Homemade lemon buttercream is a light and delicious topping for many of your favorite treats. Use this fluffy frosting for lemon cupcakes, layer cakes, sheet cakes and so much more.
Lemon Buttercream Frosting Recipe
Easy lemon buttercream on top of a fresh lemon cupcakes is just *chef's kiss* delicious! Lemon lovers know how a creamy fresh frosting is the perfect addition to a yummy dessert on a hot day.
Now that warmer weather is on the way, I'm gearing up to make all of my light and refreshing treats that we just can't get enough of! From peach lemonade to lemon blueberry muffins, our spring and summer days are always full of tasty sweet treats.
Classic buttercream is extremely versatile and so easy to make. This easy recipe uses real ingredients like fresh lemon juice and fresh lemon zest to create a bright lemon flavor.
Why You'll Love this Recipe
Depending on what you are using the frosting for, you can double or triple the recipe as needed. This recipe will perfectly frost a dozen cupcakes or a small cake. We love it so much! It is truly a treat for the taste buds:
- Homemade lemon buttercream is the easiest way to make your from-scratch goodies taste like bakery quality treats. And it's much more affordable than buying a dozen cupcakes from the bakery!
- You can make a full batch of lemon frosting in just a few minutes. It really won't add much time to your baking schedule and the flavor is worth it.
- Making frosting from scratch ensures you have the best ingredients possible. It's great for those who have dietary restrictions or allergies because you will know exactly what's in the bowl of lemony goodness!
With just these few simple ingredients you can make this delicious lemon buttercream. Here's what to have on hand:
- unsalted butter
- pure vanilla extract
- powdered sugar
- heavy cream
- zest from one lemon
- juice from half a lemon
Substitutions and Variations
If you don't have fresh lemons for lemon zest, you can use a small splash of lemon extract.
You can use half and half or whole milk in place of heavy cream, just keep in mind that the texture make change a bit.
While this recipe is specifically for lemon buttercream frosting, you can easily swap out the flavor to create a different frosting. Fresh squeezed orange juice and orange zest would create a beautiful orange frosting.
How to Make Lemon Buttercream
I love the bold lemon flavor that this homemade frosting has! But what I love more is how easy it is to make. Follow these step by step instructions to create a showstopper frosting:
In large mixing bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer, cream together softened butter and vanilla extract.
Then, pour the fresh lemon juice and lemon zest into the creamed butter mixture. Mix together until combined.
Add about a ½ cup of powdered sugar and then mix again. Continue adding powdered sugar ½ cup at a time until the frosting has thickened.
Then add in the heavy cream and mix until the icing is smooth but can still hold its shape.
Hot Tip: Always make sure baked goods have cooled completely to room temperature before adding buttercream frosting!
For an extra lemon pop on your cupcakes or treats, garnish with lemon slices, sanding sugar, sprinkles, or even candied lemon slices.
How to Store Leftover Lemon Buttercream
Leftover buttercream frosting can be stored for later! Transfer the leftover frosting to an airtight container and then store it in the refrigerator for up to a week. Be sure to stir the frosting well before using it.
You can also freeze leftover lemon frosting! Just transfer it to an airtight container and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you are ready to use it, allow to thaw in the fridge overnight.
How to Thicken Lemon Buttercream Frosting
If you follow this recipe well, you shouldn't have to thicken up the frosting. However, every now and then frosting just thins out or needs more structure for various reasons. If that is the case, there a couple things that you can try.
One of the most simple tricks is simply leaving the frosting in the fridge for a bit to chill. This makes it a bit more sturdy, but keep in mind that it will still soften in a warmer temperature.
You can also simply add more confectioner's sugar! Mixing in more confectioners’ sugar will thicken the frosting well. Just be sure you don't add too much because it could make a frosting too dry and grainy.
Cornstarch is also an easy way to make a stiffer buttercream. Just add about ½ teaspoon and mix until the icing reaches the texture needed.
Tips for Success
Check out these simple tips to make sure you make the best lemon frosting:
- To create the best flavor, be sure to only get the yellow part of the peel when zesting a lemon. The white part will be quite bitter and will likely effect the flavors of your frosting.
- Carefully scrape the sides of the bowl and bottom of the bowl as you are making this lemon frosing recipe. This will help ensure that all ingredients get thoroughly incorporated together.
- Always let butter soften well before creating frosting. If you try to start with cold butter, this process will take forever and end result may not end up as creamy and luscious.
The tangy flavor of lemon juice does help to balance the sweetness of a sugary buttercream. It is one of the many reasons why people love to bake with lemon! Sugar and tart citrus are a match made in heaven.
Buttercream works well with many different piping tip shapes. I personally use the star tip, but you could also use a petal tip, round tip or anything else that you think would be fun!
More Lemon Dessert Recipes
If you make and love this recipe, please leave a ★★★★★ review below! It means so much to me when you try my recipes, and I'd love to know how it goes. Please leave a comment below if you have any questions.
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- zest from one lemon
- juice from half a lemon
- Use a hand mixer or stand mixer to cream butter and vanilla together.
- Add ½ cup of powdered sugar and mix.
- Then add in lemon zest and juice.
- Continue adding powdered sugar ½ cup at a time until the icing is thickened.
- Add heavy cream and keep mixing until icing should be smooth but hold its shape fairly well.
- Then pipe icing onto room-temperature cupcakes, cakes, or cookies!
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: ¼ cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 193Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 22mgSodium: 14mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 0gSugar: 30gProtein: 0g