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Lemon Cupcakes

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posted: 05/06/21

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This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy

Lemon Cupcakes are the ultimate dessert for lemon lovers. These easy to make treats are bursting with lemon flavor, with the most perfect lemon buttercream frosting.

up close picture of lemon cupcakes topped with frosting swirl and a lemon wedge

There is something about lemon desserts that makes me feel like I’m eating sunshine. They are the ultimate pick me up treat, full of bright bursting flavors.

That is the perfect description for this great Lemon Cupcake recipe. It is made with lemon juice, lemon zest, and lemon extract for the best lemon flavor. That great flavor is perfectly balanced with the sweetness of the cupcake and the buttery smoothness of the frosting.

How to Make Lemon Cupcakes

  1. Whisk the dry ingredients: In a medium bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar: In a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until the butter is light and fluffy. Do not shy away from this step, make sure the sugar has beat the butter into a fluffy mess. Scrape down the bowl and the beaters before moving on.
  3. Add the eggs and vanilla: You want to add each of these one at a time, making sure they are fully combined in the butter and sugar mixture before moving on.
  4. Add half the dry ingredients: Pour half the flour mixture into the butter mixture, mixing until it is just combined before moving on.
  5. Add in the liquid: Now add in the milk, lemon juice, and lemon zest while the mixer is turned do low. The mixture may look a little curdled, but that is okay. Scrape down the sides of the mixer, making sure to get the bottom, before moving on.
  6. Add the rest of the dry ingredients: Pour in the remaining flour mixture and mix on low until it is just combined. Scrape down the sides and give it one more mix just to make sure everything is combined. Be careful not to over mix.
  7. Bake: Pour the batter 2/3 of the way full in muffin cups and and bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick stuck in the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean.
a bunch of lemon flavored cupcakes on a white cake stand

How to Make Lemon Buttercream Frosting

The frosting for this recipe is based off of my Vanilla Buttercream Frosting. We are just swapping the vanilla extract for lemon extract and adding a little lemon zest.

  1. Combine butter and 2 cups of powdered sugar in a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. Add 4 tablespoons of milk and the lemon extract.
  3. Continue adding the powdered sugar until you have added 5 cups, total.
  4. If the mixture is too thick, add another tablespoon of milk.

When the cupcakes have cooled, pipe the buttercream on to them. This recipe makes enough buttercream to top all the cupcakes as pictured.

Piping Lemon Frosting

I love this piping set. It is affordable, reusable, and very durable. You can see me using it in my Gingerbread House Recipe and I also used it to decorate our Soft Cut Out Cookies.

However, for these, I wanted something big and bold. I used the Wilton 1M Open Star tip.

close up of a lemon cupcake that has been bit into

What is Cake Flour?

Cake flour is lower in protein than all purpose flour and more finely ground. Because of this, it behaves differently than all purpose in baking recipes and you cannot swap one for the other.

While you will get the best results following the recipe and using cake flour, if you truly cannot find any, you can replace the 2 cups of cake flour in this recipe with 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour and 3/4 cup corn starch. Make sure to fully incorporate the corn starch into the flour before adding it to this recipe.

Tips and Tricks for Lemon Cupcakes

  • Use Cake Flour. As mentioned above, cake flour and all purpose flour are not interchangeable. For best results, use cake flour.
  • Use room temperature butter. Your butter will feel cold to the touch, but should be easy to dent with your finger. To accomplish this quickly, cut the butter into one inch pieces and leave it on your counter for a half hour.
  • Make sure your baking powder is fresh. To test, add a little baking powder to a small bowl of water. It should bubble right away.
  • Fully beat your butter and sugar together. Like we mentioned above, make sure to fully beat the sugar into the butter until it is light and fluffy. This will take between 3 and 6 minutes.
  • Scrape down the bowl between additions. Before you move on to the next step, scrape down the mixing bowl and the beater well. This will ensure a smooth and even batter.
close up of lemon cupcakes on a tray

Other Lemon Desserts

If you make this lemon cupcake recipe, leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

up close picture of lemon cupcakes topped with frosting swirl and a lemon wedge
0 from 0 votes

Lemon Cupcakes

Serves: 16 cupcakes
(tap # to scale)
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Lemon Cupcakes are the ultimate dessert for lemon lovers. These easy to make treats are bursting with lemon flavor, with the most perfect lemon buttercream frosting.

Ingredients

Lemon Cupcakes

  • 2 cups cake flour see note for alternative
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest

Lemon Frosting

  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons milk (I used skim, but a higher fat content milk will also work)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest

Instructions

Lemon Cupcakes

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Fill two muffin tins with cupcake liners.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the softened butter with the sugar until it becomes light and fluffly, about 3 to 6 minutes. Then mix in the vanilla, and then the eggs one at a time. Scrape down the mixing bowl and mix for an additional 30 seconds until everything is combined.
  • Add in half of the flour mixture and mix until it has just started to combine.
  • Add in the milk, lemon zest, and the lemon juice, mixing on slow. The mixture may look curdled, but that is okay. Now add in the rest of the flour mixture, mixing on slow until everything is just combined. Scrape down the sides, and beat for a few more seconds, being careful not to over mix.
  • Add the batter to the muffin liners, filling them 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until the cupcakes are lightly golden on the top and a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out with just a few crumbs.
  • Allow the cupcakes to cool in the muffin tin for 2 minutes before transfering them to a cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting.

Lemon Frosting

  • In a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and 2 cups of powdered sugar.
  • Add in 4 tablespoons of the milk, lemon extract, and lemon zest. Beat until well combined, scraping down the mixing bowl as needed.
  • Add in the reamining sugar, and beat until combined. Add the additional milk if the frosting is too thick.
  • I used Wilton's 1M Open Star tip to frost the cooled cupcakes.

Notes

For the best results with this recipe we recommend that you purchase cake flour. In a pinch, you can replace the 2 cup all purpose flour with 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour and 3/4 cup corn starch. Please be sure to fully incorporate the two before using them in this recipe.
Author: Lisa Longley
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
up close picture of lemon cupcakes topped with frosting swirl and a lemon wedge

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Lemon Cupcakes

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Hi! I'm Lisa Longley, and I am committed to giving you simple dinner ideas and recipes that are easy to make; recipes that will fill your home with joy. I am the owner and author of SimpleJoy.com and I'm so glad that you are here.

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