My Lemon Frosting gets its bright, fruity flavor from real lemon curd! It’s got a silky smooth texture and pipes beautifully, making it the perfect choice for topping both cakes and cupcakes. Recipe includes a how-to video!
The Best Lemon Frosting Recipe
This brilliantly flavored lemon frosting strikes the perfect balance between tart and sweet. With it’s pale yellow hue and bright, citrusy flavor, this frosting is a perfect choice for topping spring cakes and cupcakes!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe:
- Unlike most lemon frostings that manage a shallow lemon flavor from lemon juice, lemon zest, or even lemon extract, this recipe has a robust flavor from a simple small-batch homemade lemon curd.
- It spreads and pipes beautifully, much like my classic buttercream frosting.
- Pairs perfectly with just about any springtime recipe, but especially my lemon blueberry cake!
To make sure the added step of cooking a curd was really worth the effort (a little time on the stovetop has certainly proven worth it for my German buttercream and ermine frosting!), I asked half a dozen of my family members do a blind taste test. When compared to a frosting made with lemon juice and zest, every single person overwhelmingly preferred this version, so I definitely think it’s worth the extra effort!
Let’s see if you agree 😊
What You Need
You only need a handful of ingredients for the most flavorful lemon frosting:
- Egg yolks. We’ll use these for our lemon curd. Don’t worry–they’ll be thoroughly cooked and safe to eat!
- Lemon juice. Fresh squeezed lemon juice is best for the most flavorful lemon frosting.
- Sugar. Compared to my classic lemon curd, you’ll notice that today’s recipe has a lesser amount of granulated sugar. This is intentional, since we’ll need to use powdered sugar later on and we don’t want our frosting to be overwhelmingly sweet.
- Unsalted butter. Use unsalted butter so we can control the amount of salt in our frosting.
SAM’S TIP: Do not add vanilla extract! It may seem odd to have a frosting recipe without any vanilla extract (even my chocolate frosting has a splash!), but I found that even the tiniest amount of vanilla completely dominated the lemon flavor in this frosting. It’s intentionally missing from this ingredient list, so leave it out!
Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make Lemon Frosting
- Combine the lemon curd ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until the mixture thickens.
- Pour the curd through a fine mesh strainer into a heatproof bowl and allow it to cool completely.
- Beat the butter until it is light and fluffy, then gradually add your powdered sugar until it is fully incorporated.
- Add the cooled lemon curd and mix until everything is completely combined. Use as desired!
SAM’S TIP: The curd must be cooled completely before adding it to the butter, or it could melt everything. Nobody wants to deal with that mess!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you could technically use a store bought lemon curd (about ⅓-½ cup), but the flavor may not be as pure and the frosting may end up sweeter.
If made in advance, yes, it needs to be stored in an airtight container in the fridge. It will keep this way for 2-3 days and will need to thaw to room temperature before you can spread or pipe it.
Once the frosting is on your cake/cupcake, it can sit at room temperature for several hours, but for best results, I recommend keeping it refrigerated.
Let’s bake together! I’ll be walking you through all the steps in my written recipe and video below! If you try this recipe, be sure to tag me on Instagram, and you can also find me on YouTube and Facebook
For Lemon Curd
- 2 large egg yolks
- ⅓ cup (80 ml) lemon juice fresh-squeezed preferred
- 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon table salt
- 4 Tablespoons (56 g) unsalted butter cut into pieces
- 1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter softened
- 3 cups (375 g) powdered sugar
- In a small, non-reactive saucepan (see note), whisk together egg yolks, lemon juice, sugar, and salt.2 large egg yolks, ⅓ cup (80 ml) lemon juice, 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar, ¼ teaspoon table salt
- Add butter and cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly until mixture is thickened (the whisk should leave trails through the curd and it should be able to coat the back of a spoon, see video or photos in post for visual if desired).4 Tablespoons (56 g) unsalted butter
- Remove from heat and pour through a fine mesh strainer into a heatproof bowl. Allow to cool completely before proceeding (you can transfer to the refrigerator to cool faster).
- Using an electric hand mixer or stand mixer, beat 1 cup softened butter until light and fluffy (high speed about 30-60 seconds). Gradually add powdered sugar until completely combined.1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter, 3 cups (375 g) powdered sugar
- Drizzle in cooled lemon curd and stir until completely combined. Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure ingredients are well-combined. Note: if frosting is too thin you can add additional powdered sugar, up to 1 cup/125g.
- Spread or pipe over cake or cupcakes.
SaucepanYou must use a non-reactive pan when making lemon curd. Acceptable materials include stainless steel, glass, enameled cast iron. Avoid using aluminum, copper, or iron (such as non-enameled cast iron) pans, which can react with the lemon and cause a metallic taste.
Storing/Making in AdvanceThe lemon curd can be made up to a day in advance, simply store in the refrigerator in an airtight container until ready to use (you do not need to return to room temperature before using). The assembled frosting may be prepared and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days before using, you will need to let the frosting return to near room temperature and stir until smooth before using. Once used to decorate a cake/cupcake, the frosting may sit at room temperature for several hours but for best results I recommend refrigerating.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.