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.

Homemade Lemon Cupcakes

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

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

  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.

Recipe 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.

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© 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

392 comments

  1. Just made these this morning! Excellent lemony flavor. I did not include the lemon zest because I haven’t perfected zesting without the bitterness. I made a lemon icing instead of the vanilla frosting, which topped these perfectly. Very pleased with this recipe, thank you!

  2. Hey Sally! I love love love these lemon cupcakes! I use them with my favorite lemon buttercream! I was wondering if you think it would be okay to add poppy seeds into the batter to make a lemon poppyseed cupcake or if that would change how they turn out? Hope to hear back from you!

  3. Hi Sally!  I’m just wondering if I make this into a cake, would I have to double the recipe? Would it give nice thick moist layers for an 8″ size?

  4. Hi,
    I can’t remember the last time I left a comment on a blog but I just wanted to thank you for the delicious lemon cupcake recipe!

    Unfortunately I only had one lemon so I used a orange instead of the 2nd lemon and it turned out great. The citrus flavour is divine and its so light and moist.

    Thank you for sharing such a wonderful recipe!

  5. Should I leave milk/buttermilk to come to room temp like eggs and butter? Thanks

  6. Hi Sally! I just made these cupcakes with my mom, they turned out DELICIOUS! Thank you so much for this recipe. 

  7. Hi Sally
    Thanks for such a wonderful recipe ! It’s a new favorite in the family 🙂  
    Tried it several times and it has never failed !
    I used limes instead of lemon and baked it in a 9 inch cake pan.
    Perfect !!

  8. thank you for such an amazing recipe. i made mini cupcakes for my daughter’s birthday. your recipe was the first that popped up when i googled “lemon cupcakes” (she wanted lemon of all things!) i tried to convince her to go for the raspberry icing but she was undeterred – she had to have the vanilla frosting.

    it was amazing. my husband, her teacher and her classmates all raved. your recipe is perfect! can’t wait to try more of your baking recipes.

  9. Oh my. Just made these. Count on this recipe for a no fail classy dessert. The fresh lemons make it taste delish. So glad I found this recipe. Thanks so much. 

  10. Hey! This looks so delicious! And I am one of those citrus fans too

  11. Thank you so much for this recipe! I doubled the recipe to make two dozen cupcakes for my contribution to a cupcake exchange party. I used Nielsen Massey vanilla paste, Meyer lemons, and substituted sifted cake flour instead of all-purpose flour. They came out light and fluffy. I received a lot compliments! Thank you!

  12. Made these today. Great Easter/Spring dessert.  They came out great!!! Your one of my go to sites, for the past four+ years now.

  13. Hi! Awesome recipe! I’d like to try this. Just like to ask how to substitute milk for the heavy cream? What would be the exact amount? Thanks!

  14. Can I use oil instead of butter in this recipe? 
    I find that busing butter makes them dry the next day. 

    • I don’t recommend replacing butter with oil. That creaming step is crucial! I saw your other comment as well- and you can double the recipe.

  15. I just made these for my lemon loving friend’s birthday.  They are so delicious!  This might also be my new go to frosting recipe.  I loved how light and fluffy it was.  I need to practice getting the right texture.  It looked very choppy when I spread it on the cupcakes but still tasted great.

  16. this recipe was amazing! my batter didn’t come together smoothly (I think the lumps were caused by my butter not being soft enough), but they still came out great. 

  17. I’ve made several of your cupcake recipes, very vanilla, and chocolate, Both delicious! I can’t wait to try these, with lemon cream cheese frosting. 

  18. Though I used my own homemade lemon frosting, these are the BEST lemon cupcakes EVER! Have made them twice for 2 different large parties.  These moist, tender, lemony treats received rave reviews from everyone including people who swore they usually prefer chocolate cupcakes.  My cupcakes stayed fresh for days un-refrigerated.  In fact, I think the taste develops more by the 2nd day!  This will be the only lemon cupcake recipe I’ll ever use!

  19. I make it the other day. Even 3 days un-refrigerated also still stay very moist and I get good review from friends who tasted.. will be baking it again for my niece full month party this sat…

  20. Hi! These cupcakes look absolutely fantastic and I’m going to try them out! The only thing is, in the picture your lemons look very huge but the lemons I have are very small, roughly the size of ping pong balls. So how many lemons do you recommend I use? Please answer!

  21. Hi Sally! This looks really good!! I’ve received a few lemons from a friend and searched your recipe index for any lemon recipes, this looks great and I’d like to make this! Would I be able to use oil instead of butter for this recipe? Thanks!

    • Hi Dorene! There are plenty of lemon recipes; it’s one of my favorite flavors for dessert! Creamed butter makes these cupcakes so unbelievably soft, not to mention buttery and delicious. I don’t recommend subbing it out.

  22. These were great tasting but two things happened. They fell and I mean fell. I used brand new baking powder too. They also pulled away from the baking paper. All the way around. I was making them to sell but had to, instead, give to my family. They loved them but I couldn’t sell them at the bake sale.

  23. Hi Sally,

    These look great and I think I’m going to give them a try this week after seeing all the comments. One question. My cupcakes always come out tough or too dense! 🙁 I’ve seen people recommend not overmixing. Is that just when adding the flour? O can overmixing at any point make them too dense?

    • It’s just when mixing the wet and the dry. You can mix the dry all you, but when you mix the wet WITH the dry– that’s where you want to be careful.

  24. Hello Sally, I was just wondering if I could use oil or melted butter. Because I do not have a mixer. Thanks so much! Looks very yummy.

  25. Sally! Emergent help with this cake!!!! I forgot the buttermilk!!!! Should I redo?? Thanks!!!

  26. Sally, I made these wonderful lemon cupcakes for the first time and they turned out perfectly! I added two fresh raspberries per and topped with one, also topped with homemade candied lemon zest. Beautiful and delicious!! Thank you for the recipe!!

  27. how long to bake for jumbo cupcakes?

  28. Hi Sally! Those cupcakes look spectacular! One thing I just want to make sure though, when you say leftover cupcakes do you mean frosted or unfrosted? And also When you say decorate immediately before serving, do you mean the sprinkling of lemon zest or frosting the cupcakes. Thank you so much I am very excited to try this recipe!

  29. Hi Sally! Thank you so so much for this recipe! I’ve received heaps of amazing compliments from my friends and family and I’ll definitely be making these a lot! They are so delicious and thanks again, your recipes never fail me:)

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