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

128 Comments

  1. Made this with my granddaughter for her 8th birthday. It is delicious. She wanted lemon cake with lemon frosting. Used this as an opportunity for her to learn how to zest a lemon.

  2. Wonderful with an old fashion lemon pound cake baked in a Bundt can. I used the piping bag to frost the cake and filled the center to the top. You can never have too much buttercream frosting. I sprinkled the frosted cake with yellow colored sugar for a special glimmering effect.

  3. Hi…i am looking for an American Buttercream to frost cut-out sugar cookies and then take them in boxes. In another recipe you recommended a lemon recipe for developing a mild crust, enough to transport decorated cookies and maintain their appearance….
    Is this the one? I know you also mentioned that for mild crusting you should use some shortening…but was unsure if I have the wrong one since this doesn’t call for shortening…thanks. Love your recipes, they are so yumy and SO reliable!! Thanks for all of them…

    1. Hi Martha! This icing is creamy, but it can set on top of cookies. To ensure even more crusting, you can replace half of the butter with shortening. That promises a stiffer frosting.

  4. Hi Sally, I’m thinking about making this a lemon/orange frosting for my 5 year olds birthday cake and using lemon and orange extract. Do you think this would work and if so what quantities would you recommend using. Thank you

    1. Hi Rachel, For frostings I find that fresh juice and zest are much better than extracts in both aroma and flavor. I haven’t tested this with orange but you could certainly try using half of each or using the lemon juice but orange zest. Let me know what you try!

  5. I can’t say enough about this frosting. The lemon flavor is perfection and it has the perfect balance of sweet and tart. I do add some marshmallow extract to it and I love the flavor. As someone whose normally not a huge lemon fan, it’s a wonderful flavor. It goes great with a white cupcake.

  6. Amazing! Perfectly smooth and tangy. Will absolutely make this again! Thank you for posting this recipe.

  7. If I am going to use some shortening is is 1/2 c butter and 1/2c shortening. My daughter loves lemon but I am going to give it a try to color the icing for her cake.

  8. Very good lemon buttercream. I doubled the recipe but didn’t use double the sugar since I wanted a less sweet frosting with more lemon zing. This will be my go-to frosting recipe no matter what the flavor.
    Thanks!

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