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Lemon Buttercream Frosting

Make rich and creamy Lemon Buttercream Frosting flavored with fresh lemons. Use this easy homemade buttercream recipe to decorate cakes, cupcakes, and cookies. Just TRY to resist eating it by the spoonful!

Lemon Buttercream Frosting

What Is Buttercream?

Put simply, American buttercream frosting is frosting made with butter. While other frosting recipes call for shortening or cream cheese as a fat component (like in my Cream Cheese Frosting), buttercream is made from a base of butter, sugar, milk, and in this case, lemon flavoring. 

What You’ll Need

You need just 3 ingredients (plus salt) to make this basic lemon buttercream. The full ingredient amounts and recipe details can be found further down in the recipe card.


  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
  • 4-5 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3-4 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice


1.In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with a hand mixer or the paddle attachment of a stand micer on medium speed for 3 minutes.

2.Add 4 cups of the powdered sugar, lemon zest, salt, and 3 Tablespoons of the lemon juice. Starting on low speed, beat until everything is incorporated then gradually increase the speed to medium and beat until smooth and creamy. Add additional lemon juice or powdered sugar to achieve desired consistency.

3.Immediately frost a cooled cake or cupcakes, or store the frosting in an airtight container for later use. If stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, the frosting will keep for up to a week. Bring to room temperature before using. Frosting can also be stored at room temperature for 2 or 3 days.

Tips for Success

1.This lemon buttercream is maybe the easiest frosting you’ll ever make! There are a few tricks to getting it perfect, though.

2.Use room-temperature butter. Whether you’re making buttercream frosting or cream cheese frosting, your ingredients will mix more smoothly if they’re at room temperature before you start. Remember to take your butter out of the fridge about 30 minutes ahead of time.

3.If you don’t have fresh lemons, your next best bet for flavoring the frosting is to use a few drops of lemon extract. It will be far less tart than bottled lemon juice. Using lemon extract is also a good idea if you’re making this lemon frosting for kids, as the flavor tends to be milder.

4.Add the ingredients a little at a time. I always go with the approach that you can always add more, but you can’t take it away. Incorporate the powdered sugar, zest, and lemon juice gradually, and adjust the flavor and consistency as you go. 

5.To thicken the frosting, add more powdered sugar. To thin it out, add more lemon juice one spoonful at a time.

6.Store buttercream airtight. To prevent a crust from forming over the frosting while it sits out, make sure you cover it airtight. See below for detailed storage instructions.

7.To make a vegan lemon frosting: Swap the butter for your preferred dairy-free vegan butter or margarine.

Lemon Buttercream Frosting

How to Store Homemade Buttercream

Store any leftover frosting airtight on the counter for up to 2-3 days, or in the fridge for up to one week. You’ll want to let it come back to room temperature again before you use it.