Creamy, dreamy, light, and fluffy vegan lemon buttercream frosting for cakes, cupcakes, macarons, and more! This homemade recipe is easy to make and uses no extract, just 100% fresh lemon juice and zest to get the best and freshest flavour. Once you learn how to make it, you’ll want to top everything with it because this American lemon buttercream is the best!
Add butter and salt to the mixing bowl and mix for 1 to 2 minutes until soft and creamy.
Add 1 cup of the powdered sugar and mix at low speed. Once there are no more spots of dry powdered sugar, add the second cup and mix again at low speed. Stop occasionally to scrape down the sides of your bowl.
Add the lemon juice, vanilla, and lemon zest and mix at low speed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula again, if needed.
Turn the mixer up to medium speed and mix until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Stop occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Mix for a couple more minutes if you want a creamier, fluffier frosting.
Use immediately, or refrigerate / freeze until needed. (Refrigeration and freezing instructions can be found above and below)
Please read all of the information, tips, and FAQ info above, as well as the notes below before making this recipe.
This recipe makes enough to frost 12-16 cupcakes (depending on how much or how little you add to each one), OR one 9 x 13 cake, OR a single layer 8 or 9-inch round cake, OR a double layer 8″ or 9″ cake using a very thin layer of icing. The recipe can be doubled if you want a thicker layer of buttercream on your 2-layer cake or for a double batch of cupcakes. You can also triple the recipe for a triple-layer cake or a triple batch of cupcakes.
Make sure that your butter is slightly softened before starting, NOT melted or TOO soft. To make sure your butter is at the ideal softness, lightly press your finger into it. If it leaves a shallow indent, your butter is at the perfect temperature. If your finger sinks into the butter with barely any effort, your butter is too soft. Refrigerate it until it has firmed up and then test it again.
Sift your powdered sugar before starting if it is lumpy.
Use freshly squeezed lemon juice and fresh lemon zest for the best flavour.
If adding colour, add it at the end after all ingredients have been added and mixed into the buttercream.
Be sure you are using vegan butter that comes in sticks, not the type that comes in containers / tubs since they will be too soft and will result in a very soft frosting. See above for brand recommendations.
Chill the buttercream for 15-20 minutes if you will be piping decorations onto a dessert to make it easier.
If using a stand mixer, my preference is to use the paddle attachment. Follow the same directions above.
If refrigerating for later use, store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to one week. When ready to use, bring it to room temperature, add to a bowl and mix with your electric mixer or stand mixer to freshen it up before using.
If freezing for later use, store in an airtight, freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to use, thaw frozen frosting in the refrigerator overnight. Once thawed, bring it to room temperature, add to a bowl and mix with your electric mixer or stand mixer to freshen it up before using.
Once you frost your cake or cupcakes, you can leave them out at room temperature for a day or two, but after that, refrigerate.
Nutrition info is based on 1/12th of this recipe, made as written, on its own with no cake or cupcakes. Nutrition info is only to be used as a rough guide. Click to learn how nutrition info is calculated on this website.