps. Served with fresh strawberries.
    Can you experiment on a German butter cake with a gooey center. Used to get it at a bakery but they closed.

  18. This has probably been asked before, but how do you keep track of all of your recipes? I have used some apps like MacGourmet and Paprika, but always worried about them not working any longer like the sync on MacGourmet seems to have stopped. I can not even imagine how many recipes you have to keep track of.
    Thanks for all you do. I love your site and recipes.

    1. Hey Stacy! Thank you so much.

      As for recipe organization: I’m so old school, I have all of my favorite recipes on index cards or torn out of magazines with my notes. And the rest (of my own) are right here on my website. I hope to one day put ALL of them in word documents on my external hard drive.

      1. Thanks for the quick reply! I am sure you’re not alone. I have a feeling most that have a website probably store it that way or a word document. I may have to do that, or something other than the app. for back up just incase. I would hate to loose years of work and recipes.

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