Best Lemon Buttercream Frosting

Mary and Brenda Maher

By Brenda & Mary

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This lemon frosting recipe has been my pride and joy for years. Back when I just started my little bakery downtown, it was the crowning glory of our springtime lemon cupcakes. Folks would line up out the door just to get a slice of that tart, citrusy goodness.

Lemon Butter Frosting

As a lemon lover, I’m thrilled to finally share the secrets of this frosting with you all. It’s a cinch to whip up and packs the most insane lemon flavor that can transform desserts into something special.

Why You’ll Love This Lemon Buttercream Frosting

Bright lemon flavor: This isn’t your ordinary frosting. The fresh lemon juice and zest create a vibrant and tangy flavor that’s far from one-dimensional. It’s the kind of zing that makes your taste buds dance.

Perfect balance: While it’s definitely lemony, it’s also sweet without being overwhelming. It has that perfect harmony between tangy and sweet.

Foolproof and convenient: This recipe is a breeze to whip up. It’s hard to mess up, which is great news if you’re a baking novice. On top of that, you can make it in advance, store it in your freezer for weeks, and have it ready for whenever the baking mood strikes.

Versatility: I’ve used this homemade lemon buttercream frosting on everything from classic vanilla cupcakes to adventurous layer cakes with lemon curd. It also goes well with those strawberry cakes, lemon cookies, and sugar cookies.

If you want to be creative, it can be used alongside, for example, brown butter frosting for a tangy twist and an interesting flavor profile. It can also cut through the sweetness of caramel frosting to provide a refreshing contrast.

Easy Lemon Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Ingredients you’ll need:

Lemon Buttercream Frosting Ingredient
Lemon Buttercream Frosting Ingredient
  • 1/2 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice: I usually get this from two large lemons. Remember, fresh is best for that vibrant, lemony kick.
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of lemon zest: It brings a bright, citrusy punch. Zest your lemons right before use for maximum freshness.
  • 2 cups of unsalted butter: The butter should be slightly softened (pliable but not melty). I usually take it out of the fridge about an hour before I start.
  • 10 cups of powdered sugar: This gives the frosting its smooth, sweet texture. No need to sift – just measure, and you’re ready to go. Avoid granulated sugar, or your frosting might be chunky and grainy.

Stick to these simple steps, and you’ll end up with smooth and tangy lemon buttercream cake icing:

Step 1: Combine the ingredients. Toss your butter, fresh lemon juice, and zest into an electric mixer. Mix for about 2 minutes on medium speed. You’re aiming for a beautiful mix where the butter and lemon are thoroughly combined.

Lemon Frosting how to make

Step 2: Add the sugar and continue mixing. Dump in all the sugar at once. Don’t bother sifting it – your mixer will handle that.

Start on the lowest speed for 30 seconds to incorporate the butter and sugar. Stop to scrape the sides again, then crank it up to medium-high and beat for another 30-45 seconds until the frosting gets fluffy and light.

A handy tip: drape a towel over the mixer at this stage. It’s a lifesaver unless you fancy a mini snowstorm of powdered sugar in your kitchen.

Step 3: Taste test. Give your frosting a taste. Ask yourself: Does it need more zing from the lemon zest? Is the consistency right?

Because of the extra lemon juice, it might be a bit on the thinner side. If that is the case, pop it in the fridge for an hour or so. Cooling helps the butter firm up and intensifies the flavor.

Remember, flavors like lemon really blossom over time. I usually chill the frosting for a couple of hours, or even overnight, to let that lemony taste really sink in.

Lemon Buttercream frosting complete

Some Notes on Making and Storing Your Lemon Frosting

1. Add Some Food Coloring

Fresh lemon will give this frosting a subtle yellow tint. If you’re after that lemony look, a tiny drop of yellow food coloring will do the trick. I’ve learned that a little goes a long way here.

2. Remove the Air Bubbles

Whipping up frosting is bound to incorporate some air. But if you’re not a fan of too many air bubbles, there’s an easy fix.

After your usual mixing, just give it a gentle beat on a low speed or even a careful stir by hand. This helps push out those extra air pockets. It’s a little trick I used to do in the bakery when we needed that silky-smooth finish.

3. Tips on Serving

You can go ahead and use the lemon icing right away. It’s perfect for spreading or piping onto your freshly baked goods. Whether you’re dressing up a batch of cupcakes or giving a cake that final, fancy touch, the frosting is ready to go.

This recipe should generously cover two 9″ x 13″ sheet cakes or two two-layer 8″ cakes. And for cupcakes, you’re looking at frosting around 48 cupcakes if you’re spreading it with a knife. If you’re getting fancy with a pastry bag and swirls, you might cover about 30-36, depending on how generous you are with those swirls.

4. Storing Tips

Not ready to use this lemon buttercream icing for cupcakes all at once? No problem. Scoop the frosting into an airtight container and pop it in the fridge. It’ll stay fresh and yummy for about 1-2 weeks. This is a great way to prepare for your future baking.

You can even freeze it. This lemon buttercream freezes beautifully for up to 3 months. Just make sure it’s in a secure, airtight container.

When you’re ready to use it, let it thaw in the fridge overnight, then give it a good stir to bring back its creamy texture.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Kind of Lemons Work Best?

For the best lemon buttercream frosting, I always reach for fresh, juicy lemons (the kind that feels a bit heavy for their size). They always give the best flavor and zest.

Can I Use Bottled Lemon Juice or Lemon Extract Instead?

While fresh is best for that zingy taste, those substitutions can work in a pinch. Just know that the flavor might be slightly less vibrant.

Can I Substitute Lime Juice for Lemon Juice in This Recipe?

Absolutely. Lime juice and zest can be a fun twist. It gives a different, yet equally delicious, citrusy punch to your fluffy frosting.

How Do I Ensure My Frosting Is the Right Consistency?

If your frosting feels too thin, chill it for a bit. If it’s too thick, a splash of milk, heavy cream, or more lemon juice does the trick.

What Should I Do if My Frosting Is Too Sweet?

Slightly or add a touch more lemon juice or zest to counter the sweetness. A pinch of salt can also help.

I hope this lemon buttercream cake frosting becomes your new secret weapon for adding sunshine to all kinds of baked treats. Enjoy!

More Unique Frosting Recipes:

Lemon Butter Frosting

Lemon Buttercream Frosting

This light and fluffy frosting is a perfect choice for adding a bright pop of fresh lemon flavors to cakes and cupcakes.
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Frosting
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 48
Calories: 112kcal
Author: Brenda Maher


  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice usually from 2 large lemons
  • 2 heaping tsp lemon zest
  • 2 cups slightly softened butter
  • 10 cups powdered sugar


  • In a mixer, blend the butter, lemon juice, and zest until thoroughly combined.
  • Pour in all the powdered sugar and mix on the lowest setting for 30 seconds to incorporate. Scrape the sides of the bowl.
  • Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for another 30-45 seconds until the frosting is light and fluffy.
  • Taste the frosting and adjust with more lemon zest if needed. If the frosting is too thin, refrigerate for an hour or more for a firmer texture.


  • Yields: The frosting is enough for two 9″ x 13″ sheet cakes, two two-layer 8″ cakes, or 48 cupcakes with a knife spread (30-36 with pastry bag swirls).
  • Coloring: For a brighter yellow color, add a tiny drop of food coloring.
  • Bubbles: After mixing, beat on low speed or stir by hand to push out excess air bubbles for a smoother frosting.
  • Immediate Use: Apply the frosting directly onto your cakes, cupcakes, or other baked goods.
  • Storage: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1-2 weeks. For longer storage, freeze the frosting in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before use.


Calories: 112kcal | Carbohydrates: 21.2g | Protein: 0.1g | Fat: 3.4g | Saturated Fat: 2.2g | Cholesterol: 9mg | Sodium: 25mg | Potassium: 8mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 20.5g | Calcium: 2mg
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Mary and Brenda Maher

Mary & Brenda Maher

Mary & Brenda Maher, are the founders of Cake Girls, a Chicago-based online baking shop specializing in cake supplies, party decor, and DIY cake tutorials. They are known for their elaborate and artistic cake creations, which have been featured on the Food Network Challenge and in a reality show, Amazing Wedding Cakes.

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