This simple and easy lemon buttercream frosting recipe is light and fluffy with tons of delicious lemon flavor, making it the perfect American buttercream frosting for cakes, cupcakes, macarons, and other desserts!
Everyone loves a good lemon flavored frosting. Perfect for springtime, this easy recipe is an American lemon buttercream. It has the sweet, fluffy buttercream flavor and texture most of us grew up on for birthday cakes and cupcakes.
Making Lemon Buttercream Frosting
American buttercream frosting is one of the easiest frostings to make. For this lemon version, you whip butter until it is creamy and pale, then add in your powdered sugar, lemon zest, and juice. Continue mixing until it’s light and fluffy, adding some milk or cream if you want. That’s it! Unlike Swiss meringue buttercream, which involved using egg whites, this can be made in less than 10 minutes and uses only one bowl.
This frosting is light, fluffy, sweet, and lemony – perfect for frosting cupcakes, cakes, and filling macarons and other sandwich cookies or whoopie pies. I made this with regular lemons, but you can use Meyers lemons too. Yum! You want a medium to large sized lemon that will give you about 2-3 tablespoon lemon juice.
Tips for making lemon buttercream frosting
- Zest the lemon first, then juice it. This is probably very obvious, but I constantly forget and go right to slicing the lemon! This makes it much more difficult to get the zest.
- When zesting lemons, try to get only the yellow part of the lemon. The white part can be bitter and add a slightly bitter taste to the frosting if you get too much.
- Make sure your butter is at room temperature or slightly cooler. The perfect temperature is if you press your finger on it, it will do a slight indent.
- You want to mix the butter for a few minutes before adding the sugar and lemon. Mixing the butter until it is very pale makes for a really light and fluffy frosting.
- If your powdered sugar is very stiff or hard, you might need to put it through a sifter so there are no lumps in your buttercream. I don’t normally need to do this but it is something to be aware of if your powdered sugar is old and has visible lumps that don’t break up when you press them.
- When adding the powdered sugar, turn the mixer to the slowest speed and add it gradually so it doesn’t spill out of the mixer. You can also place a hand towel around the top of the bowel to keep it from making a mess.
- If the frosting is too thick you can add a tablespoon or two of heavy cream or milk. If it’s too thin, you can add a few more tablespoons of powdered sugar.
- The frosting has a very slight yellow color, but you can add a few drops of yellow food coloring to make it darker yellow. Or, add what whatever food colors you want! It’s light enough it will hold any type of food coloring well.
Storing Lemon Buttercream Frosting
Like most buttercream frostings, this recipe keeps in the fridge and freezer very well. It’s so easy to make, it’s preferable to make the day you use it, but it can last up to a week in the fridge and up to 3 months in the freezer. Make sure it is very tightly covered in an airtight container in the fridge and in a freezer bag for the freezer. The butter can take on flavors from your fridge or freezer so you want to make sure it is very tightly wrapped. When you’re ready to use, let defrost in the fridge. Then, remove the frosting from the fridge and let it soften. Some people simply stir the frosting and then use it, but I like to remix it with a mixer so it gets really light and fluffy again.
Originally posted March 29th, 2019 and updated on October 6th, 2019.
Lemon Buttercream Frosting
- 1 cup butter softened
- 4 cups powdered sugar (16 oz)
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp milk or cream optional
- Using a hand held mixer or standing mixer, cream the butter using a paddle or whisk attachment on medium high until light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. If necessary, half way through scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue mixing.
- Turn off the mixer and add powdered sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest. Continue mixing on medium speed, about 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy.
- If the frosting is too thick, you can add a tablespoon of milk or cream. If it is too thin, you can add another 1 or 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar.
Other Frosting Recipes: