Perfect for cakes and cupcakes, this Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting is ready for you to spread it on anything. This recipe is so simple to pull together, and it's great on any Easter dessert or Spring picnic treat. We love it on lemon cupcakes, on a vanilla layer cake, or even a smeared between two chocolate cookies--yes, really!
In a world of chocolate, let's give lemon equal love. I've never tried to hide that I will always choose a lemon dessert over a chocolate dessert, yet I still share so many chocolate desserts with you. My German chocolate cupcakes are absolutely for you; did I eat half the batch, though? Yes, absolutely.
In a way, you can really trust my chocolate desserts because they have to be good enough for a lemon lover to like. And furthermore, you can really trust my lemon desserts because I prefer it over chocolate. I'm your perfect dessert recipe creator :)
If you love my strawberry cream cheese frosting so much, you will love this recipe, too!
Ways to Use Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting:
- Of course we put it on our lemon cupcakes. Tangy lemon and cream cheese go together so well!
- To make our mini vanilla cake into a lemon delight, we use this lemon cream cheese frosting instead.
- If the flavor combo of lemon and coconut is your thing, use this frosting on my small coconut cake recipe.
- A vegan vanilla birthday cake could have a lemon twist if you grab vegan cream cheese and a plant-based butter stick.
- Browse all of my 6 Inch Cake recipes to find your favorite.
How to Make Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
The most important thing when making cream cheese is ensuring the butter and cream cheese are at the proper temperature. Unwrap both of them, and leave them sitting out at room temperature for about an hour. It's ready to use when you can press a finger into it and make a fingerprint mark.
To speed up the butter softened process, I like to slice it into small pieces. The more surface area is exposed to room temperature air, the faster it will soften.
Tip: For a cream cheese frosting recipe without butter, try my whipped cream cream cheese frosting.
You also need a hand mixer to make this recipe. Here is the one I've had for nearly a decade, and it never lets me down.
- Cream Cheese. One 8-ounce brick of cream cheese. The one in the silver package; you know what I'm talking about.
- Butter. I always use unsalted butter for baking and pastries, and if you can find European butter with a slightly higher fat percentage, you will be very happy.
- Powdered Sugar.
- Lemon. For great lemon flavor, we're using lemon juice as our liquid to bring the frosting together. Start with 1 tablespoon and add up to 2 more tablespoons. For exceptional lemon flavor, you can grate half of the lemon zest into the frosting. Your frosting will have very small pieces of grated lemon rind in it, but it shouldn't be enough to clog a frosting piping tip. The zest contains the oils of the lemon and will add incredible flavor, but it's optional here. Here is the microplane zester I use.
- Dice the butter and cream cheese into chunks, and let them rest on the counter to soften to room temperature. This could take between 1-2 hours, depending on your ambient room temperature. They're ready when you can easily make a fingerprint in them.
2. Combine the softened butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar and juice of the lemon in a large bowl. If you would like to add the lemon zest, zest is before you squeeze the juice out.
3. Using an electric hand mixer, beat until very creamy and fluffy. Do not be afraid to keep beating after it is all combined. It will add extra air and fluffy to the frosting.
4. Scrape the lemon cream cheese frosting into a piping bag if you want to use it to decorate a cake or cupcake, or simply spread it with a butter knife.
Lemon juice will not curdle cream cheese frosting. If your frosting has curdled or 'split,' it's usually a temperature issue. Warm it if it seems chunky and continue to beat, or refrigerate if it is overly runny and beat again. Lemon juice does not thicken cream cheese frosting.
Oh yes, that sounds delicious. Here's my single layer carrot cake that would be fabulous with this.
I wouldn't use granulated sugar here, because you might end up with a grainy, chunky frosting. Also, there is more granulated sugar in a cup than a cup of powdered sugar. If you're desperate, you can use granulated sugar here, but be prepared to add splashes of heavy cream to give the sugar something to dissolve into. If you're willing to experiment, I think you could have great results. Just be sure to use heavy cream, not milk!
- Because this lemon cream cheese frosting contains butter and cream cheese, it needs to be stored in the fridge after a few hours of sitting out. To soften it before serving, just let it rest on the counter for 20-30 minutes, and then beat it again until fluffy and smooth.
Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
Perfect, fluffy lemon cream cheese frosting with only 4 ingredients. Makes enough to frost 12 cupcakes or a 2 layer 8 or 9" cake.
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Gather all ingredients. Dice the butter and cream cheese into small pieces and let them sit out at room temperature for 1-2 hours, until softened. They're ready to use when you can press a fingerpring in them.
- Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl, starting with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
- Beat together until fluffy, adding more lemon juice as necessary to make it smooth and creamy. Frost on cupcakes, cakes or cookies and serve.
Butter: I always use unsalted butter for desserts.
Lemon: We're using the juice of a lemon, which is between 2 and 3 tablespoons of juice. For even more lemon flavor, you can grate half of the lemon zest into the frosting.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 307Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 69mgSodium: 121mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 0gSugar: 20gProtein: 2g
Beverly Steindler says
I just made this frosting and it is the perfect amount of lemon flavor! This will be my new go to frosting when I make my lemon cake. Also what I love about your recipe is that you don’t need 4-5 cups of powdered sugar 👍 the one cup is all you need and it has the right amount of sweetness without making my teeth hurt!!😂 Thankyou for sharing this wonderful frosting! Toodles!