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 or up to 3 months in the freezer. After freezing or refrigerating, thaw in the refrigerator, bring to room temperature then beat the frosting for a few seconds so it’s creamy again. You may need to add a little milk or heavy cream if it’s still too stiff.

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

177 Comments

  1. Robyn Dinse says:

    Simply amazing, the tart and sweetness together you just can’t beat!!! This will be my go to recipe for lemon frosting

  2. Diane French says:

    Made these for my friends birthday. Easy and we’re so good. I like anything lemony. Will make again.

  3. Paige Reeves says:

    This recipe is great it turned out so lushes and smooth, I would totally recomend this recipe.

  4. Would this work to frost a cake and could it be colored? My daughters birthday is coming up and she wants a lemon flavored cake, but wants it to be blue & purple…

    1. Hi Kellie, tinting this frosting shouldn’t be a problem.

  5. Too sweet, not enough lemon, and makes way too much for 12 cupcakes. Not difficult to make, but buttercream never is. A big disappointment after making the same author’s lemon cupcakes, which worked well.

  6. hi sally can you use milk and butter instead of heavy cream?

    1. You can replace the heavy cream with whole milk. No need to add additional butter.

  7. I made this frosting for a birthday and everyone loved it!! Now I am totally making it again for more people! I make it for lemon raspberry cakes and it is a big hit!

  8. Can you use additional lemon juice in place of milk/cream?

    1. For a stronger lemon flavor, absolutely! The buttercream won’t be as creamy though.

  9. Aditi Kadur says:

    Can this recipe be doubled or tripled?

    1. Absolutely!

  10. Can this be set out at eoom temp for several hours?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Heather, After decorating anything with buttercream or cream cheese frosting, it’s fine for 1 day at room temperature. After that, I would definitely refrigerate it. But, use your best judgment and whatever you are comfortable with- We’ve never had any problems leaving frosted desserts at room temperature for a day

  11. Hi!!! I made this recipe a little while ago with your vanilla cake and lemon curd and it turned out amazing!! Could I use the exact same recipe but with orange zest and orange juice instead of the lemon? If not, what could I do to make it orange buttercream? Thank you so much!
    Eddie

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Eddie, We haven’t tested this with orange but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work! You can also turn the lemon curd into orange curd if you wish by using the same amount of orange. Let us know if you try it!

  12. Hi Sally, If I only have 3/4 cups of butter, how much of confectioners sugar and liquid do I need? For my mothers birthday, and I really wouldnt like a curdled frosting. (Also I love reading your articles, such a special tone, choice or words, really like hearing you talk out loud through your creative writing :))

    1. Hi Mercy! Thank you so much for the sweet comment. Though I haven’t tested these exact amounts, try using 3/4 cup of butter, 3 cups of confectioners’ sugar, and maybe about 2 Tbsp of lemon juice and 1 and 1/2 Tbsps of heavy cream. These aren’t perfect measurements as I’m only guessing here, but that’s what I would do. (Add lemon zest and salt to taste.)

      1. Thanks for such a quick and helpful reply, the amounts cerainly save me from guessing. I have been looking for a good lemon cake recipe other than pound cake, which never seems to rise. I was very delighted to find this one. Your recipes are perfect.

  13. Hi Sally,
    Can I reduce the amount of sugar?
    Thanks!

  14. Love it! Perfect balance of sweet and lemony to go on a lemon cake, and a great creamy texture. I used half & half instead of heavy cream just because that’s what I had on hand, but it still whipped up into fluffy, creamy texture. Other than that, I followed precisely. Can’t wait to try one of your other recipes!

  15. Hi Sally!
    I only need enough of this frosting to fill a few of your French Macarons (maybe 7-8 of them?)How much of this frosting should I make?
    Thanks!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Elizabeth, You can decrease the amount of frosting you make as long as you keep the ratios of ingredients the same (so cut all of the ingredients by half, etc). And if you happen to have leftover frosting it does freeze well! See the recipe notes for freezing instructions.

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