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Adventures in food for curious cooks.

Lemony-Basil Buttercream Frosting


Lemony-Basil Buttercream Frosting

Lynley Jones

White buttercream frosting infused with fresh lemon and basil. Sweet, creamy and deliciously different. Created for Pink Raspberry Cupcakes (but would be great with many other kinds of cakes).

This recipe was originally created for our Series of Unfortunate Recipes, based on the book and Netflix series by Lemony Snicket.

Makes enough for 1 dozen cupcakes or 1 eight-inch layer cake (2 layers).


Lemony-Basil Buttercream frosting shown here on Pink Raspberry Cupcakes made in the Adventure Kitchen.

1/2 cup heavy cream (divided, see instructions)

1/4 cup granulated sugar

8-10 large basil leaves

Zest and juice of 1 Meyer lemon (see notes if using a standard lemon) 

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

3 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar

Pinch of salt


Meyer lemon zest and juice steeping with basil leaves in sweetened cream.

1. In a small saucepan, combine 1/4 cup of the cream with the granulated sugar, basil leaves, Meyer lemon zest and juice. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then turn the heat to low and steep for 15 minutes with the lid off. Strain into a small bowl, stir in the remaining 1/4 cup of cream, and cool to room temperature. 

2. In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using an electric mixer), cream the butter for 2-3 minutes until pale and soft. Beat in the pinch of salt, then gradually add the powdered sugar, a cup-full at a time, alternating with splashes of the lemony-basil cream mixture, while continuing to beat. When everything has been thoroughly combined, taste and add another small pinch of salt if needed to bring the flavors together. Stir in food coloring if desired.

Notes -

If you don't have access to Meyer lemons, use the zest of a small standard American lemon. Omit the juice.

To make ahead: refrigerate with a tight-fitting lid for up to 3 days, or freeze in an airtight container for up to 6 months. Defrost in the refrigerator until soft, then whip with a fork or whisk for an even consistency.