Lemon–Cream Cheese Icing

Updated February 23, 2016
This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

The carrot cake muffins were for the longest time the only thing we iced. We’re not into goopy, saucy baked goods, but we felt very strongly that it would be wrong to have carrot cake without cream cheese icing. It’s essential that your butter and cream cheese be soft for making icing. Otherwise, you’ll have lumps in your icing that are impossible to smooth out.



Total Timeunder 30 minutes

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

Recipe Coursedessert

Equipmentelectric mixer

Taste and Texturecreamy, sharp, sweet, tart

Type of Dishdessert


  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • A pinch of salt


Beat the butter and cream cheese together in a big bowl, using the whisk attachment on an electric mixer on high speed (or a sturdy wire whisk and a lot of elbow grease), until they’re smooth and creamy and totally combined.

Gradually sift the sugar over the bowl (or pass the sugar through a sieve), beating all the while, until there are no lumps left. Add the remaining ingredients, and beat until the icing is smooth. If you find that while you were making icing the butter melted and made the icing thin, you may want to put the icing in the refrigerator before using it.



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I love the lovely light flavors of the icing!


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