Lemon Buttercream Frosting
Made with just a few ingredients, this lemon buttercream frosting is perfect for topping your favorite cakes, cupcakes, and cookies. Its bright lemony flavor makes it the perfect complement to berry desserts too!
Homemade lemon buttercream is far superior to any store-bought variety. It’s much fluffier in texture, while still remaining rich and creamy.
To fully infuse the buttercream frosting with lemon flavor, I incorporated both freshly squeezed lemon juice and zest. The lemon zest is key as it imparts bold lemon flavor without the added moisture or acidity of lemon juice.
This lemon frosting is extremely versatile as well! It’s perfect piped atop your favorite cakes, cupcakes, and cookies and can be made in advance if needed.
Ingredients You’ll Need for This Recipe
This is a very straightforward frosting recipe that requires minimal ingredients. I’ll quickly review what you’ll need to make it:
- Lemons: You will need 2 medium lemons or 1 large lemon to have enough juice and zest for the frosting.
- Heavy Cream: This creates a creamier frosting, so I highly recommend using it! You may use regular milk, but keep in mind that it will not deliver quite the same texture.
- Powdered sugar: Sweetens the frosting without making it grainy in texture. If your powdered sugar is quite lumpy, you may want to sift it using a metal sieve.
- Butter: I prefer using unsalted butter when making frosting. Bring the butter to room temperature to ensure that it creams properly and no lumps remain in the finished frosting.
- Salt: Just a pinch enhances the lemon flavor and balances out the sweetness of the sugar.
How to Make Lemon Buttercream Frosting
You can have this easy lemon frosting finished and ready to pipe in less than 20 minutes, if that! I prefer using my stand mixer for this recipe, but a handheld electric mixer works too.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter just until smooth. (If you softened the butter to room temperature as instructed, this should be very easy to do!)
- Stop the mixer, then add half of the powdered sugar. Turn the mixer back on low and mix until combined. Add the remaining half of the powdered sugar. Mix on low to combine.
- Add the lemon juice, zest, salt, and heavy cream. Continue mixing on medium-low until the frosting is combined. Taste the frosting and add up to 1 additional teaspoon of lemon zest.
- Use the frosting to decorate your favorite cake or cupcakes or cover it tightly and refrigerate until ready to use.
Frequently Asked Questions
This recipe will make about 3 cups of frosting, which is enough to frost 12 to 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.
Absolutely! Lemon buttercream can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Allow it to come to room temperature and mix briefly with a hand mixer before piping.
You may also prepare and freeze the frosting up to 3 months in advance. When ready to use, thaw overnight in the fridge, bring it to room temperature, then quickly mix using a hand mixer before piping.
I think this frosting is perfectly sweet-tart as is, but if you want a stronger lemon flavor you may add extra lemon zest. Do NOT add additional lemon juice, because it will thin out the frosting.
Ways to Use the Frosting
Lemon buttercream pairs well with lemon desserts as well as more “neutral” flavors like vanilla. Try using the frosting with:
- Lemon Cake
- Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes
- Lemon Cookies
- Strawberry Cupcakes
- Soft Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
- Vanilla Cupcakes
- Vanilla Cake
- Allow your butter to soften to a cool room temperature. In other words, it’s cool to the touch but your finger should leave an indent if you press into it.
- I prefer to use one tablespoon of lemon zest in my frosting, but feel free to start with just 2 teaspoons and add more as needed.
- You’ll want to add the powdered sugar to the mixing bowl in stages. If you add it all at once, it will be more difficult to incorporate into the butter.
More Homemade Frosting Recipes to Try!
Lemon Buttercream Frosting
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened (230 grams)
- 4 cups powdered sugar (480 grams)
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (45 ml)
- 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream (15 ml)
- 2 to 3 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large mixing bowl using a handheld mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth.
- Mix in half of the powdered sugar on low speed until fully combined, then mix in the remaining half of the powdered sugar.
- Add the lemon juice, heavy whipping cream, 2 teaspoons of lemon zest, and salt and mix on low-medium speed until fully combined, making sure to stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Taste and add up to one more teaspoon of lemon zest, if desired.
- Use to frost cupcakes, cakes, etc.