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.

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Lemon Buttercream Frosting

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 2.5 cups
  • Category: Frosting
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Lemon buttercream frosting is tangy, sweet, and creamy. It tastes delicious on everything and is so easy to make!


Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks; 230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 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

Instructions

  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.


Notes

  1. Quantity: This recipe is enough to frost 12-16 cupcakes or one 9×13 quarter sheet cake.

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

105 Comments

  1. 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. *****

    1. I just got done making this recipe! It had to be one of the best I e ever made. Because I’m always experimenting I added a little bit of pudding mix and a bit more heavy cream. When I realized that the grit from the pudding was a result of just my zing it in, I whipped up vanilla pudding mix and heavy cream, once that thickened I slowly added back your recipe and the taste is awesome! I hope my family who’s coming for Easter enjoys it as much as I do

  2. Hi Sally!
    I absolutely love this lemon buttercream recipe on cupcakes!
    But do you think this same buttercream recipe would be good as a macaroon filling? Inquiring minds want to know.

  3. Hello,

    Can I used it to frost a cake? If so, can I do a crumb coat the night before and then frost it the next day? Just wondering if the crumb coat will set hard enought to frost it and not melt away.

  4. Hi Sally,

    I made this frosting today and OMG it’s delicious!
    Thank you for sharing the recipe.
    Just a question though if the frosting can be coloured if I want to pipe coloured flowers using the frosting?
    Thank you

    Suzi

  5. Hey, hope everything is going well!
    I’ve been wondering if instead of lemon I could use lime with the same quantitites, what do you think?

  6. Very easy and simple recipe. My go-to lemon buttercream recipe. It’s been a big hit every time I’ve made it! Try to avoid eating it by the spoonful!

  7. Hi Sally could i use this buttercream frosting to fill and crumbcoat a cake which is going to be covered in fondant thanks

    1. Just used this nice and easy frosting for a rather complicated ultimate lemon birthday cake for my lemon-obsessed 14 year old. 4 layers of lemon cake with 2 layers of lemon curd and one thick layer of raspberry sauce, all covered in this lemon butter cream. She loved it!

  8. Hi! I am looking for a frosting to do an outdoor wedding cake. Would subbing the butter for shortening be okay in this recipe or would the taste be off?

    1. Hi Kaitlin! I would actually sub half of the butter for shortening. You don’t want to loose all of the butter flavor. It will still be plenty sturdy.

  9. Hi! Excited to try this recipe! Should I double the buttercream recipe if I’m going to be using it to cover and fill a cake (8″ round with two layers)?

  10. Amazing lemon frosting!!! This recipe was so easy and delicious! Perfect combination of sweet with lemon!

  11. How do I store this overnight? Can it sit out on the counter in a container or does it need to be refrigerated? Thanks!

    1. It will be find covered tightly overnight at room temperature overnight, but you can also store it in the refrigerator for up to a week.

  12. Hey sally being a baker myself i must say your frosting was better than the other ones i have tried so 5 stars yummy

  13. Sally, this might just be the yummiest frosting I have ever made! The lemon flavor was outstanding, and the frosting was creamy and smooth. I used it to frost a lemon cake, and it was nice and sturdy, perfect for piping frosting dams and giving the cake a smooth finish, I haven’t quite mastered the use of my new bench scraper yet; you know, I would love a post about how to frost cakes! Your cakes always look stunning, and it would be so interesting to have a post about frosting techniques and decorations, etc.

  14. Dear Sally, i have a passion fruit curd that i would like to add in a frosting , how would that be possible? Actually i am interested in filling the cake with that and cover it with your vanila buttercream frosting.
    Thank you in advance

    1. Hi Evi! If the curd is thick enough, you can use it as a filling. To add it to buttercream, you can use this lemon buttercream recipe for a lemon passionfruit flavor OR my vanilla buttercream recipe. Add a couple spoonfuls of curd to both, but reduce the heavy cream by 2 Tablespoons. So leave it out of this lemon buttercream altogether and only use 2 Tablespoons (1/8th cup) in the vanilla buttercream.

  15. Does the cake with lemon buttercream need to be refrigerated? Or can it sit in room.temp overnight?

    Thank you!

  16. The first time I made this recipe, I was also making two other desserts and without thinking used regular granulated sugar. *smacks forehead*
    Second time going, it was delicious and turned out really well, but I used the correct sugar that time.
    Only problem I am facing now is what to do with the sugar, heavy cream, and butter mixture I created.
    Its been a week since then and I am at such a loss. I dont want the ingredients to be wasted! 🙁

    Any suggestions?

  17. I saw a lemon Texas sheet cake recipe that called for a glaze. However, after seeing this recipe I decided to use it instead. My pan was 18 x 13 so I made 1-1/2 recipes. Oh my goodness!! This lemon buttercream is like heaven on earth. I took this to a church pot luck and it was totally gone!! My husband is totally in love with it. Truly amazing!! When you said you cracked the code, you sure did. Now to improve my piping skills to make your beautiful cupcakes!! Thanks for sharing!!

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