Orange Buttercream Frosting – Sweet and Tangy

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This orange frosting is irresistibly sweet and tangy. It’s an easy buttercream recipe with a bold orange flavor from fresh orange zest.

Orange frosting on vanilla cupcakes


Like all of my American buttercreams, this one requires unsalted butter, powdered sugar, and salt. The key ingredient that makes this frosting stand out is orange zest.

I’ve tried making orange frosting using orange marmalade, orange juice, and orange extract. But, I’ve found that using zest is by far the best method for flavoring the frosting.

Marmalade and juice make the frosting too wet. It will be difficult to pipe and won’t hold its shape. Orange extract works well, but it isn’t sold in most grocery stores and can sometimes have an artificial taste.

Orange zest is fresh and bursting with natural flavor. It only takes the zest of a single large orange to flavor a whole batch of buttercream. Adding zest is the same method that I use to flavor my favorite lemon frosting.

Adding orange zest to frosting batter

Expert Tips and FAQs

To ensure that your orange buttercream comes out perfectly each time, follow these tips:

  • Start with butter that is room temperature.
  • Beat the butter on high speed with an electric mixer for three minutes so it gets nice and light and airy.
  • Add more powdered sugar if you like a really stiff frosting and less if you are OK with it being a little looser.
Orange buttercream in the mixing bowl


  • Try adding orange zest to sour cream frosting or cream cheese frosting for extra tang.
  • Try using a mix of orange and grapefruit zest.
  • Add a few drops of orange food coloring and mix thoroughly if it’s important to you that the frosting be orange-colored.
  • Add spices like anise, cardamom, and/or ginger to make the frosting even more interesting. Pipe it on top of gingerbread cupcakes or another spiced cupcake where it’ll pair perfectly!

This recipe is so versatile as cupcake frosting or on cakes. Some of my favorite recipes to use it on are:

cupcake frosted with orange buttercream
Did you make this recipe? Leave a review!
Orange frosting on vanilla cupcakes
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4.87 from 23 votes

Orange Frosting

This orange frosting is sweet and tangy. It's an easy buttercream recipe with a bold orange flavor from fresh orange zest.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 6 minutes
Total Time 6 minutes
Servings 16 servings
Calories 190kcal
Author Stefani


  • 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar add more until it reaches your preferred consistency
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest zest of 1 large orange
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  • Beat butter on high speed with an electric mixer for about three minutes until light and airy.
  • Mix in powdered sugar a little bit at a time.
  • Add zest and salt and continue to beat for another minute.
  • If desired, add more powdered sugar to make the buttercream frosting stiffer.


  • If you plan to make a large swirl of frosting, this recipe will only cover about 8 cupcakes. Double as needed.
  • The frosting will cover one 8″ cake.
  • If you want to pipe it on cupcakes, the easiest way to achieve the perfect cupcake swirl is to use a 1M tip [paid link].
  • While there are many frosting recipes that you can mix by hand, the best buttercream frostings require lots of air to be incorporated into the butter. To really get this job done right, I highly recommend that you use an electric mixer. A hand mixer or a stand mixer will both work well.
  • You will need to stop and scrape down the side of the bowl every minute or so while you are mixing as butter will stick to the edges of the bowl. The easiest way to do this is with a silicone spatula. One way to avoid scraping down the bowl is to use a mixer that has a scraping paddle. Many mixers now come with scraping paddles, but you may be able to purchase one if yours doesn’t (e.g. the beater blade [paid link]).
  • Sift the powdered sugar if needed. Take a look at the actual sugar to see if it has clumps (some brands are clumpier than others). Clumps of powdered sugar will not get integrated into the frosting and may end up getting stuck in your piping tip. Measure before sifting.
  • The frosting lasts for up to a week at room temperature or months in the freezer. You will need to bring it to room temperature and mix it again for a minute or two before you start piping.


Calories: 190kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Sodium: 75mg | Potassium: 3mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 358IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 1mg
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