Lemon Buttercream Frosting

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A luscious Lemon Buttercream Frosting that is made with just a few ingredients. It’s full of bright lemony flavor and is perfect for topping cakes, cupcakes, and more!

Angled view of cupcakes topped with lemon buttercream frosting.

Homemade lemon buttercream is way better than storebought but it can be a bit tricky to get right. To ensure the frosting has a ton of lemon flavor, I incorporated both freshly squeezed lemon juice and zest. The addition of the extra liquid from the juice can cause the frosting to curdle.

To combat this, I’ve added a splash of cream. This makes the frosting much fluffier in texture while allowing it to blend together for a creamier consistency.

This lemon frosting is the perfect topping for my lemon cupcakes or lemon cake. But it’s also versatile enough to be used on cookies and more!


Recipe Snapshot

  • TASTE: Fully infused with lemon flavor.
  • TEXTURE: Rich, creamy, and so fluffy.
  • EASE: This is a beginner-level frosting.
  • TIME: You can whip this frosting up in a matter of minutes.

What You’ll Need

Ingredients for lemon buttercream frosting.

Ingredients

  • Butter: I find that unsalted sweet cream butter works best. The butter should be at room temperature to make it easier to cream.
  • Salt: Just a pinch to balance the sweetness.
  • Powdered sugar: Sweetens the frosting without making it grainy. Be sure to sift it before adding it to the frosting.
  • Lemon: The recipe uses the juice and the zest of about 2 lemons.
  • Heavy whipping cream: This is needed for a creamy frosting that won’t curdle.

How to Make Lemon Buttercream Frosting

This easy lemon frosting takes just a few minutes to whip up. You can use a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer.

Be sure to check out the full recipe and ingredient list below

  1. Cream the butter. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until smooth.
  2. Add powdered sugar. Add the salt followed by one cup of the powdered sugar and beat on medium-low until most of the sugar is incorporated.
  3. Add lemon zest and remaining sugar. Beat in the lemon zest then gradually add the remaining powdered sugar. Continue to mix on medium-low speed until the sugar is moistened.
  4. Add lemon juice and cream. Mix in the lemon juice and cream with the mixer on medium-high speed until the frosting is light and fluffy.
Butter creamed in glass bowl.
Butter and sugar creamed in glass bowl.
Lemon frosting in a glass bowl.

Handy tip:

Set the butter out to soften about 30 minutes prior to making the frosting. Room temperature butter will cream easier and no lumps will be left in the frosting.

Tips For Success

  • Lemon zest: Take care to only zest the skin (the yellow part) and not the pith (the white under the skin). The pith is bitter and may leave you with a bitter-tasting frosting.
  • Powdered sugar: Add the powdered sugar in gradually. Adding all at once will make it more difficult to incorporate all the way and may leave your frosting a bit gritty.
  • Heavy whipping cream: This can also be labeled as heavy cream. Don’t try to substitute it with milk. The texture of the frosting will be compromised.
Side view of cupcakes topped with lemon buttercream frosting.

Storage & Freezing

Storage: The frosting can be made a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Bring it to room temperature and mix well before using.

Freezing: The frosting also freezes well for up to 3 months. Thaw it in the refrigerator overnight then bring it to room temperature and mix well before using.


Ways to Use Lemon Buttercream

This frosting pairs best with lemon desserts, berry desserts, or vanilla-flavored treats. Try using it with:

Printable Recipe

Side view of cupcakes topped with lemon buttercream frosting.

Lemon Buttercream Frosting

Yield: about 3 cups
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

A luscious Lemon Buttercream Frosting that is made with just a few ingredients. It’s full of bright lemony flavor and is perfect for topping cakes, cupcakes, and more!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 3 ½ cups (420 g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest, about 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, about 2 lemons
  • 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream

Instructions

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or with an electric hand mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed until smooth.
  2. Add the salt and continue to beat until incorporated. Add 1 cup of the confectioner's sugar, and beat on medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened.
  3. Beat in the lemon zest. Gradually add in the remaining sugar, one cup at a time. Beat on medium-low speed until the sugar is moistened.
  4. Add the lemon juice and heavy whipping cream. Turn the speed up to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  5. Use to frost cakes and cupcakes.

Notes

This recipe makes enough to frost 12-14 cupcakes or a 9×13-inch cake. For a two-layer 8- or 9-inch cake, increase the recipe by half. For a three-layer cake, I recommend doubling the recipe.

Make ahead tip:

  1. The frosting can be made a day ahead. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature and mix well before using.
  2. The frosting can also be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight then bring to room temperature and mix well before using.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 2 tablespoons
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 272Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 42mgSodium: 25mgCarbohydrates: 34gFiber: 1gSugar: 32gProtein: 0g

The nutrition information provided is for convenience and as a courtesy only. It is not guaranteed to be accurate because nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator and input the exact ingredients you used in the recipe.

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