Cupcakes/ Dessert/ Fruit Desserts

Lemon Cupcakes

June 15, 2018

These are my favorite lemon cupcakes. They are moist, tender, have the perfect balance between sweetness and tanginess, and are bursting with lemon flavor. 

Lemon Cupcakes

My palate has changed rather drastically in the last couple of years, and while I didn’t like cupcakes and lemon desserts that much, now lemon cupcakes are one of my favorite desserts. Lemon has actually become one of my favorite flavors, and I think it can do miracles to a plain cake. Plus, in cupcakes especially, it helps to cut down on the sweetness quite a bit, so if you’re not a fan of classic sweet buttercream, you might still love these cupcakes. You just have to!

These cupcakes are moist, delicate, and full of lemon flavor. The frosting is a simple classic buttercream, made mostly of butter and sugar. Luckily, these cupcakes are worth every single calorie.

Lemon Cupcakes


I use lemon buttercream for these cupcakes, but if you prefer a frosting with less sweetness, you can try these:

For both options, you should add either lemon curd (homemade or store-bought) or lemon juice and zest to the frosting until you reach the desired taste. For enough frosting to frost 12 cupcakes, I like to add about 2 teaspoons of zest and 1 tablespoon juice, or a few tablespoons of lemon curd. You can add as much as you like, of course, but just make sure that, if you’re using cream cheese frosting, to only add a little bit of juice at a time. Otherwise, the frosting can be too thin. If that happens, add more powdered sugar until desired thickness.

Mix lemon zest with sugar

You’ll notice that I toss the lemon zest together with the sugar. That’s my little trick for bringing out lemon flavor in baked goods. Doing this causes the lemon zest to release its natural oils, which will absorb quickly into the sugar, helping to distribute the flavor throughout the batter. Just be sure that, when grating the zest, you only grate the yellow part and not the bitter white pith beneath it.

Fill cupcakes with lemon curd

If you want to make these cupcakes even more delicious and lemon-y than they already are, you can add lemon curd filling to the center of each one. It’s so good! Homemade lemon curd can be prepared ahead of time and frozen for a couple of months. I always make a double batch, freeze it, and thaw as much as I need to use for filling cakes, pavlovas, doughnuts, and more.

Lemon Cupcakes

More Lemon Desserts:

4.74 from 15 votes
Lemon Cupcakes |
Lemon Cupcakes
YIELD: 12 cupcakes

This amount of frosting is enough for me to frost exactly 12 cupcakes, but I don't use a lot of frosting for each cupcake (as you can see in the photos above). If you want more frosting, multiply the frosting recipe by 1.5.

Lemon Cupcakes:
  • 1 1/3 cups (185 g/6.5 oz.) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (200 g/7 oz.) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick/113 g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (90 ml) whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
Lemon Buttercream Frosting:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick/113 g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 cups (180-280 g) powdered sugar , sifted
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream (or whole milk)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  1. For the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. In another small bowl, toss together sugar and lemon zest until combined.
  3. Using a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and lemon-sugar mixture on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary. On medium speed, beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla extract and beat until combined. With the mixer on low speed, add half of the dry ingredients and beat just until combined. Add milk and lemon juice and beat until combined. Add the other half of the dry ingredients and beat slowly until just combined. Do not overmix – the less you mix, the lighter the cupcakes will be.
  4. Divide batter evenly between the cups, filling them about 3/4 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs. Allow cupcakes to cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

  5. For the frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed until smooth, creamy, and the consistency is similar to mayonnaise, about 2 minutes. Add 3/4 cup (90 g) powdered sugar and beat well until smooth. Add cream, lemon juice, and lemon zest and beat until combined and smooth. Add another 3/4 cup sugar and beat until completely smooth and fluffy. Beat in more sugar as needed, until desired consistency (thick enough to pipe). Frost cupcakes once they’ve cooled.
  6. If you wish to add lemon curd filling: Once the cupcakes have cooled, cut a 1/2-inch hole in the center of each cupcake using a spoon or melon baller. Spoon about a teaspoon of lemon curd into the hole, then frost the cupcakes.

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  • Reply
    March 5, 2015 at 11:20 am

    Thank you so much for the recipe. The lemon cupcakes look so beautiful and delicoius. I like the way you decorate the cupcakes. It is so elegant and stylish.

    • Reply
      March 5, 2015 at 11:56 am

      Thank you so much!

  • Reply
    Thalia @ butter and brioche
    March 5, 2015 at 3:51 pm

    Just perfect Shiran! I always love coming & visiting your site to see what sweet creations you have created this week. Pinned!

    • Reply
      March 6, 2015 at 3:26 am

      That’s so sweet of you Thalia, thank you so much!

      • Reply
        January 11, 2019 at 7:08 am

        This is awesome I love these lemon cupcakes with lemon icing it’s delicios

  • Reply
    Lokness @ The Missing Lokness
    March 5, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    We read each other minds! I just posted a lemon cupcake recipe yesterday! Mine is with raspberry buttercream. I also love lemon, especially with desserts! That tanginess balance perfectly with sweets. Your cupcakes look stunning! Love the fresh flower on top.

    • Reply
      March 6, 2015 at 3:25 am

      Thank you, Lokness! I love lemon cupcakes because it balances the sweetness perfectly, and one of my favorite things to add to it is raspberries! They are the perfect combination!

  • Reply
    Lynn | The Road to Honey
    March 5, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    Ha! Ha! Three cupcakes eh? I can see why though as these look so yummy and I bet they went down oh-so easy. But then again, I am partial to lemon and I love the idea of adding a little bit of lemon curd to these already lovely treats.

    • Reply
      March 6, 2015 at 3:31 am

      At least three cupcakes 😉 I add lemon curd all the time and it’s so good!

  • Reply
    Allie | Baking a Moment
    March 5, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    These are the prettiest lemon cupcakes ever! I just love the way you’ve garnished them, and your trick for tossing the zest in with the sugar is brilliant!

    • Reply
      March 6, 2015 at 3:27 am

      Thank you Allie! I’m so glad you like them! 🙂

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    Hi there, what a beautiful space you have here! It’s like getting lost in a delicious world of desserts. : ) These lemon cupcakes are lovely…I also use the trick of rubbing the zest into the sugar, a great tip I first read about from Dorie Greenspan. : ) Citrus zest is amazing stuff and brightens everything up.

    • Reply
      March 17, 2015 at 2:09 pm

      The flavor of the lemon is so much better with this trick! Thank you so much Monica! 🙂

  • Reply
    March 9, 2015 at 4:50 am

    חחחח עושה רושם שיש לך את הגנים של המשפחה של החצי שלי, כי גם הם אוהבים כל דבר עם לימון
    הם מאדדדדדדדד יאהבו את הקאפקייקס האלה (גם אני!), רק שהם מוזרים ומעדיפים ללא קרם למעלה.

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    March 9, 2015 at 7:24 pm

    Hi Shiran, I haven’t had lemon cupcakes in a while, I think I need to change that. Your cupcakes look so perfect and I just want to scoop some of that buttercream frosting my way…I’m with you, why wouldn’t anyone love that buttercream? Beautiful pics!

  • Reply
    March 10, 2015 at 12:50 pm

    Wow,lemon!These lemon cupcakes must taste fresh graceful,and your pics are beautiful as always.Happy springtime,Shiran!

    • Reply
      March 16, 2015 at 10:06 am

      Thank you so much Sophie!

  • Reply
    February 14, 2016 at 9:01 pm

    Lemons, lemons everywhere. What to make? These cupcakes, simple and delish. Frosting is amazing. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  • Reply
    April 21, 2016 at 1:41 am

    Looks great, and I’m going to make these for my daughter’s 1st birthday party this weekend. I like the flower touch, but I have no idea what kind they are (the white and the yellow). Could you tell me what they are please? Thank you.

    • Reply
      April 21, 2016 at 4:53 pm

      Hi Mark! Actually I don’t know much about edible flowers, my friend gave me them that day. Sorry I couldn’t help!
      Happy birthday to your daughter! 🙂

      • Reply
        April 21, 2016 at 5:24 pm

        Thank you! I’m going to show the picture to someone in a flower shop. I’m sure they can identify it. It might be as simple as baby’s breath or something similar.

        • Reply
          April 22, 2016 at 9:45 am

          Or you could just use different flowers, I’m sure they would all look beautiful!

  • Reply
    Michael Brooks
    December 16, 2018 at 11:56 am

    Hi Shiran
    Made your lemon cupcakes today they are lovely ,but I only got 9 cupcakes out of the mix could you tell me what size cup cases you use
    Thanks mick

    • Reply
      December 18, 2018 at 8:09 am

      Hi Michael. I don’t know the exact size, but this might happen because the size can be different across different brands. It also depends on how much you fill the cups with batter.

  • Reply
    March 9, 2019 at 9:30 pm

    Your recipe was lovely and I enjoyed making the lemon cupcakes.
    I should tell you that there is a mistake in the spelling of the word “palate” in the very first sentence after the introduction of the recipe. It says: “My palette has changed…” I’m sure you were referring to taste and not an array of colors. You may want to correct that. 🙂
    Keep up the good work!

    • Reply
      Lisa B
      October 26, 2019 at 10:29 pm

      Her spelling is actually correct. Yours is referring to long, wood boards.

  • Reply
    Dave D
    March 10, 2019 at 4:35 pm

    Just found this and SO need to make them. I don’t know if I missed it somewhere, but what are those flowers you decorate with, absolutely love the work of art of the decorating! I will be doing cupcakes for an 80th birthday party in a few months, and would like to add these as one of the varieties.

    • Reply
      March 12, 2019 at 5:27 am

      Hi Dave! I actually don’t know much about edible flowers, it was a gift from a friend 🙂

      • Reply
        April 28, 2019 at 6:45 pm

        Love theses

  • Reply
    April 16, 2019 at 12:40 pm

    Hi I love your recipe:)
    I made those cupcakes and loved it.
    My question is can I make it with cake pan instead of cupcake pan?
    Thank you.

  • Reply
    April 16, 2019 at 5:54 pm

    I’ve made these cupcakes lots of time and every time everyone loved them but it i was wonder how many calories would a batch of 12 have

  • Reply
    April 17, 2019 at 7:22 am

    I love these cupcakes and when ever I made them everyone loved them but it would be great to know how many calories would be in a batch of 12 .

  • Reply
    April 19, 2019 at 10:08 am

    Thank you for this cupcake recipe-it is amazing!, I’ve made these three times now and they have met rave reviews! The zesty lemon flavor is perfect and the cake is incredibly moist. Frosting is equally decadent. I added extra lemon juice for an extra kick. Thanks again!,

  • Reply
    April 21, 2019 at 6:36 am

    Love this recipe

  • Reply
    April 22, 2019 at 2:53 pm

    I made these for Easter dinner yesterday. Unfortunately I didn’t check my pantry well enough and I didn’t have enough confectioners sugar to make the frosting. I made a glaze of lemon juice and confectioners sugar and brushed it on the cupcakes then filled them with the lemon curd. They were simple and oh so tasty! Luckily I had baked the cupcakes in some tall flower cupcakes liners so they were still pretty and the lemon curd circle made them look more flower like. Thanks for the great recipe.

  • Reply
    Emily coprada
    May 30, 2019 at 5:09 am

    Amazing!!! I baked this last sunday for a baby shower party everybody enjoyed the cupcakes. Thank you for sharing your great recipe . I wish I can email to you the pictures of cupcakes that I baked.

  • Reply
    June 11, 2019 at 12:34 am

    Would it turn out alright without the mixer? Could I do it by hand?

  • Reply
    July 5, 2019 at 4:19 pm

    Followed the recipe but my cupcakes cracked at the surface, what could I have done wrong?

  • Reply
    October 27, 2019 at 3:50 pm

    I am only 13 years old and making your cupcakes makes me love cooking even more!!! I use sooooo many of your recipes and I love them! So does my school

  • Reply
    July 9, 2020 at 6:10 pm

    Wow!! These cupcakes are amazing – they haven’t even been out of the oven for twenty minutes and three have disappeared lol (not by me). Will definitely be keeping this recipe for the future – I love that you can taste the butter and the lemon in perfect harmony! תודה רבה לך!

    • Reply
      July 12, 2020 at 4:28 am

      I’m glad you like them! 🙂

  • Reply
    September 4, 2020 at 12:53 pm

    I’ve made these as stated in the recipe before and they came out delicious, but today I tried something new! Removed the lemon zest and swapped the lemon juice for 3 tbs of passion fruit juice and got delicious passion fruit cupcakes! They taste like the passion fruit cake that my husband and I had for our wedding. Planning on baking another batch for Rosh Hashana! Thanks for the lovely and delicious recipe!

  • Reply
    December 10, 2020 at 1:00 pm

    I’ve made these cupcakes twice before using your recipe, and both batches were DELICIOUS, but also both pretty dense. Would using the egg foam method instead of just mixing the eggs into it fix this?
    Also, what would happen if I tried 1 tablespoon lemon extract with water instead of lemon juice? Could that improve the lemony flavor?
    But density aside, these cupcakes taste amazing, and I often use your site whenever I feel like baking something.
    Please keep posting more recipes!

    • Reply
      December 20, 2020 at 7:07 am

      I’m glad you like them 🙂 Whipping up the eggs/egg whites will make the cupcakes more airy, so you can try this method if you’re familiar with it. I prefer using lemons rather than lemon extract but it’s a matter of taste. You can add lemon extract if you want a stronger flavor.

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