Fluffy lemon buttercream frosting with the flavor of fresh citrusy lemon is great on sugar cookies, cheesecake, and cupcakes!

This fresh lemon buttercream frosting recipe uses real lemons, and it makes the bright, sunny flavors pop on everything!

a cupcake topped with fresh lemon buttercream frosting

Perfect over lemon cupcakes, to top a layer cake filled with lemon curd, this lemon frosting is a favorite with lots of fresh lemon flavor.

How to Juice and Zest Lemons

  • Lemon Zest: For zest, use the zest of two full lemons (or more) with a Microplane grater or the finest side of a box grater. Be sure to use just the yellow part of the peel, the white part underneath (the pith) is bitter.
  • Lemon Juice: To get the most juice from your lemons, For juicing lemons, place lemons in the microwave for about 15-20 seconds. Using the heel of your hand to roll them with gentle pressure on the counter before cutting.

How to Make Lemon Buttercream Filling

  1. Cream room temperature butter & shortening with a hand electric mixer until it is light and fluffy per the recipe below.
  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!
fluffy Fresh Lemon Buttercream Frosting with lemon slices

Tips for Lemon Buttercream Frosting

  • If you’d like a thinner consistency, add a bit more lemon juice.
  • For a thicker consistency, add more powdered sugar.
  • Make sure your cake or cupcakes are completely cooled before using.
  • If you’re spreading this on a 9×13 cake or another use where it doesn’t need to hold its shape, you can add 2 ounces of cream cheese along with the butter for a little tang. If you add the cream cheese, it won’t hold its shape as well when piped.
  • Because this is flavored with natural lemon, the color is pale yellow. Feel free to add a few drops of yellow food coloring for a brighter yellow color.
a cupcake topped with fresh lemon buttercream frosting

Can You Freeze Buttercream Frosting?

Lemon buttercream frosting will keep in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days. You can also freeze this frosting for up to three months in an airtight container or freezer 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

Did you love this Lemon Buttercream Frosting? Leave us a comment and a rating below!

a cupcake topped with fresh lemon buttercream frosting
4.79 from 37 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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Fresh Lemon Buttercream Frosting

A smooth and extra creamy lemon buttercream frosting recipe flavored with fresh lemon juice and zest.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 12


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


  • Zest both lemons and set zest aside. Juice one of the lemons to make two tablespoons of juice. Reserve the remaining lemon for another use.
  • In a medium bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), cream butter and shortening with a mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add lemon zest, lemon juice (and extract if using), and a pinch of salt. 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.


Lemon buttercream frosting can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 to 5 days. Allow it to come to room temperature and whisk again before using. 
Freeze for up to 3 months in a sealed & labeled container or plastic bag.
Allow it to thaw completely & refresh the flavor with a bit of extra lemon juice and whisk it so it is smooth again!
4.79 from 37 votes

Nutrition Information

Calories: 261 | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 0.3g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Sodium: 92mg | Potassium: 29mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 30g | Vitamin A: 359IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 8mg | Iron: 0.1mg

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

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Fresh Lemon Buttercream Frosting on a cupcake with a title
bowl of Fresh Lemon Buttercream Frosting with a title
cupcake with Fresh Lemon Buttercream Frosting and a title
Fresh Lemon Buttercream Frosting in a bowl and on a cupcake 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. Love the lemon frosting. So fresh and lemony. I used it to frost a lemon raspberry cake. So awesome.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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.

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

  8. 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!

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