A simple lemon cream cheese glaze is a light and tangy frosting that will elevate all of your baking. Made with only 4 ingredients, this easy recipe adds the lip-smacking lemony zing that makes everything better!

Lemon cream cheese glaze being spooned onto pancakes.

If you’ve ever had a red velvet cake or a carrot cake you know exactly what it does to a baked good to be topped with a cream cheese frosting. But the addition of lemon? Well, that’s just a whole other layer of spectacular.

The combination of the smooth and creamy texture of that sweet frosting base, with the added tartness of the lemon juice, finished with a sprinkling of lemon zest, is exactly why licking the bowl was invented.

Lemon cream cheese glaze in a glass bowl on a white background.

About this lemon cream cheese glaze

This is the easiest glaze using simple ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen. In about 5 minutes you’ll have your frosting ready to be used immediately or stored in the fridge for later use.

Top your sticky buns, blueberry muffins, cookies, and cakes with this unforgettable sweet and sour glaze to transform an already delicious treat to something out of this world.

If you want to serve it on pancakes, it’s amazing on lemon poppy seed pancakes, lemon blueberry pancakes, or lemon ricotta pancakes. It also adds an amazing brightness to classic buttermilk pancakes.

The light citrus flavor from the lemon is really only something you can get from a freshly squeezed lemon, so making sure you have one on hand is part of the prep. Rolling the lemon back and forth on the counter with the palm of your hand is a great way to release the juices as well as the essential oils in the lemon zest.

Take the cream cheese out of the fridge to sit at room temperature before beginning. This will make creating a nice smooth glaze that much easier!

Knowing how to make this lemon cream cheese frosting will be a game changer for you especially when a special occasion rolls around!

Glaze in a glass bowl.

What’s in lemon cream cheese glaze?

  • Softened Cream cheese – Full-fat or low-fat will work here. We don’t recommend fat-free for this recipe. Or any recipe, to be honest.
  • Powdered Sugar – Using powdered sugar and not other types of sugar is the only way to achieve a smooth, silky glaze.
  • Milk – You won’t need much, and you’ll add more depending on how thick or thin you’d like your glaze.
  • Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice – This will give so much flavor to your glaze!
  • Lemon Zest – Make sure to zest your lemon before juicing it!
Overhead view of ingredients: cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon juice and zest, milk.

How to make this frosting

It’s definitely more of a glaze than a frosting, but you could make it a frosting by adding more powdered sugar. Here’s how you make it!

Add softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, and milk to a medium-sized mixing bowl.

Powdered sugar, cream cheese, and milk in a small blass mixing bowl.

Using an electric mixer, beat until smooth. Scrape sides of the bowl to make sure everything is incorporated.

Start of a cream cheese frosting.

Add lemon juice and beat again until smooth. Use a fork to extract juice from the lemon if you find your lemon is a little dry.

Lemon juice being added to cream cheese glaze.

Add more liquid (we recommend more milk) if necessary to achieve desired consistency. The more milk you add, the thinner your consistency will be resulting in the more glaze, less frosting effect.

Using the small side to the grater or a fork, if you don’t have a lemon zester, to get the zest. Fold it into the mixture. Don’t use your mixer for this part, the zest will get all stuck on the beaters instead of staying in the glaze!

Lemon zest being added to a bowl of glaze.

How to make this lemon cream cheese glaze your own

  • If you prefer something without cream cheese, try our easy three ingredient lemon glaze.
  • Swap out the lemon for orange juice and orange zest for a lovely orange cream cheese frosting.
  • Skip the citrus all together and substitute some vanilla, cinnamon, or maple syrup.
  • As tempting as it might be to use right away, let your frosting sit for a bit to allow the flavors to fully come through. The longer it sits, the more intense the flavors.
Glaze being added to a stack of pancakes.

Make-Ahead & Storage Tips

When we prepare for any type of special occasion, it’s always nice to have easy make-ahead aspects of our meal planning. Being able to think a week ahead in advance about desserts takes the cake!

The frosting can be stored in a covered container in the fridge for up to 1 week. You’ll have your frosting at the ready when you need it!

Lemon cream cheese glaze in a bowl with a purple silicone spatula.

Get the Recipe: Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze

A simple lemon cream cheese glaze is a light and tangy frosting that will elevate all of your baking. Made with only 4 ingredients, this easy recipe adds the lip-smacking lemony zing that makes everything better!
5 from 1 vote

Ingredients

  • 4 oz. cream cheese softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest

Instructions

  • Add cream cheese, powdered sugar, and milk to a medium sized mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat until smooth.
  • Add lemon juice and beat again until smooth. Add more liquid (we recommend more milk) if necessary to achieve desired consistency.
  • Fold in lemon zest.
  • Serve immediately or store in a covered container in the fridge for up to a week.

Notes

  • makes about 1/2 cup of glaze
Serving: 2tablespoons, Calories: 159kcal, Carbohydrates: 17g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 32mg, Sodium: 93mg, Potassium: 39mg, Sugar: 16g, Vitamin A: 381IU, Vitamin C: 3mg, Calcium: 32mg, Iron: 1mg