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This 4-ingredient Lemon Buttercream Frosting is silky smooth and bright, ready in under 5 minutes! The perfect balance of tart and sweet!

piped lemon buttercream frosting on cupcakes.

Sometimes you need a simple buttercream that doesn’t require perfect timing, separating egg whites or any extra steps. You’ve landed on an easy lemon frosting that balances its confectioner’s sugar perfectly! Say good-bye to overly sweet buttercreams, and hello to fluffy lemon goodness. In less than 5 minutes you can get your frost on!

This lemon buttercream recipe would be incredible on these strawberry cupcakes, classic white cake, lemon curd filled lemon coconut cupcakes, or even a simple fluffy coconut cupcake!

Why this is the best lemon frosting recipe:

  • The lemon boost: The fresh lemon juice tempers sweetness. Pep up even the most basic dessert with bright citrus flavor!
  • Ready in 5 minutes. Light, fluffy and silky smooth buttercream in 5 minutes! Even if you forget to soften your butter. I’ll share a trick for that below.
  • A light & airy buttercream. You can whip more air for frosting cupcakes and brownies, or keep it a little thicker for frosting layer cakes. The texture is up to you! It pipes or spreads easily depending on your decorating vision just like my American buttercream recipe.
fluffing interior of lemon buttercream frosting on cupcake.
Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream Closeup Featured
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Professional Tips for Homemade Lemon Buttercream Frosting:

  • Please use unsalted butter. Butter is part of the flavor. Crisco has its place in the kitchen but I do not recommend it in this buttercream. 
  • Temp your butter. You want to use butter that is soft and pliable to help you get a silky consistency. If you forget to, I’ve shared an insider’s tip in the How To Make section!
  • Don’t add all the sugar at once. Don’t do what I did in the video and add all the powdered sugar in at once. I was impatient, and it takes longer to come together this way. Add a bit at a time like the cool, kitchen goddess that you are!
  • Juice fresh lemons. Fresh lemon juice is the main flavor here and it is so important.

Ingredients

lemon buttercream frosting ingredients.
  • Unsalted Butter: I use unsalted butter, but you could also use salted butter without stress. Just be sure to omit the kosher salt below.
  • Powdered Sugar: I recommend sifting the powdered sugar before adding to the butter. Sometimes the little lumps will come out in the mixer,  but sometimes they are stubborn! Powdered sugar is also ideal for American buttercreams like this one and my chocolate buttercream frosting because the fine granules incorporate better and will not have a gritty texture.
  • Kosher Salt
  • Lemon Juice: Lemon juice is the flavor here! My motto for citrus juices is that fresh is always best. If you must use store-bought lemon juice, try to find a frozen option that is frozen fresh juice. Sometimes you can find lemon juice in the refrigerator section. Note that if it looks dark in color, then it is no longer going to taste fresh.

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

Variations

  • Make it festive: This recipe yields a slightly off-white frosting, so why not make it a beautiful pale yellow with some drops of yellow food coloring? 
  • Other citrus: Want to make a different citrus buttercream? Like a lime or orange buttercream instead? You’ve piqued my interest, and I am totally here for it! Let me know in the comments which citrus you try, and what dessert you pair it with!
  • More subtle: If you want easy but are feeling a more subtle flavor, try this easy american buttercream recipe or cream cheese buttercream frosting!

Make your desserts into lemon desserts:

How to Make Lemon Buttercream Frosting

Use these instructions to make the perfect light, fluffy lemon buttercream every time!

Prepare buttercream: 

Step 1: In a large bowl, sift the powdered sugar. {Optional, but I find it makes things easier!}

Step 2: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment add softened butter, powdered sugar, and salt. Mix until light and smooth. Start the mixer on low until combined and then gradually increase to medium speed.

Wait! I forgot to soften my butter! No worries! Cube the butter and place it in the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium while warming the sides of the bowl with a kitchen torch. Keep the torch moving so the butter doesn’t melt, and stop frequently to let the butter redistribute the heat. The goal is to soften the butter, not melt it!

Step 3: Add the lemon juice to the butter mixture and beat with the paddle until homogenous and lightened.

adding sugar to butter in lemon buttercream frosting.
light fluffy lemon buttercream on paddle attachment.

Step 4: If a lighter, airier buttercream is desired, switch to the whisk attachment. Whisk on high until light and fluffy and white. For a smoother buttercream with fewer bubbles, keep the paddle attachment.

How to use lemon buttercream:

For Piping: Fit a piping bag with your favorite piping tip. Place the bag with a tip in a large glass and fold the edges over the rim of the glass. Fill the bag about 2/3 full. Press the buttercream to the bottom of the bag, get out any air pockets, twist the top and get ready to pipe!
For Spreading: Simply grab a large offset spatula, dollop on some buttercream and start spreading! Add more as needed.

piped lemon buttercream frosting on cupcakes.
swirled lemon buttercream frosting with sprinkles on cake.

Chef Lindsey’s Recipe Tip

The estimated yield (frosting either 24 cupcakes or 1, 8-inch cake) depends on whipping in some air for volume. If you omit that step, you will need more buttercream to frost the same amount of cake.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you store lemon buttercream frosting?

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 weeks or frozen for 3 months. For compact storage, place it in air-tight zip-top bags, remove excess air, flatten and zip up. Freeze flat then stack or store vertically. You can also store lemon buttercream at room temperature for up to 5 days, though most baked goods should only be stored at room temperature for 1-3 days. You should defer to the storage instructions on the cake, cupcakes, brownies, etc.

How to thicken lemon buttercream?

The best way to make lemon buttercream thicker is to chill the whole batch in the mixing bowl along with the paddle attachment. Allow the buttercream to set for 30-60 minutes. Mix the buttercream on low speed until it softens. Switch to the paddle attachment and then beat until light and fluffy. If it is still too loose, add more powdered sugar to thicken.

What do I do if my buttercream is too sweet?

The key to unlocking the perfect lemon frosting is the ideal ratio between tart lemons, sugar and butter. My lemon buttercream has just enough sugar to balance the puckering tartness of the lemons but not so much to make it sweet. Fresh lemon juice will help you get the best lemon flavor for this equation! If you find that it is still too sweet, add a small amount of fresh lemon juice.

How to get rid of the air bubbles in buttercream?

You need to make a choice: do you want air bubbles and a lighter frosting or do you want no air bubbles and a thicker frosting? If you want fewer air bubbles, I recommend not switching to the whisk attachment or pressing out some of the air bubbles with a spatula, if you mixed it with an electric mixer. I would choose a Swiss Meringue Buttercream or Italian Meringue Buttercream for smooth sides.

lemon buttercream on sheet cake.

If you tried this recipe and loved it please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it goes in the comments below. I love hearing from you; your comments make my day!

piped lemon buttercream frosting on cupcakes in tin.
5 from 3 ratings

Lemon Buttercream Frosting

This 4-ingredient Lemon Buttercream Frosting is silky smooth and bright, ready in under 5 minutes! Fresh lemon juice guarantees the perfect balance of tart and sweet!
Prep: 15 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
Servings: 20 people

Ingredients 
 

Instructions 

Prepare buttercream:

  • In a large bowl, sift the powdered sugar. {Optional, but I find it makes things easier!}
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment add softened butter, powdered sugar, and salt. Mix until light and smooth. Start the mixer on low until combined and then gradually increase to medium speed.
  • Add the lemon juice to the butter mixture and beat with the paddle until homogenous and lightened.
  • If a lighter, airier buttercream is desired, switch to the whisk attachment. Whisk on high until light and fluffy and white. For a smoother buttercream with fewer bubbles, keep the paddle attachment.

How to use lemon buttercream:

  • For Piping: Fit a piping bag with your favorite piping tip. Place the bag with a tip in a large glass and fold the edges over the rim of the glass. Fill the bag about 2/3 full. Press the buttercream to the bottom of the bag, get out any air pockets, twist the top and get ready to pipe!
  • For Spreading: Simply grab a large offset spatula, dollop on some buttercream and start spreading! Add more as needed.

Video

Notes

Yield – About 4 cups buttercream or enough to frost 24 cupcakes or 1, 3-layer cake. This is assuming you beat air into it. If you want to keep it thick and bubble-free, you might need to double the recipe.
Technique – If you want fewer air bubbles, I recommend not switching to the whisk attachment or pressing out some of the air bubbles with a spatula, if you mixed it with an electric mixer.
Storage – Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 weeks or frozen for 3 months. You can also store lemon buttercream at room temperature for up to 5 days, though most baked goods should only be stored at room temperature for 1-3 days.

Nutrition

Calories: 292kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 34mg | Sodium: 220mg | Potassium: 8mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 44g | Vitamin A: 400IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Calories: 292
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Before You Go

Explore more cake recipes and cupcake recipes to pair with this easy lemon buttercream! You might also enjoy perusing all our buttercream and frosting recipes or dive into this lemon cheesecake along with all of our lemon recipes!

Hi, I’m Chef Lindsey!

I am the baker, recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Chef Lindsey Farr. I believe in delicious homemade food and the power of dessert!

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