This lemon cream cheese frosting is a tart and creamy, sweet and silky frosting that’s bursting with lemon flavor. Learn how to make lemon cream cheese frosting from classic cream cheese frosting that’s perfect for topping or filling cakes, cupcakes and cookies. You may even find yourself enjoying this cream cheese lemon frosting all on its own.
Why Should You Make This Recipe
I absolutely love a delicious and decadent cream cheese frosting recipe. My Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting, Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting and Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting are just a couple of frosting recipes from the blog that I adore. This cream cheese frosting with lemon is another frosting recipe I can’t get enough of. I know you’ll love this lemon cream recipe because:
- You love fun variations on classic toppings. Cream cheese frosting is already incredibly delicious, but adding some lemon zest and fresh lemon juice and turning it into cream cheese lemon frosting makes this lemon icing even more amazing, flavorful and perfect for spring.
- Tons of flavor with little effort. Imagine topping a delicious Blueberry Cupcakes, Lemon Raspberry Cake or Lemon Loaf with the perfect tangy, creamy, lemon filled frosting. Not only is the frosting gorgeous to look at, it’s also incredibly delicious.
This easy lemon frosting requires only a handful of pantry basics and a few minutes to make. Here’s what you’ll need.
Gather unsalted butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla extract salt and lemon juice.
Here are my recommended substitutions to make this wonderfully delicious cream cheese lemon buttercream frosting if you need it.
- Unsalted Butter: Feel free to use an equal amount of salted butter.
- Cream Cheese: The tangy flavor of cream cheese is hard to match. If you don’t have cream cheese, use an equal amount of mascarpone cheese.
- Powdered Sugar: I like using Wholesome Organic powdered sugar. If you need a lower sugar powdered sugar alternative, I recommend Swerve or Lakanto.
- Vanilla Extract: This provides a wonderful background flavor for the lemon cream cheese icing. Omit if needed.
- Lemon Juice: This is an essential ingredient to making the best lemon cream cheese frosting. You’re more likely to already have lemons on hand, but if not, replace the 2 tablespoons (30 ml) lemon juice with 2 teaspoon (10 ml) lemon extract.
Lemon Curd Frosting: Swap out the lemon juice for the same amount of lemon curd in the cream cheese lemon frosting.
How To Make
Learn how to make lemon cream cheese buttercream frosting in a few easy steps.
- Cream together softened butter with the room temperature cream cheese until creamy and well combined, about 4-5 minutes on low speed. Stop and scrape down sides of bowl as needed.
- Mix in the sifted powdered sugar ½ cup (60 g) at a time, beating each addition of powdered sugar until incorporated. Scrape down sides of mixing bowl as needed. Once all the sugar has been added, mix in the vanilla extract, salt and and lemon juice. Beat on high until the lemon cheese cake frosting is fully incorporated and your desired consistency.
- Top your preferred cake, cupcakes, cookies or even brownies with this incredibly delicious lemon frosting.
How To Make Ahead, Freeze, Thaw and Store
Make Ahead: This lemon cream cheese icing can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for one week or freezer for up to three months.
Freeze and Thaw: Transfer the lemon cream icing to an airtight and freezer proof container to store in the freezer for up to three months. Thaw the frosting overnight in the fridge. Then bring the cream cheese lemon buttercream to room temperature before using in a recipe.
Store: Transfer the cream cheese frosting with lemon an airtight container to store in the fridge for one week.
M’s Expert Tips
- Use room temperature butter and cream cheese. Using cold butter or cream cheese can cause the frosting to have little bumps. The lemon cream cheese buttercream will be much smoother if the butter and cream cheese are both room temperature prior to mixing.
- Use a full fat brick style cream cheese. This is the best kind to make a perfect cream cheese buttercream.
- Use fresh lemon juice. Although you can use bottled lemon juice, freshly squeezed lemon juice tastes the best in this frosting recipe.
- Chill the lemon frosting. If the frosting is too runny or soft, chill the cream cheese buttercream in the fridge for 20 - 30 minutes. This is especially helpful if you need to pipe the lemon icing.
- Keep it cool. This buttercream is made with butter and cream cheese. Both of these ingredients will begin to soften easily in warmer environments. Once this lemon cream cheese frosting is applied to the cake, cupcake, cookie or brownies, keep those baked good in the fridge until it’s time to serve them.
This recipe makes 3 cups of lemon cream frosting. This is enough frosting for 24 cupcakes, a 9 x 13 cake or a 2 layer 8-inch or 9-inch cake without decorative piping. For taller piping on 24 cupcakes or to add decorative piping to a cake, make at least 1.5 times the recipe.
Yes, there’s no need to worry about the frosting coming out curdled. I prefer treating the lemon juice like an extract and adding it after the powdered sugar.
Mix in about 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of fresh lemon juice to any store bought frosting.
Generally speaking, buttercream frostings use only butter plus sugar and some type of flavoring. Cream cheese frostings use part butter and part cream cheese, plus sugar and any flavorings.
If you try this Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting recipe please rate the recipe and leave a comment below. Doing so helps other readers decide if this is a great recipe to bake. Don’t forget to tag me on Instagram using @olivesnthyme so I can see what you’re baking! Happy Baking! - M
Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting recipe
- 1 stand mixer with paddle attachment or electric hand mixer with beaters
- 1 zester optional
- ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
- 4 cups (480 g) powdered sugar
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) lemon juice
- 1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp salt
- Pull out the butter and cream cheese about 30 - 60 minutes before you want to make the frosting.
- Cream together softened butter with the room temperature cream cheese until creamy and well combined, about 4-5 minutes on low speed. Stop and scrape down sides of bowl as needed.½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter, room temperature, 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
- Mix in the sifted powdered sugar ½ cup (60 g) at a time, beating each addition of powdered sugar until incorporated. Scrape down sides of mixing bowl as needed.4 cups (480 g) powdered sugar
- Once all the sugar has been added, mix in the vanilla extract, salt and lemon juice. Beat on medium-high until the lemon cheese cake frosting is fully incorporated and your desired consistency.2 tablespoon (30 ml) lemon juice, 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract, ¼ teaspoon salt
- If the frosting is too soft to pipe onto your preferred dessert, transfer the frosting to the fridge for 20 - 30 minutes.
- Top your preferred cake, cupcakes, cookies or even brownies with this incredibly delicious lemon frosting. Top with lemon zest if desired.