This lemon buttercream frosting is a citrus lover's dream come true! It has a smooth consistency and perfectly balanced tanginess and sweetness, so all this frosting needs is some cake to go with it!
If you want to bake a classic lemon cake, like this one, what better frosting to go on it than lemon buttercream? This is truly the best lemon frosting recipe, and it happens to be dairy free, too! After one taste of this icing, you'll know why you need to keep this recipe on hand. If you have 4 ingredients and 10 minutes, you can have a wonderful frosting to complement the cake of your choice!
Looking for more dairy free frosting? Check out this chocolate frosting and this cream cheese frosting (plus carrot cake to go with it).
Why this recipe is the best!
Some people love everything chocolate, while others love everything citrus. I think we all know which group this cake appeals to. It's sure to be a hit with everyone, but especially lemon lovers! The great thing about homemade lemon icing is that you can pair it with whatever flavor of cake you want: lemon, vanilla, or even strawberry! Here are a few more reasons to love this lemon buttercream frosting:
- It only takes 10 minutes to make.
- This recipe calls for just 4 ingredients.
- This buttercream is dairy free, thanks to the vegan butter.
- This recipe makes enough frosting to frost and decorate a 2 layer cake. If making 24 cupcakes, one batch of this frosting with frost the cupcakes with smooth tops. If you want to pipe the frosting on each one, you'll need to double the recipe.
Ingredients & substitutions
- Vegan butter - Regular butter can be used instead if you can tolerate dairy.
- Powdered sugar - I don't recommend substituting the powdered sugar as powdered sugar is a huge part of this recipe.
- Lemon zest - Make sure you freshly zest the lemon right before you mix it.
- Lemon juice - Use freshly squeezed lemon juice, rather than from a bottle.
Measurements for each ingredient, along with instructions for making the frosting are in the recipe card below.
How to zest and juice a lemon
You'll need a small grater to zest the lemon. Wash and dry the lemon, then rub it with the grater back and forth a few times and repeat all over the lemon. To juice the lemon, slice it in quarters and squeeze each piece over a small bowl. Remove any seeds that fall into the juice.
Lemon buttercream frosting step by step
Step 1: Start with butter that's been softened to room temperature.
Step 2: Cream the butter on low until light and creamy.
Step 3: Sift in 2 cups of powdered sugar.
Step 4: Mix on low speed until the sugar is completely mixed in. A hand mixer works great, or use a stand mixer.
Step 5: Sift in the remaining 2 cups of powdered sugar and mix on low. The frosting will come together but be dry and stiff.
Step 6: Add the lemon zest and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Mix on low.
Step 7: The frosting should be easy to spread around. If it's too stiff, add another tablespoon of lemon juice.
Step 8: Whip until the frosting is smooth. Now it's ready to decorate a cake or cupcakes!
💭Pro tips for making lemon buttercream frosting
1. Use softened butter
The key to mixing buttercream frosting is using softened butter. If the butter is still cold from the fridge it will be lumpy and hard to mix into a smooth consistency. Leave your butter out on the counter for a while before you start.
2. Use a stand or handheld mixer
In baking, there are some things you can mix by hand (though it will be a real arm workout). Buttercream frosting isn't really one of those things. You'll need a mixer to beat everything together and achieve the right consistency.
3. Sift in the powdered sugar
Rather than just scooping the sugar out and pouring it into the bowl, make sure you sift it. This will prevent the frosting from having lumps of powdered sugar in it. The goal is a smooth-as-jazz frosting!
4. Add more lemon juice if needed
If you get to the final steps and your frosting is still looking dry and stiff, add another tablespoon of lemon juice. This bit of extra liquid should help it get to the texture you're aiming for.
Lemon buttercream frosting FAQs
Not really. To reach the right consistency and whip up the frosting, you need either a stand mixer or a handheld mixer.
Yes, just make sure to use a large bowl so you'll have plenty of room. Or you can just make 2 batches side by side.
Yes, just cut the recipe in half if you are going to frost a 9"x13" sheet cake. The full recipe makes enough for a 2 layer cake or a batch of 24 cupcakes.
Other recipes you may like!
The Best, Easy Lemon Buttercream Frosting (Dairy Free!)
- 1 cup vegan butter softened
- 420 grams powdered sugar about 4 cups
- 1 ½ teaspoons lemon zest
- 2 - 4 Tablespoons lemon juice
- In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter on low speed until light and creamy.
- Sift in two cups of powdered sugar into the bowl.
- Mix on low speed until sugar is completely mixed in.
- Sift in the remaining 2 cups of powdered sugar and mix again on low speed. The frosting will come together but seem dry and stiff.
- Add in the lemon zest and 2 Tablespoons of the lemon juice.
- Mix on low speed. Frosting should be easy to spread around, if not, add another Tablespoon of lemon juice.
- Whip until frosting is smooth.
- This recipe makes enough frosting to frost and decorate a 2-layer cake or 24 cupcakes with smooth tops.
- To decorate 24 cupcakes with piped frosting, make a double batch of frosting.
- Cut the recipe in half for a 9"x13" cake.
- Leftover frosting stores well if tightly sealed in the refrigerator. Use within 7 days.
- A sugar substitute is not recommended.
- The vegan butter may be substituted with regular, unsalted butter.