Fresh Lemon Buttercream Frosting

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This fresh lemon buttercream frosting recipe uses real lemons and it makes the bright, sunny flavors pop on everything from cookies, cupcakes, cakes, and even fancy petite fours!

Fluffy homemade buttercream frosting with the flavor of fresh citrusy lemon frosting is also great on sugar cookies, used to decorate lemon cheesecake and more!

Lemon Buttercream Frosting in a cupcake with a lemon wedge

To Juice and Zest Lemons

Whether you fill or frost or ice with this lemon buttercream recipe, make sure your pastries are fully cooled so it doesn’t melt the frosting.

Lemon Zest: Using the zest of the lemon adds the best flavor making it extra lemony.  I use the zest of two full lemons, you can certainly use more if you like.  You can find tips on zesting lemons here but favorite tool is a Microplane grater.  You may notice the little oils from the rind when you zest so I like to zest right over the bowl I’m using for the frosting to make sure I catch all of that beautiful zest.

Lemon Juice: For juicing lemons, place lemons in the microwave about 15-20 seconds to warm them up and make them easier to squeeze. Using the heel of your hand, give them a roll on the counter with gentle pressure before cutting in half. If you have extra juice, place it in a small freezer bag and freeze. I break off small pieces to add to water or when I need lemon juice in a recipe!

Glass bowl with Lemon Buttercream Frosting ingredients

How to Make Lemon Buttercream Filling

  1. Cream butter & shortening with a hand electric mixer until it is light and fluffy.
  2. Add lemon zest and juice and mix well.
  3. Add the powdered sugar a bit at a time and mix well. Once it’s fully incorporated, mix on high for a couple of minutes until light and fluffy!

If you’d like a bit of a thinner consistency, add a bit extra lemon juice. For a thicker consistency, add more powdered sugar. If you’re spreading this on a 9×13 cake or another use where it doesn’t need to hold its shape, you can also add in 2 ounces of cream cheese along with the butter for a little tang. If you add the cream cheese, it won’t hold it’s shape as well when piped.

Because this is flavored with natural lemon the color is a very pale yellow. Feel free to add in a couple of drops of yellow food coloring if you’d like to brighten it.

Lemon Buttercream Frosting in a glass bowl with lemon wedges

Can You Freeze Buttercream Frosting?

Your lemon buttercream frosting will keep in the fridge about 4 to 5 days and will freeze up to three months in a sealed and labeled container or plastic bag.

Allow it to thaw completely and feel free to refresh the flavor with a bit of extra lemon juice and whisk it so it is smooth again!

More Fantastic Frosting Recipes

Lemon Buttercream Frosting in a cupcake with a lemon wedge
4.37 from 11 votes
Review Recipe

Fresh Lemon Buttercream Frosting

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 12 people
Author Holly Nilsson
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
A smooth and extra creamy frosting recipe bursting with fresh lemon flavor.


  • 2 lemons
  • ¾ cup butter
  • ¼ cup shortening
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon lemon extract optional

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  • Zest both lemons and set zest aside. Juice one of the lemons to make 2 tablespoons juice. Reserve remaining lemons for another use.
  • Cream butter and shortening with mixer on medium until light and fluffy. Add lemon zest and juice (and extract if using). Mix well.
  • Add powdered sugar ½ cup at a time and beat until light and fluffy.
  • To thicken consistency, add more powdered sugar. To soften consistency, add more lemon juice if required.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 289, Carbohydrates: 32g, Fat: 18g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Cholesterol: 51mg, Sodium: 166mg, Potassium: 42mg, Sugar: 30g, Vitamin A: 600IU, Vitamin C: 9.6mg, Calcium: 18mg, Iron: 0.2mg

(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)

Keyword Lemon Buttercream

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Lemon Buttercream with a title
Cupcake with Lemon Buttercream Frosting with text
Lemon Buttercream Frosting in a glass bowl and a cupcake with Lemon Buttercream Frosting with writing

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Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!

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Recipe Rating


  1. Did everything you said but it came out to juicy . I had also added more sugar to thicken it but no good.
    It tasted good but couldn’t spread it too runny , destroyed my cake.1 star

  2. Love the lemon frosting. So fresh and lemony. I used it to frost a lemon raspberry cake. So awesome.

  3. Loved this recipe when I first made it for Easter, but it’s no longer the same. Do you have the original one with the cream cheese instead of shortening? I don’t remember if the proportions are the same as just substituting one for the other.

    1. Sure thing Amy. I apologize for the change, some readers were having trouble with the consistency of the original recipe. I’ve included it below for you. Enjoy!

      2 lemons
      1 cup butter
      3 cups powdered sugar
      4 oz cream cheese
      Cream butter with mixer on medium until light and fluffy. Zest lemons and add into butter (you should have about 1 tablespoon lemon zest).
      Juice 1/2 of one of the lemons and add 2-3 tablespoons to butter mixture.
      Add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time and beat until light and fluffy. Add softened cream cheese and beat until fluffy.
      Add more lemon juice if required to reached desired consistency.

  4. Under recipe notes you say: “Lemon extract is optional. I prefer to make this frosting without using just the flavor of fresh lemon. ” Please clarify this or correct your Notes. Does it mean you like using the lemon extract in addition to the fresh lemon or that you only use the fresh lemon for flavor???

    1. I apologize for the confusion. The lemon extract is optional and I usually don’t add it.

  5. Followed recipe to the letter, the frosting never got thick even after doubling the amount of powdered sugar. Very disappointed.

    1. I’m so sorry to hear that Kev. I’ve made this recipe many times and haven’t had that issue, so can’t say for sure what went wrong. Did you juice 1/2 of one of the lemons and add only 2-3 Tablespoons of the juice to the butter mixture?

    1. If it’s a few hours, I leave it on the counter. If it’s going to be longer, I refrigerate and then remove from the fridge to soften for a while before serving.

  6. Holly, I actually doubled the recipe. It was FANTASTIC. I agree with others. It is the best frosting EVER! It is so smooth and goes on the cake smoothly. I have never had a recipe for frosting before that was as great as this one is. We loved it! Will definitely be using it a lot more times. Thank you for sharing it with us.5 stars

  7. Mine won’t pipe like in the picture.
    All the same ingredients.
    Do I have to beat longer to thicken?

    1. You shouldn’t have to beat it longer. If the temperature is very warm, it could soften the frosting. You may like to refrigerate it for a little bit first.

  8. Love all your recipe. But we pucker up for lemon in my house doesn’t stay around very long. Just love the icing.

  9. The hey holly, I found your site today and made the lemon buttercream icing and it is absolutely, positively ,unbelievably delicious! This is now my favorite icing of all time. Thank you so much for posting and sharing!

  10. These recipes look delicious, thanks for sharing them, I have tons of zucchini this year, looking forward to trying all your recipes

  11. Hi, do you think this would stand up to being outside in the heat for about 2 hours during a picnic potluck? It would make the perfect topping for strawberry lemonade cupcakes!

  12. Holly, this recipe is absolutely divine! I am definitely going to use this for future lemon cakes, thank you for this! ~Ashley :)

    1. Hello, Perfect lemon frosting…I used it with your zucchini cupcakes recipe. I did add in some heavy whipping cream about two tablespoons to thin it out a little so I can pipe with my 1m. It worked fine! Very nice and I will be using this recipe again..thanks so much Terrie

  13. Not only beautiful but these were delicious. The lemon bittercream is one of the best frosting I’ve ever made. Thank you☺

  14. I so love lemon. But, I’m trying to eat healthy…I wonder if this would be good on cauliflower? Maybe I could dip carrots in it!!!

  15. I just made this frosting and it is DELICIOUS – sweet, but not too sweet! Thanks for sharing!!!

  16. I feel you. Frosting…and buttercream. The freshness of the lemon would make this downright heavenly.

  17. I’m making cupcakes for a friend’s wedding that is coming up. This frosting would be perfect for some of the cupcakes!

  18. The perfect buttercream for summer – love the bright citrus flavor you’ve given it by using the lemon zest.

  19. This looks delicious — if only I didn’t eat Sprinkles cupcakes at work yesterday, I would want to make these immediately :)

  20. I have a serious weakness for citrus treats! Loving this buttercream recipe! It’s a good excuse to make some cupcakes!