Lemon Cupcakes

Brian often does our mid-week grocery shopping, I typically include a detailed list and even accompany that list with visual aids (photos) on occasion. You see, I am a self-proclaimed control freak and he is a chronic over buyer…especially when the shopping list includes meat. So, if I am not specific, he will come home with 10 pounds of beef in tow and virtually nothing else besides maybe a bag of beef jerky and a 12 pack of Coke. Okay, I am being a little dramatic here, but not by much! Serious question though…does meat over buying run prevalent in males? I think it does.

Long story short, he went to the store last week ill-equipped to shop…i.e., no Jamie created list. I asked for limes and ended up with a giant bag of lemons. Hey, beggars can’t be choosers right, at least he does some grocery shopping. So I bit my tongue and changed up my lime cupcake baking plan, simply subbing in lemons for the limes.

I used my go to white cake recipe from Dorie Greenspan and simply adapted it to up the lemon factor. I then slathered on lemon cream cheese frosting and topped with a large yellow sprinkle and called it a night. The result? Not only do these look adorable, but they are now my new favorite cupcake, they’re moist with an incredible crumb and bursting with lemon flavor. I am betting my original plan for lime cupcakes would be equally as delicious. If you make a lime version, definitely stop back and let me know how it goes! Maybe I’ll just have to send Brian back to the store, but this time I’ll text him a pic of a lime. Thanks so much for stopping by…have a great day!

Looking for more luscious lemon recipes? Give these a look-see:
Lip Smacking Lemon Bars from My Baking Addiction
Chewy Lemon Sugar Cookies from My Baking Addiction
Lemon Buttermilk & Rhubarb Cake from Honey & Jam
Roasted Lemon Chicken Wings from Three Many Cooks

Are you swooning over the  fab yellow liners and giant sprinkles pictured? Check out Bake it Pretty to order!

Lemon Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: 24 Cupcakes

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 18-22 minutes

Total Time: 44 minutes


For the Cake

  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • lemon zest from two lemons
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 2 (8) ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 2 lbs. confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • juice of one lemon


For the Cake

  1. Center a rack in the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare cupcake tins by using liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.
  4. Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter and, working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light.
  5. Beat in the extracts, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated.
  6. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients.
  7. Finally, give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Place the batter into the cupcake tins.
  8. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until the cupcakes are well risen and springy to the touch – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean. Cool on wire rack.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  1. Using a mixer, blend the butter and cream cheese together until well combined.
  2. Gradually add in the confectioners’ sugar until fully incorporated.
  3. Finally mix in vanilla and lemon juice and mix until combined.

304 Responses to “Lemon Cupcakes”

  1. Tamryn — June 21, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    I just made these for my husband’s birthday and they are delicious. However, the icing recipe produced about 8x as much icing as I needed. How long will it keep and any suggestions on what to do with the excess?


    • Jamie — June 24, 2015 at 9:29 am

      I’m sorry you had so much extra icing. You could use it for muffins, cakes, quick breads or cookies. It should keep in the refrigerator for 5-7 days. I hope this helps.


  2. LK — June 21, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    These were terrible…. the flavor is really good, but the consistency is like eating a sponge… definitely would have left the jello out. They sunk in when I took them out of the oven and looked pitiful. Don’t use cake liners…


    • Jamie — June 24, 2015 at 9:27 am

      I’m sorry the recipe didn’t work out for you.


  3. ava — July 27, 2015 at 7:24 am

    This recipe was so good!I made it yesterday and the kids loved it.


    • Jamie — July 27, 2015 at 5:41 pm

      Yay! I’m so glad to hear to enjoyed the recipe! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your feedback. Happy Baking!

  4. Joy Sembrano — September 27, 2015 at 10:22 am

    I would like to ask the equivalent measurement of butter in grams for 1 stick? Thanks in advance for your reply. I am going to try this lemon recipe for our dessert buffet.


    • Jamie — January 5, 2016 at 10:59 am

      Hi, Joy! There are 113 grams in one stick of butter. I hope you enjoyed the cupcakes!

  5. Adrian — January 31, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    These cupcakes were fabulous! I just pulled them out of the oven and they are light and airy and delicious. I added extra lemon extract and they were divine! 


    • Jamie — January 31, 2016 at 5:01 pm

      So happy to hear that you love them, Adrian! Thanks so much for stopping by.

  6. Madison — March 17, 2016 at 5:26 pm

    This is a fantastic recipe works great and tastes amazing the only thing i can criticize is the amount of buttermilk adding extra sugar vanilla extract and lemon juice but otherwise they are amazing and they taste like gourmet cupcakes so rich and moist and mwaaa!!! 


    • Jamie — March 19, 2016 at 7:40 am

      Hi, Madison! I’m so glad you enjoyed them!

  7. PamellaJo Massicotte — March 25, 2016 at 2:50 pm

    I’m baking these  for Easter but am adding Lemon Curd as a filling for a twist.  Thank you for the recipe and as well to everyone who took the time to leave comments.  Ill let you know how they turn out.


    • Jamie — March 26, 2016 at 10:52 am

      I hope everyone enjoys these for Easter, PamellaJo! Take care!

  8. Megan — May 9, 2016 at 9:09 pm

    These were fantastic! I made a batch for a coworkers birthday and they were gone in 10 minutes! I’m constantly looking for new recipes to bake, hoping to find a keeper. This one is definitely going to stay around! Recipe yielded much more frosting than we needed, but I plan on making more goodies to use it up. Thanks!


    • Jamie — May 10, 2016 at 11:29 am

      You’re very welcome, Megan! I’m glad your coworkers enjoyed them!

  9. Michelle — May 30, 2016 at 10:23 pm

    I tried this recipe tonight with great success! For me it made 27 standard cupcakes. I used my large round Ateco 809 piping tip and had frosting left over (but not a lot – probably could have piped another 2 cupcakes or so).  The frosting ended up too much like a glaze so all I did was add more powdered sugar spoonfuls at a time until I got the desired piping consistency. It still had a great lemon flavor.  I think the size of the lemons I juiced had something to do with the thickness of the frosting (I used large lemons).  Taking them to work tomorrow and I know they’ll be a hit! Thanks so much for the recipe! 


    • Jamie — June 2, 2016 at 9:46 am

      You’re very welcome, Michelle! I hope everyone enjoyed them!

  10. Erin — July 2, 2016 at 12:19 am

    I absolutely adore these cupcakes and have made  them on several for my family (we eat them all in one night) but my only problem is I keep making watery frosting. I have no idea what’s wrong but I was wondering how you were able to get yours so fluffy looking? thanks so much for this fantastic recipe


    • Jamie — July 2, 2016 at 10:50 am

      Hi, Erin! I’m so glad you like the cupcakes! As for the watery frosting: maybe just pull back on the beating a bit? Maybe that’ll help. Let me know how it goes!

  11. Joy — July 7, 2016 at 8:52 am

    Hello! I’ve made these cupcakes a couple of times now, and they’ve turned out so well each time! I am wondering if the recipe would make cake layers equally well.  Has anyone tried this? Thanks for your help!



    • Jamie — July 7, 2016 at 11:09 am

      Hi, Joy! I think you could definitely bake these into a layer cake. Keep the temperature the same, but bake for about 5 to 8 minutes longer. Check for doneness before pulling it out of the oven. Let me know how it goes!

  12. Michelle — September 11, 2016 at 12:15 am

    Made these for a second time tonight. Delicious as always. Made with a lemon. Buttercream 


    • Jamie — September 11, 2016 at 12:03 pm

      Sounds wonderful, Michelle! I’m so glad you liked them!

  13. Dee — October 1, 2016 at 2:58 pm

    How do I make mini cupcakes with this recipe? I am only making 24 minis- can I essentially half the recipe?


    • Jamie — October 5, 2016 at 1:46 pm

      Hi, Dee! I think halving the recipe is a good place to start. Let me know how you like them!

  14. Bonny — January 27, 2017 at 5:51 pm

    I made these for my sons 1st birthday and now I’m getting requests to have them at his second! They were that memorable AND I was told they were better than Magnolias. Would recommend this recipe to EVERYONE!!!


    • Jamie — January 29, 2017 at 11:33 am

      Wonderful, Bonny! Happy birthday to your son!

  15. Cynthia — March 14, 2017 at 12:11 am

    I really love this recipe! I’ve even substituted the lemon zest with a strawberry purée and omitted the lemon extract of course to make strawberry cupcakes!!

    I do have a question…would this cake mix be able to freeze well?

    I freeze some of my batters and was wondering about this one?


    • Jamie — March 14, 2017 at 7:48 am

      Hi, Cynthia! I’m really glad you like the recipe. I’ve never frozen this batter, so I honestly don’t know how it will do. I think you can bake the cupcakes/cakes and freeze those until you’re ready to use. I love your strawberry additions!

  16. Livi Christiansen — March 16, 2017 at 8:53 pm

    I really like the looks of this recipe! I have not made it yet, but am in the process. This looks fabulous!


    • Jamie — March 17, 2017 at 1:44 pm

      I hope you enjoy them, Livi!

  17. Cynthia — March 26, 2017 at 3:37 pm

    The first two times I’ve made them they were perfect!! But now the recipe has a weird aftertaste I don’t know what happened.


    • Jamie — March 27, 2017 at 10:56 am

      Hi, Cynthia! I’m not sure what could be causing the aftertaste….let me know if you give them another try!

  18. Lily — March 29, 2017 at 11:06 am

    Can I use milk instead of buttermilk or will that change the consistency too much?


    • Jamie — March 29, 2017 at 4:23 pm

      I think milk will be just fine, Lucy. I hope you like them!

  19. Jubal Cimburke — April 12, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    About to make these but it seems like there is way too much confectioners sugar needed so im wondering if i should add less or not


    • Jamie — April 13, 2017 at 8:54 am

      Hi, Jubal! Feel free to add the amount of confectioners sugar to your liking. Let me know how you like it!

  20. Vanessa — May 27, 2017 at 7:08 pm


    I made this today but as a cake using two 8″ layer pans. The cakes didn’t rise–is it possible the batter was beaten too much? I beat it for a little less than two minutes at the end as directed but I have a pretty strong stand mixer (the bowl lift type). Also, the finished cakes had a lot of air bubbles.

    Thank you,


    • Jamie — May 31, 2017 at 6:35 am

      Hi, Vanessa! Several things could have happened….oven temperature, expired baking powder…Take a look at these two things, and hopefully this will help. Good luck!

  21. Eileen — June 13, 2017 at 10:55 am

    I have not made these yet, but was curious about using just the egg whites; everyone seemed to love them, I was curious as to why you didn’t use the whole egg. I am going to make a sunflower cupcake cake using 75 mini cupcakes, and this recipe sounded very good, but I don’t want it to have a texture of an angel food cake.
    Thank you for your feedback,


    • Jamie — June 13, 2017 at 4:08 pm

      Hi, Eileen! The egg whites add a really pristine color to the cake. I haven’t tried whole eggs in this recipe, but I think they should turn out just fine. Let me know how you like them!

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