Jan has been cooking and writing about food for over 20 years. She has cooked on multiple television stations, including the Food Network.
Lemon Buttercream Frosting
We love lemon at our house—almost as much (gasp!) as chocolate. My daughter especially is a lemon lover, and I designed this frosting to go with one of her favorite special treats: lemon layer cake. We quickly discovered it's pretty phenomenal on other things too—such as the perfect filling for lemon sugar cookies.
It should go without saying that fresh lemons are key to this. Since you are using the lemon rind, it may be best to splurge a bit on organic lemons, or at the least lemons that have not been treated with pesticides or chemicals. In any case, wash your lemons thoroughly before starting to zest them.
This is the perfect finish for the lemon layer cake—although you could use it on a simple white cake as well. The fresh lemon juice and lemon zest are essential to the flavor here, so go ahead and zest those lemons—you’ll probably need two or three depending on the size.
In general, a large lemon will yield a tablespoon of lemon zest and a tablespoon of lemon juice. This can, however, vary tremendously as fruit is by nature inconsistent in size. Grab three lemons to be on the safe side.
This recipe makes a generous batch since I developed it for the lemon cake, which has four layers, and takes a crumb coat. So if you have a smaller cake, feel free to cut the recipe in half. Or just make an extra batch of treats! I don't know that I've ever heard anyone say they wanted fewer happy treats in their life, so there you go.
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, room temperature
- pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest, lightly packed
- 4 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together the butter, salt, and lemon zest until the butter is light and fluffy. Don't skimp on this step. Taking the time to incorporate as much air as possible into the butter makes a beautifully creamy finished frosting. *
- Working in batches, alternately add the powdered sugar and lemon juice, making sure you scrape down the sides of the bowl as you work.
- If your frosting isn't the consistency you want, it's easy to fix. If you think it's too loose, simply add more powdered sugar, about a half a cup at a time, until it firms up to your liking. If your frosting is too thick, loosen it up with a few drops of lemon juice at a time. For either method, just use the mixer to continue whipping it in until it's exactly what you want.
*Make sure your butter is truly room temperature—it should give some resistance to the pressure of a fingertip, but not so much that it's truly soft. And if it's beginning to melt, you need to stick it back in the fridge to firm up.
Check Out The Quick Tutorial!
Lemon Zest is Easy - Check Out How!
Loads of Lemon Flavor
Beat Until Light and Fluffy
Work in Batches
Lemon Layer Cake
Lemon Sandwich Cookies
© 2017 Jan Charles
Toby Newman on August 26, 2020:
339g butter, room temp
30ml lemon zest
944ml icing sugar
44ml fresh lemon juice
Rachel L Alba from Every Day Cooking and Baking on September 26, 2017:
Hi Jan, that looks so light and fluffy, I want some right now. I will be making this on my next cake and I pinned it.
Blessings to you.