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Cream Cheese Lemon Cookies

Cream Cheese Lemon Cookies are soft, thick cookies with the perfect amount of lemon and topped with an easy lemon icing!

Make sure to try out my Lemon Blueberry Whoopie Pies too!

Cream Cheese Lemon Cookies Are Soft, Sweet, and Tart!

I have talked on here time and time again about lemon desserts…no one else in my house will eat them EXCEPT ME! But here we are again, with another insanely delicious lemon cookie recipe. Remember back when I made those Lemonhead Cookies? If you are looking for a more tart-lemony-chewy cookie hop over and make that recipe. If you’re looking for a soft, thick lemon cookie, this is the recipe for you!

Cream Cheese Lemon Cookies are soft and easy to make

This Lemon Cookie Recipe is a Classic!

The combo of butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and lemon make the perfect soft cookie, with a light lemon flavor. If you prefer more lemon you can add more zest (as much as you want, honestly) and instead of using heavy cream in the icing, you can use 1- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice instead! Totally up to you!

Making Lemon Cookies from Scratch is Easy!

The dough for these lemon cookies is very easy! It’s a simple cookie recipe that uses a combo of half cream cheese and half butter. Don’t worry if you don’t like cream cheese, you can’t taste it. The only thing you will want to note before making this cookie recipe, is that the dough really does need to be chilled. It is a sticky dough, and chilling it makes it much easier to roll into balls!

How To Make Lemon Cookies

Why Do You Use Cream Cheese in Cookies?

Here’s the deal with baking cookies with cream cheese…like I said before you can’t taste it. But if you can’t taste it, what’s the point, you might be asking?! Well, there are a few reasons to use cream cheese in cookie baking:

  1. Baking with cream cheese, or a portion of cream cheese (like in the case) naturally reduces the amount of fat in the cookie…not that I am really looking to do that, it’s just an added bonus.
  2. If you do sub in cream cheese for butter, you will need to experiment with bake times, as they can will harden up faster than if you use butter. That is why I stress in this recipe not to over-bake. They can get rather hard if you bake them until they’re golden.
  3. Cream cheese works perfectly in this recipe because we are adding lot of lemon flavor. If you sub in cream cheese for butter exclusively your cookies can end up a little bland, which is why I prefer a combo of the two.
  4. Cream Cheese in baking also doesn’t spread as much as butter, which is it is a nice addition (or substitution) for cookies where you are looking to get a really thick cookie. They can end up a little more “cakey” than an all-butter cookie, which, again, is why I love the combo of butter and cream cheese!

There’s a Trick To Baking These Lemon Cookies!

So here’s the deal…these are thick cookies, like I said. They’re thick because:

  • cream cheese
  • chilling the dough
  • rolling them into balls before baking

And while I am all about a thick cookie, I don’t want a round ball. SO, these cookies spread a little bit while baking, but the trick is when you take the baking sheet out of the pan, drop it on your counter or stove top a few times from about 6- inches above. Dropping the baking sheet helps settle the cookies, and get rid of any air bubbles inside the cookies that are keeping them tall. This will prevent you lemon cookies from being too cakey. Well, that and not over-baking.

Do You Need To Put Icing On These Cookies?

Well, the short answer is yes. I will always say to add icing. But in this case, I really feel like these cookies benefit from the added sweetness and that extra punch of citrus in the zest you add to the icing! Please feel free to add as little or as much zest as you want!

Can I Use Bottled Lemon Juice Instead of Fresh Lemon Juice?

I am generally not a snobby baker, but in this cream cheese lemon cookies recipe, the answer is only use fresh lemon juice. The reason here, is because you are using fresh lemon zest, which really can’t (or shouldn’t) be omitted. And since you’re already using a fresh lemon, why wouldn’t you want to use the juice too!? Plus, fresh lemon juice just tastes better. You know it’s true.

How Can I Make These Cookie Even MORE Lemony?

There are a few ways you can really amp up the lemon flavor in these cookies:

  • Add another tablespoon of lemon zest to the dough. You can get about 1 tablespoon of zest from 1 large lemon.
  • Add in lemon extract. Start with 1/2 teaspoon and see how that tastes. If you would like to add more, you can!
  • Add in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice for 1 tablespoon of heavy cream in the icing.
Soft Cream Cheese Lemon Cookies are thick and delicious!

Tips For Making These Cookies Perfect

You can see these Cream Cheese Lemon Cookies have a soft, tender, and thick texture. They’re really a perfect all around cookie, as long as you follow the steps I mentioned here. BUT for a recap remember:

  • Don’t over-bake these cookies! I would even say under-baking will produce better results. The cream cheese in the cookies will cause these to get hard and cakey if over-baked!
  • Drop the baking sheet a few times when they come out of the oven to settle the cookies, give them a nice dense texture, and also a pretty, crackly top!
  • Use FRESH lemon juice! And…
  • Don’t skip the icing!

Hope you make and love these as much as I do.

If you’re looking for more lemon recipes, try these:

  1. Lemon Thumbprint Cookies
  2. Buttery Lemon Spaghetti
  3. Lemon Cream Cheese Bars
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This and Easy Cream Cheese Lemon Cookies are topped with a lemon icing

Cream Cheese Lemon Cookies

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 10 reviews
  • Author: Shelly
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 minutes
  • Total Time: 23 minutes
  • Yield: 30 cookies 1x
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Dessert


These Soft Cream Cheese Lemon Cookies are a citrusy-buttery cookie!


  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • zest and juice of one lemon (about 1 tablespoon zest & 2 tablespoons juice)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour


  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest


  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer mix together the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until combined and smooth. Add in the sugar and mix on medium speed for 5 minutes until pale and fluffy.
  2. Add in the egg, vanilla, zest, lemon juice, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Mix for 1 minute until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  3. Turn the mixer to low and add in the flour, mixing until just combined.
  4. Cover the dough and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  6. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and using a medium (2- tablespoon) cookie scoop, portion out the dough. Roll each portion into a ball and place onto the baking sheet 2- inches apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the the bottoms just begin to turn golden. Don’t over-bake.
  7. When you remove the baking sheet form the oven, drop the sheet  onto a counter or your stove top a few inches in the air 3-4 times. This will flatten the cookies slightly and make them dense, removing the air from the cookies, while also giving them a nice textured top.
  8. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. To prepare the icing, whisk together the powdered sugar, cream, and zest until smooth. Dip the tops of the cookies into the icing, and place back on the wired rack to set up.


Store airtight at room temperature for up to 3 days.


  • Serving Size: 1 cookie
  • Calories: 154
  • Sugar: 17 g
  • Sodium: 135.2 mg
  • Fat: 5.4 g
  • Carbohydrates: 25.5 g
  • Protein: 1.6 g
  • Cholesterol: 20.4 mg

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32 comments on “Cream Cheese Lemon Cookies”

  1. Did I miss something? It says to take the baking sheet out of the pan. Am I supposed to use two pans? Thanks!

  2. People love these cookies and always request I make them. Using home grown lemons makes a big difference in my option.

  3. These are fabulous!! I made these cookies for my husband who loves anything with lemon, but also shared them with guests in the Airbnb we run. The guests couldn’t stop raving about them and asked for the recipe, and my husband loved them too. Even though I am more of a chocolate person, I have to agree these lemon cookies are so good they’re addicting!!

  4. Absolutely the best lemon cookies! Thank you for all of your extra tips to help us out, I really appreciate it so much. You are my favorite for many reasons!

  5. Joyce Hollenbach

    Hi Shelly,
    Can these be frozen into balls for later and then baked? Do they have to be thawed out before baking?
    Thanks Joyce

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