Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting | Ambitious Kitchen

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If you’ve made my famous cinnamon rolls or any of my amazing carrot cake-flavored recipes, there’s a good chance you’ve whipped up my go-to cream cheese frosting recipe.

With spring in the air, I wanted to share a new, deliciously bright, perfectly sweet, slightly tangy version of that recipe using beautiful citrus. This lemon cream cheese frosting is out-of-this-world creamy and requires just 4 simple ingredients.

What can you pair it with? You know I shared some of my favorite ways to use it below, but trust me when I say you’ll want to start with my NEW lemon blueberry sweet rolls. Ring in spring with those incredible rolls, or use this luscious lemon cream cheese frosting on your fav desserts or brunch treats this season!

What’s the difference between cream cheese frosting and buttercream?

The difference is in the name! Cream cheese frosting has cream cheese whipped into it, rather than butter only. This will create a frosting that has a slight tang and is famously used on cinnamon rolls and red velvet cakes. Cream cheese frosting also has a slightly thinner and smoother consistency than buttercream frosting, so you won’t get those perfect, stiff peaks when you whip it up, but it’s absolutely delicious and SO versatile for tons of desserts.

ingredients for a lemon cream cheese frosting recipe in bowls

Ingredients in the best lemon cream cheese frosting

You’ll just need 4 simple ingredients to make the most luscious, perfectly sweet, and tangy lemon cream cheese frosting from scratch:

  • Cream cheese: this is what differentiates the frosting from a traditional buttercream! I love the slight tang that cream cheese adds to balance out the sweetness.
  • Butter: you’ll still need a little room temperature butter to give the frosting a fluffy texture. Feel free to use salted or unsalted butter.
  • Powdered sugar: this lemon cream cheese frosting is sweetened with powdered sugar (aka confectioners’ sugar) which also keeps it fluffy.
  • Lemon: you’ll use both lemon zest and fresh lemon juice for that bright, beautiful flavor. I find that this frosting has the perfect lemon flavor without using lemon extract! It also gives the frosting a pale yellow color, but if you’d like a bolder yellow feel free to use yellow food coloring.

ingredients for easy lemon cream cheese frosting in the bowl of a stand mixer

Can I make it vegan or dairy free?

Absolutely! Just use your favorite vegan / dairy free cream cheese (like Miyokos) and butter (like Earth Balance).

Can I make it refined sugar free?

Feel free to use my paleo powdered sugar instead of regular powdered sugar in this cream cheese frosting recipe to keep it refined sugar free. Note that it will likely turn the frosting a darker color because it’s made with coconut sugar.

lemon cream cheese frosting mixed in a glass bowl

How to make lemon cream cheese frosting

  1. Whip it on low speed. Add all of the frosting ingredients to the bowl of an electric stand mixer, and beat on low speed to start.
  2. Increase to high speed. Increase the speed to high and beat for 1-2 minutes until it’s smooth and fluffy. That’s it!

No stand mixer? No problem.

If you don’t have a stand mixer, feel free to whip up this lemon cream cheese frosting in a large bowl using an electric hand mixer, or by hand.

lemon cream cheese frosting in a glass bowl

How to store lemon cream cheese frosting

  • In the fridge: this lemon cream cheese frosting will stay good in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up 1 week.
  • In the freezer: place the frosting in an airtight glass container or freezer-friendly bag and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to use it, simply let it thaw in the refrigerator, let it come to room temp, and then re-whip it in your electric mixer.

spreading lemon cream cheese frosting onto lemon blueberry sweet rolls

Our favorite ways to use this lemon cream cheese frosting

the best lemon cream cheese frosting in a bowl

More frosting recipes

Get all of my dessert recipes here!

I hope you love this lemon cream cheese frosting recipe! If you make it be sure to leave a comment and a rating so I know how you liked it. Enjoy, xo!

cover of the ambitious kitchen cookbook

Ambitious Kitchen

125 Ridiculously Good For You, Sometimes Indulgent, and Absolutely Never Boring Recipes for Every Meal of the Day

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

lemon cream cheese frosting in a bowl

Prep Time 10 minutes

Total Time 10 minutes

Serves9 servings

Luscious lemon cream cheese frosting made with 4 simple ingredients and the perfect balance of sweet, bright, and tangy. This easy lemon cream cheese frosting can be made vegan or dairy-free, and is delicious on sweet rolls, cakes, cookies, and more!


  • 4 ounces (112g) cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup (113g) powdered sugar
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice, to taste


  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, lemon zest and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Beat on low speed to start, then increase to medium-high speed and mix until smooth and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. (Alternatively, whisk the frosting by hand.) Immediately spread on your favorite baked treats or refrigerate for up to one week in an airtight container.


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