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!
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
- Cream room temperature butter & shortening with a hand electric mixer until it is light and fluffy per the recipe below.
- Add lemon zest and juice and mix well.
- 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!
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.
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!
Fresh Lemon Buttercream Frosting
- 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.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.
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Love the lemon frosting. So fresh and lemony. I used it to frost a lemon raspberry cake. So awesome.
Absolutely the yummiest ! Perfect for my lemon cupcakes!
OMG, the easiest lemon frosting ever. Thinking about frosting my Mom’s homemade sugar cookies..Definitely a keeper
Yay! So happy to hear that Steve.
Do you use unsalted or salted butter?
I use unsalted butter in this recipe.
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.
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!
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.
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???
I apologize for the confusion. The lemon extract is optional and I usually don’t add it.
Followed recipe to the letter, the frosting never got thick even after doubling the amount of powdered sugar. Very disappointed.
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?
With this frosting, I’ll need to refrigerate the cupcakes until it’s served?
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.
A pure pallet enjoyment for lemon lovers. It’s light and lomony.
Mine turned out to thin not sure why
Adding a bit more powered sugar could help to stiffen. Hope that helps Mary!
very good, but a little tart and I love lemon. I wondered if I added a tsp of vanilla if it would help
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.
I am so glad you loved it!
I am going to use this as a filling for a Spring cake log! Can’t wait!
Mine won’t pipe like in the picture.
All the same ingredients.
Do I have to beat longer to thicken?
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.
adding a bit more powered sugar could also help to stiffen.
Love all your recipe. But we pucker up for lemon in my house doesn’t stay around very long. Just love the icing.
What do you mean by powerded sugar? I’m guessing icing sugar
Yes, that is it!
Awesome topping for lemon zucchini cupcakes
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!
Yay! I’m so glad you loved it Erin!!
These recipes look delicious, thanks for sharing them, I have tons of zucchini this year, looking forward to trying all your recipes
Hi can this buttercream be made without cream chesse
I have only made this recipe as written.