Homemade Lemon Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting.

These sunshine sweet homemade lemon cupcakes with vanilla frosting are incredibly soft and bursting with lemon flavor!

Delicious and simple Homemade Lemon Cupcakes with creamy vanilla frosting! These are always such a big hit. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Fact: I love lemon desserts more than I love these. It’s true. I’m a fruity kind of girl. My favorite dessert ever is apple pie. Or Pineapple Upside-Down Cake. I’ve been craving lemon cupcakes for awhile, but wanted to wait for spring to get here before I made them. Well, in Baltimore – it actually feels like summer right now. 85 degrees in April? I’ll take it.

The warmer weather is just perfect for my sunshine lemon cupcakes. Yep, that’s what I like to call these babies. And how can you not smile sinking your teeth into one of these? They are the happiest cupcake in the world. The homemade lemon cupcakes are incredibly soft and bursting with lemon flavor. Not too much that you’ll squint your eyes and pucker up your lips, but just enough to give each bite a refreshing zest of citrus flavor.  I topped them with my favorite vanilla frosting.  Sweet vanilla and zesty lemon compliment each other wonderfully.

Feel free to use a cream cheese frosting instead. Or even a lemon buttercream. If you find a nice lemon buttercream recipe, let me know! I’ve been searching.

Delicious and simple Homemade Lemon Cupcakes with creamy vanilla frosting! These are always such a big hit. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

The lemon cupcake recipe is laughably easy. Like most of my recipes, I used simple, everyday ingredients. I didn’t even need to go to the store before I made them last weekend.  You’ll simply cream sugar and softened butter together, add 2 eggs, vanilla, and then your dry ingredients. I favor using neutral oil in my cakes and cupcakes because it makes cakes exceptionally moist. However, when I’m looking for a buttery taste, I use butter. In one bite, all you’ll taste is sweet lemon + buttery vanilla flavor. Unbelievable!

The dry ingredients are standard: flour, baking powder, and salt. After mixing the wet and dry together, add some milk, lemon juice and lemon zest.  You’ll need 2 lemons for the cupcake batter.  The zest of two lemons & the juice of two lemons.

The recipe makes 12 standard size cupcakes. The lemon cupcakes take about 20 minutes to bake at 350F. Easy as pie. Well, easier than pie.

Lemon Zest

As the cupcakes cool, make my go-to fluffy vanilla frosting recipe. This frosting has made an appearance on my website a few times before. And receives rave reviews. Trust me, it’s awesome. It looks a little darker than normal in these photos because I used a super dark pure vanilla extract. And I used more of it than normal.

The vanilla buttercream is quite simple – perhaps even easier than the cupcakes, if that’s possible. Mix together unsalted butter, confectioners’ sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla extract. That’s IT. Two very crucial notes that I’ve mentioned a few times before: (1) make sure your butter is softened and not melted in the slightest. I simply took my butter stick out of the refrigerator and let it sit on the counter for 45 minutes as I baked and cooled the cupcakes. (2) Use heavy cream. You may use milk or half-and-half, but heavy cream will give the frosting the thickest texture. I highly, highly recommend it.

I used a Wilton 12 frosting tip (a round tip) to frost the cupcakes. Frost the cooled cupcakes however you prefer – slathering on with a knife or piping on with a tip. The Wilton 12 tip is my favorite. I decorated the cupcakes with a little extra lemon zest. Do this right before serving, as the lemon zest will dry out.  You can also use white chocolate chips, sprinkles, or even crushed lemon hard candies. I’ll definitely be doing that last one next time I make these.

Delicious and simple Homemade Lemon Cupcakes with creamy vanilla Delicious and simple Homemade Lemon Cupcakes with creamy vanilla frosting! These are always such a big hit. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com! sallysbakingaddiction.com-4

The homemade lemon cupcakes took me less than 1 hour start to finish.  I cheated and stuck the cupcakes in the refrigerator to speed up the cooling process.  I have zero patience when it comes to cupcakes.

Spring has sprung and lemon cupcakes, made completely from scratch, are on the dessert menu. And breakfast menu. Please? I mean they have eggs and milk in them… totally acceptable first thing in the morning.

Follow me on Instagram and tag #sallysbakingaddiction so I can see all the SBA recipes you make. 


Homemade Lemon Cupcakes

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Print Recipe

These sunshine sweet homemade lemon cupcakes are incredibly soft and bursting with lemon flavor!


Lemon Cupcakes

  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g)granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature preferred
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (190g) all-purpose flour (measured correctly)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) milk (I use whole, but any milk is fine)
  • zest + fresh juice of two medium lemons1

Fluffy Vanilla Buttercream

  • 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3-4 cups (360-480g) confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) heavy cream2
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, to taste
  • additional lemon zest for decoration, if desired3


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line 12-count muffin pan with paper liners. Set aside.
  2. Make the cupcakes: Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed in a large bowl until creamed. About 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed until everything is combined, about 2 full minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, toss together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in 3 additions, beating on low speed after each addition. Batter will be thick. Beat in the milk, lemon zest, and lemon juice on low speed until just combined. Do not overmix this batter at any point.
  4. Spoon batter evenly into 12 cupcake liners. Bake for about 20 minutes. Check at 18 minutes, then again at 20. A toothpick inserted in the middle will come out clean when done. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.
  5. Make the frosting: Beat softened butter on medium speed with an electric or stand mixer. Beat for about 3-4 minutes until smooth and creamy. Add confectioners' sugar, cream, vanilla extract, and salt with the mixer running. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 minutes. Add more confectioners' sugar if frosting is too thin or more cream if mixture is too thick. Add more salt if frosting is too sweet. Frost cooled cupcakes. If topping with lemon zest, do so right before serving. There may be leftover frosting depending how much you use on each cupcake.
  6. Make ahead tip: Cupcakes can be made ahead 1 day in advance, covered, and stored at room temperature. Frosting can also be made 1 day in advance, covered, and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. Decorate/assemble cupcakes immediately before serving. Leftover cupcakes keep well covered tightly at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 3 days. Frosted or unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Additional Notes:

Try my Lemon Blueberry Cake next. It is the same exact recipe, only doubled to make a layer cake.

  1. 1 medium-size lemon = approximately 1 tablespoon of lemon zest = 2 to 3 tablespoons of lemon juice
  2. Heavy cream is highly recommended over milk or half-and-half for the frosting to obtain the creamiest, fluffiest texture.
  3. Instead of lemon zest, decorate the cupcakes with sprinkles, white chocolate chips, or even crushed hard lemon candies.

© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.


Try my Lemon Blueberry Cake next.

This is the same exact recipe, only doubled to make a layer cake.

Deliciously sweet and light Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake. Tangy cream cheese frosting gives each bite a sweet touch!


See all lemon desserts.

See all cupcake recipes.

Delicious and simple Homemade Lemon Cupcakes with creamy vanilla frosting! sallysbakingaddiction.com

350 Responses to “Homemade Lemon Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting.”

  1. #
    Kelly Martinezposted December 14, 2014 at 12:59 am

    Hey Sally! Your recipes just wow me! They are too good! I had a question. Can i use these lemon cupcakes for your cream cheese frosting? Thanks!!


    • Sallyreplied on December 14th, 2014 at 9:51 am



  2. #
    Peaceposted December 23, 2014 at 9:14 am

    Hello Sally,
    can I use oil instead of margarine? if so, how does the preparation method change?


  3. #
    Trixie in CTposted December 27, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    Happy Post-Xmas Sally!

    Have I lost my mind? (Don’t answer that!)

    Where is the list of ingredients? Is it there and I’ve not cracked the code? Should I click on a link?

    I came here after reading about your yummy Blueberry Lemon Cake, so maybe I can just split that recipe in half…..

    ….maybe I need new glasses….

    with love, in-the-dark Trixie


    • Trixie in CTreplied on December 27th, 2014 at 3:25 pm

      ok, never mind…I AM losing my mind!!!! Refreshed page and BINGO, recipe shows up….now I’m off to make them…..smooches and just ignore me…


    • Sallyreplied on December 27th, 2014 at 3:25 pm

      Hey Trixie! I was in the middle of updating my website– the recipe should be showing for you now. 😉 Merry post Christmas!


      • Trixie in CTreplied on December 27th, 2014 at 3:44 pm

        Hahahaha!!!!! Thanks Sally….you have eased my mind because I seriously kept scrolling up and down looking for the recipe….I thought maybe a sugar-induced “episode” was coming on…..

        Love you, girl! Off to bake!

  4. #
    Blissposted January 15, 2015 at 10:53 am

    Hi Sally
    Was wondering is there a reason you use granulated sugar instead of caster sugar in your recipes?
    And if I was to use caster sugar…would it be the same measurement?
    Can’t wait to try this recipe x


  5. #
    Jessicaposted February 22, 2015 at 9:36 am

    My 11yr old daughter and her two friends had a “baking challenge” last night and I selected your lemon cupcakes as one of the recipes they had to make. These cupcakes were BY FAR the best of the three made. They have great flavor are are nice and moist. I’m so glad to have stumbled upon your website and can’t wait to try more of your recipes!


  6. #
    Angieposted March 20, 2015 at 10:44 pm

    Hi Sally,
    Would this cupcake batter work in a cake tin? I absolutely love these cupcakes and would really like to make them into a cake. What do you suppose would happen?


  7. #
    Christina Madarenaposted April 6, 2015 at 10:14 am

    So, for Easter yesterday my sister made your lemon blueberry cake. It was literally the only dessert I ate out of well over a dozen choices. My daughter wants lemon vanilla cupcakes (that is the combo she came up with) for her birthday next weekend, so I was hoping to find a recipe I could alter to make it what she wants… but I found these! She was SO excited. And since they are your recipe I know for a fact they will be amazing. I LOVE your recipes. Thanks so much for sharing them!!!


    • Sallyreplied on April 6th, 2015 at 10:38 am

      Wonderful, Christina! The cake and cupcake recipes are almost identical, but the cake recipe is double the ingredients to make a large cake. You and your daughter will love these!


  8. #
    FeeFeeposted April 6, 2015 at 11:50 am

    Hi there Sally! I literally just made these as I’m poorly with a throat infection and needed to cheer myself up :) My boyfriend who DOES NOT have a sweet tooth AT ALL (I know but he’s lovely really) just told me ‘woah that was the nommest cupcake I’ve ever had!’ – day has been MADE! Definitely cheered up, thank you!


    • Sallyreplied on April 6th, 2015 at 11:58 am

      So glad these cheerful cupcakes helped brighten your spirits. Get well soon!


  9. #
    Christyposted April 7, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    This recipe is amazing! I made just this past weekend to bring for dessert for Easter dinner and got lots of compliments from my family. Instead of cupcakes I baked a cake using a bunny shaped cake pan and it was perfect. Thank you for such a delicious, easy-to-follow recipe!


  10. #
    Elaineposted April 23, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    I’m not a fan of lemon-flavoured treats, but when I tried your recipe, it was just heavenly and I can’t stop eating the cupcakes, even ,my husband and son love them! Thanks for sharing this awesome recipe :)


  11. #
    Anitaposted May 4, 2015 at 6:09 am

    OMG, best muffins ever. I love baking but I never get it right. and my oven doesn’t bake evenly so I have to be constantly at it checking.
    this time I was close.
    muffins are moist and delicious, they risen nicely but then fallen a bit. still tasty and best muffins I ever made.

    thank you


  12. #
    Rachelposted May 12, 2015 at 6:17 am

    Hiii! What is heavy cream? Can I use nestle cream instead?


  13. #
    Arianeposted May 15, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    Delicious!!!!! I made the lemon cupcakes. Thanks for the recipe.


  14. #
    Gauriposted May 19, 2015 at 11:44 am

    Hi Sally! Just made these yesterday and they were delicious but being a food nerd, I had a question – just curious why you use extra baking powder in this recipe and no baking soda, despite there being lemon juice/acids in the ingredients? I always wonder about when to use either and thought you might be a good person to ask… Thanks for the recipe!


    • Sallyreplied on May 20th, 2015 at 12:52 pm

      I’m so glad that you liked them! To be honest, in my testing I found that there wasn’t enough acid in the recipe to have my cupcakes rise to their full potential. Adding more baking soda left a bitter taste, so I threw up my hands and used baking powder instead!


  15. #
    Anaposted May 21, 2015 at 8:14 pm

    Hey Sally! I loved these cupcakes! I made them for the secretaries where I work, but I couldn’t help saving one for myself…

    I love your website, I recently asked where she got the recipe for a treat she brought to school, and I was really excited when she referred me back to one of my favorite baking websites!


  16. #
    Caroline Fposted May 27, 2015 at 11:26 pm

    These are the best cupcakes I’ve ever made! Wonderful lemon flavor, and the texture was so perfect and buttery. I put one blueberry down in the center before baking, then iced and added another fresh blueberry to the top. Thank you for the great recipe!


  17. #
    dianeposted June 6, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    Hey Sally! I beyond love all your recipes especially the cupcakes! I was wondering what do you use to frost the cupcakes? I got a kit but the tips are way to small and don’t hold the shape of the tip.


    • Sallyreplied on June 8th, 2015 at 10:07 am

      Diane, I used a knife for these pictured cupcakes! But my two favorite piping tips are Wilton 1M Swirl tip and the Wilton #12 tip.


  18. #
    Melissaposted June 13, 2015 at 8:47 am

    Hi Sally!!  I was wondering about the frosting.  Do you ever use part shortening part butter? I know pure butter is fantastic, but sometimes need extra stability.  Thoughts?  Can’t wait to try these today!!!


    • Sallyreplied on June 13th, 2015 at 9:08 am

      Melissa, I really do not like the texture (and mouthfeel) of shortening in my frostings at all. You are more than welcome to use half butter half shortening if the texture does not bother you!


  19. #
    Allison L.posted June 16, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    Hi Sally!  How long do you recommend I bake the lemon cupcakes if using a mini muffin tin?  Going to make for my business launch party I am having tomorrow night! 


    • Sallyreplied on June 16th, 2015 at 7:49 pm

      I’d say 10-11 minutes give or take!


  20. #
    Miraposted June 18, 2015 at 8:34 pm

    Hi Sally! This is the best cupcake recipe I ever tasted! 


  21. #
    Stephanieposted June 25, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    Hi, just wondering if buttermilk and vinegar can be used in this recipe? I noticed you used it for your red velvet cupcakes for added moisture. Thanks!


    • Sallyreplied on June 25th, 2015 at 3:51 pm

      Buttermilk can be used here! No need to add vinegar to this specific recipe, though.


  22. #
    Stephanieposted June 26, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    Hi Sally! I’m baking these today. I ran out of all purpose flour and have cake flour. Would I need to add any baking powder or soda to the cake flour? Thanks!


    • Sallyreplied on June 26th, 2015 at 1:48 pm

      Cake flour works– I would use closer to 1 and 2/3 cup of it though. No need to alter the baking powder or soda.


  23. #
    Minouposted July 9, 2015 at 11:41 am

    How long would I bake these for mini cupcakes?


    • Minoureplied on July 9th, 2015 at 11:42 am

      Sorry just saw you already answered this question!


  24. #
    steffiposted July 30, 2015 at 6:38 am

    Hi sally. Can i reduce the amount of sugar? If so, how much do i reduce it by?


  25. #
    Loriposted August 4, 2015 at 10:30 pm

    Just have to say…delicious! Stumbled upon this recipe of yours and made them for my grandaughter’s first birthday. She dug right in, as did all of us too. So moist with a beautiful consistency to the lemon cupcake. And the frosting was great too. Next will be the blueberry lemon layer cake. Thank you for posting.


  26. #
    Kateposted August 13, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    These look great! I have been laser focused on lemon desserts this week so I was super excited to see these. Since it is the same recipe as your lemon blueberry cake, would it work to add blueberries to the cupcakes too? I always worry about the berries sinking when I make cupcakes.


    • Sallyreplied on August 13th, 2015 at 5:34 pm

      Absolutely- I add blueberries all the time. Stick to a little over 1 cup total.


  27. #
    Amberposted August 18, 2015 at 9:40 am

    Hi Sally! Your cupcakes look amazing! I plan on making them today, but had one question. For the lemon zest, do I use all the zest from 2 lemons? Thanks so much!!


  28. #
    Wanda Dengposted August 18, 2015 at 10:33 am

    Can i please make a video of how i make these cupcakes and put it on my youtube channel? I will of corse give you full credit and link your website :)


  29. #
    Judiposted August 19, 2015 at 11:27 pm

    Hi Sally, Can you advise me regarding baking these cupcakes at 4800 ft.  I am still learning how to work with high altitude baking!  I’d like to make them for my daughter’s birthday.


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