Filed Under: Cakes & Cupcakes | Spring

Lemon Cupcakes

Recipe By Tessa Arias
  |  
April 1st, 2019
4.89 from 9 votes
4.89 from 9 votes

Easy homemade Lemon Cupcakes with lemon cream cheese frosting have the perfect balance of sweet and tanginess and are perfect for spring, Easter, or Mother's Day!

Yield: 15 cupcakes

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook: 20 minutes

This recipe is sponsored by Bob’s Red Mill. Thank you for supporting me in working with brands I love to bring you new recipes!

Tessa's Recipe Rundown...

Taste: The perfect balance of sweet, tart, and fresh.
Texture: The cupcakes are tender, light, and fluffy while the frosting is ultra rich, smooth, and creamy.
Ease: Very simple and easy. No need to purchase bland grocery store cupcakes!!
Pros: Fresh and flavorful. Such a crowdpleaser. These will VANISH.
Cons: None.
Would I make this again? Definitely!

I have to say that right behind chocolate, my favorite dessert flavor is probably lemon.

Lemon goes good on SO many savory foods, but when coupled with sugar it’s the perfect marriage. Fresh, tangy, and sweet blend together so nicely.

Lemon cupcake on a plate with cupcake liner removed

These Lemon Cupcakes would be perfect for ANY spring or summer festivity. Easter or Mother’s Day would be particularly perfect, even a baby shower or bridal shower for something fresh and easy!

Anytime I’ve brought these cupcakes to a picnic or potluck they’ve vanished within minutes so you may want to bake a double batch.

Lemon cupcakes with flour and ingredients on counter

Once again I’m partnering with one of my favorite baking ingredient brands, Bob’s Red Mill, to bring you this spring cupcake recipe. Bob’s Red Mill doesn’t just produce high quality flours, grains, and tons of other go-to ingredients, but they’re also employee-owned. I find that pretty amazing in this day and age!

I thoroughly enjoy working with brand partners that have a strong company culture of family and community. Their Organic All Purpose Flour is perfect in this recipe. Learn more about Bob’s Red Mill and stock up on baking ingredients here.

Lemon cupcakes with flour and ingredients on counter

How to Make the BEST Lemon Cupcakes

How Do I make moist & tender cupcakes?

Firstly, it’s key that you measure your ingredients properly. Especially your flour. It’s ridiculously easy to accidentally add too much flour when using measuring cups. I like to use the spoon and level method or better yet, a digital kitchen scale. Learn more about the importance of measuring flour correctly here.

Bob’s Red Mill Organic All Purpose Flour has a protein content of 10-12% so it’s enough to create cupcakes that maintain their shape and hold up to a generous amount of frosting, but soft enough to yield a tender texture.

With this recipe you really want to make sure not to overmix the batter which can create dense and gluey cupcakes. Use a gentle hand and stir until JUST combined.

Do I have to use whole milk?

Fat not only provides richness, it also enhances flavor. It helps tenderize the cupcakes. For those reasons I highly recommend using whole milk, but if you only have 2% that will work in a pinch. I wouldn’t recommend skim milk.

How to Stop Cupcake Liners from Sticking

Oftentimes this is due to the brand of liners. This is my favorite brand that I order in bulk from Amazon. I’ve written an entire post on how to prevent cupcake liners from sticking here in case this is a common problem for you.

Cream Cheese Frosting

This recipe includes an amazing fresh lemon cream cheese frosting. Its tangy freshness balances the sweetness so perfectly. Be sure your cream cheese and butter are at room temperature before beating for a smooth lump-free frosting. Scrape down the sides of your mixing bowl as you beat the butter and cream cheese. Even if you have a paddle attachment that scrapes the sides as it goes, those usually don’t get the very bottom of the bowl.

Also don’t skip on sifting the powdered sugar if you want smooth and picture perfect icing.

The amount of powdered sugar in this recipe does make a softer frosting because I didn’t want it to be too sweet. If you need a stiffer consistency for piping with a decorative piping tip, feel free to add more powdered sugar. You can also omit the lemon juice and replace with about 1/2 tsp. lemon oil (or to taste) to thicken.

If you don’t like cream cheese frosting (gasp!) you can always add the lemon zest + juice in this frosting recipe to my Best Buttercream recipe.

How to Make Cupcakes Ahead of Time

The cupcakes can be baked and stored in an airtight container a day ahead of frosting. The frosting itself can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. Just bring to room temperature and beat until light and fluffy again.

The frosted cupcakes can be left at room temperature for up to 8 hours, since the sugar in the cream cheese frosting acts as a preservative. After that, you’re best off refrigerating the cupcakes in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Let come to room temperature before serving.

If you’re serving these outside on a warm day, just keep them in the fridge until you set up for your party, picnic, potluck, or whatever. They’ll lose their chill just in time to be eaten. This will prevent melting.

Lemon cupcake on plate with bite taken out

More Lemon Recipes

April Baking Challenge

These Lemon Cupcakes are the recipe selection for the April Baking Challenge! Bake a batch, snap a photo, and submit your entry below for a chance to win one of three prizes (including a KitchenAid stand mixer) furnished by Bob’s Red Mill. Get the FULL details here.

April 2019 Baking Challenge

4.89 from 9 votes

How to make
Lemon Cupcakes

Yield: 15 cupcakes
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Easy homemade Lemon Cupcakes with lemon cream cheese frosting have the perfect balance of sweet and tanginess and are perfect for spring, Easter, or Mother's Day!

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 3/4 cups (222 grams) Bob’s Red Mill Organic All Purpose Flour
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (240 ml) whole milk, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

For the lemon cream cheese frosting:

  • 8 ounces (227 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 stick (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine salt
  • 2 1/2 cups (313 grams) powdered sugar, sifted*
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeeze lemon juice

Directions

Make the cupcakes:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two standard muffin tins with 15 paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl combine the flour, lemon zest, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer on medium-high speed to beat the butter and sugar until fluffy and very well combined, about 3 minutes. On medium-low speed add the egg and beat until combined. Combine the milk and and lemon juice. Add in the flour mixture and milk mixture in alternating batches, starting and ending with the flour, mixing until just combined.
  4. Divide the batter among the prepared muffin tins, filling each 3/4 full. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the frosting:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, butter, lemon zest, and salt on medium-high speed until very light, creamy, and smooth. On low speed gradually add in the sugar then the lemon juice and beat until creamy and smooth. If you need a stiffer consistency for decorative piping, add more powdered sugar.

Recipe Notes

*Increase powdered sugar to 3 1/2 cups for a stiffer consistency for decorative piping if you'd prefer.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: easter, mother's day, spring

Photos by Ashley McLaughlin.

About Tessa...

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

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  1. #
    Aileen — April 1, 2019 at 8:45 am

    Hi, I would like to join the baking challenge, but I have an allergy to citrus. Can this recipe be made with pineapple or another fruit? Thanks!

    • #
      Tessa — April 1, 2019 at 12:18 pm

      I’ve tried this recipe with 3/4 cup blueberries with success! You can add blueberry jam to the frosting 🙂

  2. #
    Connie Grubbs — April 1, 2019 at 12:36 pm

    I am interested in joining the challenge, however I am allergic to lemons. Crazy, I know, but I am. Can another flavor be substituted? I can do any of the other citruses just not lemon. Makes no sense to me.

    Thank you, Connie

    • #
      Tessa — April 1, 2019 at 4:08 pm

      Oh how strange!! Yes, feel free to do orange or lime – whatever citrus you like 🙂

  3. #
    Tine — April 1, 2019 at 5:08 pm

    How can i make this to a cake and which pan size?
    Can I double the frosting ingredients to have enough frostine for the cake?
    Also, can i add whipped cream to the frosting? Thanks!

  4. #
    Linda Yuen — April 2, 2019 at 9:22 am

    Please use decimal or scaled amounts throughout the recipe. Why is flour measured in cups but sugar in grams? No reason why baking soda or salt can’t be in gram either.

    • #
      Tessa — April 4, 2019 at 1:22 pm

      Hi Linda – the flour is in grams as well. I don’t include gram measurements of teaspoon measurements because most home use kitchen scales aren’t accurate enough at such a small level. Teaspoons are easier to use in my opinion 🙂

  5. #
    Beth — April 3, 2019 at 9:57 am

    Where is the print icon to print just the recipe?

    • #
      Tessa — April 14, 2019 at 1:50 pm

      There’s two print icons at the top of the page and one in the recipe box under the title on the right side.

  6. #
    Surraiya — April 5, 2019 at 10:52 pm

    Hello tessa dear
    Can we also have a video of the lovely lemon cakes for the challenge?
    It is such a help.
    Thanx

    • #
      Tessa — April 14, 2019 at 1:50 pm

      No video this time, I’m afraid!

  7. #
    Mary Ann Williams — April 7, 2019 at 5:41 am

    Please ignore entries for Mohammed Williams. For some reason when I tried entering the first time even though I put my information in, the system pulled up my son’s email and Facebook instead. Thanks!

    • #
      Tessa — April 14, 2019 at 1:50 pm

      I’ve removed the double entry so now it’s just yours!

  8. #
    mary — April 12, 2019 at 4:03 am

    hi! is the amount of flour specific to bob’s red mill organic? still 2 1/2 cups if using king arthur’s all purpose?
    thanks…..

    • #
      Tessa — April 14, 2019 at 1:49 pm

      Yes, same measurement 🙂

  9. #
    Nita — April 12, 2019 at 5:14 pm

    Can I substitute cake flour or regular cake flour for Bob’s organic flour?

  10. #
    Nita — April 12, 2019 at 5:17 pm

    Sorry, I said cake flour twice. The question should be …Can I substitute cake flour or AP flour for Bob’s Organic flour

    • #
      Tessa — April 14, 2019 at 1:48 pm

      The flour called for is all-purpose flour 🙂

  11. #
    Pam — April 17, 2019 at 6:50 am

    Have you ever made these as mini cupcakes using the mini muffin pans? If so, do you have any idea the difference in baking time?

  12. #
    Connie — April 21, 2019 at 1:23 pm

    These cupcakes are amazing! Not too tart or sweet but so delicious! And that frosting, just perfect. Everyone raved about them! I’ll make these again for sure!

  13. #
    Janet — April 22, 2019 at 9:36 am

    Desperately need assistance: I’ve tried to make these twice now, but both times, my frosting separates or curdles, and I think it has something to do with the acid of the lemon juice and the dairy component of the cream cheese. Any thoughts about what is happening in my process? Many thanks!

    • #
      Tessa — April 22, 2019 at 3:43 pm

      Hi Janet – I’ve never had that happen to me before! You could perhaps try using lemon extract in place of the lemon juice 🙂

  14. #
    Kathryn Smith — May 13, 2019 at 5:09 pm

    This is my new favorite lemon cupcake recipe. I had one before I thought I liked, but this one is ten times better. My dad loves lemon everything. Now I have the perfect recipe to make for his birthday every year. Fluffy cupcake with a smooth cream cheese frosting. How did you come up with such a tasty recipe?

  15. #
    Tracy T — June 19, 2019 at 1:26 pm

    I made this and as an added bonus put homemade lemon curd in the center. So delious.

  16. #
    Julia Livingston — June 29, 2019 at 9:07 pm

    I loved this recipe, as did everyone else.

    If I wanted to make it as a cake, what size pans would be best and how long would you bake it?

    And, of course I would double the icing recipe because it was just that good!

  17. #
    Lille — July 19, 2019 at 2:17 am

    Delicious! I’m making another batch today! Thank you for the recipe.

  18. #
    Thea R Hopkins — August 19, 2019 at 11:34 pm

    I only made the icing for a different cupcake recipe and doubled the ingredients to make 24 cupcakes. I always pipe my icing and found that I needed to add over 700g more icing sugar for the mixture to stiffen slightly – even then it wasn’t enough and my icing ended up being quite floppy (but I’d run out of sugar at this point). I would recommend tripling the icing sugar if you’re intending to pipe and then gradually add more as needed. Only downside to this is the icing ends up being quite sweet, still very lemony though.

  19. #
    Annie Yeo — August 25, 2019 at 1:10 am

    Texture of the cupcake was moist, tender, fluffy and super delicious. Also the frosting goes so well with it. I will be baking again for my mum’s upcoming cell group meeting.

  20. #
    Annie Yeo — August 27, 2019 at 11:54 pm

    This was my 2nd try for my mum’s cell group yesterday and all the people enjoyed with thumb up! I

  21. #
    Kim — November 17, 2019 at 8:13 pm

    Lemon is my favorite

  22. #
    Kim — November 17, 2019 at 8:15 pm

    I haven tried it yet

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