Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

24 Servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting is a combination of bright, tangy, and sweet flavors all in one creamy, airy blend perfect for cakes and cupcakes.

Delicious Cream Cheese Frosting is a classic and easy Dessert topping for Vanilla Cake, White Cupcakes, and more. This recipe adds fresh lemon juice for a more complex flavor that you can add to some of your favorite treats. 

Sabrina’s Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

Lemons are such a wonderful ingredient that you can use in both baking and cooking. This frosting recipe highlights everything we love about lemons. It’s the perfect balance of citrus flavor, zingy lemon zest, and plenty of sweetness.  Plus, you can make it in minutes by blending the simple ingredients into a rich, creamy texture using an electric mixer. 

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting is like spreadable sunshine that you can use to sweeten, decorate, and add an irresistible lemony flavor to so many recipes. After blending the ingredients, it’s ready to spread over your favorite desserts. The sweet and tart topping is perfect for frosting lemon or white cake, decorating sugar cookies, adding to Lemon Cinnamon Rolls, or using as filling for a Lemon Cake Roll. There are so many ways that you can use frosting to make simple desserts into a lemon lover’s dream. 


  • 24 ounces cream cheese: For the creamiest, richest frosting, use full-fat cream cheese as the base ingredient. Cream cheese adds tangy flavor, thickens the mixture, and adds structure. 
  • ½ cup unsalted butter: Butter enhances the rich flavor and helps to mellow some of the tanginess of the recipe. Be sure to soften the butter and cream cheese before mixing so that they can blend smoothly. 
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream: This is an important ingredient because it lends a similar tangy flavor to the cream cheese while helping to thin out the frosting’s consistency. 
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice: For zesty, tart, and sweet lemon flavor, add lemon juice and a tablespoon of lemon zest. You could purchase a bottle of lemon juice at the grocery store, but juicing and zesting a fresh lemon will give the recipe a bolder, brighter flavor. 
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract: Enrich the flavor of your creamy frosting recipe with a few drops of vanilla extract. 
  • 6 ½ cups powdered sugar: You need enough sugar to balance the cream cheese and make a sweet and tangy dessert topping. Using powdered sugar creates a light, airy consistency and the perfect sugary flavor for the homemade frosting. While granulated sugar would weigh down the frosting, confectioners sugar is a light enough dry ingredient to blend in smoothly. 

Kitchen Tools & Equipment

  • Stand mixer: The only tool you need for this recipe is a high-powered mixer. A stand mixer using the paddle attachment or whisk attachment will do a great job of whipping the ingredients together. Alternatively, use a handheld electric mixer and a large mixing bowl. 

How to Make Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Time needed: 10 minutes.

  1. Soften the Dairy

    20-30 minutes before starting the recipe, take the cream cheese and butter out of the fridge to soften. 

  2. Combine the Ingredients

    Combine cream cheese, butter, sour cream, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla extract in your stand mixer. Continue to beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. 

  3. Add in the Sugar

    Lower the mixer speed, and add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time. Continue to mix until the sugar is incorporated and the frosting is smooth. 

  4. Finish and Store

    Transfer the Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting to a piping bag or cover and place it in the fridge until ready to use. Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting double layer frosted lemon cake with slice removed, on cake stand

Can this be made ahead of time?

Yes. If you want to prep your frosting in advance, you can mix the recipe as usual and then store it in an airtight container in the fridge until you have a dessert recipe to add it to.

Nutritional Facts

Nutrition Facts
Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
Amount Per Serving
Calories 264 Calories from Fat 126
% Daily Value*
Fat 14g22%
Saturated Fat 8g50%
Trans Fat 0.2g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 4g
Cholesterol 40mg13%
Sodium 91mg4%
Potassium 44mg1%
Carbohydrates 34g11%
Fiber 0.03g0%
Sugar 33g37%
Protein 2g4%
Vitamin A 508IU10%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 31mg3%
Iron 0.1mg1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Lemon Frosting Tips & Tricks

Achieve the ultimate fluffy, tangy, and sweet dessert topping following these quick hints!

1. Soften cream cheese and butter

  • For soft, fluffy frosting, it’s essential to use room-temperature cream cheese and butter. If you don’t have enough time to let them soften on the counter, you can pop each ingredient in the microwave for a few seconds. Add the block of cream cheese and butter to the microwave at 50% power and microwave in 15-second increments, being sure not to melt either ingredient. 

2. Go easy on the lemon juice

  • If you aren’t sure how strong you want the lemon flavor, only add a little bit of lemon juice at a time. Taste test the frosting after mixing in the lemon ingredients. Then mix in additional lemon juice as desired. 

3. Cake decorating

  • When it’s time to decorate, wait for the cake to completely cool before frosting. To make a bakery-worthy cake, it’s best to add two layers of the frosting. After spreading the first layer, refrigerate for 1-2 hours to let it set. It’s totally normal to have crumbs in the frosting at this point. Cover any crumbs and imperfections with the second cleaner layer, and pipe decorative swirls over the top.  

What to Pair With Lemon Frosting

Lemon Desserts: Easy lemon frosting makes the perfect topping to add to your favorite lemon desserts. Pipe the homemade frosting over Lemon Cupcakes, fluffy lemon cake, and Lemon Pound Cake. It also adds delicious fresh lemon flavor to vanilla desserts like Vanilla Cupcakes or Vanilla Pound Cake

Dip: You can also use Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting as a dessert dip to serve with vanilla crackers, wafers, fruit, or Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies

How to Store

Store: You can keep homemade frosting fresh in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. If you’ve already added the frosting to the cake, keep it covered in the fridge for up to a week. 

Serve: Let the frosting soften at room temperature and transfer it to a piping bag to use. 

Freeze: If you make your Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting far in advance, you can keep it frozen for later. Seal the frosting in a freezer bag with as much air removed as possible. Frozen frosting can stay good for up to 3 months. Let the recipe thaw in the fridge, and remix in the stand mixer to fluff it up before serving. 

Ideas to Serve 

After preparing sweet lemon frosting, use it to frost cakes, cupcakes, or other dessert recipes. You can use a piping bag to add decorative patterns to the dessert and top the frosting with fresh lemon slices, lemon zest, or sanding sugar to garnish. You can also drizzle Lemon Curd over the top. 

Frequent Questions

How to thin out frosting?

If your cream cheese frosting is turning out too thick, you may just need to continue mixing until the ingredients are light and fluffy. If it’s still too thick after proper mixing, pour in a splash of milk or heavy cream. Mix at medium speed until combined. 

Does cream cheese frosting need to be refrigerated?

Yes. To keep your Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting from going bad, you shouldn’t leave it sitting out at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Instead transfer it to an airtight container to store in the fridge. 

Recipe Card

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Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting is a combination of bright, tangy, and sweet flavors all in one creamy, airy blend perfect for cakes and cupcakes.
Yield 24 Servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 24 ounces cream cheese , softened
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter , softened
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 6 1/2 cups powdered sugar


  • Add the cream cheese, butter, sour cream, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla to a stand mixer and beat until light and fluffy.
  • Add in the powdered sugar one cup at a time until smooth and incorporated.


Calories: 264kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 40mg | Sodium: 91mg | Potassium: 44mg | Fiber: 0.03g | Sugar: 33g | Vitamin A: 508IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 31mg | Iron: 0.1mg
Keyword: Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream Cheese Frosting Variations

Food coloring: To give your lemon desserts a beautiful, colorful topping, add a few drops of yellow food coloring to the cream cheese frosting mixture. Stir until the food coloring is well blended, and add more drops as needed to reach your desired yellow color. 

Fruit flavorings: You can use the same cream cheese frosting base to make other kinds of fruit, flavored dessert toppings. Instead of lemon juice, try flavoring the frosting with fresh lime juice, orange juice, raspberry extract, or other fruit flavorings that you like. You can use the additional fruit flavor in place of the lemon juice or use it along with the lemon juice for a delicious fruit frosting.

Lemon extract: If you don’t have access to lemon or fresh lemon juice, you can still flavor your cream cheese frosting recipe with a few drops of lemon extract. Add a little at a time and taste test until you reach your desired lemony flavor. 

Salt: You can actually enhance the sweet flavors in your frosting recipe by mixing in a pinch of salt. Just be sure not to add too much, or it can overwhelm the taste. 

More Homemade Frosting Recipes

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting layered frosted lemon cake with slice removed, recipe name across bottom

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

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