In these ultra-soft and tender lemon cream cheese crumb muffins, cream cheese is mixed right into the batter making the tastiest lemon muffin ever. And that crumb topping? Divine!

Lemon Cream Cheese Crumb Muffins

It might surprise you to know I was not planning on sharing lemon cream cheese crumb muffins with you today.

No, no. I had another post entirely planned.

And if you didn’t know, planning is kind of my middle name.

I plan. I plan all the time. I plan my life. And I’ll even plan your life if you want me to (nothing better than telling someone else how to map out their life!).

I love it. Planning and scheduling.

It calms me and makes me happy, even if most my time is spent planning, instead of, you know, actually doing.

My sister makes fun of me every time she can, because I still use an old school paper planner to chart out our family’s schedule and my never-ending to-do lists.

Don’t mock it, man.

Lemon Cream Cheese Crumb Muffins

Every time a phone dies a sad, sad death and loses a lifetime of calendaring to the black abyss of virtual and electronic nothingness, I sit over here clutching my spiral bound paper planner, peacefully gloating (er, I mean knowing) that I still know who I am, where I need to be, and what I need to do.

Don’t get me wrong.

I do a lot of electronic list-making and calendaring, especially for my blog, but it’s always handwritten as a 2nd backup in my trusty planner.

My point with all this (I promise, I’m getting there) is that in tiny little scribbles in my planner and in Corbel font on my electronic calendar, I was fully intending on telling you all about fruit pizza today.

Yummy, right?

I promise I’ll get to that some other day.

But after I made these lemon cream cheese crumb muffins on a whim Friday afternoon, I knew fruit pizza was getting replaced (sorry, FP).

Lemon Cream Cheese Crumb Muffins

You may have seen my Instagram stories about these muffins, but if not, it basically consisted of this:

Lemon Cream Cheese Crumb Muffins

And then approximately 22 (baking + glazing) minutes later, it was this (just ignore that misshapen muffin up there; it was gobbled up for research purposes):

Seriously, these lemon cream cheese crumb muffins are some of the most delightful, most delicious muffins EVER.

Hence the reason I threw my planner to the wind (not literally, I would die if I did that), and decided to post the recipe for these muffins today instead of my longterm fruit pizza plan.

I hesitated to even put “cream cheese” up there in the title, because I think some people may misinterpret that and think they are going to get a dollop of sweetened cream cheese in the center of the muffin.

Not so, not so.

If you’ve made these divine blueberry cream cheese muffins, you’ll know where I’m going with this.

Lemon Cream Cheese Crumb Muffins

Cream cheese is actually mixed into the batter with the butter and sugar. And it is amazing.

It’s what makes the crumb of the muffins sturdy but still so creamy and ethereally soft.

If you want a testimonial of the glorious and miraculous things cream cheese does when it forms the basic foundational elements of muffin batter, just read the comments on the blueberry cream cheese muffins.

There are a lot of believers out there, not just me.

Cream Cheese Muffin Batter Believers Unite. 

On Friday, when I found myself with an unexpected pocket of time and a bag of lemons staring me in the face, I decided instead of, you know, mopping my floors, it might be a good idea to take that fabulous blueberry cream cheese muffin recipe and turn it into a lemon cream cheese muffin.

And then add a buttery, sweet crumb topping.

And then, of course, a delightfully tart glaze.

Lemon Cream Cheese Crumb Muffins

I couldn’t believe how perfectly these lemon cream cheese crumb muffins turned out.

Enough fresh lemon flavor in the crumb to be be decidedly lemon (no vanilla muffins here posing as lemon muffins), the crumb topping and creamy glaze are like the icing on the cake.

In fact, the base of the lemon cream cheese muffin is so ridiculously yummy, I can see it standing very well on its own without the topping or glaze.

Or, maybe tossing in some poppy seeds and going straight for a lemon poppy seed muffin.

These crumb-topped lemon cream cheese muffins clearly fall on the “treatsy” (totally a word) side of muffin making.

While the actual muffin isn’t overly sweet, the crumb topping and sugary glaze basically strip out any “healthy and wholesome” muffin points.

I have no beef with this, personally, but it’s a valid disclaimer for those that think muffins should only consist of spinach and chia seeds.

Instead of a breakfast muffin, these might be more suited to bridal/baby showers. Parties. Luncheons.

Or you know, after school snacks or late night lemon binging. Let us all be the masters of our own muffin making and consumption; no judging here.

Lemon Cream Cheese Crumb Muffins

After the success of the blueberry version and now this lemon number, you don’t even want to know how long I’ve spent contemplating all the ways I can incorporate other variations of cream cheese muffin batter into my future.

I really need to get a life.

While I plan out a more exciting life in the handwritten notes section of my planner, you go make these muffins, ok?

Bye.

Lemon Cream Cheese Crumb Muffins

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Lemon Cream Cheese Crumb Muffins

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 12-14 muffins

If you don't have buttermilk, equal parts sour cream and milk whisked together (so, 2 tablespoons each for this recipe) works great. 

The pictures in the post are from a batch where I made 12 muffins with the batter/crumb topping. If you want slightly smaller muffins (or if you live at high/er altitude where baked goods sometimes overflow or rise more while baking), you might want to make 14-15 muffins instead of 12, which would necessitate using a 2nd muffin tin or baking a second batch of just a few muffins.

These muffins are heavy on the crumb topping, just the way I like it. Feel free to make a smaller amount of topping or sprinkle it on with a lighter hand if you like a little less crumb topping to your muffin.

The batter for these muffins is divine (don't ask me how I know), and I have a feeling this recipe would do VERY well even if the the crumb topping and glaze were eliminated and poppy seeds were tossed into the batter for a lemon poppy seed number (or just bake up plain lemon muffins). 

Ingredients

Muffin Batter:

  • 1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, light or regular, softened to room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (5.5 ounces) granulated sugar
  • Zest of 2 large lemons (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk (see note above)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1-2 large lemons)

Crumb Topping:

  • 3/4 cup (3.75 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted

Lemon Glaze:

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) powdered sugar, more or less

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (or 325 degrees F for convection bake). Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners (see note above about making smaller muffins).
  2. For the muffin batter, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl with an electric handheld mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, butter, granulated sugar, and lemon zest together until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add the egg, vanilla, buttermilk and lemon juice. Mix until well-combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. 
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the muffin batter and mix by hand with a wooden spoon or spatula until just combined. Don't overmix. It's ok if the batter is slightly lumpy. 
  6. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups, filling about 2/3 full (see note above). 
  7. For the crumb topping, in the same bowl that held the dry ingredients for the muffin batter (no need to wash), whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. Add the melted butter and stir/mash with a fork until the mixture looks evenly moistened and forms tiny clumps.
  8. Top each muffin evenly with the crumb topping (use it all up!). 
  9. Bake the muffins for 15-18 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 
  10. Let the muffins cool in the tin for 2-3 minutes then gently move to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  11. For the glaze, add the lemon juice to a small bowl or liquid measuring cup and gradually add powdered sugar, whisking constantly, until the desired consistency is reached (I like it thick but pourable).

Recipe Source: from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe (adapted from these favorite blueberry cream cheese muffins)

54 Responses to Lemon Cream Cheese Crumb Muffins

  1. Lisa says:

    Do you refrigerate these?

  2. I’m a planner too! Top to bottom. And these cupcakes look divine – I mean, like actual little pieces of heaven. Thanks for the recipe!

  3. Trisha says:

    Just in case you pop the muffins in the oven, set the timer, and then notice the egg on the counter that you forgot to put in — Do. Not. Despair. Carry on with the baking, topping and drizzle and they will be quite yummy. Made a second batch with the egg, and we actually like the more-muffiny texture of the egg-less ones!

  4. […] Lemon Cream Cheese Crumb Muffins […]

  5. Heather says:

    How do I make them so they don’t sink in the middle?

  6. Karen Harris says:

    Made these today and they’re really great I’m just curious what the consistency is supposed to be like? Mine are pretty heavy and if I didn’t know they had cream cheese in them I might think they were undercooked.

    • Mel says:

      The crumb is a little sturdier than a light and fluffy muffin but they shouldn’t necessarily be overly dense (that can happen if they are over mixed or over floured).

  7. Patti says:

    How would you suggest modifying this to making a loaf?

    • Mel says:

      I’m not really sure, Patti – I haven’t tried it. Maybe split the batter between two loaf pans and bake for 45 minutes or so?

  8. Debbie says:

    I was going to take these on a plane and didn’t think the crumb topping would survive the trip. So I left the topping off and put white chocolate chips in half the muffins and poppy seeds in the other half. Yum!

  9. Christina says:

    Made these and they were delicious!! Gonna make these again and again. I’ll have to go back and make the blueberry ones!

  10. Nancy says:

    I made these exactly as the recipe was written and they were wonderful. I ate way too many of them and will keep this recipe. Thank you.

  11. Laura Drury says:

    Just made these with Cup4Cup gluten free flour. They are VERY good with absolutely no grit at all! This recipe is a keeper for my gluten free family. Thank you so much!

  12. Jaci says:

    Yummmmmm! Made these this afternoon for breakfast tomorrow. Thanks for yet another keeper, Mel!!

  13. js says:

    I am thinking about making these for a potluck brunch at church, If I were to make them in mini-muffin size, do you have a suggestion on time for baking? Same temp?

  14. Netta says:

    Love your website and recipes. They’re fun and delicious. Since lemon is my husband’s favorite, these muffins are a must try! But I just had to comment on your love of your paper planner. I love using one, too–so much that I’ve customized my own planner to fit my needs. Talk about OCD! I made a weekly planner template on my computer to fit on an 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheet of paper. Using the landscape feature, the left side has dates for appointments and a calling checklist. The right side of the template has my priorities/to do checklist plus lines for notes. Before printing I fill in dates, holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. At the end of the planner are my lists– things I want to remember or need to know like telephone & addresses, ward lists, gift ideas, vehicle and household information, notes, individual medical information sheets; (can’t begin to tell you how handy this is when we spend a good portion of our time in doctor offices!), individual information sheets for each member of the family with sizes, likes, dislikes,, etc., etc. All at my fingertips! Can you imagine the possibilities!!! Oh, how I love my planner! Plus it’s easy to update info for the next year! After I print all this information (I print on both sides of the paper), I cut the paper in half and assemble the planner. For the outside cover, I cut an inexpensive plastic report cover with pockets to fit the front and back of the notebook, Then I take it to Office Depot to be spiral bound. Voila! Personalized Planner! Life’s good! Thanks for letting me share my love of my planner with you. It’s so nice to be able to share with someone who understands! My husband just shakes his head and thinks I’m nuts – but he loves me anyway! Time to buy some lemons. I’ll put them on my list!

    • Mel says:

      We are definitely soulmates! I make my own planner, too (on InDesign) and have all of that same information in there. It’s lifesaving! (and yes, slightly OCD, but I’m ok with that)

  15. Camille says:

    I had to make these right when I saw the post. They are amazingly perfect!

  16. Katie says:

    Do it matter which type of butter you use? Salted or unsalted??

  17. Ellen says:

    A quick question: what kind of cupcake liners do you use? Yours look so white and sharp! Mine always end up looking greasy and not-white. (Not that it’s stopped me from baking, but still…)

    • Mel says:

      Hey Ellen – I am pretty sure I got these at Orson Gygi – they are greaseproof liners and are super sturdy (not flimsy at all). There’s a shiny layer inside the muffin cup. It’s great – nothing sticks, but I don’t know that I’d seek them out over and over because I think they were kind of pricey for something that’s just going to be discarded immediately, you know?

  18. Kristi says:

    These just went on the “must make” list! My son particularly loves lemon everything, so these will make him so happy! And I am totally with you on the paper planner. I have a big wall calendar to keep us all on track, plus a planner that comes to work with me ☺️

  19. Brittany says:

    I got this recipe in my inbox this morning and went right to my kitchen and made them. I love that you gave the sour cream tip because I didn’t have buttermilk. I love the texture and the crumb topping is so good! My mom came over and said, “Oh, are those from Mel?” She doesn’t even have a computer but she’s heard of you quite frequently from me because every new recipe I try is from your blog lol. She looked over my shoulder at the recipe and saw your picture on the sidebar and she said, “Oh, that’s what she looks like! She’s so cute!” 🙂 I loved your Facebook live! I hope you start doing them regularly, so fun!

  20. Kelley says:

    Can these be made the day before or are they best the day of? I just wonder if the crumb toppongoing gets soggy. I was debating about making the lemon blueberry cake or the carrot cake for Easter but these look delicious and give me an excuse to still make the carrot cake.

    • Mel says:

      I had one of these the day after and they were just as delicious, but I’d probably wait to glaze them until serving (the parts of the crumb topping that had the glaze were much softer).

  21. Paula H says:

    This looks sooo good – but do you think I could make it as a coffee cake instead?

  22. Debbie says:

    These look amazing! I love lemon anything (just made some lemon coconut white chocolate cookies that were to.die.for!) and will definitely be making these this week!

    Also, I love your blog and have been a long time follower on Feedly, but the last few days your pictures are not coming up… The text is still there, but the pictures are broken. Not sure if I am the only one having this problem (maybe I just haven’t restarted in a while??), but thought I would let you know because I don’t have that problem on any of the other blogs I follow there. Thanks!!

    • Mel says:

      Hey Debbie – those cookies sound divine! Someone else mentioned that about Feedly; sorry for the issues! I’ll do some more digging and see what I can find out.

  23. Maritza says:

    I can taste these muffins by just reading the recipe! I’m going to surprise my husband with these, we love lemons. I love all your recipes! I try to find a recipe for something first on your site bc I know the chances of it turning out great are super high. Can’t wait to see you on Facebook live soon!

  24. Josie R. says:

    Oh Mel, you totally make my day so often! So glad I can have you for an online friend, especially since I dont usually have any one to talk to in real life! Well any adults that is, the conversations with the 5 year old are entertaining, but… you know.
    I totally still use a paper planner!! I definitely like to hand write my stuff down and I like to be able to look at the whole month at a glance and see what I have going each day.
    Even though I don’t really have a life, all the driving kids around needs to be planned!
    These muffins look amazing, excited to try them!
    I made your German pancakes for dinner last night, they have become my fast Sunday dinner go to, my kids devour them!

  25. Jill F. says:

    Thanks Mel. As usual these sound delicious and I can’t wait to make them tonight after work! Now I’m waiting for a strawberry and raspberry verison. Hint, hint. 🙂

  26. Aurelia says:

    I love a paper planner. It’s all I use. I love writing out my lists and making menus, even if I don’t follow them when the time comes. And these lemon muffins, the recipe has been printed and I am planning on penciling them in somewhere on this week’s to do list.

  27. Brandy says:

    Hey Mel! I don’t comment much but I love all your recipes and have been following you for about 6 years. My oldest child even knows you because when we made the chocolate chip treasure cookies the other day she said, “oh these are Mel’s cookies” when she saw the recipe on the counter. Anyways the other day I was low on groceries. So low I didn’t even have any eggs. Five kids ages 3months, 2,4,5 and 7 years old and a husband that is not home much makes grocery shopping kind of difficult these days. Supper was kind of a hodge podge that night and I was going to make corn muffins. But no eggs. I did have cream cheese so I put some in for the egg and they were fabulous. I liked them better than the ones with the egg. I loved the texture! Might be my new way to make corn muffins.

    • Mel says:

      That’s amazing about the cream cheese in the corn muffins (way to be ingenious!) – I’ll have to try it! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  28. Nicole says:

    I’m commenting to be the first, ha! Seriously I love lemon and these look amazing! Good thing I just finished whole30!!;) Thanks for all you do! I know what you mean with wanting a pencil and paper planner vs computer. It took a long time for my husband to get me to trust the digital world!

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