Lemon Cupcakes With Buttercream Frosting

Mary and Brenda Maher

By Brenda & Mary

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You know us bakers, always looking for new experiments! And let me tell you, the options are endless for homemade lemon cupcakes. 

Lemon cupcakes

I’ve always had a soft spot for killer lemon-based frostings (let’s talk about that in a sec), but there’s so much more you can do. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice, sprinkle in a little lemon zest – or hey, why not wow everyone with a hidden lemon curd filling right in the cake’s center? All of that goodness collides in my recipe!

Why Everyone’s Crazy About Lemon Cupcakes Recipe

  • They’re basically the perfect sweet-tart tango on the tongue. The cupcake part is already light and fluffy, and then there’s that zesty lemon kick that wakes up your taste buds like a burst of sunshine! 
Lemon cupcakes recipe
  • These guys are total crowd-pleasers with their bright flavor and cheery look. They’re just as perfect for special occasions (like birthday bashes or baby showers) as for summer picnics or with a warm afternoon tea! Other kicked-up versions like lemon blueberry and lemon raspberry cupcakes were also huge hits at my bakery.
  • And as I said earlier, some cupcakes even take it to the next level of awesome with a sneaky lemon curd filling in the center. The intense lemon profile brings another flavor explosion you never saw coming!

How To Make Lemon Cupcakes With


Step 1. 

First, preheat the oven to 375°F. Now, grab your food processor, toss in the lemon zest and sugar, and give it a good whirl until the zest is all nicely mixed in and the sugar takes on a lovely light yellow hue! 

This step is super important and really amps up the flavor. But hey, if you’re really in a hurry, just add the zest to your wet ingredient mixture later on! 

Step 2. 

Next, mix the melted butter, eggs, sour cream, milk, lemon juice, and sugar in a medium-sized bowl until smooth. Set the bowl aside for a second. 

How To Make Lemon cupcakes

Step 3. 

Let’s move on to the dry stuff! Grab another big bowl and sift in the salt, flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Keep whisking ‘til everything’s nicely combined. 

Step 4.

Time to bring it all together! Pour that wet mixture (from Step 2) into our dry ingredients from Step 3, gently mixing everything all up. And don’t go overboard; we are looking for something light and fluffy here, not hockey pucks! 

Step 5.

Now, onto the exciting part: baking our lemony delights!

Line the muffin tin with 28 cupcake liners, and fill each about ¾ full. I usually swear by an ice cream scoop (one with a trigger would be even better) for this job; it makes life so much easier! But if that’s not your style, just spoon that cupcake batter in the usual way.

Pop everything in the oven at 375°F for about 5 minutes. Next, lower the oven temperature to 350°F and keep the magic going for another 12 mins (or until they’re nice and springy when touched).


Lemon Frosting how to make

Step 6

While our cupcakes are busy in the oven, let’s whip up some heavenly buttercream frosting! 

Get your stand mixer ready with a paddle attachment. Toss in the butter, zest, and salt, then let it rip for 2-3 minutes; we want to give the zest a bit of a workout to really release all its flavorful oils. Trust me, it’s going to be absolutely divine!

Step 7.

Take your powdered sugar and sift it into the mixing bowl in batches. Beat it all together until smooth, and remember to give the bowl a good scrape down so that every last bit gets onto the party! 

Drizzle your lemon juice slowly while mixing at low speed. Once it’s all in there, crank up to medium speed and keep beating until you’ve got a smooth, creamy frosting. Give the bowl one last scrape down to make sure nothing’s missing out on the fun, then beat for another 1-2 minutes for good measure! 

Step 8.

Your cupcakes all cool and ready? Good! Time to get wild with the decoration! You’ve got options here: keep it classic with a simple swirl using a star-shaped tip, or go for a more rustic look with a dollop of frosting spooned on top. 

Lemon cupcakes frosting

Feeling even more extra? Then why not try piping some buttercream lemon wedges? 

To do that, just pipe the buttercream atop the cupcake in a circle (I often snip the end off my piping bag or use a large round tip). Then, smooth it out with a small knife or offset spatula. 

And there you have it: a batch of adorable and oh-so-delicious lemon cupcakes, ready to steal the show! 

Lemon cupcakes final



Too much cake flour can totally throw off your recipe. One of the easiest ways to get it right is with a kitchen scale, but if you do not have one, no worries. Just use a spoon to fluff up the flour, then gently scoop it into the measuring cup and level the top with a knife! 


Room-temp ingredients are our best friends. When my wet ingredients seem to clump up after beating, I often pop the entire bowl into my microwave for about 30 secs. Give it all a good mix again, and you’re back on track! 


Any busy bakers out there? I have great news: you can totally whip up your cupcakes a day ahead, cover and leave them at room temperature! 

And guess what: your frosting can join the party too. Make it a day ahead, stash it in the fridge, and it’ll be all set when you are. 

But what if your buttercream gets a bit too stiff in the fridge overnight? No sweat; just grab your electric mixer, set it to low speed, and toss in a little milk to loosen it up. Easy fix! 

When it’s showtime, go ahead and frost away to your heat’s content. Both unfrosted and frosted cupcakes can hit the freezer for 2 to 3 months, actually, but remember to thaw them out in the fridge overnight before serving. 


What Frostings Go With Lemon Cupcakes?

Cream cheese frosting with lemon zest (just like in this recipe) is everyone’s favorite. But don’t sleep on lemon or vanilla frosting, either; they’re also total hits!

My Lemon Zest Seems Bitter. What Should I Do?

Make sure you’re only grating the yellow part of the lemon rind, not the bitter white pith! I often use a fine-holed grater or a microplane for best results.

Happy baking!

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Lemon cupcakes

Lemon Cupcakes

That lemon frosting is literally the icing on the cake here. It's a perfect blend of tangy creaminess with a hint of zesty flavor, cradling the cupcake without stealing its spotlight!
4 from 1 vote
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Course: Cupcakes
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Lemon Butter Cream Cupcakes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 17 minutes
Total Time: 37 minutes
Servings: 28
Calories: 395kcal
Author: Brenda Maher



  • 3 ⅓ cups (426 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
  • 4 tbsp lemon zest (of 4 lemons)
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 ½ cups (340 g) melted, unsalted butter
  • 4 eggs (at room temperature)
  • 1 cup (240 ml) sour cream, room temperature
  • ½ cup (120 ml) warm whole milk
  • ½ cup (120 ml) lemon juice

Buttercream Frosting:

  • 2 cups (452 g) butter
  • 9 cups (1080 g) powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp lemon zest



  • Preheat the oven to 375°F. Blend lemon zest and sugar until combined.
  • Mix melted butter, eggs, sour cream, milk, lemon juice, and sugar until smooth.
  • Sift salt, flour, baking powder, and baking soda into a separate bowl, then whisk to combine.
  • Combine wet and dry ingredients, mixing gently until just combined.
  • Line the muffin tin with 28 cupcake liners, fill each ¾ full, and bake at 375°F for 5 minutes. Lower heat to 350°F and bake for another 12 mins or until springy.


  • Beat butter, zest, and salt, then gradually add powdered sugar and lemon juice until smooth.
  • Once your cupcakes are cool, pipe the frosting using a star-shaped tip or spoon it on top. Optionally, pipe some buttercream lemon wedges for an extra touch.


  • Proper measurement of cake flour is crucial for recipes. If a kitchen scale isn’t available, fluff up the flour with a spoon, then gently scoop into a measuring cup and level with a knife.
  • Room-temperature ingredients prevent clumping, especially in wet mixtures. To resolve the clumping, microwave the mixture for 30 secs and mix again. 
  • Cupcakes and frosting can be prepared a day ahead. Cupcakes can be stored at room temperature, and frosting can be refrigerated. If the buttercream becomes too stiff, mix extra milk with an electric mixer at low speed. 
  • Cupcakes, frosted or unfrosted, can be stored in the freezer for 2 to 3 months and should be thawed in the fridge overnight before serving.


Calories: 395kcal | Carbohydrates: 56g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 89mg | Sodium: 241mg | Potassium: 110mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 44g | Vitamin A: 801IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 50mg | Iron: 1mg
Did you make this recipe?Mention @cakegirls or tag #cakegirls!

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Mary and Brenda Maher

Mary & Brenda Maher

Mary & Brenda Maher, are the founders of Cake Girls, a Chicago-based online baking shop specializing in cake supplies, party decor, and DIY cake tutorials. They are known for their elaborate and artistic cake creations, which have been featured on the Food Network Challenge and in a reality show, Amazing Wedding Cakes.

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