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

107 Comments

  1. Sally – this sounds heavenly! I’d love to try this on your checkerboard cake! Do you think that it would work if I made 1.5x this recipe?

  2. Where is my spoon? I’m going to eat the bowl of frosting like ice cream 😉 Okay, I guess it would also be amazing on strawberry, or blueberry, or lemon, or raspberry, or coconut cake! 🙂

    1. Um, I don’t blame you. And I knew you’d LOVE the sounds of this frosting. You love lemon even more than I do!!

  3. I really must get that Wilton tip. The effect is really beautiful. The frosting sounds delicious too . As for ‘nesting’, well you certainly are! ANYTHING you do to prep for bub’s arrival is nesting . Not long now

  4. i usually just add lemon zest for lemon flavor, but this looks so lush i am giving it a try for my blueberry cupcakes today…..thanks so much for the” Tips” tips…..

  5. I suppose it would be easy for milk to curdle when mixed with lemon juice. I’ve been fortunate to not have that happen…yet. This is a great recipe to pin. I love lemon desserts and it’s nice to have a creamy, lemony frosting in which to refer.

    Thanks again Sally! Your excellent hard work doesn’t go unnoticed.

  6. Lemon butter frosting looks delicious…..will try it soon..How’s the little mother to be? Would love to see your baby bump..your stories bring back special memories of my four….they grow up way too fast…enjoy!!

    Thank you for your web site..I share with my daughters..

  7. I made this recipe this morning to use with Sally’s lemon cupcake recipe (I added frozen blueberries to the cupcakes, too). Both turned out great! The cupcakes are light and moist, plus they are extra yummy with the blueberries. The frosting is lightly lemon flavored but creamy and delicious. I didn’t have cream so I used half and half, and it worked great. Will definitely make both recipes again!

  8. I made this frosting and it was super easy and delicious! One question – if I store it in the fridge, how would you recommend getting it warmed up and loose enough to pipe? 

  9. I want to use lemon frosting on a piped succulent cake I’m going to attempt soon. Would this recipe be okay for piping something like that? Not as detailed as a rose, but close. Saw succulent cakes online and thought they were just BEAUTIFUL!

  10. Hi Sally! 
    How will you know if the frosting has curdled? When I took the frosting out of the mixer it looked perfect, but as I was spreading it on the cake it seemed like it wasn’t as smooth as I thought. Not huge chunks, but just not as smooth as my usual buttercream. Would it be very obvious if curdling has occurred? 
    Thanks so much for your help! 

  11. Hi,
    Have you tried home made lemon curd mixed in to the butter cream I have not done it for a long time but it used to be very good.

  12. I just wanted to ask– Could I freeze the buttercream and thaw it, re-whipping it? The reason I ask is because I want to try my hand at piping, and then save the frosting for another project. Thanks so much.

  13. 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

  14. 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!

  15. 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!

  16. I was so excited to find this recipe and excited to make it! It did not disappoint! I could not stop eating it!!! Awesome! I will make again!!

  17. 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!

    1. 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.

  18. 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?

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

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