Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Yesterday I made cupcakes with lemon cream cheese frosting for my mom’s birthday. I even got out my unused cupcake decorating kit and gave it a try. My icing wasn’t stiff enough to hold its shape very well, but I had fun piping it on anyway. Are you a cake decorating pro? Is it normal to have frosting all over your hands and up to your elbows by the time you’re done icing cupcakes? If not, I may have done something wrong!

lemon cupcake icing

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter (while still cool) until smooth.  Add (cold) cream cheese and continue to beat until fully incorporated and smooth.  Add powder sugar, one cup at a time, while the mixer is running.  Continue mixing and add lemon zest, vanilla and lemon juice.  Mix an additional 30 seconds, until smooth, light and fluffy.  Frost cooled cupcakes.

recipe from the tomkat studio


  1. Chris

    Beautiful and rustic. Lemon icing is delicious. You might want to beat it a bit longer and add more sugar to make it drier and less sloppy. Also make sure the cakes are cold and all your ingredients are cold. But because you’re using cream cheese, it doesn’t quite mix the same as a normal buttercream, so your results are going to be different. Did it taste ok?

    1. Amanda (wit & whistle) Post author

      It tasted amazing! I’ll bet more beating and more sugar would have helped a lot with the consistency. Thanks for the tip!

  2. Shawn

    You may have been dipped up to your elbows in icing but they tasted fantastic! Even the next day they are yummy and I should know because I just had another one after dinner. Delicious! Thanks for leaving some here. :D

    1. Amanda (wit & whistle) Post author

      I’m glad you liked them. I had to leave some with you so I wouldn’t eat them all!

  3. Michelle

    Cream cheese will melt quickly so you can use more powdered sugar to stiffen the frosting, but then you might also want to add in a bit more extract/juice to hide the powdery taste. It also just gets more difficult as the temperatures rise, but they look great!

    1. Amanda (wit & whistle) Post author

      I used the lower fat cream cheese, so I wonder if that made a difference as well. Next time I’ll have to try regular buttercream icing for piping purposes!

  4. laura (bo bara)

    cupcakes are one of my favorite things to bake! and i love trying new varieties. but i always make cream cheese frosting (not a huge buttercream fan), and it’s always the same sort of consistency. i want it to be fluffy so i can pipe it on super tall!

    1. Amanda (wit & whistle) Post author

      I’ll pass on the birthday wishes! :) Do you use regular cream cheese or the reduced fat kind? I’m wondering if the reduced fat is what made my icing a bit too runny.

    2. laura (bo bara)

      i generally use regular cream cheese, with similar results. i have theorized (though i’m no expert ;) that maybe cream cheese is more dense than butter, which causes it to be less fluffy. i have no idea if there’s any truth to that, but that’s my best guess!

  5. Joan

    Your photos make me want to get right up and make this. Yes…there is always a huge mess with frosting. LOL
    It does help to get the icing a bit thicker, spreads easier.

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