Desserts/ Recipe

Lemon Buttercream

May 20, 2017 (Last Updated: August 6, 2019)

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Lemony buttercream frosting is perfect for cakes or cupcakes

Cupcakes topped with a swirl of frosting.

Last week I posted my recipe for lemon curd. This week lemon buttercream frosting. There is definitely lemon in the air around my house! This frosting is the perfect topping for lemon cupcakes.

Ingredients for lemon buttercream

  • Butter
  • Lemon zest
  • Lemon juice
  • Powdered sugar

Tips for making lemon buttercream frosting

  • Make certain your butter is at room temperature. I usually let mine sit out on the counter for at least one hour before I will use it.
  • Begin whipping your butter first, before adding other ingredients. This helps make certain your butter is nice and creamy.
  • If your powdered sugar is lumpy, sift it through a sieve before using. The lumps don’t disappear when you add the powdered sugar to the butter.
  • Always add the lesser amount of recommended liquid. Sometimes you won’t need to add any additional liquid or your buttercream will be too runny.
  • If buttercream is too thick, just add a bit more lemon juice.
  • If it’s too runny, add a bit more powdered sugar.
  • This buttercream recipe does not hold up well in the heat. If it’s too warm for a stick of butter to hold its shape, the buttercream won’t hold its shape either.
  • Refrigerate buttercream as needed. Just let it come back to room temperature before using.
  • Use fresh squeezed lemon juice and don’t skimp on the zest.

A platter filled with lemon cupcakes topped with frosting.

Will this buttercream hold up in warm temperatures?

This buttercream is made with all butter and it holds up best at room temperature. If the temperature turns too warm this frosting will begin to soften and sag. You can store buttercream in the refrigerator to help keep it’s shape.

If you need a firmer buttercream, you can use 1/2 butter and 1/2 crisco. The flavor will change slightly, but your frosting will be a bit more stable. 

This lemon frosting is perfect for cupcakes or  a yellow cake. The burst of lemon will keep your taste buds happy. 

Other buttercream frostings

In addition to this lemony buttercream frosting, I also make chocolate buttercream  pumpkin spice butter cream and regular buttercream frostings.


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Lemon buttercream frosting on a yellow cupcake.

If you make this recipe, I’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment below or snap a picture and tag me on Instagram #beyondthechickencoop

4.89 from 9 votes
Lemon Buttercream Frosting
Lemon Buttercream Frosting
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
10 mins

Lemony buttercream

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: buttercream, buttercream frosting with lemon, lemon buttercream, lemon buttercream frosting
Servings: 2 cups
Calories: 283 kcal
Author: Kathy
  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1 pound powdered sugar
  • 2-4 Tablespoons lemon juice fresh squeezed
  1. Place butter in bowl of a stand mixer. Mix until soft and creamy. 

  2. Mix in lemon zest. 

  3. Mix powdered sugar into buttercream one cup at a time. 

  4. Mix in lemon juice 1 tablespoon at a time. 

Recipe Notes

Keep leftover frosting covered in fridge for up to a week. Bring to room temperature and stir before using.

Nutrition Facts
Lemon Buttercream Frosting
Amount Per Serving
Calories 283 Calories from Fat 135
% Daily Value*
Fat 15g23%
Saturated Fat 9g56%
Cholesterol 40mg13%
Sodium 135mg6%
Potassium 4mg0%
Carbohydrates 38g13%
Sugar 37g41%
Vitamin A 475IU10%
Vitamin C 2.2mg3%
Calcium 6mg1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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  • Reply
    October 7, 2019 at 4:44 am

    5 stars
    I used this when I made my β€œred wedding” cupcakes for GOT night. Yellow cake with raspberry compote inside with lemon buttercream on top. It was such a hit, I keep going back to making these cupcakes for people. I’m making them for my kids school cake walk for tomorrow. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Reply
      October 7, 2019 at 4:47 am

      Thanks, Genny! It’s one our favorites too. You just can’t beat that lemony taste! πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    September 2, 2019 at 11:47 pm

    4 stars
    Way too lemony. I think 1 tablespoon of the lemon zest would be sufficient. I couldn’t even lick the beaters….I think I will eat my cupcakes without frosting. Maybe it was because my lemons were not ripe? I don’t blame your recipe, I think it’s great.

    • Reply
      September 3, 2019 at 4:37 am

      Hi Jenni, The frosting is full of lemon flavor but it’s not inedible. The peel holds most of the flavor, so using just one tablespoon still works. I don’t know what an unripe lemon tastes like – especially the peel. I wonder how different the taste is when the lemon isn’t ripe.

  • Reply
    June 27, 2019 at 8:11 pm

    5 stars
    I too like lemony buttercream rather vanilla cream. It is not only delicious but it gives me summery feel. That is perfect frosting recipe.

    • Reply
      June 28, 2019 at 4:34 am

      The lemon really is summery! Thanks πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    June 26, 2019 at 1:38 pm

    5 stars
    Both myself and my daughter love anything lemon. She is such a good little baker, she will love making these this weekend!

    • Reply
      June 26, 2019 at 7:45 pm

      I love that your daughter loves to bake! And I agree – I love everything lemon!

  • Reply
    June 26, 2019 at 8:17 am

    5 stars
    Oh my gosh! This recipe is so perfect! My BFF LOVES lemon buttercream and her bday is in two weeks! She’s gonna love this! Thanks so much!!!

  • Reply
    Heidy L. McCallum
    June 26, 2019 at 7:39 am

    5 stars
    You have made me one happy girl! I made this the other day and it turned out perfect. I have been looking for a Buttercream frost like my great grandmother made and yours is the closest I have found. So thrilled!

  • Reply
    Fred G
    December 5, 2018 at 6:14 am

    5 stars
    Hmmmm, good

  • Reply
    Pamela (BrooklynFarmGirl)
    May 26, 2017 at 2:16 pm

    Yum! It looks so good!

    • Reply
      May 31, 2017 at 4:41 am

      Super buttery and lemony! It just doesn’t get any better. πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    stacey @ The Sugar Coated Cottage
    May 25, 2017 at 4:46 pm

    Wow, first lemon curd, now lemon buttercream? Just fine by me, I could eat lemon all day long. This buttercream looks indulgent! Take care.

    • Reply
      May 31, 2017 at 4:44 am

      It gets even better….lemon cupcakes! πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    May 25, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    haha lemon in the air is always a good thing!! This buttercream sounds sooo good! And such a perfect flavor for warmer weather!

  • Reply
    Jessica @ Citrus Blossom Bliss
    May 25, 2017 at 11:12 am

    5 stars
    I love love love this lemon buttercream & that it’s made with just a few ingredients. I love making chocolate buttercream with just powdered sugar, milk and cocoa powder. Sometimes simple is just the BEST! This buttercream would be amazing on a cupcake I’m sure!

  • Reply
    Cheyanne @ No Spoon Necessary
    May 25, 2017 at 7:31 am

    YES! Gimme all the lemon flavored everything! Especially buttercream frosting! This looks absolutely delicious! I could honestly eat this frosting with a spoon! Cheers, friend!

  • Reply
    Anu - My Ginger Garlic Kitchen
    May 25, 2017 at 7:18 am

    This is indeed time for lemon flavored desserts. This lemon buttercream sounds just wow, Kathy. Wonderful tips.

  • Reply
    Rachelle @ Beer Girl Cooks
    May 25, 2017 at 6:49 am

    Lemon is one of my favorite dessert flavors. I love this buttercream and great tips!

  • Reply
    May 25, 2017 at 5:15 am

    5 stars
    Mmmm – I just love lemon desserts! The only thing I need to get better at is remembering to pull the butter out of the fridge an hour before! Please tell me I’m not the only one who does that?! πŸ˜‰ This recipe is lovely!

    • Reply
      May 25, 2017 at 6:03 am

      You are so right….remembering to take the butter out ahead of time is the toughest part!

  • Reply
    Nicoletta @sugarlovespices
    May 24, 2017 at 7:28 am

    I just love lemon desserts and this buttercream looks and sounds amazing!

    • Reply
      May 25, 2017 at 5:00 am

      Thanks, Nicoletta. The lemon really shines through in this buttercream.

  • Reply
    karrie @ Tasty Ever After
    May 24, 2017 at 7:14 am

    I want to eat all those cupcakes and all that frosting for breakfast!! My Hubby’s favorite kind of dessert is anything lemon so I’ll have to make him a cake and use this frosting. He’ll love it!

    • Reply
      May 25, 2017 at 4:57 am

      He would love this lemon buttercream!

  • Reply
    May 24, 2017 at 3:49 am

    I love lemon flavored desserts! this buttercream looks perfect!!

    • Reply
      May 24, 2017 at 4:59 am

      I agree, Manali!

  • Reply
    Dawn - Girl Heart Food
    May 22, 2017 at 7:31 am

    Love lemon and lemon desserts! Great use of the lemon curd! So decadent πŸ™‚ I would be so tempted to eat this as is, straight up, no cupcake or anything needed, lol. Cheers to a great week!

    • Reply
      May 23, 2017 at 7:16 pm

      It’s okay to just eat the buttercream! I won’t tell anyone. πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen
    May 22, 2017 at 6:54 am

    Love the tips, and love this lemon buttercream. It’s probably my favorite flavor of buttercream. I want to reach into my screen and grab that yummy looking cupcake Kathy!

    • Reply
      May 23, 2017 at 7:15 pm

      It’s one of my favorites too!

  • Reply
    David @ Spiced
    May 22, 2017 at 5:39 am

    I totally agree that lemon is in the air! I always crave lemon flavored desserts in the Spring and Summer. πŸ™‚ And I agree with Fran that this is a killer frosting recipe. I love that it’s all butter!

    • Reply
      May 23, 2017 at 7:20 pm

      Lemons are super refreshing and add so much flavor! I love ’em.

  • Reply
    Fran @ G'day Souffle'
    May 20, 2017 at 7:09 pm

    Nothin’ better than butter cream frosting- it’s good enough to eat (the whole bowl) on it’s own! I remember your Butter Cream recipe from one year ago (my, time does fly)! I like this recipe better, since it has all butter, rather than combining with margarine.

    • Reply
      May 24, 2017 at 5:13 am

      I love using all butter. It has such great flavor. Sometimes when the weather is too warm I use a mixture. Otherwise the buttercream just doesn’t hold up.

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