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.
Print
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. 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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225 Comments

  1. Hi Sally, first off – I love all of your recipes! You are my go to baker for everything!! I recently came across this recipe and was wondering if I would use fage 5% green yogurt in place of the sour cream? Or is it best to stick with sour cream for this specific recipe? Thank you so much! And thank you for all your great recipes!!

    1. Hi Bianca! So I don’t recommend the Greek yogurt for this recipe. Sour cream is a little thinner and full fat Greek yogurt will likely weigh it down a little more.

      1. Thank you so much! I ended up making it last night with the green yogurt and it came
        Absolutely delicious! I will try next time with sour cream though to compare the difference. Thanks again!

  2. Since the cake must be cooled 2 hours (longer than I’m used to, as others have commented), how far in advance can you make it? Really up to 5 days and it will still be fresh? The long bake time and 2 hours cool time don’t add up to a recipe that can be made very well on a work night if one can’t get started until after dinner.

    1. Hi Mary! Up to 5 days for storing leftovers, but I don’t recommend serving it as “new” after 5 days. I’ve made it the night before and let it cool in the pan while I sleep and it still releases, but make sure you REALLY grease the pan well.

  3. Hi Sally! After a failed layer cake this past weekend, can you give me some insight as to how to grease a pan? Butter did not cut it for me. What do you normally use? Thanks in advance for any help you can give. Can’t wait to give this recipe a try!!

    1. Hi Maggie! So I swear by baking spray, which is cooking spray with flour in it. It’s usually sold as “cooking spray for baking” or “nonstick spray for baking.”

  4. I baked this recipe and honestly when I saw the it could take 75 minutes to 90+ minutes I became a little hesitant to make it. My ingredients were already to go so I decided to bake. I did prefer the almond flavor. Next time I will probably add more almond flavor. I lowered the oven rack to the lower third, placed my bundt pan on a baking sheet and let the cake for 75 minutes. I appreciate the two different ways to bake: bundt or loaf pan. Great options. The results were perfection! Happy dance. I cannot tell you how excited about this recipe! I will be using it for trifles and plenty of strawberries with homemade whipped cream. Sally, you blew recipe out of the water and I am thankful you did not give up.

  5. Hi Sally! I’m planning to make this recipe tonight to bring to my mom’s on Saturday. I have an opened package of cream cheese with 6 oz left that I’d love to use up. Could I make up the extra 2 oz in sour cream, or should I bite the bullet and open a fresh block of cream cheese?

  6. Hello! This recipe makes a delicious batter (the cake itself isn’t out of the oven yet), but it absolutely does NOT fit in a 10-12 cup bundt. I tried to put it in the same bundt that you linked (Nordic Ware Elegant Party bundt) and it fills to the very top of the pan.

    I would guess that the bundt pan you used in the images included above is a 16 cup pan. An overfilled 10-12 cup bundt pan will result in overcooked outside, gooey inside disappointment every time. It is actually very difficult to find bundt recipes that appropriately fit 10-12 cup pans and I frequently hold batter aside to bake separately in ramekins when using a 10-12 cup pan. The Nordic Ware Anniversary bundt is a 16 cup pan and will easily accommodate most recipes–it has the same shape as the pan shown in your images above. Not shilling for Nordic Ware, just using them as a reference point.
    Anyway, for the love of all that is holy, PLEASE don’t try to bake this recipe in a 10-12 cup capacity pan, it will taste like disappointment and sadness.

    1. Hi Charlene! This is A LOT of batter and would yield a significant amount of mini bundt cakes depending how much batter each holds. The bake time will be shorter, though I can’t be positive of the exact time because mini bundt cake pans vary in sizes and shapes. Let me know what you try!

  7. I just put this cake in the oven; my 12 cup bundt pan is about 2/3 full. I didn’t check the pan capacity but it is embossed with “bundt 12 cup.”

  8. I tried the recipe a couple of days earlier and it is AMAZING! Everybody loved it! But the batter was too much for the pan, if i want to use half the ingredients, how long should i bake it?

    1. So glad you enjoyed this pound cake! Halving the ingredients for your bundt pan would work, but I’m unsure of the exact bake time for your pan and oven. Use a toothpick to test for doneness. Or you can use a loaf pan and reference the recipe note. 🙂

  9. Also a top tip from the nice ladies at the Nordic Ware outlet in Minneapolis (I am lucky enough to live very close to it and they have classes there all the time): wait until AFTER the cake batter is made before you spray the mold with the baking spray. If you spray it ahead of time, the flour and grease in the spray have a chance to slide down into the bottom of the mold, and the top of the cake releases but the bottom might not. I’ve been doing this ever since I learned about it, and my Bundts always slide right out!

    1. Oh, and don’t be stingy with the baking spray! Spray the mold THOROUGHLY, down into all the little decorative places, so they all release the cake.

  10. Help! I made the pound cake in a bundt pan. It basically collapsed on itself after I took it out. I don’t know how to explain it, but basically it didn’t turn out right. I don’t know if I overbeat with the stand up mixer. I used the toothpick test and it came out clean. But you can tell that it wasn’t cooked through. Very thick on the inside. Not cake consistency. Any help would be appreciated.

    1. Hi Grace! Did you make any substitutions? If the cake collapsed and is not cooked through, it was under-baked. Make sure your oven temperature is accurate and bake for a little longer if you decide to try the recipe again.

  11. Another *winning* recipe and positive baking experience with your pound cake! I used your suggestion of a loaf pan and it was absolutely dynamite! Sliced and served along side a jar of your Lemon Curd (oh my gosh incredible too, and easy!) My coworkers love me…errr… they love your recipes :*) As usual your pro tips give me more confidence in in expanding my baking horizon. I will make this again and again.

  12. Tried this recipe twice, and both times it came out with streaks of gooey dough. The first time I thought maybe I had underbaked it, even though I followed the instructions exactly, kept the oven at 325, and baked it for nearly the max time (toothpick came out completely clean). The second time I lowered the oven temp to 310, filled the pan a little less, cooked it for almost 95 minutes, took the temperature afterwards with a thermometer, and all parts of the cake were at 210 or higher, which other blogs give as guidance for a dense cake being “done”. Still the same gooey streaks. I’m not a novice baker, but this recipe is just frustrating me. Some other blogs say never to go above medium speed when creaming butter and sugar. I followed this recipe’s instructions exactly when adding the egg and flour keeping it on low speed and beating as minimally as possible. But the recipe says high speed for the butter, cream cheese, and sugar. Is that one step messing me up?

    1. Hi William! Thank you so much for trying the pound cake. The creaming step wouldn’t be the issue if you are noticing some uncooked streaks. If the greased streaks are small, are you still able to eat the cake? I hope you enjoy it! If you decide to try again, stick with 325F bake time and bake for more than 95 minutes, since you still noticed the dough streaks at 95 minutes. My team and I have tested this cake endlessly… all in different kitchens… and the bake time varies, so yours may simply need a few minutes longer. Let me know if you try again!

    2. Hi William, the reason you have streaks of gooey dough is you’re probably beating the butter, cream cheese, sugar and eggs at a high speed and not beating the ingredients long enough.

      Try beating the butter and cream cheese at medium speed until mixed well and then beat at medium speed for 5 minutes.

      Gradually add sugar, beating at medium speed for another 5-7 minutes. The batter should be very creamy and light.

      Then add the sour cream and vanilla on medium speed or stir in by hand.

      Add the eggs, one at a time on low to medium speed, mixing until the yellow disappears (about 30 seconds per egg).

      Add the flour mixture to the batter, 1 cup at a time on low speed or fold the flour in gently using a rubber spatula.

      I hope this helps and you’ll try this pound cake recipe again!

      1. Can I ask about this. I did get streaks as well but it looked cooked thru. What’s the difference when you beat at high compared to medium speed?

      2. Hi Jeanne,

        When a cake is showing gluey streaks it appears under baked but really the cake is actually completely baked.

        From my experience, when I beat batter at a higher speed I over cream the cake batter and my cakes usually have gluey streaks.

        I like to beat the sugar, butter and eggs slowly and no higher than medium speed. And once I add flour, I beat it on a low setting or I stir the flour by hand, mixing gently.

        When you over mix or over cream cake batter, the gluten in the flour can form elastic gluten strands (gluey/gummy streaks), resulting in a more dense, chewy texture.

  13. Hi, Sally—
    I made this in my anniversary bundt pan which says “12-16 cups” on the side. It came right up to the rim. The flavor was delicious (I added 1 1/2 tsp. almond extract along with the vanilla), and the crumb was perfect. Nice and moist, but dense like a pound cake should be. I did have the same problem as William, though. There were little flecks/streaks of darker batter. While we will really enjoy the cake, and I am sure I’ll make it again, I wouldn’t give it to anyone because of the streaks. I baked it for 85 min, and it would have been overdone and too crispy if I’d left it in the oven any longer.
    Do you think I should have mixed the eggs in for longer?
    I love your emails and site, and am so glad I recently discovered you. Thanks!

    1. Hi Margy! I’m so glad you enjoyed this pound cake recipe and thank you for reporting back about it. For the semi-uncooked streaks… honestly it comes down to testing the recipe in your own oven! My assistant baked the cake in her own oven and hers took 10 minutes longer even though the toothpick came out clean. If you want to try the recipe again, bake for a few extra minutes. I know it’ll be just perfect.

    1. Yes, I use Nordicware. I use store-brand baking spray– my current bottle is from Target! I never notice a difference between brands.

    1. Just add some cocoa powder. All pound cakes are actually just a basic pound cake recipe with a few exceptions. To make it chocolate just add cocoa, you can make it lemon, almond orange or even five flavor which is my favorite, vanilla, rum, butter, coconut, lemon. Yummy

      1. Hi Sue, Cocoa powder and chocolate can be complicated ingredients, so unfortunately it’s not an easy swap! It requires some testing and I haven’t found one I like. Let me know if you find a chocolate pound cake recipe you love.

  14. What a delicious cake! Didn’t use all of the batter since it would have been too much for my bundt pan and baked it for 85 minutes. Perfect! Gave a third of it to a friend who’d stopped by, took a third to work (my co-workers loved it) and kept a third for home. It’s a huge hit. Will definitely use this as my go-to pound cake recipe. Thanks for sharing this.

  15. Made this recipe this morning and…WOW! I made 2 loaves instead of the bundt and they came out beautifully! The smell was that wafted through my kitchen when I took them out of the oven was wonderful. Super easy to make, batter mixed perfectly and they baked for exactly 60 minutes. The color was golden and they slide out of the pans easily. My plan is to freeze them to use at a later date. Awesome recipe Sally.

    1. Hi Riki, This is A LOT of batter and would yield a significant amount of mini loafs depending how much batter each holds. The bake time will be shorter, though I can’t be positive of the exact time because mini pans vary in sizes and shapes. Let me know what you try!

  16. Question about sour cream. I was weighing the sour cream and about 1/6 cup was 45 grams. I looked it up online and found that 1/3 cup of sour cream is 81.6 g and 45 g is .19 cups or 2.98 tablespoons. So is the 1/3 cup correct amount? Or should it be 45 grams?

  17. I absolutely love the texture of this cake. I’d love to make it chocolate. How do you suggest a chocolate pound cake?

    1. Hi Bonny! Cocoa powder and chocolate can be complicated ingredients, so unfortunately it’s not an easy swap! It requires some testing and I haven’t found one I like. Let me know if you find a chocolate pound cake recipe you love.

  18. Hi Sally! I love your blog. I’d like to make this pound cake but in Argentina we don’t really have sour cream 🙁 Would you recommend any substitute?

  19. Made this instead of the lemon bars for the March challenge…so good! It’s a great base for toppings and, while there is no lemon in it, has a slight tang. Thanks for the great recipe!

  20. I had time on my hands so I did both the lemon bars and the cream cheese pound cake. I must say the addition of the sour cream to the pound cake is brilliant! It’s definitely my go to recipe from now on… Thanks for such amazing recipes Sally!

  21. I made this cake last night using your recipe, and my oh my! It turned out delicious! I was worried that it would be too heavy, but it was light and yummy. I made it for my employees birthday today and the entire cake was gone before noon.

    Thank you!

  22. Weird, mine came out out of the oven beautiful, golden, cake tester came out clean, texture looked great. Fast forward an hour, the inside had collapsed leaving the edges separated from the bundt (it had risen quite past the pan), but cake tastes great, and doesnt taste under/over done , wondering why it collapsed.

    1. Hi Rebecca! And sudden changes in temperature could impact how the cake rises (and falls!), such as opening and closing the oven door a lot. I’m so glad you enjoy how it tastes regardless!

      1. Upon cutting, the inside of the cake looked partially undercooked, and i came to the determination that the 10-12 Cup bundt pan wasn’t enough room for it to bake properly. I threw it out and tried it again using a larger fluted pan, and it came out PERFECT.

  23. I made the pound cake. It was delicious. I used Self Rising flour, Salted butter, omitted the salt and Baking Powder and added some Almond Extract. I mixed it with an inexpensive hand held mixer (with regular beaters), scraped the bowl with a heavy wooden paddle. I baked it for 95 minutes, tented with foil in a thin dark 0-12c. bunt pan. It came out just like the picture

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