Zesty Cream Cheese Frosting

An easy and refreshing cream cheese frosting with lemon zest, perfect to spread on top of a regular-sized cake or to pipe over 12 cupcakes. This zesty cream cheese frosting comes together in less than 10 minutes and adds a layer of flavour, perfectly balancing sweetness and tang.

Whether you need a layer of frosting for your cake, or you just baked a batch of cupcakes that need a topping cream, this zesty frosting is an easy and tasty option. It is easy to make with a hand mixer and turns out perfect every time. Its creamy texture makes it very easy to both spread and pipe.

This lemony cream cheese frosting is great with any cake that could use a tangy touch. Carrot cake and lavender lemon cake are two great examples, but this frosting is delightful also over vanilla cupcakes, or to fill 2 layers of simple sponge cake and make an easy summer cake.

Cream cheese frosting i na bowl with a spoon inside, lemon and zester in the background.

The ingredients

This is a very simple cream cheese frosting recipe. Cream cheese is the main ingredient. It is obviously possible to make it dairy-free using a plant-based substitute for the cream cheese and the whipping cream, but the flavour might be slightly different. If you need to make it lactose free, just use lactose-free dairy products.

The ingredients needed for the recipe.

Zesty cream cheese frosting step-by-step

  1. Combine the lemon zest and granulated sugar and whip with a hand mixer at low speed for a couple of minutes. This will rub the essential oil from the lemon zest into the sugar, flavouring it.
  2. Add the cream cheese and mix at medium speed for 5 minutes, in order to dissolve the granulated sugar as much as possible. Incorporate the powdered sugar one tablespoon at a time while mixing. Stop the mixer and pour in the whipping cream.
  3. Start the mixer again at very low speed. The mixture thins after adding the cream, but it will whip again. Stop the mixer when the frosting holds firm peaks, after about 1-2 minutes.

Recipe tips

You may find some lemon zest stuck to the mixer whisks, but that is not a major issue as most of the flavour was in the essential oil which has been transferred to the sugar in the first step of the recipe.

This cream cheese frosting is smooth, but it does have lemon zest bits in it. Keep this in mind when choosing the piping nozzle. The lemon zest may block a very small nozzle. For an absolutely smooth frosting without bits, skip the lemon zest and add a drop of lemon essential oil instead.

This frosting keeps up to 3 days in an airtight container; it needs to be stored chilled at all times. If the texture changes, ie it becomes somewhat runny, just lightly whip again. Some water might separate from the frosting mass, this is absolutely normal. This moisture will just bleed into the cake or cupcake.

Electric mixer whisks resting inside the bowl of frosting.

You may also like

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Zesty cream cheese frosting

A lemony cream cheese frosting with lemon zest. Perfect to spread over a cake or pipe onto cupcakes. Smooth and creamy, comes together in 10 minutes and has a lovely sweet tang.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword cream cheese frosting with lemon zest, dairy frosting, zesty cream cheese frosting
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 10 portions
Calories 184 kcal
Author Eva | Electric Blue Food

Ingredients

  • 400 g cream cheese full fat preferred
  • 40 g powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 lemon zested
  • 60 ml whipping cream 30% fat or over

Instructions

  1. Combine the lemon zest and granulated sugar and whip with a hand mixer at low speed for a couple of minutes. This will rub the essential oil from the lemon zest into the sugar, flavouring it.

  2. Add the cream cheese and mix at medium speed for 5 minutes, in order to dissolve the granulated sugar as much as possible. Incorporate the powdered sugar one tablespoon at a time while mixing.

  3. Stop the mixer and pour in the whipping cream. Start the mixer again at very low speed. The mixture thins after adding the cream, but it will whip again. Stop the mixer when the frosting holds firm peaks, after about 1-2 minutes.

Recipe Notes

One batch of this frosting will be enough to spread on top of a regular-sized cake, like Carrot Cake or Lemon Lavender Cake. Or you can use it to pipe onto 12 cupcakes.

Please notice that the nutritional information included in this recipe card is made by an online calculator and meant to be used as a guideline only.

Nutrition Facts
Zesty cream cheese frosting
Amount Per Serving
Calories 184 Calories from Fat 144
% Daily Value*
Fat 16g25%
Saturated Fat 9g56%
Cholesterol 52mg17%
Sodium 131mg6%
Potassium 67mg2%
Carbohydrates 9g3%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 8g9%
Protein 3g6%
Vitamin A 627IU13%
Vitamin C 3mg4%
Calcium 45mg5%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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