Lemon Cupcakes

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4.43 from 91 votes
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The best lemon cupcakes with cream cheese frosting!

This lemon cupcake recipe is made from scratch with cake flour, lemon zest, and freshly squeezed lemon juice for soft and tender cupcakes packed with a burst of natural lemon flavor.

Lemon cupcakes topped with cream cheese frosting and garnished with a slice of lemon

I love lemon desserts like 3-ingredient lemon cookies, lemon bars, fluffy lemon cake, and these homemade lemon cupcakes. I seriously can’t get enough of that sweet and tangy combo–so delicious.

Lemon desserts are light and fresh, making them great for serving up during the Spring and Summer months.

Like my strawberry lemonade cupcakes, they also make a wonderful dessert for Easter, Mother’s Day, bridal showers, or baby showers!

6 lemon cupcakes topped with icing and candied lemon wedges.

Ingredients

For the cupcakes you will need:

Lemon cupcake ingredients: unsalted butter, baking powder, milk, lemon zest, granulated sugar, eggs, salt, lemon juice, cake flour, vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups cake flour (see notes below for an easy cake flour substitute)
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • ¼ cup lemon juice

For the cream cheese frosting you will need:

Cream cheese frosting ingredients: sifted powdered sugar, cream cheese, vanilla extract, unsalted butter
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 4 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Substitutions & variations

no cake flour? You can make a simple cake flour substitute with all-purpose flour and corn starch. Measure out 1 ½ cups of all-purpose flour, then remove 3 tablespoons of flour from your measurement. Replace with 3 tablespoons of cornstarch, whisk together, then sift.

lemon cream cheese frosting – kick the lemon flavor up a notch by adding 2 Tablespoons lemon juice and 1 Tablespoon lemon zest to the lemon cupcake frosting.

How to Make Lemon Cupcakes

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the cupcake pan with cupcake liners and set aside.

Step 2: In a large bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. 

Step 3: Using a stand mixer or handheld mixer, beat the butter and sugar together for 2 minutes, or until creamed. 

Left: cubed butter and sugar in bowl of a stand mixer; on right: creamed butter and sugar in bowl of stand mixer

Step 4: Add eggs one at a time, mixing until fully incorporated. 

Left: egg added at creamed sugar in bowl of stand mixer; right: egg mixed into batter

Step 5: Slowly mix in half of the dry ingredients, half of the milk, and the vanilla extract, lemon zest, and lemon juice; mix until well-combined.  Add the remaining dry ingredients and milk. Mix until fully combined and no lumps are visible. 

Left: dry ingredients and vanilla added to cake batter in bowl of stand mixer; right: ingredients fully combined into smooth batter in bowl of stand mixer

Step 6: Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners until about 2/3 full. 

Step 7: Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.

Left: cupcakes liners in 12-cup muffin tin filled 2/3 of way with batter; right: baked cupcakes with golden tops

Step 8: In a large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese until well blended and no clumps remain.

Step 9: Slowly mix in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Add vanilla and beat until creamy.

left: cream cheese and butter in bowl, semi-combined; right: cream cheese frosting well-blended

Step 10: Pipe cream cheese frosting onto cupcakes using a knife or your favorite frosting tip, I used tip 1C. Garnish with a slice of lemon, if desired.

Lemon cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and fresh lemon slices for garnish. Lemons and blue napkin are in background

Storage

Prep ahead: Baked cupcakes can be made a day ahead of time and stored in an airtight container at room temperature until ready to frost and serve.

Refrigerator: Lemon cupcakes with cream cheese frosting should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, where they will keep for up to 3 days. Allow cupcakes to come to room temperature before serving.

More lemon dessert recipes

Recipe
Lemon cupcakes topped with cream cheese frosting and garnished with a slice of lemon
Recipe
4.43 from 91 votes

Lemon Cupcakes

Author: Jaclyn
Prep: 35 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 55 minutes
Soft and tender lemon cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, made from scratch with lemon juice and zest for a burst of natural lemon flavor.

Ingredients
 

For the lemon cupcakes:

  • 1 ½ cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon zest
  • ¼ cup lemon juice

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 4 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

For the cupcakes:

  • Preheat the oven to 350℉. Line the cupcake pan with cupcake liners and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. 
  • Using a stand mixer or handheld mixer, beat the butter and sugar together for 2 minutes, or until creamed. 
  • Add eggs one at a time, mixing until fully incorporated. 
  • Slowly mix in half of the dry ingredients, half of the milk, and the vanilla extract, lemon zest, and lemon juice; mix until well-combined.  Add the remaining dry ingredients and milk. Mix until fully combined and no lumps are visible. 
  • Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners until about ⅔ full. 
  • Bake for 18-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:

  • In a large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese until well blended and no clumps remain.
  • Slowly mix in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Add vanilla and beat until creamy.
  • Pipe onto cupcakes using a knife or your favorite frosting tip (we used tip 1C). Garnish with a slice of lemon, if desired.

Notes

Cake flour substitute: Measure out 1 ½ cups of all-purpose flour, then remove 3 tablespoons of flour from your measurement. Replace with 3 tablespoons of cornstarch, whisk together, then sift.
Prep ahead: Baked cupcakes can be made a day ahead of time and stored in an airtight container at room temperature until ready to frost and serve.
Storage: Frosted cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 492kcal
Lemon cupcakes topped with cream cheese frosting and garnished with a slice of lemon

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4.43 from 91 votes (87 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating




18 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Lemon flavor is perfect, clearly lemony without being overwhelming. Icing is perfect, not too sweet and consistency is firm enough for easy transport. Unfortunately, I did not notice the recipe is for only 12 cupcakes nor did I notice there was an option to increase the number of cupcakes you want. I do believe the icing recipe doesn’t need to be doubled for 24 cupcakes.

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