Lemon Buttercream Frosting

Easy creamy lemon buttercream frosting is so easy to make and pipe! Tastes best on lemon cupcakes! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

How was your weekend? Kevin’s birthday is this week, so we celebrated on Saturday. It was one of those effortlessly beautiful weekends where you just want to stay outside. Completely the opposite of every other weekend so far this summer where you feel like you’re holed up in a sauna. Practically Z-E-R-O humidity, so we took full advantage and spent most of the time out of the house. But I also did some “nesting” which doesn’t really feel like nesting? Baby laundry, organized baby toiletries, some bath stuff, etc. Does nesting feel like nesting? Was that even nesting…?

I also worked in the kitchen with a new piping tip– the leaf tip. Wilton #352. Trying to work on my piping skills. Now that I have a solid background of basic designs using these 6 tips, my goal is to learn making more intricate frosting designs!

(Note: I used Wilton 8B for today’s frosting!)

Easy creamy lemon buttercream frosting is so easy to make and pipe! Tastes best on lemon cupcakes! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

But let’s talk frosting. I’m trying to build out the frosting section on Sally’s Baking Addiction with some of my basic frosting faves and a few fun ones like creamy strawberry and rainbow chip frosting (holy heck, that one!). My latest success is lemon buttercream frosting. This is a tricky one to master because lemon juice + zest can produce a curdled-looking buttercream, quite the opposite of anyone’s agenda. Have you ever tasted curdled fros… I can’t even finish that question. Gives me the heebie-jeebies.

To overcome that curdled situation, you have to make sure you have enough confectioners’ sugar to battle the additional liquid. And, most notably, you want to stick to fresh lemon instead of artificial lemon flavoring. Lemon extract is wonderful and all, but it doesn’t even compare to fresh lemons in both the aroma and flavor categories.

Easy creamy lemon buttercream frosting is so easy to make and pipe! Tastes best on lemon cupcakes! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

But here’s the common dilemma! Adding extra confectioners’ sugar is an easy solution and all, but you can add *too* much. Overly sweet and artificial frosting follows, which is everything you were hoping against.

We want REAL lemon flavor. And:

  • Tangy + creamy, sweet but not overly so.
  • Easy to pipe, fresh, and silky.
  • NOT curdled.

Tall orders when it comes to lemon buttercream, but I cracked that code. The secret is in the balance of confectioners’ sugar to liquid. With the precise recipe below, you’ll enter lemon frosting nirvana where you have the texture and consistency of vanilla buttercream, with fresh lemon flavor.

Besides adding enough confectioners’ sugar, my secret is the ratio of lemon juice to heavy cream. I used to skip the heavy cream completely and only use lemon juice as the liquid. Hence the curdling situation. Cream ensures a CREAMY and THICK (hey, who woulda thunk?) consistency. I don’t suggest subbing it out!

Easy creamy lemon buttercream frosting is so easy to make and pipe! Tastes best on lemon cupcakes! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Easy creamy lemon buttercream frosting is so easy to make and pipe! Tastes best on lemon cupcakes! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

The pictured cupcakes are my lemon cupcakes. If lemon is your soul sista, this frosting and the lemon cupcakes are a combo you’ve gotta try. And, again, I used Wilton 8B for today’s frosting! Love that one, definitely a fave.

Lemon Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks; 230g) unsalted butter
  • 4 and 1/2 cups (540g) confectioners' sugar
  • 2 and 1/2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • pinch salt, to taste

Directions:

  1. With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy - about 2 minutes. Add confectioners' sugar, lemon juice, heavy cream, and zest with the mixer running on low. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 full minutes. Taste and add salt as needed. Add up to 1/2 cup more confectioners' sugar if frosting is too thin or another Tablespoon of cream if frosting is too thick.
  2. Cover tightly and store for up to 1 week in the refrigerator.

Recipe Notes:

This recipe is enough to frost 12-16 cupcakes or one 9x13 quarter sheet cake

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Easy creamy lemon buttercream frosting is so easy to make and pipe! Tastes best on lemon cupcakes! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Easy creamy lemon buttercream frosting is so easy to make and pipe! Tastes best on lemon cupcakes! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

52 Comments

Comments

  1. Lori Lee Spillman on July 1, 2018 at 4:58 pm

    A-ma-zing! This recipe was for a lemon birthday cake. It turned out to be an especially yummy cake. This icing was perfect! It tasted creamy-sweet with a tang of lemon flavor and melted in your mouth. *****

    • Sally on July 2, 2018 at 1:26 pm

      Yay! So happy it turned out well for you!

Reviews

  1. Kelsey on May 27, 2018 at 9:09 am

    I’ve never had a buttercream turn out so well. Super thrilled with the simplicity of this recipe! The taste and texture is amazing. I was able to pipe rosettes onto vanilla cupcakes with a lemon curd filling. It was the perfect amount of sweet and tangy. So glad I chose to try this recipe! Piped 16 normal sized cupcakes and had a bit left over, which I will definitely be eating with a spoon this week. Will make many times again!

    • Sally on May 29, 2018 at 1:51 pm

      That sounds delicious! So happy your loved it!

  2. Lori Lee Spillman on July 1, 2018 at 4:58 pm

    A-ma-zing! This recipe was for a lemon birthday cake. It turned out to be an especially yummy cake. This icing was perfect! It tasted creamy-sweet with a tang of lemon flavor and melted in your mouth. *****

    • Sally on July 2, 2018 at 1:26 pm

      Yay! So happy it turned out well for you!

Questions

  1. Ashley Arcangelo on May 11, 2018 at 2:00 pm

    Sally I can’t wait to try this I am having a gender reveal party and I definitely want to use this! What do you suggest for the cupcake?

    Thanks in advance 🙂

    Ashley

  2. Jessica on May 20, 2018 at 6:28 pm

    Hi Sally,
    My almost 5 year old requested a strawberry birthday cake with lemon frosting. I’m planning on making your double layer homemade strawberry cake with this lemon buttercream. Would 1 batch of this frosting be enough or too much for that recipe?
    Thanks!

    • Sally on May 21, 2018 at 10:52 am

      Hi Jessica! Yes, this lemon buttercream recipe is enough to frost a 2 layer cake.

  3. Vineetha Purayil on May 31, 2018 at 5:33 pm

    Hi Sally, Thanks for the recipe. Just wondering how long can a cake frosted with this be kept outside ?

    • Sally on May 31, 2018 at 9:18 pm

      A couple days would be fine, but it lasts longer when refrigerated.

  4. Kim on June 5, 2018 at 2:02 pm

    Hi,
    I’m wondering, will this frosting hold color well? I want to use a lemon buttercream to decorate a cake, but I’m worried that adding food coloring to it will make it look almost “granular”. If that makes sense? I don’t know how the food coloring would react to the lemon juice/zest in this frosting. Thanks in advance!

    • Sally on June 7, 2018 at 12:05 pm

      Hi Kim! This is a great question. I’ve lightly colored this lemon buttercream with 1 drop of gel food coloring and had no issue– texture, taste, and appearance were still great. I can’t speak for liquid food coloring though.

  5. B on June 19, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    Going to use this on a two tier, naked cake. Not covering in fondant, so I’m not concerned with sagging, and I will use a dowel to ensure that it doesn’t slide, but do you think it will hold up to very warm weather? Or, should I add shortening?

    • Sally on June 20, 2018 at 4:54 pm

      I would use the lemon buttercream recipe as written, but for extra insurance, replace some of the butter with shortening.

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