Butter Cookies with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

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Butter Cookies with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting – these simple shortbread cookies just melt in your mouth, and the frosting is simply divine!

If you love shortbread type cookies, don’t forget to check out Roll & Press Shortbread Sugar Cookies, Lime Shortbread Cookies, and Caramel Shortbread Cookies with Chocolate Drizzle.

butter cookies with lemon cream cheese frosting on a white cake stand

I love making cookies, which is pretty apparent because I’ve shared almost a hundred cookie recipes! Today I’m sharing a recipe for Butter Cookies with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting.

I grew up making and eating these cookies, and I’ve always loved them. My mom made them with an orange glaze, and they were called “melting moments”. They are heavenly, and they do just melt in your mouth.

Instead of the orange glaze, I tried making them with lemon cream cheese frosting. It made them even better than I remember! You can use orange or even lime zest if you prefer. All varieties are yummy.

cake plate filled with butter cookies

I took an assortment of Christmas cookies to a family party last year. I was totally thinking that only the adults would go for these, but I was wrong. These were the first to go, and the kids loved them as much as the adults. 

These are small cookies, so you can just keep popping them in your mouth and eat a bunch without even noticing.  If you’re serving them to a large group, you might want to make a double batch!

How to make Butter Cookies


  • butter
  • powdered sugar
  • flour
  • cornstarch
  • cream cheese
  • salt
  • lemon zest

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cream butter and powdered sugar till smooth. Add the flour and cornstarch and stir till well mixed. Dough will be stiff.

butter cookie dough

Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes. Roll into 1″ balls and place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 325° for about 15-18 minutes.

tips for baking butter cookies

Cool completely, then frost with my lemon cream cheese frosting recipe.

Butter cookies with lemon cream cheese frosting on a white tray

Tips for making butter cookies:

-Let the butter come to room temperature on the counter. You want it to be soft, but not too soft. It doesn’t work as well if softened in the microwave.

-Place the cookie dough balls on ungreased cookie sheets. If you use non-stick spray, parchment, or non-stick cookie sheets, they spread on the bottom and aren’t as pretty.

-If your frosting is a bit too thick, you can add a bit of milk or cream.

butter cookies with lemon cream cheese frosting recipe collage


Amazing Lemon Brownies
Pink Lemonade Pie
Lemon Pound Cake
Lemon Cookies

Recipe for Butter Cookies

Yield: 3 dozen

Butter Cookies with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Butter Cookies with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
Simple butter cookies with lemon cream cheese frosting.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 8 minutes



  • 1 cup butter, softened to room temperature (not overly soft or melted!)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup cornstarch

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 2 Tbsp very soft butter
  • 3 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • dash salt
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar (more or less)


  1. Cream butter and sugar till smooth. Stir in flour and cornstarch till well combined.
  2. Cover or wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Roll into 1" balls and place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 325° for about 15-18 minutes.
  4. Cool completely on cooling racks, then frost with lemon cream cheese frosting.
  5. For frosting: Beat butter, cream cheese, and salt till smooth and creamy. Add lemon zest and enough powdered sugar to make a spreadable frosting. Frost the tops of the cookies.


-These cookies work best if you let the butter soften at room temperature on the counter instead of in the microwave.

-Make sure you use an ungreased cookie sheet for best results.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 121 Total Fat: 7g Saturated Fat: 4g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 2g Cholesterol: 18mg Sodium: 58mg Carbohydrates: 15g Fiber: 0g Sugar: 9g Protein: 1g

To see all my cookie recipes, click HERE.


  1. Salted or unsalted butter?

  2. I loved it! Such an amazing treat!

  3. Trang Nguyen says

    OMG. I am a sucker for shortbread cookies. (Everyone is all about the chocolate chip cookies but shortbread for me, please!) The cream is the perfect amount of thickness too. Love!

  4. Rachael Yerkes says

    These melt right in your mouth and the frosting is amazing!

  5. By far the best cookies! Love the lemon cream cheese frosting the most!

  6. These are one of my favorite cookies. My kids constantly ask me to bake them!

  7. These look delicious! If I don’t have lemons could I use lemon extract in the frosting instead of lemon zest? If so, how much?

  8. Can I roll out the dough and use cookie cutters with this dough?

  9. Can i refrigerate the dough for a couple of day ?

  10. These look mighty tasty. I love the fresh taste of lemon things. Thank you for sharing. I will be trying them soon.

  11. Stephanie says

    I love these cookies. I just made them for the first time and they turned out perfect! I noticed in the instructions, it says to “roll” into 1 inch balls. When I tried to literally roll them in my hands, they fell apart. Instead, I just very lightly formed them and that worked well. I also baked 8 minutes on the top rack, 8 minutes on bottom rack and they were perfect! The lemon zest in the frosting is just divine. My friends all devoured these. Delicious!!

  12. I did try to make these cookies, and unfortunately it didn’t make much of a dough, more or less looked and felt like corn meal. I didn’t see in the instructions that it was supposed to be this way. I did follow the intructions one hundred percent, but when I went to “roll” the “dough” into balls, they only fell apart. I did everything the instructions said to do, yet they didn’t even hold together. Sad that I used an entire cup of expensive butter, just to throw it in the trash. I feel this recipe is wrong. I’ve been baking and cooking for years, and honestly this has never happened to me. I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone, due to the fact that I’ve never had bad luck with baking and cooking, yet this recipe seemed wrong. I guess I’ll stick with the simple flour, butter and sugar recipe.

    • So sorry they didn’t turn out for you. I hate it when that happens. My guess is that your butter wasn’t quite soft enough. If it’s too cold, the dough won’t roll together. If this happens, letting the dough sit at room temperature for awhile usually works.

    • Alene Weese says

      I have made these cookies for years. My instructions call to wrap half of the dough in plastic wrap,shape into a log about 8 inches long. Freeze, then slice into 1/4″slices and bake. They are fragile upon baking so frost carefully. Then they will melt in your mouth!

  13. I made these for the first time last Christmas…they were PERFECT. Just made a batch for a friend and they were hollow. Threw those out and tried again…still hollow. What am I doing wrong??? So frustrated.

    • Oh danggit, that is frustrating! I have never had that happen, so I’m not quite sure what went wrong. My only guess is that the dough was overworked causing air pockets to form. But really, I’m pretty baffled, especially since they worked fine for you the first time. 🙁

  14. Hey,

    Just wondering about freezing these? Should I frost then freeze? will they hold up well after defrosting?


    • I’ve never frozen these cookies, but I do freeze other types on a regular basis. I think they should be fine. Just freeze them before you frost them! When you are ready to serve them, thaw them completely, then frost them. Let me know how it works! 🙂

  15. Hi Kara,
    Have you or has anyone ever used a gluten-free flour for these cookies. Look wonderful. I wanted to make them for some vegan & gluten intolerant friends. Thx

  16. Denise Fender says

    I had a big problem…. I was going to make these for my pastor, but they never did flatten out.I had them in fridge over night…guess it was toooooo long….

  17. I made these this past summer and fell in love with them. Made more for Christmas and decided to play around a bit with different flavorings. I did the lemon…my personal favorite, anise (hubby loved those), mint, almond and peanut butter. Admittedly the peanut butter changed the consistency a bit..but it worked! The mint ones I drizzled melted choc. chips over. Did the same to the peanut butter but hubby said he preferred them plain…go figure! My daughter in law agreed with me that the lemon frosting is so delish it makes you want to grab the bowl, go hide in a corner and eat it all by itself!! Thanks so much for sharing your recipes.

    • Mint with the chocolate chips sounds delish! Although it’s hard to beat the lemon frosting- it does make me want to sneak into a corner and eat it! 🙂

  18. Hi ! These cookies look so tempting . Am going to try them this afternoon. BTW, is cornstarch the same as cornflour?

    • Tricky question., That depends. In some countries cornstarch is called cornflour. But in the US, corn flour is usually finely ground cornmeal. To tell the difference: Cornstarch is white and looks liked powdered sugar. So if your corn flour is white and powdery, it can be used in place of cornstarch. If it has visible granules or is yellow, it can’t be used in place of cornstarch. Hope that helps!

    • Do you really use 3/4 CUP of cornstarch? That seems an awful lot……was it a misprint?

    • Christine says

      Same question??? About the cornstarch amount.

    • No it’s not a misprint. They do have 3/4 cup of cornstarch. That is what gives them the melt in your mouth texture.

  19. Made these cookies today and they are WONDERFUL!!!!! One of the best cookie recipes and easiest to make. Thanks

  20. So I tried these, following the directions to a t but I left the dough in longer so I had to leave it out for a little bit. When I put it in the oven it just made a big butter melted mess. What did I do wrong?

    • The same thing happened to me, just a big melted mess and I can make just about any cookie there is. Did anyone else have this problem. I really want to try them again but am afraid.

    • Sorry you had trouble. My guess is that your butter was too soft when you started, or you left them out of the fridge a little too long. It’s fine to chill the dough for longer than an hour, but if it isn’t cold enough, the dough does tend to melt when they bake.

  21. Wow it looks yummy and the best thing it is so easy and simple ingredients
    Tnx for sharing

  22. Kathleen Sigg says

    I practiced making these for my daughter’s bridal tea shower next month. They are fabulous!

  23. I made these for a wedding last weekend….I made 3 batches of them and they were ALL eaten!

  24. Love love love your recipe! I didn’t know what to think of the cornstarch but they turned out great!!I added a few drops of lemon juice in the frosting and they are devine! Thnx for the great recipe! Sincerly,Anouk,the Netherlands

  25. Jazmine Folks says

    Just made them and I cant wait to eat them the dough was very easy to make … and all though I like lemons I substituted the lemon for lime and rhe frosting came out really yummy

  26. Just made these little gems for the first time. Soooo easy and soooo good. I’m a sucker for shortbread and these are much easier and really light and buttery. This recipe is a keeper!

  27. The foundation of this cookie is like a shortbread cookie — they are w/o eggs, w/o milk, w/o leavening, do have cornstarch…. Go look online and see for yourselves about shortbread. I grew up with a whipped shortbread — totally melt in the mouth and the flavor of the butter comes through so lovely. These should be awesome based on the many shortbreads that I have made! Thanks for reminding me to make some again as it has been a while!! 🙂

    • Yep, they are very much like shortbread! I’ve never tried whipped shortbread, but I bet it’s delicious. I’m a fan of just about any type of shortbread! 🙂

  28. YOU HAVE CRACKED THE CODE WOMAN! Just whipped these up and ultimately they blew my mind. I did add fresh squeezed lemon juice to the frosting, because I am a lemon fanatic, but the cookies were the perfect melt in your mouth consistency I have been looking for… for ages!

  29. When I saw this pinned on Pinterest, I had to check it out! I’ve been on the lookout for a good simple cookie I can put various icings on and this looks like a winner! I’ll be trying them soon, thanks for posting! 😀

  30. Can I substitute lemon juice for lemon zest? or can I reduce the amount of zest and supplement the flavor with juice? I tend to get unusual family reactions when I use zest in deserts, mostly eww what is that stuff 🙂 I just wasn’t sure if it would affect the consistence to much. Thanks

    • You can’t substitute lemon juice for the zest, the frosting will be way too runny. You could try using less zest, but that is where the great lemon flavor comes from. You can add some lemon juice to compensate, but you will end up with a glaze, not a frosting. It’s still tasty though.

    • One of my recipes have me process the lemon zest with the sugar. That makes it more of a powder and reduces the unpleasant texture.

  31. Can I put these in the freezer? With or without the frosting?

    Going to make this week for a party in two weeks.

    • I haven’t tried freezing these cookies yet, but I’ve had success with freezing other cookies just fine. It’s best to freeze them without the frosting. Since these are pretty delicate, I’d layer them with waxed paper in between the layers. Then just defrost them and add the frosting before serving. Let me know how it works!

  32. I am revisiting this recipe again because my mom requested it. I made these at Christmas and I didn’t want to share! I added some the lemon juice to dough and frosting for extra lemon punch! Yummo! Thanks, Kara! I caught this from Pinterest, BTW.

  33. Oh yes these look melt in your mouth good! YUM!

  34. Why are so many recepies in oz and pints, it totally confuses me.
    I would like to see these resepies in decimal and metric.

    • I live in the U.S., so those are our standard measurements. I know how you feel, I get confused when I see recipes in decimal and metric! Wish there was an easy way to convert them.

  35. Christine Thompson says

    My dough is really crumbly….not sure it will hold together into balls. Is this what it’s supposed to look like?

  36. Cystal Jennings says

    I left the doh in the fridge over night and now it hard as a rock. Is it still ok?

  37. How many cookies does this recipe make?

  38. Is the flour plain or self rising?

  39. These cookies turned out great, but the frosting was blah.

  40. Olivia Gonzalez says

    No egg at all, correct? I’m making these for a holiday cookie ecxhange tonight. Thanks for the great recipe!

  41. Hi, do these have to be refrigerated? I’m wondering if they would be appropriate for a cookie exchange at an office because we don’t all have access to the fridge.


  42. Hi, I am not a very experienced baker but I am going to try these cookies – they look amazing. When I went shopping for ingredients I wasn’t sure if I should get salted or unsalted butter. Besides the obvious difference, which is commonly used for baking? Thanks.

    • I always use salted butter, mainly because I don’t want to deal with one package for toast and one package for baking. 😉

  43. Is it really 3/4 cup of corn starch. I have never used that much before

    • Janessa Couch says

      I just made these and think the cornstarch part is wrong also. They crumbled when you picked them up and they suck to the top of your mouth. Something is wrong. Great frosting recipe.

    • Janessa Couch says

      Sorry, stuck, not suck.

    • so is 3/4 of a cup of cornstarch correct?

    • Yes, it really is 3/4 of a cup of cornstarch. No typo. 🙂

    • Janessa, sorry you had trouble. I’ve only had them crumble apart when I soften the butter to much. It can’t be melted at all, it still needs to be fairly firm. I’ll have to specify that in the instructions. I’ve never had them stick to the top of my mouth, but my guess would be that they were undercooked? But I’m guessing it could have something to do with the butter as well.

  44. No lemon in cookie? Only Lemon zest in frosting? I thought there would be more…. Looks good and I’ll try it.

  45. Laura Jansson says

    Kara, it’s a small world! I just saw this link to your blog/cookie recipe in Sugardoodle’s FB newsfeed. They looked so yummy I had to click for the recipe! I laughed when your name and picture popped up on the side and I recognized you! Don’t know if you remember me, but I knew your family in West Jordan–I dated Jon for a bit. Anyway, I am totally going to make these! Your Mom is the queen of cookies, as I remember, so if you got your talent and recipes from her, I know they will be great! Hope you’re doing well! Laura (Burnett) Jansson

    • Hi Laura– yes I remember you! What a small world it is. 🙂 I did get several of my very favorite cookie recipes from my mom. I think she’s the reason I have such an obsession with homemade cookies! Hope you are doing well, and let me know how the cookies turn out!

  46. Thank you for your response. These look so yummy!


  47. These look so yummy! Does the icing get a little hard so cookies can be stacked?


  48. YUM!! Do these look delish or WHAT???? I can already taste them melting in my mouth, and I’m also a sucker for LEMON!!!!! THANKS! I’m pinning these for later!!

  49. Mmm … these cookies look so good! I’m a sucker for anything with cream cheese frosting, so I will definitely be making these:)

  50. Oh my gosh these look so amazing! Not to mention easy to make?! Like so easy I think I could actually bake them and I tend to mess everything up in the baking department! Thanks for the awesome recipe.

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