Cupcakes/ Dessert/ Fruit Desserts

Lemon Cupcakes

March 5, 2015

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

Lemon Cupcakes |

Yep, you’ve guessed right. I officially have a thing for lemon, and it is beyond my control. My palette has changed rather drastically in the last couple of years, and while I used to not like cupcakes nor lemon that much, today my life feels empty without them. Lemon has actually become one of my favorite flavors, and it can do miracles to a plain cake. Plus, in cupcakes especially, it helps 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. Both the cupcakes and the frosting have lemon, and together they have just the right balance of flavor.

The frosting is a simple classic buttercream, made mostly of butter and sugar. Luckily, these cupcakes are worth every single calorie. Otherwise, there would be no excuse for me eating 3 of them in a row.

Lemon Cupcakes |

What if I don’t like classic buttercream?

Well, first of all, that’s weird, but you do have 2 other options:

  1. Make cream cheese frosting.
  2. Make Swiss meringue buttercream.

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, you risk it becoming too thin. If that happens, simply add more powdered 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.

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 that I can’t even find the right words to describe it. 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.

Honestly, I could talk about these cupcakes forever, but I better let you go make them for yourself to understand what I mean.

Lemon Cupcakes |

Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream
Yields: 12 cupcakes
These are my favorite lemon cupcakes. They are moist, have the perfect balance between sweetness and tanginess, and are bursting with lemon flavor.
Lemon Cupcakes:
  • 1⅓ cups (185g/6.5 oz.) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (200g/7 oz.) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest*
  • ½ cup (1 stick/113g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons (90 ml) whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
Lemon Buttercream Frosting:
  • ½ cup (1 stick/113g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1½ – 2½ cups (180g-280g) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream or whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • Optional: Homemade or store-bought lemon curd, for filling cupcakes
  1. Note: This amount of frosting is always enough for me to frost exactly 12 cupcakes, and has a good balance between cake and frosting. You can see in the photos how much I use for each cupcake. If you want more frosting, multiply the recipe by 1.5.
  2. For the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. In another small bowl, toss together sugar and lemon zest until combined.
  4. 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.
  5. Divide batter evenly between the cups, filling them about ¾ full. Bake for 15-20 minutes (or 8-10 minutes for mini cupcakes), until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs. Allow cupcakes to sit for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
  6. Unfrosted cupcakes can be kept tightly covered at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw, still covered, on the counter or overnight in the fridge.
  7. 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 ¾ cup (90g) sugar and beat well until smooth. Add cream, lemon juice, and lemon zest and beat until combined and smooth. Add another ¾ 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.
  8. If you wish to add lemon curd filling: Once the cupcakes have cooled, cut a ½-inch (1.5cm) 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.
  9. *You’ll need a total of 2-3 lemons for this recipe.

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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
    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!

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