This best ever lemon buttercream frosting recipe uses fresh lemon juice for a zingy frosting that is both light and fluffy.
Perfect for all the lemon lovers out there!
This creamy lemon icing is an American-style buttercream, made from scratch. Ready in less than 15mins with only 3 ingredients needed.
It’s perfect for topping desserts for birthdays, Mother’s Day, bridal showers, picnics and afternoon teas. Really, a lemon dessert is perfect any time of year!
✏️ Recipe creation
This homemade lemon frosting is zesty and smooth, perfect for adding a fresh summer twist to your cakes and bakes.
It’s super simple to make and so quick and easy, using butter and powdered sugar in a classic buttercream.
This deliciously light lemon buttercream frosting is an easy way to pack tangy lemon flavour into your desserts.
This frosting recipe calls for the following ingredients:
- Fresh lemon juice
- Unsalted butter
- Icing sugar (powdered confectioners’ sugar)
- Milk or heavy cream (optional)
- Salt (optional)
See the recipe card for quantities.
It’s best to use fresh lemon juice in this recipe, but bottled lemon juice will also work if you don’t have a lemon.
You can also add some lemon zest for some extra flavour!
For a creamier frosting, you can optionally add heavy cream or milk to your frosting. This is also helpful if your frosting is too thick.
- Room temperature ingredients mix better than cold ones. Take your butter out of the fridge to come up to room temperature before you start making your frosting. For me, this takes about 30mins to warm up.
- Using unsalted butter lets you control the amount of salt in your frosting. I like mine to be low salt so I don’t add much, but you can add an optional pinch or ⅛ teaspoon of salt to taste.
- For a smooth frosting, sieve your powdered sugar (a.k.a icing sugar or confectioners’ sugar).
- To measure your ingredients, it’s best to use weights rather than cups for better accuracy.
I use the following equipment for this recipe:
- Electric hand mixer or stand mixer (or whisk/fork)
- Medium / large mixing bowl (unless using a stand mixer)
- Citrus juicer (or fork)
- Silicone spatula or wooden spoon
- Weighing scales or measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
I usually use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer with a large or medium bowl for this recipe because it’s really easy.
You can instead swap to use a whisk, spatula or fork. This might take some elbow grease though!
I like to use a citrus juicer to get lemon juice from a fresh lemon (cut in half). You can instead use a fork though or squeeze your lemon over a sieve or strainer to catch the pips.
- I use digital scales to weigh ingredients as it's quick, easy and accurate.
- Use real measuring spoons. Cutlery teaspoons and tablespoons aren’t actually the correct volume.
- I’d also recommend levelling off any heaped scoops for a more accurate measurement.
- When using a stand mixer, I like to use the paddle attachment with a low or medium speed to remove air bubbles and reduce the chance of overmixing.
- It’s a good idea to scrape down the sides and bottom of the stand mixer bowl a few times to get an even mixture while you beat the butter and frosting.
Step 1: Beat the butter (either by hand, using an electric mixer or stand mixer) until pale, light and fluffy. This could take several minutes.
Steps 2-3: Sieve half of the icing sugar into the butter and beat until combined, then repeat this with the remaining half of icing sugar.
Step 4: Add in the lemon juice and salt (if using), mixing until only just smooth.
If needed, stir in milk or cream 1 teaspoon at a time until you get a thick but spreadable consistency, then enjoy!
Your easy lemon buttercream should last up to 4 days stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
You can also freeze your frosting for up to 3 months in an airtight container. It’s best to label your frozen frosting with what it is and when it was frozen so you don’t forget.
Defrost your buttercream and re-beat it before use.
💭 Top tips
- For creamy frosting, beat your butter until it’s pale, light and fluffy before adding your other ingredients. This could take several minutes with an electric mixer and longer by hand.
- If you’re using an electric mixer, you can sometimes get a cloud of powdered sugar kicked up into the air. To stop this, stir your sieved powdered sugar into the butter with a wooden spoon or spatula briefly before using the electric mixer again. Though if you want to breathe tasty sugar air, I won’t judge!
- If your lemon icing is too thick to pipe, then you can add more milk or heavy cream (½ tablespoon at a time) to thin the frosting until you get the desired consistency.
- If your frosting is too thin, you can try chilling it in the fridge for 15-20mins before use. Alternatively, you can beat in a few more tablespoons of butter to thicken it.
- You can beat in ¼ cup / 40g of white chocolate (melted) to help thicken or fix split frosting. This will also add some delicious flavour to your lemon icing!
- If you want a strong yellow color, you can add yellow food coloring to your lemon buttercream. I recommend using a gel colouring to prevent adding too much liquid. The photos shown here are the natural colour.
- If you have any leftover frosting, use it for cake pops and cakesicles!
Your lemon buttercream should last for up to 4 days stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
You may need to bring it to room temperature and re-beat it before use.
Yes! You can freeze your lemon buttercream frosting in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
Defrost and re-beat before use.
Yes, you can make your lemon frosting ahead of time and either keep it in the fridge (up to 4 days) or freeze it (up to 3 months) until you’re ready to use it.
To get rid of air bubbles in your frosting, beat it on a low speed using a paddle attachment. The whisk attachment can sometimes add too much air.
Alternatively, you can stir it with a spatula or wooden spoon by hand for a few minutes.
If you’ve got any specific questions on making your fresh lemon frosting, please feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll try my best to help out!
I love this delicious lemon frosting, but you can also add ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract to your frosting for a sweet lemon vanilla frosting instead.
For a boozy lemon frosting, you can swap the lemon juice for limoncello – the perfect grown-up treat!
To make vegan lemon frosting, you can swap the butter for a firm dairy-free butter (baking block). You must use the solid kind rather than a liquid or soft variety.
If you’re baking for vegans, be sure to then use your vegan raspberry frosting on a vegan cupcake, cake or cookie!
This is a gluten-free lemon buttercream recipe, but always check your ingredients for cross-contamination if you're unsure.
🧁 Frosting uses
You can use this lemon butter icing to frost your cupcakes, cakes, cookies, macarons, blondies, brownies and more!
It’s especially great as a macaron filling!
Frost your baked goods with this homemade lemon buttercream by spreading a generous amount using an offset spatula or knife.
Alternatively, you can pipe your buttercream using a piping bag and a piping nozzle of your choice.
When I frost cakes and cupcakes, I usually use the nozzles from this large piping tips set.
I also love this frosting as a cake filling, between your cake layers.
You can take your sheet cakes to the next level with this fresh frosting!
Personally, I love combining white chocolate and lemon, so adding it to a white chocolate cake or cupcakes is perfect!
Check out this lemon white chocolate cake and swap the outer frosting for this lemon buttercream instead.
Lemon buttercream is also delicious for a carrot cake or chocolate cake topping.
This recipe makes enough to frost roughly 12 cupcakes (regular size) or a 2-layer 8-inch cake (frosting outside).
Make sure you’re using cool cupcakes and cakes, not ones fresh from the oven!
To frost a cake fully (outside coating and between layers), you’ll need to double this recipe (scale up by x2) for a 3-layer round 6-inch cake.
For a 3-layer round 8-inch cake, triple this recipe (i.e. scale up by x3).
Depending on how sweet you like your traybakes, you’ll only need half the amount of this frosting recipe for an 8-inch square sized traybake.
Spread a thick layer across your cooled traybake before cutting it into slices.
Great goodies to frost
Lemon buttercream would go great on these treats:
- Gluten-free moist chocolate cupcakes
- Funfetti cupcakes
- Strawberry vanilla cake with strawberry cake filling
- Lemon loaf cake
- Raspberry white chocolate cake
- White chocolate lemon ganache cake
Toppings and decorations
There are a lot of great options for topping your tasty citrus buttercream.
You can use your lemon frosting to top cupcakes and cakes, then decorate with lemon zest or peel.
You can coat pieces of lemon peel in hot syrup to make candied lemon peel too! Check out this Martha Stewart candied peel recipe for tips!
Another classic idea is to drizzle melted white chocolate, milk chocolate or semi-sweet / dark chocolate on top. Decorate with fun and colourful sprinkles or chocolate chips too!
🍪 Other goodies
Looking for some other goodies to make?
I also recommend turning this lemon pound cake into a lemon loaf cake with buttercream!
Check out the frosting collection for more recipes!
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Lemon Buttercream Frosting
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- 175 g (¾ cups) unsalted butter softened
- 425 g (3 ½ cups) powdered icing sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoon lemon juice fresh roughly 1 lemon’s juice
- 1 tablespoon milk or heavy cream optional
- Pinch of salt optional
- Beat the butter (either by hand, using an electric mixer or stand mixer) until pale, light and fluffy. This could take several minutes.
- Sieve half of the icing sugar into the butter and beat until combined, then repeat this with the remaining half of icing sugar.
- Add in the lemon juice and salt (if using), mixing until only just smooth.
- If needed, stir in milk or cream 1 teaspoon at a time until you get a thick but spreadable consistency and enjoy!
- This recipe makes enough frosting for roughly 12-14 cupcakes, or to frost the outside (i.e. top and sides) of a 2-layer 8-inch cake.
- Scale up the recipe by ½ to fill and frost a 2-layer, 8-inch cake generously.
Nutritional information is an estimate based on an online nutritional calculator, actual values may vary.
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